Pather Panchali or Song of the Little Road, the first of the Apu Trilogy, tells the tale of a number of years of Apu’s, the trilogies protagonist’s childhood. The film was the first of director Satyagit Ray. Pather Panchali was produced by the Government of the state of West Bengal and released in 1955. In this analysis we will examine the scene in which Durga is sick in bed with the flu, while her mother, Sarbajaya, watches over her. In the scene a storm brews until the power of the wind forces open both the window and the door which had been keeping out the cold, wind, and rain. Sarbajaya patches up the window and door and then embraces Durga while stroking her hair. Throughout the scene the visual motif of “oscillation” is repeated again and again. This consistent back and forth motion serves to represent the instability and precarious nature of the state of life in India in that time period.

The scene opens with a shot of Durga asleep in her sick bed with her mother Sarbajaya leaning over her. This shot, really every shot in the scene, is very dark. Sarbajaya is better lit than her daughter who seems to be almost consumed by the darkness. After a closeup of Durga’s mother puting a cold compress on Durga’s head we are shown a closeup of a little oil lamp with a small flame burning. The flame is pretty steady. During these shots we hear nothing. After the lamp we are shown Sarbajaya again dosing off. We then hear a slow fade in of the storm brewing outside. Sarbajaya then looks up and the camera pans right to reveal a window shade barley keeping out the wind. The shade is blowing in and out of the window frame, an oscillatory action.

Next, we are shown a shot of Sarbajaya while we begin to hear a creaking sound. Sarbajaya looks over and the camera pans to the left revealing a creaking door that is being pushed in and out, oscillating, by the wind. We are then shown Sarbajaya again, followed by the window with its shade oscillating back and forth with the wind. We are then shown the creaking door again, this time oscillating to a greater degree. After this we see Sarbajaya again, looking ever more in distress. She looks to her left and we are shown a shot of a statue of the “elephant-headed” Hindu deity Ganesha teetering on a small shelf, shaking back a forth by the wind.

After this we are shown Durga, sick with the flu in bed, beginning to toss around in discomfort. We are then shown the small oil lamp flame as it begins to flicker, shaking more and more. While this is happening, the sound of the storm from outside is growing louder and louder as the scene progresses. The next sequence of shots within the scene is a repetition of the shots already described with one important difference. Each oscillatory action established by the initial shots of the oil lamp, the window, the door, and the statue of Ganesha have increased in frequency.

Sarbajaya is shown again, in the middle of all of this motion, practically stationary. A flash of lighting crosses her face accompanied with the sound of thunder. The camera then pans quickly to the right to reveal the window shade that has been oscillating back and forth with the wind. The shade blows open and Sarbajaya jumps up and runs over to mend it. While she is doing this we are shown Durga moving her lips but all we hear is the sound of the storm. We are then shown the creaking door again and it too blows open. We see Sarbajaya finish fixing the window and then run over to the door to close it and brace it closed with a nearby trunk. While She is closing the door we are shown a shot of the oil lamp flame again flickering in the wind. After the door is closed we are shown a new shot, revealing Apu, Durga’s little brother sleeping soundly through this entire ordeal. We then see a closeup of Durga, her eyes open and she seems to say something, but all we hear is the storm. We then see Durga lift up her arms and her mother falls on top of her, embracing her attempting to protect her sick daughter. The scene ends with another shot of the statue of Ganesha shaking back and forth on its little shelf with flashes of lighting streaking across its image and the sound of thunder in the background.

This scene has about forty shots total from beginning to end, but many of these shots are duplicates. This duplication of shots and the cutting back and forth between these shots reinforces the theme of oscillation within the scene. In the scene we find Sarbajaya trying desperately to keep the storm out of the room. But because of her families’ utter poverty and lack of sufficient resources, she fails and in the following scene we find out that Durga has passed on.

The scene makes use of sound and movement to deliver its message, there is no dialogue. Though a number of the elements in the scene, mainly the door and window are narrative elements, they also shed light on some of the themes of the film as a whole. The oscillations of these objects that we are shown greatly reinforce the mental, physical, and emotional state of the characters in the scene and entire film, a state of instability. The flickering flame in a room shrouded in darkness is another powerful image that conveys this unstable state. But on top of all of this we are also shown a statue of Ganesha, an important and widely worshiped deity in the Hindu pantheon, also oscillating. Thus solidifying the scenes message of instability.

