Friday, May 18, 2012

Final Project

Jasmine Soule
Elements of Film
14 May 2012
The Evolution of Special Effects
            Special effects have been around for many years, it has continued to capture the minds and attention of the public. Special effects are such a broad term because so many other aspects that goes under this terminology. For instance, special effects can be considered, computer-generated imagery, digital effects, computer animation, 3D graphics animation and many other terms. All of these different terms have lead to the evolution of cinematography and the beauty of it. There are countless movies starting from the late 60s and on, that start to develop and change “special effects” for movies that represent science fiction, surrealism and futuristic plots that express pure creativity. On that note, the purpose of this paper is to discuss the evolution of computer animation through innovators, and the progression of different techniques in creating a movie. While also examining the advancement of film technology, I believe it is necessary to take a look at different movies throughout time to get a glimpse of expansion of movie creativity. As movies go forward with intricate cinema techniques and camera skills, the originality and pure imagination of cinema will continue to influence, inspire, and change the lives of generations to come.
            It is important to begin with the person who coined the term “computer graphics,” William Fetter. William was an art director who created the term computer graphics through his project in 1961. His creation was the first human simulation in computer graphics. It is said that this experiment of human figures “became one of the most iconic images of the early history of computer graphics, and often were referred to as the ‘Boeing Man’” (Wikipedia). This was only a start for more new and innovative technology to come with special effects. The “new pioneers” in the mid 60s and 70s made way with research, experimentations, and conventions that would help further along the development of special effects in the film industry. For example, the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great representation of the types of computer graphic, film industry was working with.  Looking closely at the graphics, “the film's end in the Star Gate sequence, astronaut David Bowman (Keir Dullea) traveled through the stargate corridor in a dazzling sequence (using a slit-scan photographic technique) - a sound and light hallucinatory journey or whirling lights and colors in which he was hurled through and into another dimension…” ( This scene is only one example of many throughout this movie, that really gives the audience this surrealistic feeling through the animation used in the film.  
Furthermore, “from around the early 1970s, much of the emphasis in computer animation development was towards ever increasing realism in 3-D imagery, and on effects designed for use in feature movies” (Wikipedia).  I believe that a lot of directors and editors were excited for this type of development because this type of technology would bring a completely new edge to the film industry. 3-D computer animation was just the tip of the iceberg, because it would bring a whole new complex perspective to the tone and narrative of the film. When 3-D imagery was still evolving in cinema during mid late 70s this is where the public first gets a glimpse of the term, “CGI” computer-generated imagery, in the film Futureworld in 1976. This is the first time Yul Brynner uses digital representation (CGI)  in a featured film. However, the movie that received awards and recognition for the visual effect would be, the 1977 movie Stars Wars IV:  A New Hope. With complex camera movement and the usage of 3-D computer animation, “ this was the first major work of George Lucas' visual effects company - Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), which would become the biggest, most prestigious FX company in film history” ( As we lead into the 80s, there are numerous advancements in the CGI sector of the film industry. There is where the public is starting to see futuristic type movies with more 3-D graphic imagery, making the scenes more surrealistic and engaging for the audience. As story narratives became more elaborate, the camera technique and computer animation became sophisticated too allowing for a more eye-opening cinema style. Michele Pierson (1999) makes the point, “popular discourses on CGI effects have also focused on the dream of simulation: often presenting the latest Hollywood science-fiction blockbuster as an invitation to participate in the techno-scientific adventure that this dream represents” (167). A great example of this “techno-scientific adventure” would be the 1982 Tron movie, where they used the most computer-generated imagery at the time and created a 3-D world. From the complex visual effects to the captivating soundtrack and background creation, this movie captivated audiences with it directing, illustration and editing, allow audience to enter in a different atmosphere unlike real life.
  There was much improvement in the 80s and 90s in the special effect area with movies like The Abyss, Total Recall, Jurassic Park, The Fifth Element, and last but not least The Matrix.
From the 2000 to present day, I would like to talk about movies that have influenced my love for movies and special effects. There are out countless moves in the 2000s that have given a representation of the possibilities of visual effects in some way.  For example, The Matrix Reloaded is one of my favorite trilogies that really use fantastic visual animation. When Neo has to fight many Agent Smiths, this particular scene on the roof is a great representation of facial computer animation.
Avatar, an Oscar award winning film, is another representation of visual stunning piece of work, with the usage of 3-D and CGI effects. Again with talking about ultramodern time, “this futuristic, epic 3-D live-action film, with ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special effects. Much of the film's reported budget of over $300 million was spent on CGI. (40% of the film was live-action while 60% was photo-realistic CGI)” (
 Lastly, I would like to briefly talk about the film, Inception for its innovative and ingenious techniques with the usage special effects. This film won best visual effects and cinematography because of “some of the most astonishing, surreal and ground-breaking special effects were seen in the various dreamscapes where the laws of logic and gravity didn't hold” ( This is only two years ago and I can only imagine what 2012 Summer blockbusters movies have to offer audiences, with remakes like Total Recall and the originality of Prometheus. Special effects can only get better with the advancement of technology and camera styles.

