History of Cinema 2

December 10th, 2010


Posted by therant in Uncategorized

Written on the Wind is a film directed by Douglas Sirk in 1956 under Universal Pictures. I chose this film because I felt it had class, style, innovation, quality shots and character issues that were easy to relate to. Choosing one particular scene was slightly difficult because I believe there are many quality scenes to choose from. For example, the scene when Mitch and Kyle first interact with Lucy speaks volumes on the relationship between the men and their personalities. When Kyle and Lucy are in the cockpit of the airplane there is a lot of dialogue that is very revealing about the movie and where it’s headed. The fight at the bar after the men are notified by the bartender that Marilee is there. The manner in which the fight plays out. We also learn a lot from the dialogue between Mitch and Marilee in the following scene. Other great scenes I could have chosen are Marilee and Lucy first interaction, the nightmare Kyle has while he’s drunk in bed or Kyle and his doctor inside the store with big signs with the word DRUGS all around. My point is that Written on the Wind has a lot of very good scenes throughout the entire film. It is more than just the directing and screenwriting, it’s the acting, the subtle hints in the body language, the settings, the costumes, the tone of voice, and the objects they choose to hold. I found the film to be very well crafted and it became a movie I reference to a lot.

I chose my scene not because I felt it embodied the film as a whole. I chose it because it instantly grabbed my attention. The colors, the music, the pace, the non-dialogue but loud message it conveyed. The scene, in my opinion, begins when Mitch tells Mr. Hadley “your being to hard on yourself” and in the background we hear a car pull up into the driveway. The police officers have brought Marilee home and she walks into the room not speaking to anyone dragging her mink across the floor and up the stairs. As the camera angle switches to the top of the staircase we get a close up of a look of content on the face of Marilee, she knows that this act will draw the attention she desires. The man from the gas station is directly in front of the camera as Mr. Hadley is sitting questioning him about how he met his daughter; Mitch is in the background standing looking on. As the man from the gas station begins reveals to Mr. Hadley that his daughter is a “tramp”, the director decides to light the man up brightly and have some of the light shine on the shaded Mr. Hadley. As if he were saying that the dialogue is shedding some light on the situation. Mitch is seen in the background observing but as the verbal exchange is going on, his subtle facial expressions reveals that he knows that what is being said is true. The shot that follows has Mr. Hadley jump out of his seat and saying “I’m asking you!” there is a fire visible in the lower left corner that symbolizes his anger. Though Mr. Hadley reaches for the gun in anger, the close up reveals him letting go of the weapon the moment Mitch grabs his hand. Mr. Hadley trusts Mitch’s instinct incredibly. The one thing that bothers me about this scene is that I don’t really understand why the man was brought in with Marilee by the cops. If what Marilee and the man were doing was consensual, why are the police involved? Throughout the scene the actors and camera is placed perfectly so that everyone is visible. For example, as Mitch tells the man from the gas station to “keep it quiet” in front of the police officer everyone is in frame, including Mr. Hadley who sits in the background with his head down in sadness. A blue light reflects from the outside unto the face of Marilee who is watching from her window in a medium close up. The police officers and the man walk towards and into the police car and drive off. Marilee, knowing that all is going as she planned walks away from the window and lights her cigarette from the flame she’s started in the fireplace. She grabs a picture of Mitch and plays her wild Latin Salsa Jazz music, which is placed in between plants that resemble red hearts. She delightfully dances with her devilish thoughts, spinning and undressing in front of the picture placed above a liquor cabinet of glass. We know she undresses but we can’t see much, because what’s under the dress is only for the eyes of Mitch. The music is heard in a distance as Mr. Hadley in a medium close up gets up and makes his wake towards the stairs. The camera angle shifts but it doesn’t switch, in this long take we see Mitch still with gun in hand contemplating and putting it away in the drawer. The music than explodes and Marilee is wearing a pink or very light red gown dancing and spinning. The father makes his way up the stairs while he grabs the bannister for support. Marilee continues to dance in between the plants with the heart shaped leaves and the red telephone with the Chinese head sculpture next to it. The harder she dances the weaker Mr. Hadley’s steps get. It’s as if she beating him to death with the movement of her legs and hips. Close up of Mr. Hadley’s hand on the banister holding on weakly and then letting go, tumbling down the red carpet on the stairs and falling face down covered by his arms in defeat and shame. A long shot of Mitch sprinting across the room as the music peaks in volume and strength is shown with the camera moving to a close up of Mr. Hadley dead on the floor. A medium close up of Lucy covering her face in disbelief. The music continues to play violently with Marilee dancing at the same violent pace and finally sitting down in joy of her mischief. As the music winds down to its grand finale, Lucy follows the pace perfectly as she looks down in disbelief of what has occurred. I really like the music chosen for this entire sequence of shots because I feel that it plays very well to the four different points of views and characters. It fits well in the cross cutting between Marilee and her father. It fits well when Mitch rushes out and across to the room to a fallen Mr. Hadley, and it feels appropriate as Lucy looks on. All four characters are in different mind states but the music keeps them unified.

In conclusion, when I first laid eyes on this scene and how the colors, music and dancing exploded off the screen I was taken by how a four minute series of shots captured and stole the show. But like i mentioned earlier, there are plenty of meaningful moments throughout the picture which could have led to better arguments about the film as a whole. I very much enjoyed every aspect of the four minutes and hope to one day see more clever work on film like this in modern day cinema minus the digital enhancements.

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