In conclusion, the storm scene in Pather Pachali shows a very distressed mother trying desperately to take care of her dying child. Throughout the scene we are shown a number of images that both directly related to the plot and are auxiliary to it. These images all share the common trait of moving back and forth, or oscillation. This oscillation not only represents Durga’s unstable state of health and her families general state of instability, but could also be seen to represent the unstable state of India at that time.

Out of the Past, directed by Jacques Tourneur and released by RKO Radio Productions in 1947 is considered by many to be the quintessential film noir. In this analysis we will take a closer look at the scene where Jeff Markham and Kathie Moffat go back to Kathie’s cabin. The scene makes use of many of the cinematic elements for which film noir is notorious. Low key lighting mixed with rainy weather set the stage for Jeff and Kathie’s elicit romantic encounter while Jeff’s voiceover at the beginning of the scene makes it clear to the audience as to who whose eyes we are viewing the film. In addition, we never actually see Jeff and Kathie make love, a testament to the realities of film censorship back in the 1940s. In the following analysis we will attempt to draw a connection between these formal elements and what I see as the main thematic issue of the film, sexual deviance.

The scene begins with an outdoor establishing shot that pans to show Jeff and Kathie running into Kathie’s cabin to escape the rain. The rain can be considered a part of the plot, but it is really a cinematic element, creating an environment for us to exist in with the film. The rain very easily reflects the overall inhospitable nature of the film for the audience and the characters. This feeling of inhospitality can be seen as an attempt to communicate to the audience that this scene should not be taking place if all was right in the world, but in a noir, it never is.

Next, we hear Jeff’s voiceover describing the apartment as he sizes it up. While this element of the scene might be overlooked, I will argue that it is indicative of the film and film noir in general. This is not the first time in the film that we hear Jeff’s narration. But this scene is a prime example of how the film is told from a definite male perspective and how that perspective colors the films presented outlook, especially when it comes to sexual acts.

Jeff also points out that “one little lamp burned.” This brings us to the element of light in the scene and film. Noir’s are known for their low key lighting and this scene in particular is a great example of its use. The low key lighting effectively creates very rich shadows throughout the cabin that the characters must walk through during the scene. While it accomplishes a similar task as the rain in making the scene inhospitable, the lack of light, ironically, reveals how the film again views the sex act about to take place. This is not one of the opening scenes of the film where we see Jeff with his “good” girlfriend Ann outside in a clear bright shot. No, we are presented here with two lovers who should not be together in the eyes of society and thus they are shrouded in darkness because we not want to accept what is going on.

This brings us to our last element. Right after Kathie puts a record on to play and we begin to hear its music she sit down next to Jeff and then in a flash Jeff throws a towel, that is wet with rain, on to the lone lamp, knocking it over and plunging the room into darkness. The music swells to a crescendo as the cabin door blows open and we are given a view of the rainy exterior. In the following two shots we see Jeff go close the door and Kathie turn off the record player. These succession of scenes can be understood as being tantamount to the audience looking away as the forbidden love making occurs, for we can not even glimpse that which is so deviant.

In conclusion, the scene in which the femme fatale of the noir insnares our protagonist, the private investigator, in her forbidden lair uses many of the formal elements for which film noir are known for. But these elements are not just a rag-tag group of ideas that give a dark mood to the film. These elements successfully make us aware of the fact that what is going on is not considered proper by the standards of the society of the time.

I was surprised by how many laughs Ozu got out of us. I did not expect to laugh as much as I did, which was a pleasant surprise.

I thought the clash between traditionalism and modernity was very well done, we saw it on many different levels, from dress to architecture to speech.

I also found that a lot of shots were repeated throughout the film in the families home. This, for me, really lent a great sense of intimacy, like the audience was a fixture of the home, never to be moved.

I also observed that of the very few track or dolly shots, most camera movements started after the action had taken place and only led into a cut to another scene.

As I mentioned in class, I found a lot of the synchronous movement strangely appealing.  Something about it made me feel that this family was very tightly connected.

In addition, I liked how I didn’t really know what the film was about until it ended.

Im going to think about the film some more, let it marinate, we’ll see if I come up with anything else worth sharing.

I am really surprised by how Umberto D. has grown on me. When I first read that we were going to watch the film I asked from family and friends if they knew of it. The only one who did was my step mother and from what she could remember of it, I did not think I would enjoy it.