Work Cited
History of Computer Animation. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved May 14, 2012, from
Pierson, M. (1999). CGI effects in Hollywood science-fiction cinema 1989-95: the wonder
    years. Screen,40(2), 158-176.
Visual and Special Effects Film Milestones. (n.d.). Greatest Films - The Best Movies in
    Cinematic History. Retrieved May 14, 2012, from

Citizen Kane Final

Jasmine Soule
Professor Hammond
Elements of Film
14 May 2012
Final Exam

1)      “Citizen Kane” is one of the most influential ever made. Discuss this statement.
Orson Welles creating and making Citizen Kane can be seen as the pinnacle point of his career in filmmaking.  This film was made during the black and white era, and Welles took different aspects of the film and made it visually stunning and consuming to the audience.  Through the cinematography, storytelling techniques and special effects, Welles created an influential movie that was ahead of its time. Louis Giannetti (2001) explains that Welles used a technique called deep-focus photography which “involves the use of wide-angle lenses, which tend to exaggerate the distances between people- an appropriate symbolic analogue for a story dealing with separation, alienation, and loneliness” (490). This gets the audience involved in the information that is being given to them during a certain shot. Giannetti uses the example of Alexander’s suicide attempt, to explain what deep focus actually means. Ginannetti (2011) clarifies this term by saying “the layering of the mise en scene is a visual accusation: (1) the lethal dose was taken by  (2) Susan Alexander Kane because of (3) Kane’s inhumanity” (491). The cinematography in Citizen Kane allowed the audience to be engulfed by the how the scenes were shot and the different features that went into it. Another influential part of the film was how the story was told and the special effects used during this era. Giannetti explains, “the flashback structure of Citizen Kane allows Welles to leap through time and space, cutting various periods of Kane’s life without having to adhere to a strict chronology” (507).  The sound and storytelling combined together made the movie entrancing for the audience, the older Kane got, the darker the music became, leading the audience to understand the story in a visual stunning way. In the end, “Welles was one of the great lyricists of the cinema, and his stylistic rapture is best illustrated by the ornate visuals, the dazzling traveling shots, the richly textured soundtracks, […] the highly fragmented narrative, and the profusion of symbolic motifs” (514). This is the reason why so many movie producers, writers, directors, etc believe that “Citizen Kane” is the most influential movie ever made.

2)      What had Orson Welles done in his first 23 years of life to warrant the Hollywood Film Industry offering complete creative control to a first time filmmaker?
Welles first travelled to Europe in search of artistic creativity throughout Ireland. It wasn’t until he was casted in Jew Suss, that his name and acting skills became really known. He got the role in playing the Duke by saying that he was an actor and a star; therefore, Gates decided to put him in this film. Fortunately, his acting in the movie paid of actually making him known in the cinematic and entertainment industry. From there, Welles returned to the United States and was offered a writing project with Everybody’s Shakespeare. He also starred in a couple of off Broadway productions getting his foot even more into the entertainment industry.  Besides being an actor, Welles also was a radio actor where he eventually became instantly famous. He did the adaptation of The War of World by H.G. Wells, where his creativity with the story of using fact and fiction to gain the attention of the listeners, which he easily did. He was so successful with this performance that he actually had the public believe these were true events occurring. Consequently, because of his famous performance of the radio show, he gained numerous offers from the Hollywood industry. Now that he was introduced to Hollywood because of his creativity and acting abilities, he would eventually make his first movie Citizen Kane, which would be overwhelmingly successful.

3)      Pick an extended scene or sequence from “Citizen Kane” and discuss the storytelling technique by analyzing any combination of its component parts (direction, writing, performance, cinematography, production design, art direction, editing, sound, score, etc).
The opening of Citizen Kane, I believe has a unique style to because you don’t really see this type of visual creativity during this particular movie era. The movie starts in darkness with the start of eerie music, leading the next screen shot of an old ramshackle fence. The camera slowly glides up the fence where there is a close-up of an old “no trespassing” sign. The little lighting combined with the cold and mysterious music, allows the audience to want to see what behind the fence, and question the reasons for why the place looks like this. The camera continues to dissolves into even more images of what lies behind the old fence. When the audience finally gets to see what is behind the fence, it is an image of Xanadu, which is Kane’s rundown house.  The scene shot is of the rusted gates and in the far back, the house is seen as dark, gloomy and with fog covering. This creates the atmosphere of uncertainty of what lies within the house. As the music grows more intense and the images keep suspending into each other, the camera uses crane shots to focus closer on the castle. Once there is any extreme close-up on the house with one light on in the window. Everything else in the scene is shown through low-key lighting except for the light in the window until it is quickly turned off for a brief moment. The window is quickly relit but the shot is from inside of the castle and not outside. Now the audience is curious to see what exactly going on. Moments later, the scene is now of snow falling transforming into a snow globe in the hands of a man. The special effects used within this brief scene have great significance of things to come. The snow globe drops and there is a close-up of Kane saying “Rosebud” as it falls and breaks. The audience is now feeling uneasy and trying to figure out the significance of rosebud. From there, there is a focus on the reflection of the broken glass where the audience can see the nurse walk in the room and pronounce him dead. This brief opening sets the dramatic plot for what is to come. The dramatization, special effects, different screen shots, and the music create and entrancing plot for the audience. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Final Project - Temporal Aspects of Film

