Over the last several weeks, we've been looking at various aspects of the building blocks of editing -- the cuts, the scene, and the sequence. Knowing how to manipulate those elements helps to make for great editing. But there is something much less definable that helps give each film a different flavor -- style. So, what is style? And how do you get it?
Tonight we're going to take a look at Wong Kar-Wei's 1995 Hong Kong film FALLEN ANGELS (Duoluo tianshi). Right from the beginning of the film it establishes a very different type of style and reasoning from OUT OF SIGHT, a film which I've discussed in previous semesters. For a look at that discussion, click here.
The sequence we are looking at tonight is about two-thirds of the way through the film. Wong Chi-Ming has tired of his life as a hitman and wants to break out of it, which would end the relationship with his Agent who he may be in love with, but who certainly is captivated by him. There is a second plot but our scene tonight comes as Chi-Ming accepts one final job which is initiated in the same way as always -- his Agent places an ad on the front page of a Hong Kong newspaper that sets all of the action in motion.
Wong Kar-Wei has established, from the beginning of the film, that this film is a mirror of a certain type of Hong Kong noir-ish life. He has established the style of rapid editing, which mirrors the tempo of the city's heart; he has created wide-angle fish-eye camerawork which moves in a near-nauseating frenetic pace. There are powerful closeups of the characters, practically shoving their noses into the camera lens. The music, the sound, the cutaways of city life (often with moving clouds in an unreal sped-up time) all further the mood of the film. In this scene, as Chi-Ming calmly (as always) carries out his last job, all of these factors come into play. It's a powerful melding of style and story.
If we have time, we will take a look at the opening section of Krystof Kieslowski's BLUE, the first part of his Three Colors trilogy. In this film, Juliette Binoche plays Julie, who loses both her daughter and her husband in a car crash. The section of the film that we will look at (or you should check out yourself) comes at the very start of the film, in the moments leading up to the crash and her reactions to it.
Important elements to check out include Kieslowski's use of sound and the juxtaposition of images. We never see Julie at all it is important for us to see her reaction to the news of her child's death. We see bits and pieces and hear the odd line from her, but her character's presentation is disjointed and surreal. The film's style meshes well with its intent -- to examine the meaning of liberty/liberation (the first of the three elements of the French patriotic slogan -- "Liberte, Egalite. Fraternite" and the three colors of the Grench flag -- hence, the title of the trilogy). Julie will, throughout the film, attempt to avoid her past. Within the context of the film, she is looking for liberation from her old memories, a liberation that takes on a different meaning by the end of the film -- in fact, by the end of the trilogy.
Examine how the disjointedness of the opening both contributes to the sense that something extreme is going to happen, as well as to the overall quiet and severe style of the film. These editorial concepts, along with the production design of the film (blues, blues, blues) helps to contribute to the sense that would probably be in Kieslowski's analysis.
Other films which develop a strong sense of editorial style in their storytelling include Mike Figgis' TIMECODE, Sergio Leone's THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY, the television show 24, Bob Fosse's ALL THAT JAZZ, THE PROFESSIONAL and Federico Fellini's classic opening from 8-1/2 (about which, one sound editor once told me that all that you need to know about filmmaking is contained in the first ten minutes of this film) and Steven Soderbergh's OUT OF SIGHT, which we will not look at tonight. However, I have the latter film in previous years. To see a discussion of that film click here.
Note that we will also be talking tonight about the final path of film in the lab. An interesting image can be seen at the right. It is a simulated picture of a piece of 35mm file with its married soundtracks visible. The image, which is from Wikipedia, is described on that page, in the following way:
Simulated 35mm film with soundtracks - The outermost strips (on either side) contain the SDDS soundtrack as an image of a digital signal (on actual film the dots which make up the digital signal are MUCH finer). In from them are the perforations used to drive the film through the projector, along with the Dolby Digital soundtrack between them. On the left side only the two tracks of analog soundtrack can be seen, often encoded using Dolby Surround to simulate a third track. Just in from the analog track is the timecode used to synchronize a DTS soundtrack (the actual DTS soundtrack is kept on a separate CD). Finally, in the center, is the image, in this case compressed horizontally by Cinemascope (This image is licensed for use under GFDL)
This piece of film incorporates every one of the sound tracks that is normally used in the United States today. The original format, the monaural soundtrack as detailed in one of tonight's handouts, doesn't really exist anymore, having been replaced by the stereo soundtrack shown immediate to the right of the left-most set of sprocket holes. With the advent of digital projection, this marriage of sound and picture (combined on what is called the "married release print" or "married answer print") is being replaced by the "sounded" print.
Even though it really isn't a print, is it?
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Last Modified - November 3, 2014