But I was very surprised. I really did enjoy it. I find it ironic how a film that has a much more simple plot then most blockbusters of modern day could be as gripping and interesting as it was. I think I was really surprised by how much I cared about what happened to Umberto and little Flike. I think that the fact that the film focused on Umberto and his dog instead of the much broader situation going on in Italy at the time really allowed it to take on a personal feeling and allowed the viewer to really connect with the film and the characters….

…Which is something that really does not happen to much these days in film. Over and over again we are presented with unbelievable characters going through unbelievable circumstances concluding in an unbelievable ending. Umberto D was a real treat for me in that it really served to show me that films could be much more than the blockbusters of which I have grown tired of.

I was also interested by the detail in which the film gave to sound. For some reason when I thought of “Realism,” I thought of low production value, but I was wrong. Of course the film didn’t make use of all kinds of things that our technology today gives us access to, but I was surprised by how well it did what it presented.

In addition, I really enjoyed how De Sica portrayed the differences in class and how the different classes interact with one another. But because we were viewing the film through the eyes of Umberto we see his landlady as the antagonist of the film. I find it interesting how that if the film was shot from her perspective Umberto would be just another old penniless (or really lira-less) man for which no one cares.

Oh and lastly, cute cute dog. 🙂

I’m still not quite sure how I feel about Citizen Kane.

I definitely enjoyed the film from a purely entertainment value perspective. But I can’t come to grips with the whole “greatest film of all time” stuff.

I don’t think I can get over it.

I wish I had seen the film before I heard about it.

I really enjoyed The Public Enemy.  I can’t deny that Cagney played a very charming badass. The “light punch to the face” move is very classy indeed. The part of the film that really struck me was the “PSAish” intro and outro. For me, it was really reminiscent of “Refer Madness,” the now infamous anti-cannabis propaganda film. Which actually did not come out until 1938, thus really making Refer Madness reminiscent of The Public Enemy, but I digress.

It made me think about the title of the film, The Public Enemy. Who is The Public Enemy? Is it Tom Powers (Cagney) or Matt Doyle (Woods) or maybe Nails Nathan or even Paddy Ryan the Boss. I am sure anyone can make an argument that all of them are this Public Enemy. But, I think the real Public Enemy in the film is the Eighteenth Amendment itself. The film even portrayed “Life before Prohibition” when beer flowed like water and kids frolicked through the streets sipping lager. The kids were small and the crime was smaller. The film seemed to really portray this loss of innocence viewed through the “prism” of the Cagney’s Tom Powers.

At the beginning of the film Tom and Matt were just little pranksters. The film really demonstrated for me how Prohibition gave bad people opportunities to make criminals out of these little boys. And how does it all end? With both Tom and Matt dead. Prohibition killed those kids. Prohibition was the catalyst for the entire film.

But on a different note, my favorite sequence of scenes had to be the series leading up to Matt’s murder.  The use of the sound of the coal truck sounding like gun fire really made me wonder just as much as the characters if “this was it.”

Again, I enjoyed the film. But I think it really only survived on Cagney’s charm. I didn’t really care about any of the other characters, their love interests or their dreams.

This is wikipedia’s article on Edward Woods, its Wiki so who knows if its really truth, but it seems to say that in the flashback scenes Tom and Matt are switched, did anyone catch that?

Edward Woods (July 5, 1903, Los Angeles — October 8, 1989, Salt Lake City) was an American actor who was playing the lead in the screen classic The Public Enemy, with James Cagney portraying his best friend, but director William Wellman switched the actors’ roles after viewing Cagney’s electric performance in the dailies. In the flashback sequences, the children’s appearances are reversed because those scenes were filmed before the switch and the studio opted not to pay to refilm them, which confuses viewers to this day.

The studio promised Woods that they’d make it up to him, then dropped him when his contract expired. Woods found acting work for several more years in tiny roles or in grade Z movies until he left the film business in 1938, while Cagney went on to become one of the cinema’s towering legends.

And here’s a link to Refer Madness on Google Video:

Hello Class!

Hello Fellow People!

My name is Moshe. I’m a junior at QC and a media studies major.

I’m not a film buff, but I believe that films have a tremendous ability to create an emotional response in people, much like music.

I’m looking forward to sharing ideas with everyone. please feel free to comment.

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