Annie Adams
Elements of Film
Temporal Aspects of Film

            One aspect of film that I have always noticed is how temporal issues are introduced and resolved. A basic temporal issue is trying to show some one aging without making you sit there for the 30 or so years to watch them get older and then carryout explaining that crucial moment in the character’s life. This temporal aspect is resolved with make up or casting two actors for the same character. In some movies, like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, Brad Pitt had extensive make up on but other props and CGI also had played a big role in creating a character that aged backwards. This is just one of many examples of tools that writers, producers, and directors can use in just any ol’ film that follows basic temporal rules. These rules follow basic human natural tendencies with time. For example, most movies will have the events in a specific sequence that follows the patterns of our daily lives. For example, one might eat breakfast before going to work, and then go out to lunch, which is later followed by coming home for dinner. However, there are a few movies that manipulate the temporal aspects of a story to create something more interesting, or allow for the story to play out in a particular way. I have chosen three movies to discuss that incorporate these types of temporal issues in very different ways, which are Memento, Inception, and Midnight in Paris.
            Memento is a movie about how a man with amnesia deals with his wife’s rape in murder, and tries to figure out what happened by writing himself notes to remind himself of things that he as already figured out. What makes this movie so much more interesting than any other kind of crime-solving one, is that all of the information is delivered to the viewer out of sequence. As I explained in the introduction, the human brain is used to seeing things in sequence, as in, breakfast comes before lunch, which comes before dinner. This aspect of time went completely in the garbage in the editing room for Memento. All of the scenes were cut and placed out of order so the viewer really had to sit and pay attention to the story. The overall plot wasn’t anything new but the fact that it was put together in a way that viewers were required to really think throughout made it a more interesting and original movie.
            Inception on the other hand, was very original in it’s story, and in it’s use of time. Inception is about a man, Cobb, who, with several colleges, “breaks into” other people’s dreams to extract information for an important case. Cobb takes on an important case where he has to put information inside some one’s mind, rather than taking it out. The technology used allows for Cobb and his colleges to put their victims to sleep and take their time to get the information. Cobb, Leonardo Decaprio’s character, describes it in the following scene,
This scene explains an odd phenomenon that every human experiences, but uses it for the story of the movie later on. This element makes the story relatable, which is what sucks the viewer into the movie in the first place. Reliability is so crucial in “Inception” because the whole movie revolves around concepts that don’t exist in the real world. This next scene shows how time is slowed down to make a point, and also for the movie to play out the way the writers wanted it to.
This scene shows how slow motion is used to be able to depict the detail in which the story has. The characters wouldn’t have been able to carry out their task of putting the information into the victim’s mind without slowing down time in the other dreams. Without the manipulation of time, this movie wouldn’t have been as big of a hit as turned out to be, because the story would have holes in it and the common viewer wouldn’t have been able to follow.
            Midnight in Paris works with the manipulation of time in a slightly different way than Inception, but uses time to make a similar point. Midnight in Paris is about a writer, Gil, who is in Paris and trying to get inspiration for a book he is in the process of writing. He is a very nostalgic person, and is obsessed with the 1920’s. While on a walk through Paris very late at night, Gil sits down on a set of steps around midnight, and a car from the 1920’s pulls in front of him, and picks him up. Little did Gil know that it was his window to the past, which landed Gil right in the 1920’s. Time Travel is one of Hollywood’s favorite manipulations of time, but in this movie, it was done differently. Writers often use time travel to explore their curiosities with the past, but sometimes it’s used to create what could happen in the future. This type of time manipulation is often used in science fiction type movies, but Woody Allen took this concept and applied it to a more realistic setting. This is what made the movie so much more original. There wasn’t fancy equipment in which the characters traveled through time; there wasn’t any 80’s suspenseful music to hint at potential threats. Though the clip was unavailable online, there is a scene towards the end in which Gil, played by Owen Wilson, is talking to Adriana, played by Marion Cotilard, and Gil realizes that the past isn’t as amazing as he made it out to be. This is a lesson that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. This lesson was well executed through time travel, and wasn’t in the least bit cliché.
            Time is so important in film that writers and directors work really hard on making the timing of the story work well. Time has a huge influence on so many aspects of film that if not executed properly, the movie is a total flop. Memento would’ve been like all the other detective movies if it hadn’t been out of sequence, Inception would have been your typical Science Fiction movie, and Midnight in Paris would’ve been your typical movie about a struggling writer. In conclusion, the temporal aspects of film can make or break the story of a film. 

Final Exam

Annie Adams
Elements of Film

  1. Citizen Kane has won 14 Academy Awards, and raving reviews critics and viewers. What made it such a hit was its originality in its time, thus being the original in a slew of clichés to follow. It is so influential because Orson Welles managed to craft the film in such a way that whoever saw with fresh eyes, walked away from it glowing about how well it was put together. In essence, it had the same innovation and creativity that Inception had without the advantage of being able to have CGI or even color. Orson Welles had full control over the film because he was the producer, co writer, director, and even acted in the movie. Part of what made it so influential was that Orson Welles couldn’t live up to his achievement with the movie, and fizzled out into the world of long lost movie buffs.
  2. Although Orson Welles struggled at first, he managed to land full control of Citizen Kane because of his natural talent and his experiences with roles like Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. What really got him hooked in were his work on “The War of the Worlds” and his other work with John Houseman. Basically, Orson Welles developed a pretty good resume for himself growing up and was able to get people’s attention very easily, which allowed them to trust his ability to create a phenomenal film like Citizen Kane.
  3. Citizen Kane’s Z-axis scene is one that I found incredibly powerful and bold with witty lines speckled throughout. This scene is a great example of Orson Welles’s bold decisions to use low angles and shots that have a whole lot of depth. It’s transition from the bar to the house was particularly different from other things I’ve seen because it was a close up of a document but it was passing the writing so quickly, I couldn’t really read what was there. Orson’s use of unconventional angles, transitions and depth really added to his witty one-liners, which painted a very fitting description of how the characters felt about money. The acting was also very good which tied all of the other elements together to tell a very good story of how the situation was changing in the overall plot. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Final Exam: Citizen Kane

Georgia Gordon

“Citizen Kane” is one of the most influential films ever made. Discuss this statement.

Citizen Kane is a timeless movie, more or less for its advances in cinematic elements.  Arguably the most important advance in film at this time that Orson Welles was able to show with the world with Citizen Kane was that of deep focus
Along with the film technique of deep focus, Welles and Gregg Toland, his cinematographer also incorporated a technique known as “wipe”, along new and interesting camera angles.

Orson Welles had been given more power over casting than was heard of at that time, and it is ended up being a good thing.  The acting from his “mercury cast” worked well with the film techniques used by Welles and Toland.  Even though none of the actors had ever acted in a Hollywood movie before that, they had excellent theatrical stage training, which worked well for the mise en scene of the film.

There was also creative storytelling in this film as well.  The movie is almost that of a biographical film, exploring Kane’s entire life.  As the story goes on, and time passes for the movie viewers, time passes in the movie as well as Charles Kane ages.  However, the movie is not told in perfect chronological order.  Instead, certain segments overlap and different stories and perspectives of Kane are told (through his wife etc.)  The story describes Kane as a complex man with a lot of depth, so it is no wonder the viewer is left with questions at the end. 

