fantastic Cinema : the presence, the shadow and the absence of #2

Hide the threat or suggest to the viewer ? This is the question of the fantastic cinema and terror.

The question of the identification of the threat is not only on the different processes story that I have just mentioned, the choice of realization, too, have a crucial importance in the construction of the role of the antagonist and its potential horror. The process called “bild up” is precisely to delay the onset of a crucial element of the plot, following the principle that the more realization suggests to the viewer an enemy charismatic, the more the voltage goes crescendo. You mention the enemy in the dialogues, we play between the implicit and the explicit, it is suggested, and we are preparing, in short, one deals with the arrival of the antagonist in a speculative bubble that continues to grow.

The Opera Garnier is rustling that harm the Phantom of the Opera in the version of Rupert Julian, where the first quarter-hour consists of a review of the reactions caused by the disturbing creature in the different employees of the premises. The viewer does not know yet if it is a ghost, a demon or just a human being, but it can already glimpse its place in the narrative as in the small world that it haunts.

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau has grasped this principle of delay and announces the appearance of Nosferatu the vampire, using the method visual synecdoche. In literature, synecdoche is the figure of style which is to tell a thing by naming a part. Murnau transposes this process the image is not showing in a first time that the shadow of the creature, and then in focusing the viewer’s attention on her fingers clawed and disproportionate. These elements are sufficient to grasp and to fear the monstrous look of Nosferatu, even before they have fully unveiled to the screen, sits already his iconic character in the imagination of the public. We also note the importance of the music of Hans Erdmann that accompanies precisely the rate of voltage increase until the appearance of the vampire, by playing in particular on the acceleration of the string instruments.

Make iconic antagonist does not demand necessarily a time of presence to the important screen. The question is therefore to know how to make it appear relevant for this enemy in the installed environment since the beginning of the film. For Alien, the eighth passenger, Ridley Scott has paid particular attention to the representation of this environment, or rather of these environments, since the visual shock operates through the opposition between two sets. The decor of the ship Nostromo are playing on the clear tones, and an overall impression of simple functionality, while those of the planet from where the alien, and consist of dark colors, patterns indecipherable and a cause of discomfort in the confusion between the organic and the technological. The eye and the viewer’s brain are thus prepared for the emergence of a form of life that will fascinate as much as it effrayera. And the effect is all the more assured that this appearance will be aboard the Nostromo, is an environment that is conducive to create a contrast around the aspect of the creature. Almost forty years after the release of the film, the aesthetic work developed by H. R. Giger became worship, while the different forms of the alien (the chestburster and anhedral) are not actually present on the screen than seventeen minutes.

The following three examples show us that the filmmakers also know how to use the composition of the frames, the cutting and fitting to preserve the mystery around the threat that is introduced in their stories. For The Eye, the Brothers Pang have chosen an achievement that evokes the sensations of their protagonist, Mann, a young woman who recovers his sight after a transplant of the cornea. Blind since his early childhood, Mann must gradually adapt to this sense with which it has not learned to conceive of the world around her. Also she does not realize immediately that the individuals of which it perceives the presence are in fact ghosts. Here, the latency time between the installation of a climate strange and full perception of the character fantastic of the history, therefore, is not just a game around the conventions of the genre used to up the tension. This mechanism of progressive revelation by the image is fully justified by the drama, and creates an empathy with Mann, which makes it all the more disturbing visions. In the haloed image of blur to convey the restricted vision of the young woman after her operation, the brothers Pang to a sketch of a human form is worrying. Then when that Mann covers the view completely, the ghosts are generally off-centre and placed in the background of the image, in order to realize the impression of threat that the heroine does not know yet to identify.

Other ideas of implementation are, not to delay the onset of the threat, but not to allow that intermittently, to save his time on-screen and thus preserve the efficiency of the fear of the unknown. David F. Sandberg part of the formula, the most direct of this concept to develop his film In the dark, where the silhouette of a creature that is malicious there is no sign of that in the darkness, and this, from the opening scene. Therefore, it is for Sandberg to spread the ingenuity and relevance in his narrative, the sequences in which the light is present and constitutes a refuge, and the sequences where the darkness brings the audience to its fears of childhood. The process presents a double advantage, since it allows not only to restrict the frequency of appearances of the creature, but also justifies that the protagonists as well as spectators do not distinguish a silhouette.

And as I mentioned earlier, the choice of cutting and mounting are also of importance for the questions of revelation and concealment. It is for this reason that filmmakers David Moreau and Xavier Palud have voluntarily omitted a part of the action in their film They. Where a realization of the conventional means of switching within a scene, the fields on the protagonists and the counter-fields on the antagonists in the face of them, Moreau and Palud are constantly monitored by the point of view of the protagonists, attacked in their isolated house in the depths of the Romanian countryside. When footsteps are heard, a door handle move, that an intruder is attempting to enter a room, the viewer is like them, unable to bear his gaze behind the closed door and therefore identify clearly who are the attackers. Even if these antagonists act out-of-field and that the impact of their actions appear in the image, their identity is not unveiled until the very last minute of the film.

Part 1 : Identify the threat Part 3 : Towards abstraction


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