Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema
May 9, 2013 4:32 PM   Subscribe

I caught a whole bunch of this on NPR and it was really interesting, and he's a good speaker. I particularly liked the section about:
"And then, everything was taken further with the cut. [film clip: Great Train Robbery] Who made the first cut from one image to another – meaning, a shift from one vantage point to another with the viewer understanding that we’re still within one continuous action?

Again, to quote Thomas Mann – “unfathomable.” But as far as we know, this is one of the earliest and most famous examples of a cut, from Edwin S. Porter’s 1903 milestone film The Great Train Robbery. Even though we cut from the interior of the car to the exterior, we know we’re in one unbroken action."
because this is a thing in high-quality children's shows -- little kids can't follow "cuts" so you have to use them very sparingly. People frequently complain that Sesame Street uses MTV-style fast intercutting because KIDS TODAY AND THEIR ATTENTION SPANS, but if you sit down and watch Sesame Street now vs. Sesame Street 20 years ago, today's Sesame HARDLY EVER cuts. Once you notice it, you realize the shots are SO LONG, like Buffy's-mom-just-died long, of a length you hardly ever see on television for adults. It's interesting how as adults we're so steeped in the language of film that we don't even think about cutting between two people in a conversation, or using establishing shots and interior shots or whatever, because it's a natural visual language for anyone who's grown up in the world of moving pictures. But it's actually learned and you have to watch movies to learn it.

I seem to remember reading a while ago about how novels have changed since the inception of movies in terms of how authors intercut scenes and perspectives now, in ways that the author of the article posited were related to this visual language of film, but that would be difficult for an 18th-century reader to understand. But my memory is too vague to google for it.

Anyway, I don't really know anything about film but I was glad I accidentally stumbled across the speech. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:22 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Listening to this on NPR the other day made me late for work!

Martin Scorcese is such an amazing and brilliant man. I could listen to him wax all poetical about phone books.
posted by sidereal at 12:28 PM on May 10, 2013

This is worth it just for the look of awed delight on his face after watching the clip of the red-lined restaurant in Vertigo. An artist loving an artist.

Also much to think about re: the changing styles and visual literacy.
posted by NorthernLite at 3:55 PM on May 10, 2013

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