Citizen Kane, with its unique film techniques of shadow, and lighting, is argued to be the first film noir, and is therefore important just in itself, but it also gets its credit as one of the most influential films ever made by other film techniques, style, and creative storytelling.  Welles really stepped out of the box for this one and took a chance, which paid off.

What had Orson Welles done in his first 23 years of life to warrant the Hollywood Film Industry offering complete creative control to a first time filmmaker?

By his early twenties, Orson Welles had more experience in theater production than most others his age.  After directing notable theater productions such as An Innovative Adaptation of Macbeth and The Cradle Will Rock, Welles directed and narrated a radio adaptation of H.G. Well’s novel The War of the Worlds, which he performed for Welles’ radio drama series Mercury Theater on the Air.  This particular project became a hit, boosting him to a higher level in the industry and he was almost instantaneously recognized by Hollywood.  Because of his impressive previous work, he was given complete creative control by the Hollywood Film Industry for his first film, Citizen Kane.

Pick an extended scene or sequence and discuss the storytelling technique by analyzing any combination of its component parts (direction, writing, performance, cinematography, production design, art direction, editing, sound, score, etc.)

The scene I am choosing to analyze is when Charles is shown as a little boy playing in the snow outside with his sled, which he named Rosebud.  In this powerful scene, we see a young boy who is content with being by himself.  Even though there are no other children to play with him at that time, and his parents don’t seem to have a lot of money, he seems really happy and at peace.  If we backtrack a little bit to where his parents are in the house, we see the mother signing the paper, Charles’ father, Mr. Thatcher, and Charles through the window having fun in the snow.  This use of deep focus (Charles in the background through the window) is one of the creative cinematic techniques I discussed earlier.  For example, typically the shot would be just the mother signing the paper.  However, in this case, we get to see everybody, and everybody is in focus.  This gives the audience a chance of where to look.  Then, when they are all outside, the whole focus of the photography is on the boy, and everyone is staged around him.  At the end of the scene, we can see that it was edited to have a close up of the mother, then the mother and son, and then down to just the son.  This concludes the dramatic focus on the boy.  After this, the close-up “dissolves” from the boy to his sled, rosebud, which plays a very important role in the film.  The sound that transitions this scene to the scene of the boy and Mr. Thatcher at Christmas is that of what sounds like sleigh bells, as Charles is opening up his Christmas present, which looks to be a nice sled.   Lastly, the writing was also important for me in this scene.  It is hard to figure out the mother when she says “I have had his stuff packed for a week” to Mr. Thatcher as she is looking out the window.  This prompted me to evaluate whether she was happy the boy was leaving, or if it was too sad and she just did not want to think about it.  Then, at the end of the scene, we are led in the direction that the husband is not a great father.  This is what the mother leads us to believe, as she says “…Where he can’t get to you anymore”.  This was a powerful scene for me, because it basically set up the whole movie.

Georgia Gordon Final Project

Georgia Gordon
“This Film is Not Yet Rated”
The history of the Rating System

For my final project, I wanted to research the history of the rating system for movies in America, and how that system has evolved over the years.  Movies with “adult content” that have a certain rating today, would have had to have a rating, twenty/thirty/forty/fifty years ago, that was stricter.  Because of this, more questionable content is being allowed in films under different ratings.  For example, movies like A Clockwork Orange, would still be rated X today if the system had not changed, and would therefore be classified as almost pornographic.  The rating system and the way it has changed have affected movies and filmmakers.  When they make their movies, they have to think about what rating their movie will get which can ultimately affect them at the box office.  This puts a good restraint on what kind of material circulates to the media, and protects children and teenagers.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), an American trade association that represents the six big Hollywood Studios, was founded in 1922 and is the administrator of the current US rating system (Motion Picture Association, 2012, para. 1).  Although films are not required to have a rating, they usually do, since Movie Theaters typically do not show non-rated films.  Therefore, the rating system is important for filmmakers. 

The MPAA ratings that have been in place since 1990 are:
G (General Audiences)
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested/Some material might not be suitable for children)
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned/Some material may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13) 
R (Restricted/Under 17 not admitted without parent or adult guardian)
NC-17 (No One 17 and Under Admitted).
(MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 5)

How did this system come about?  Let us look at the original ratings (1968):
G: General Audiences – Suggested for General Audiences – (all ages)
M: Mature Audiences – Suggested for Mature Audiences – Parental Discretion Advised
R: Restricted – People Under 16 Not Admitted Unless Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian
X: Adults Only – People Under 18 will not be Admitted (changed to 17 later that year)
(MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 9)

             At first the ratings were just “G” “M” and “R”, so that parents would have three rating to choose from to take their kids to (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 10).  However, the National Association of Theater Owners proposed that there be a category for adults only (X) to stay clear of legal issues (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 10).  Therefore the “X” rating was not actually a trademark of the MPAA (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 10).  Actually, any producer that did not send in their movie for a rating could classify it as “X” (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 10).  The reason the “M” was changed was before it was confusing for parents (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 12).  They were not sure of the distinction between “M” and “R” and therefore “GP” was created (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 12).  

The ratings used from 1970 to 1972 were:
Rated G: All Ages Admitted. General Audiences.
Rated GP: All ages Admitted. Parental Guidance Suggested.
Rated R: Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
Rated X: No One Under 17 Admitted.
(MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 13)
                1970 was also the year in which the age for which you could see an “R” or an “X” rated movie moved from 16 to 17 (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 14).  Shortly after, it was changed to 18 for “X” in order to stop underage kids from seeing pornography (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 14).  From the years of 1972-1984, “GP” was changed to “PG” in 1972 after the MPAA added a description for GP that basically said the movies “contained material not generally suitable for pre-teenagers” (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 15).  When the MPAA added this content, parents thought that “GP” was not a suitable rating for all ages like it said, since it now contained material not suitable typically for pre-teens, indirectly changing the rating to PG (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 15).  

