Monday, April 23, 2018

Magic (aka "Film, and Film, the Heck Out Of")

"Was it always horror that fascinated him?

Well, always horror, sci-fi, yes, but among my favourite films... Mildred Pierce, The African Queen, The Egyptian, The Land of the Pharoahs — always loved magical pictures."

That's Errol Flynn as the Earl of Essex, climbing the stairs behind the line of trumpeters.

Is it the "magical film" that allows cuts like these?  Or just the Curtiz picture?

Stills from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), dir. Michael Curtiz

A needless jump cut occurs between the two frames above.  Sure, it could've just been some necessity of post-production (the foreground trumpeter makes a face or something, requiring the splicing of two takes), but only in a Curtiz picture does it seem such magical "mistakes" are afforded for in such a way, can be made, in his design of unceasing traveling-in shots, without the "safe" number of retakes, or with any form of modern coverage.  It's awkward, noticeable, primitive, and perhaps compulsory, and somehow it works, in its "unruly magic."  Yes, Ford used to cover the lens to conform with a predesigned mental edit, but Curtiz just films, and films, the heck out of, what is before him, whichever way the wind blows.  Following his thoughtful instincts, rather than some elemental design, I find he most notably recreates thought processes on film, while other filmmakers just recreate sentiments, memories.


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