Quick and dirty understanding cinema

"I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it. It is the kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river"

-Akira Kurosawa on Pather Panchali

Introduction: an explanation will follow, but the directions in which the trends have spread must be found out by looking at the period of the release. The philosophy of film making here is modernism, which is the predominant idea of the twentieth century evolving into existentialism in Italy, which in turn goes on to become neo-realism in France, which influences Pather Panchali in India. The French New wave goes to America, where it clashes with the plot influences of Kurusawa's Seven Samurai, leading to Speghatti Westerns (Makenna's gold, good, bad, ugly etc, which come to India again, in the form of Sholay) Modernism meanwhile evolves into movies like Pulp fiction being made in America, paving the way for neo-modernism. Modernism, also brings about the idea of cubism, of watching something objectively and in all its respect, a stark contrast to the subjective realities shown in neo-realism. Feminism, another derivative of modernism, is a predominant theme in many of these movies. Battleship Potemkin was a film that started two parallel chain reactions - one of psychoactive editing, or a manner of telling the story with subtle influences on the audience, which goes through breathless, and to America (compare the narrative structures of Battleship Potemkin and Pulp Fiction), influencing movies like cries and whispers on the way, which bring about complex emotions by different visual and auditory stimulation, and finally culimnating in the hip-hop montage of requiem for a dream; another film that tries to psychologically affect the viewer - the other chain reaction is that of propoganda films, films that require a change in the audiences, Godards' Breathless highlighting Marxist philosophies, and The bicycle thief highlighting a materialistic living. It is unclear if this resulted eventually on social commentry films like Salaam Bombay and Colors of Paradise. However, it is funny to note that all films shown here, depict acute forms of human decay.

Birth of a nation 1915
Battleship Potemkin 1925
The man who knew too much 1934
Casablanca 1942
Bicycle Thief 1948
Seven Samurai 1954
Pather Panchali 1955
breathless 1960
Closely Oserved Trains 1966
Cries and Wispers 1972
Sholay 1975
Salaam Bombay 1988
Pulp Fiction 1994
The colours of paradise 1999
Requeim for a Dream 2000
Crash 2004

Birth of a nation

DW Griffith


[American Civil War, White Supremacism, Ku Klux Klan glorification]

[Established duration of feature films for feature films all around the world]

influence of local theatre

Vignette shots, idea of comic relief in the films - again, from local theatre

Intercuts - different situations and places

Film is from the white perspective, as in Crash, made 80 years later

Battleship Potemkin

Sergei Eisenstein



[Revolutionary propoganda film, ]

Eisenstein's experiment was a mixed success

Eisenstein "was disappointed when Potemkin failed to attract masses of viewers"
Bolshevism was the intended effect

propaganda to demonize the Czar and the Imperial regime

Intercuts - different situations and places

Dehumanizing geometric shots

"Eisenstein's solution was to shun narrative structure by eliminating the individual protagonist and tell stories where the action is moved by the group and the story is told through a clash of one image against the next (whether in composition, motion, or idea) so that the audience is never lulled into believing that they are watching something that has not been worked over."

The man who knew too much


Alfred Hitchcock

[influential on Closely watched train visuals, psychoanalytics used for display of fright... basic point draws on post war fears]


Michael Curtiz



[Romantic film, romance as the use of a plot, from seven samurai]

Bicycle Thief

Vittorio de Sica



[Robert Affman - the player - 1992 - perfect endings in hollywood]

[French new wave - India - Satyajit Ray]

[Spaghetti westerns - good, bad ugly etc, 1960s]

[Exaltist (fantasies) to fascist to neorealism]

everything should be about reality and in real time

neorealism was before the spread of the plot idea

marxism broken down

Seven Samurai

Akira Kurosawa



[Introduction of plot element, and precursor to speghatti westers]

[ Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II are strongly modeled upon the samurai seen in the movie.]

[Panning, slow motion, plot, further developement in editing]

Vignette to Panchali

, and to Requiem for a dream
[Romance sub plot]

Pather Panchali

Satyajit Ray



[Background score - emotion tweaking, short and precise dialogues]

[neorealism, existentialism]


Jean Luc Godard



[Jump Cuts, Montage, Requiem - French new wave, based on neorealism, Quentin Tarentino influenced by NEw Wave, existentialism]

[1970s American Cinema, George Lucals, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Woodly Allen]

[French Marxist film makers, such as Jean-Luc Godard, would employ radical editing and choice of subject matter, as well as subversive parody, to heighten class consciousness and promote Marxist ideas.]

Influences by local theatre

treatment of women

People say something but others understand something else

Jump cuts... abruptly interrrupt narrative

Freud, Marx, Darwin - God is dead

Closely Oserved Trains

Jin Menzel



[Visual Sex metaphors, editing influence on people, Anti communism in America in the 60's, nazis are used as soviets]


Ramesh Sippy



[Drew on spaghatti westerns, slow motion comes to india from Japan through america,

[The first film to show a village hiring mercenaries to protect itself from bandits was the Japanese director Akira

Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. Hollywood remade Seven Samurai as The Magnificent Seven in 1960, fifteen years before Sholay.]

influence of local theatre

Salaam Bombay

Mira Nair


Social commentary film

{psychology and existentialism]

Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino



[Non linear editing style, narrative is distorted]

[Neo-noir style, postmodernist philosophies, no propoganda]

[Art film - euphamism for italian and french racy films]

[Independant film style, availability of technology, 1990 to 2000]

short and precise dialogues

Toilet motif - existentialism

Intercuts - different situations and places

The colours of paradise

Majid Majidi



[Simple, beautiful story]

facile commercialism

Requeim for a Dream

Darren Aronofsky


[reality movie, However, the film is not only about substance abuse, but also about addiction in a wider sense: the

characters are variously addicted as well to television, impossible dreams, old memories, sex, or to success.]

Requiem for A(merican) Dream? Death of "The American Dream"?

Hip Hop Montage

Intercuts - different situations and places


Paul Haggis


[Intersecting stories, showing pinballing of small racial imbalances]
Gender issues, pride of woman or man?
post modernism, human decay
Films is from the white perspective


1) Was there a spread of trends in local theatre before the spread of similiar trends in local movies? - Like the comic relief thing?

2) Compare results to a timeline of the twentieth century for better understanding

3) Study other movies for a better understanding, one more movie in and two or three movies will be better understood at the same time.

Leni Reifenstahl, Germany made many Nazi propoganda films.

Propoganda building has been established since the early years of flimmaking, imagine impact on audiences in today's times

The Kuleshov Experiment showed the ability of viewers to associate emotions with images. This and other techniques were explored by Kuleshov in his work in Marxist film theory. here you understand Potemkin, Requiem and Breathless in one line

Eisenstein's solution was to shun narrative structure by eliminating the individual protagonist and tell stories where the action is moved by the group and the story is told through a clash of one image against the next (whether in composition, motion, or idea) so that the audience is never lulled into believing that they are watching something that has not been worked over.

Detailed reviews like the previous post coming up.