So, the ratings from 1972 to 1984 were:
Rated G: General Audiences – All Ages Admitted.
Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not be Suitable for Pre-Teenagers.
Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
Rated X: No One Under 17 Admitted.
(MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 16)

                The PG-13 rating was added after movies such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins came out with a “PG” rating (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 17).  These movies had a lot more violence and gore than had been seen before for movies with a “PG” rating and parents freaked out about this (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 17).  All this caused the director of those two movies, Steven Spielberg, to try to convince the MPAA to add a rating between PG and R, which is smart since there is a pretty big difference between the two (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 17).  The first film that was circulated with a PG-13 rating was Red Dawn (1984) (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 18).  The week after that, Dreamscape and The Woman in Red came out with the same rating (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 18).  The first movie to actually be given the rating was The Flamingo Kid (1984) but it was not released until later that year (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 18).  

Therefore, the film rating system from 1984 to 1986 was as follows:
Rated G: General Audiences – All Ages Admitted.
Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not be Suitable for Children.
Rated PG-13: Parents Are Strongly Cautioned to Give Special Guidance for Attendance of Children Under 13 – Some Material may be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.
Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
Rated X: No One Under 17 Admitted.
(MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 19)

               What I found to be most intriguing was the way that the Rated NC-17, which we use today, came about.  In the early years of the rating system, we know that “X” was commonly used to describe non-pornographic films with adult content such as Midnight Cowboy (1969), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Fritz the Cat (1972) and Last Tango in Paris (1973) (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 20).  This was a fine rating to use, until pornographic films started to use that rating sometimes on their own films (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 20).  “X” and “XXX” being popular in pop-culture, and subsequently movie theaters did not want to put out movies with that rating because people would assume they would be pornographic (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 20).  This led to the rating “NC-17” (No Children Under 17 Admitted) as its official rating for movies with content only suitable for adults (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 22).  

Finally, the rating system used from 1990 to the late 1990s were
Rated G: General Audiences – All Ages Admitted.
Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not be Suitable for Children.
Rated PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some Material May be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.
Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
Rated NC-17: No Children Under 17 Admitted.
(MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 23)

             (In the late 90s, the “No Children Under 17 Admitted” was changed to “No one 17 and under admitted”, which made it more strict and gave the public a better warning.) (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 24)

              I became really interested in this topic after watching A Clockwork Orange.  I absolutely loved the movie, but I could not believe that it was not rated higher than R.  Personally, I tend to be shocked by what gets to be shown in a lot of the R films today, especially when it comes to sex.  This was one of those films for me.  At some parts of the movie, especially rape or sex scenes containing nudity, it seemed like the rating of “R” was way too lenient.  This leniency of the ratings has recently been a concern for other people as well.  The MPAA, in recent years, has been accused of what is called a “ratings creep” (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 53).  This is just what it sounds like.  Films that fall into a certain category now tend to contain more “questionable” material than the films that appeared in that same category two decades ago.  A study done by the “Harvard School of Public Health” in 2004 showed that films released between 1992 and 2003 contained more profanity, sex, and violence (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 53).  The results basically indicated that because the same movie that would have been in a higher rating category a few decades ago is now in a lower rating, but contains the same amount of profanity, sex, and violence (MPAA Rating System, 2012, para. 53).  This has been my opinion as well in the past couple of years.  I find myself walking out of theaters thinking, “That was rated PG-13? Or, “That should have been rated X!”  Sometimes I feel tricked by the system.  However, I feel like a hypocrite.  In a way, even though I believe it should have probably had a rating higher than “R”, that was only for some scenes, and if it did have a rating higher than “R”, I probably would have never watched it, and that is exactly what these filmmakers are dealing with (people watching or not watching a movie due to its rating).

A Clockwork Orange is probably my favorite movie.  I absolutely LOVED it and thought it was so interesting.  I definitely found myself getting lost in that “future Britain” world and I know it will be a movie I never forget.  However, with that said, I found myself wishing that it had contained less sex and nudity etc.  Even though that was a big part of the film, I want to watch it again, but because of some of the content in the film, I find myself having to skip through a lot of parts which makes watching the film difficult.  After thinking about this movie in particular, I thought it was funny that in the Wikipedia page for the rating system, A Clockwork Orange is the second of four films listed that were rated “X” in earlier years.

As you can see from the progression over the years and the rating changes, more “adult” material is able to slip through the cracks.  At first, the rating system was a good way to put constraints on material in films, and it still does that, but because it is a lot less strict than it was many years ago, the question remains if movies given a rating of “R” or “PG-13” should actually be rated higher.  I believe a higher rating would definitely affect them in the box office, and I believe that to be the main reason that movies that have material in them that I would think warrants them to be “X” are instead rated “R” and the same thing with the “R” movies that maybe should be “PG-13”. 

Works Cited

“Motion Picture Association of America.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
11 May 2012. Web. 15 May 2012.
“Motion Picture Association of America film rating system.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  14 May 2012. Web. 15 May 2012.

Justin Blancher, Final Project

Justin Blancher
Final Project
16 May 2012
Prof. Hammond
        One of the great actors in American cinema during the 1980's and 1990's was the great Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a body builder who then switched to acting, and thus was often used to portray big, macho, seemingly invincible characters, such as the Terminator, and Schaefer (in Predator). Because of this, he sometimes played roles that used this in comedic roles, such as Kindergarten Cop and Jingle all the way. In 2003, however, he decided to take an indefinite hiatus in his acting career, and enter politics, where he was elected governor of California.
       Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Austria in 1947, and lived a difficult life at home. His family was very poor, and he was beaten as a child, but always seemed to maintain a “cheerful, good-humored and exuberant character.” His father influenced him to play many sports, and while playing soccer, he was introduced to the idea of bodybuilding, which he chose as his career. He began to become obsessed with bodybuilding, in a sense. He was reported to break into the gym late at night, just to continue to work out. In his hometown, they called him “The Austrian Oak”, to signify how incredibly strong he was. He began his professional competitive career at the age of 17, and won many awards, including Mr. Europe and the youngest Mr. Universe in the history of the title.
       Schwarzenegger eventually left Europe to go the United States, using bodybuilding to make it. He lived in Los Angeles, working out at Gold's Gym with a number of famous wrestlers and bodybuilders. Because of his new location and new friends, he eventually won Mr. Olympia, seven times.
       In 1970, he decided to hand at acting in cinema. His first roles were very limited due to his trouble with the English language and his thick austrian accent. His first roles were either dubbed with someone else's voice, or mute entirely. His first huge hit where he was the lead role was Conan the Barbarian (1982), in which he played Conan. This was a box-office hit, and this projected him into his career defining role, the Terminator. Terminator (1984) is probably his most famous role, in which he says “I'll be back,” which is his most famous line. Terminator, along with his next movies, Commando (1985), Running Man (1987), and Predator (1987), launched him into being an action movie star, gaining him international popularity.
       However, as he is an action movie star, he uses this to make stark contrasts as he plays in more goofy roles, such as in Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Jingle all the Way. In these roles, he relies on his previous roles of tough, gruff, men who shoot things in every shot, to being a sophisticated intellectual in Twins, the absent but loving father in Jingle all the Way, or the same tough-guy, surrounded by small children. In Gianetti, it is wirtten that versatility is a good measure of the quality of an actor, but Schwarzenegger's “versatility” is only due to his previous roles. This is not to say that he is not a good actor, but rather, his qualities lie elsewhere.
       Arnold Schwarzenegger has an air about him unlike any actor who has gone before him. His Austrian accent, his gigantic stature and athletic ability, his great facial expressions, and his unmistakable one-liners have made him into one of the most recognizable actors in American cinema.
His accent has been parodied many times throughout the years. Many times, and in many different forms of media and/or film, using an Austrian accent in a deep voice has become indicative of a very strong person. In the movie Aladdin, the Genie transforms into a giant muscular man, and says “Infinite Cosmic Power!” in a Schwarzenegger-esque voice. Even in video games, like Starcraft 2, the unit “Thor”, which is a giant robot with gigantic cannons on top, is piloted by a Austrian accented man who even looks a bit like Schwarzenegger.
       This is due to Schwarzenegger's own stature, which was exemplified in Commando, where he was first seen with a whole tree trunk on his back. Schwarzenegger's size is also alluded to in many other movies and forms of media, including the movie Die Hard, where John McClane states “they have enough explosives to orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger!”
       In Total Recall (1990), Schwarzenegger had some ridiculous facial expression to show his agony of being on the surface of Mars without a spacesuit, for example. This has endeared him to many audiences. Even his face while playing the Terminator is commendable for his cold and calculating demeanor, without moving his face nor conveying any kind of emotion. Furthermore, his face when he has some of it blown off, showing the red eye and metal understructure of the Terminator's face, is widely recognizable across nations.
       However, the most endearing facet of Schwarzenegger's career has to be his punctuation of action sequences with quick quips, often puns. This has become almost a trademark of 1980's and 90's between Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. For example, in the movie Total Recall, his wife says “Sweetheart, we're married!” then pulls out a gun. Quaid, Schwarzenegger's character, shoots her in the head. He then says “Consider that a divorce.” The link below has approximately 160 of these quotes, as they are quite prevalent throughout his filmography.

       Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared on many, many lists of the worlds most influential or recognizable actors of all time. Looking at his flimography and at his demeanor as well as his endeavors outside of acting, this is very easy to see. He has given us many of our favorite movies, and there are reports that now that he is no longer the “Governator”, he will return to acting, at least in a diminished capacity. Perhaps we will get another great movie from the “Austrian Oak”.

Justin Blancher, Final Exam

Justin Blancher
Final Exam
16 May 2012
Prof. Hammond

  1. Citizen Kane is one of the most influential films ever made. Discuss this statement.
       Citizen Kane is indeed one of the most influential movies ever made because of Orson Welles' desire to do what had never been done before with lighting, deep-focus photography, and the idea of a non-linear narrative. These three facets are just a small sample of the number of things that he did.
In terms of lighting, the common idea of the times was to use the invisible style. This meant that the lights illuminating the set would be not visible to the audience. They would be off camera or hidden in some way. Welles took a different approach. He used lighting in a more natural way, with some of the shots looking almost directly into the light source, creating silhouettes of the characters in the shot. This is especially evident in the beginning of the movie when the news reel guys are talking about Charles Foster Kane, with the projector still on.
       The deep-focus photography utilized by Welles was an idea of very long shots, with the camera very far away, with a large field of view, as with the scene with the speech when he is running for governor. Most movies of the time used very clear and distinct shots of what was going on, while deep-focus shots often gave the audience a sense of the scale of the shot, rather than the action occurring within it.
       Citizen Kane begins with a man's death, and continues through a series of flashbacks and stories told by those who knew him. This makes for a non-linear narrative, unlike most movies at the time which started at the beginning of a story, and ended at the end. Citizen Kane starts with a broad overview, in a newsreel style, then jumps back to his childhood and progresses through his death.
Most of the above may seem very commonplace and usual to have in movies, but Citizen Kane was the first movie to utilize these techniques in a society where the rules governed everyone's moves. Orson Welles seemed to make it a point to break each and every one.

  1. What had Orson Welles done in the first 23 years of life to warrant the Hollywood Film Industry offering complete creative control to a first time filmmaker?
       A big part of what moved their hand and influence them to use Welles as their man was his prior involvement with Broadway, and his success there. He had success in theater since he was a child, and this led to his formation of the Mercury Theatre in New York. He enjoyed much success here, both acting and directing, his most notable event being the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, which resulted in his name being spread all around the country. That's when Hollywood wanted to get him to work on films. RKO studios wanted him so badly that they gave him a budget of $500,000, a sum that was never given to a young, unproven director.
       This caused many of the concurrent directors to become very angry with Welles, having just flown on the scene, and thus competed with him. However, when Citizen Kane came out, they knew that this guy was truly a good director, and not just some up-start without any grounding.
  1. Pick an extended scene or sequence and discuss the storytelling technique by analyzing any combination of its component parts (direction, writing, performance, cinematography, production design, art direction, editing, sound, score, etc.)
       The scene where Kane walks into the newspaper office to talk with this friend Leland, who was drunk and asleep on his typewriter, Welles' uses a fair amount of low angle shots to make the subjects look more important than the audience, similar to how a child would see a fight between parents. This, combined with the performance of the actors, who were using method acting, makes for a powerful scene. Method acting is the technique where actors do not flourish their actions, as in on stage, but rather use simple, real-life expressions and reactions to what has been said.
Jenna Caderas
Professor Hammond

The Birth of Action Films: Bond, James Bond

            Action films are on everyone's movie shelf at home, and can always be found in theaters.  Action films began with the class action-western film The Great Train Robbery in 1903.  This genre originally started with the silent era which is around the time that The Great Train Robbery first premiered.  The genre began to explode in popularity during the '80s and '90s.    Action films are very popular because they allow the general public to experience an aspect of life that they will most likely never be a part of.

            Very popular films that most of America has probably seen are the James Bond – Agent 007 series.  James Bond, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the most profitable and largest movie of all time, even though it was recently passed by both the Harry Potter and Star Wars series.  The movie series is somewhat based on a series of books, 12 total, written by Briton Ian Fleming.  The first appearance of James Bond was on TV in 1954, with the first novel that was made into a film being Casino Royale.

            The beginning of each Bond movie from 1962-2006 is the same.  It starts with a circle, moving from left to right across the center of the screen.  Boom!  It turns into an eye that the viewer is looking through, and follows Bond across the screen now from right to left.  Bond suddenly realizes and turns, points his gun at us (the viewer) and shoots.  It is then that from the top to the bottom of the eye (and screen) that it turns red, like dripping blood.  The eye then starts to sway back and forth and down, implying that Bond has shot us and we are dying.  This opening scene has remained the same throughout all of the movies for the 40 years stated above.  This opening, coupled with the Bond theme song playing in the background, has become somewhat of a "Bond" trademark.

            While searching this particular sequence (since it is one of the best parts of the movie) I found a video showing the different starting scenes for the first 40 years of the movies.  In each one, the music starts off differently.  Each film has a particular way that the theme song starts and at what point it starts during the shooting scene.  It seems to be that each particular director and composer did it their own way.  With a total of 11 directors and music by more than 5 composers, it came together to be individualized for the specific movie.

            As shown in this clip, it is evident that each introduction was intended to be tailored to the movie itself.  In each one, there is different tempo used and in many there are different octaves, setting the mood for what the viewer will feel.  Faster tempos normally create an upbeat, excited or anxious feeling, while slower tempos make the viewer feel sad or worried.  It is interesting to note that starting with Thunderball in 1965, instead of letting the eye hole close, the directors started making that into the first scene.  Before 1965, the eyehole closed and the movie began after the introduction.  Along with this introduction, Dr. No (the first Bond movie) started with the standard shooting introduction, and then went straight into the credits.  This was different because most movies do not begin with the credits, but end with them.

            Two movies that are among my top five favorite James Bond movies are Dr. No (1962) and Goldfinger (1964).  For both of these films, Sean Connery played James Bond.  Dr. No was the first James Bond film that was produced by MGM.  Before that, the Bond movie (Casino Royale) was only premiered on TV.  For this film, the production budget was $1.2 million; the film made $16 million  domestically and $60 million worldwide. This was a tremendous achievement for not only the Bond movie “name” but also for United Artists.  Another Bond "trademark" are the Bond "girls"; those sexy actresses that always appear in every Bond movie.  In Dr. No, there were two bond girls, Eunice Gayson and Ursula Andress.  With these Bond girls, there were 3 love scenes, which is always a much anticipated as well as popular facet of the Bond movies.

            In Goldfinger (1964), there were many more Bond girls, and 4 love scenes.  In this film, the gun-barrel sequence that was in the beginning of the film was similar to Dr. No, and designed by Maurice Binder.  This film had a production budget of $3.5 million, revenue of $51 million domesitcally and $125 million worldwide.  This was much greater than Dr. No and was and even bigger success.

            James Bond has a reputation to uphold; he’s the superhero that never dies, the spy that is never caught, and the ladies man that never fails.  A terrific example of this is in another more recent Bond film that is also a favorite indeed.  In Die Another Day (2002), Pierce Brosnan plays Bond's witty character.    Other than being a spy that is never caught, Bond is also known for the gadgets he has, which are every mans dream.  In this chase scene there are many different gadgets that save Bond from dying and / or being caught by the enemy.
            The first gadget that is brought into the scene is the ring that breaks glass.  To my understanding, it sends out a high enough frequency sound, which creates sound waves that shatter the glass.  This is the first time Bond escapes during this scene and makes it out alive.  The second is the electric harness and rope that pull him to safety onto the roof of the building.  Once off the roof, he turns on his car and retrieves it from a hidden location using the remote control.  The car is invisible, so it is unseen by anyone, especially enemies.  The high-tech gadgets get better and better, continuing  through the movie, and Bond continues to cheat fate and survive.  Not only do these gadgets save him, but they allow the audience to experience and “live” in the moment, experiencing the fantasy of Bond's world where cars are invisible, and death is forever escapable.   The viewer can enter his unrealistic world and enjoy all the joys and suspense of life, coming out unscathed and feeling exhilarated!
            James Bond was a true milestone in the start of the action film era.  The longevity of the series and the continued success of each film, couple with the huge fan base that still exists after 40 years, make the Bond series a once in a lifetime success story!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nat Marx 
Citizen Kane is one of the most influential films ever made.  Discuss this statement.

Citizen Kane is one of the most influential films ever made for many reasons.  The film typifies the American dream in my opinion, it tells the story about a man who in life is supposed to pursue wealth and success, he is sent away by his mother when he is a child due to the social constructions of what she thinks is the right thing to do.  From then Charles Kane goes on to pursue a prospering publishing newspaper which makes him a very wealthy man.  Although he achieved the wealth that was expected of him, he is unhappy, he tries to fill the void of his existence by forcing others to love him through whatever means necessary.  In the end his happiest moments when he was a child before he had been taken away, a time when things were simple.  The film itself is deeply aesthetically enthralling.  The narrative structure within the film is really surprising where it begins the film with the ending and restructures the story so the viewer learns about the story of Charles Kane and his ultimate demise.  The use of using different characters lives and memories of Kane help to create a multifaceted view of who Charles Kane really was and helps the viewer to delve deeper into understanding his past.  The cinematography within the film is really quite beautiful throughout.  The use of overlapping of film over one another helped to create interplaying story lines melting into one another for the viewer.  The use of low angle shots helped to create a foreboding sense within the scenes and helped the viewer view the entire set.  After viewing Citizen Kane I agree that it is one of the most influential films ever made.  

What had Orson Welles done in his first 23 years of life to warrant the Hollywood Film Industry offering complete creative control to a first time filmmaker?

To me it is amazing to think about the fact that Orson Welles was so young when he began his filmmaking career.  Welles first began his career when he inherited some money and went to Europe where he became a film star in Jew Suss as the duke.  He tired of this and turned his attention to a writing project that would become the famous Everybody’s Shakespeare which brought him further acclaim.  After this he directed a play for the Federal Theatre Project Negro Theater Unit where he remade Macbeth, calling it Voodoo Macbeth.  It became enormously popular in Harlem and subsequently went on to tour the nation.  Next he turned his attention to working within radio and made a radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells which brought Welles instant fame due to the nature of the story and his ability to make it seem a reality, which many thought a martian conquest was occurring in reality.  This brought the attention of Hollywood who created an unprecedented contract giving Welles complete artistic control and through two failed movie proposals finally settled on Citizen Kane.   
3.  Pick an extended scene or sequence from Citizen Kane and discuss the storytelling technique by analyzing any combination of its component parts (direction, writing, performance, cinematography, production design, art direction, editing, sound, score, etc).
The extended scene from Citizen Kane I am going to be talking about in relation to its storytelling technique is the one when Kane gets married for the first time to Emily Monroe, from the storytelling perspective of Kane’s best friend, Jedediah Leland.  The story is told in reminiscent style and the reality of the memory becomes activated by a dissolving of the present.  Jedediah Leland comments before the memory becomes shown that Kane and Monroe’s marriage was, “a marriage just like any other marriage”.  The scene then dissolves into Kane and Monroe in a lavish room at a gothic breakfast table eating.  Kane and Monroe profess their undying love for one another.  The scene continues with a fast forward still in front of the breakfast table but both Monroe and Kane’s clothing have changed and so has their demeanor for one another.  This trend continues until it is the ultimate collapse of their relationship and marriage to one another, all in the span of a couple of minutes and using the same space.  This scene is unique due to its simplistic nature of using the same set to tell the breakdown of their marriage.   The viewer understands that their relationship changes and that time has gone by simply by changing their clothing and letting the actors personas toward one another change.  The music within the scene changes from one ‘period’ of their relationship to the next.   It begins as a broad reaching and relaxing use of strings to show tranquility and happiness which next transitions to a more fast paced but still happy and quickly escalates in tempo and speed until it reaches a climax of pace and then goes back to being slower but more slow and sad.  The music is used to help show the changes in their relationship and add drama to the individual occurrences that occurred in the time.  

Taylor Bullock--Citizen Kane

1)      “Citizen Kane” is one of the most influential films ever made. Discuss this statement.
 Citizen Kane was Welles first film. This film is considered to be the best film even 70 years later which is incredible in itself and should say a lot to the audience. He had his influence in about every part of the movie. He produced, co-wrote, chose the cast and crew, did the music and editing. He used a lot of deep focus shots and spot lights to create depth perception. throughout the movie. Since he was in radio before he made this film, he could create a lot of his own sounds from the knowledge he had through radio. He used many techniques all in one film the most directors did not do and also brought back techniques that people stopped using. Welles did all of this when he was only 25 years old.
2)      What had Orson Welles done in his first 23 years of life to warrant the Hollywood Film Industry offering complete creative control to a first time filmmaker?
When Welles was only fifteen years old he dropped out of school and went and traveled to Europe. He found his way to the Gate Theater in Dublin where he told them he was a Broadway star, they did not believe him but hired him anyway because he was so blunt and confident. He traveled to America three years later and toured with Broadway star Katherine Cornell in plays. He was considered by many a prodigy by the time he was 20 years old. In 1937 Welles and Houseman started the Mercury Theater. Welles kept it running by the money he made in his radio. He did so much by the age of 25 that most of us could only dream of.
3)      Pick an extended scene or sequence from “Citizen Kane” and discuss the storytelling technique by analyzing and combination of its component parts (direction, writing, performance, cinematography, production design, art direction, editing, sound, score, ect).
The scene I chose to analyze  is the scene where Kane is signing his declaration of principles. This scene uses a good foreshadowing concept. When he is reading the principles his face is completely shadowed until he signs his paper. Because of the shadowing of the face it shows the audience that the principles might not stay with Kane forever.