“The Vignelli Canon” listed many important aspects of design. Before reading this, I figured design would be complex, but there are really a lot of factors that go behind design. I paid more attention to the intangible factors. With semantics, we search for the meaning of what we are designing and we must then understand all of the design’s aspects; every choice should be deliberate and tactical. It should be quite obvious that in this profession one should pay close attention to detail and how they relate to one another (syntactics). Dealing with pragmatics, I liked how the reading stated that design should be forceful and timeless, meaning that the message should be made clear and that the design should transcend time due to its’ content (make the content somewhat universal). Continuity over fragmentations is something to strive for when working on a design and goes into the idea of discipline; not being careless. When reading, I was not completely sure if I understood appropriateness as it relates to design other than choosing a proper medium to express the idea through. One part that grabbed my attention was the importance of having ambiguity and avoiding being vague. With the design being seen as ambiguous, there is vast room for interpretations and meanings and this allows for more depth as a way to enrich the design or message of itself. I liked reading how design can be seen as a creative process with its own rules and a designer should not be afraid to test out different possibilities. With intellectual elegance, the photo of the menorah design was very nice to look at and it did embody the elegance idea for me. As I mentioned earlier, the idea of timelessness to a design is very important since the message should appeal to others born of a different generation; an effective message is one that can reach or possibly inspire a vast amount of people of our time frame and beyond it. To do this, the designer should steer away from creating something that is a 100% of our current time frame because that trend may not be relevant and therefore not understood in the future. In this way, the message held before may become lost. The designer has 3 responsibilities (which I will think about as I start to create my own designs): to themselves and the message of the design, to the client and their problem at hand, and to the public at large. Also, with equity, I read the section of it and interpreted it as one making a design for a certain company, but not completely altering their logo, but just enhancing it by making few changes. The section on tangibles seemed very basic and went into the idea of paying close attention to detail and that every detail accounts for something within the design. Certain typefaces can be associated with a particular company and that is something I never seemed to think about prior to the reading. The one part of this section I quickly wrote down during note taking was that “in a world where everybody screams, silence is noticeable” and this dealt with typography. I clung to this idea most because I like to search for the message or importance of something rather than being shown it in an obvious manner, such as having larger text. Even the idea of white space being powerful was something that caught my attention; one example was that white space could create tension between texts. This is probably a very true statement that maybe subconsciously we can recognize. Being in control of scale and color can show a designer who pays close attention to detail. With the color section, it was interesting to note that it can serve as an identifier and that red, blue, or yellow were the recommended colors to use. Lastly, identity and diversity bring life to a design, so being unique will work in a designer’s favor. With my own designs, I hope to create work that no one has seen yet and for my viewers to be inspired by the message I’m trying to convey.
Last semester in my film studies class, we went into great detail on sound. One exercise we did was having the screen blank of the opening shot of a film with only the sound continuing on. We had to attempt to guess what was happening in the scene without visuals. Even when I was reviewing the Orson Welle’s opening shots, I caught myself going to a blank screen the second time around to really focus in on the sound. This allowed me to be fully immersed in the sounds that were helping to convey the story. When we would write up screening reports in that film class, sound was one of the four elements we would go into when discussing a shot sequence. My favorite had to be when we analyzed a shot sequence in Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” (which overall, I believe that is a terrible movie) and the sound that was used in this shot sequence was so interesting to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85lqH2DerJc I discussed how the sparkler-bottle has almost sound fidelity in the way the soundtrack seems to go with the movement of the sparkler, opening up the scene. The sound becomes more ambient as the scene progresses, suggesting that this moment of glory may not last forever and it coincides with it being set in slow motion; how we replay the happiest moments in our lives since we don’t want that moment to be gone. I also went into how the non- diegetic soundtrack creates this dream-like effect, giving the sense that the characters feel invincible and truly joyous. Sound in any film, show, etc. has the power to create mood and the story itself if it is utilized precisely. In other words, sound/ audio is a crucial element in storytelling.
When comparing the restored and non-restored versions of the opening shot in “Touch of Evil,” one can note the differing audio choices/selections. In the restored version, the shot opens up the ticking bomb as the music resembling ticking plays. What is interesting is that this serves as a constant underline tempo for all of the other street sounds and jazz music that cover it. This seems to show that the city is in a constant bustle and alludes to the notion that no one is aware of the bomb’s presence in the trunk. The ticking noise from the opening shot is more audible again near the end of the shot when the couple is standing together as the one car recently passed through. In the non-restored version, there was a dramatic theme song that played throughout the shot. To me, this took away the sense of building up tension and did the job for the viewers; having this music told the audience how to feel rather than for them figuring it out themselves. Using this non- diegetic soundtrack excluded viewers rather than included them in the world of the film since it is only played to build our suspense. The restored version captures the ticking in the beginning and detracts away from it by covering the sound with diegetic jazz music and city movements as a way to subtly build suspense, constantly wondering, “What will happen to the couple in the car?” This restored version of the opening shot is stronger in the way that it immerses the viewer into the world of the film rather than having them feel excluded from it; the viewers are more than just watching the film and they are more involved in it with the characters themselves. The links below contain the restored and non- restored versions of this opening shot:
1. Restored (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg8MqjoFvy4&feature=youtu.be).
2. Non- restored (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CiOcgvgq2o&feature=youtu.be)
The importance of sound in film is discussed in great detail in “The Ambience of Film Noir- Soundscapes, Design and Mood.” Sound and image are quoted to be a symbiotic relationship and therefore, the recording engineer must have a thorough understanding of the scene they are applying sound to. Sound is also a key resource for establishing the setting and mood of a story through the manipulation of its pace, tempo, and sensation for the audience. Prior to the reading, I never encountered a “soundscape,” which seems to be the environment of sound itself in the film just as a landscape is a visual. I think of soundscape now as just hearing the sounds being used altogether without looking at the image. It was interesting to see that in noir, sound can be associated with a specific location, such as a night club, city streets, docks, etc. One specific example of this would be in the city streets with the protagonist wandering alone, only their footsteps are heard, placing emphasis on that character. Even with the night clubs, I found it interesting that the night club singer is the character that seems to ease tension through the soft music they bring out; bring the “oasis” feeling. In the future, I would like to hear some of the sounds within the library of sounds that film creators have. Also, the idea of combining multiple sounds within a shot or scene is fascinating because I know as a viewer I don’t always feel I hear everything, but all of those sounds together again establish a mood or setting we may not directly pick up on, but each one counts. Sound/audio has more power than we may realize, but in the end, it is not something to be overlooked.
There is something in the way darkness is all around us, its’ constant lingering awake in our dreams and realities. If for a moment we surrender to the shadows, what will we find; what danger lurks beyond the safety of light? Wolves hunting prey in the night? Heightened heartbeat and racing mind, I wander through the darkness and find myself in an internal fight, for the darkness compels us to do all wrong and none right.
- distinct shadows.
- unusual camera angle.
- sense of drama or moodiness.
- characters captured in a tableau suggesting an intense, fraught moment.
- urban nightscapes
- the grittiness of built environment (building, streets, etc.)
- a NoirCat
The cinematography in this film captures the noir aesthetics and elements throughout the film. One particular shot that is a prime example of this is when we see the two men in the front seat in full lighting while Myers’ face is cast in shadow as he sits in the back seat. Film noir focuses on creating a suspenseful story and this manipulation of lighting builds this kind of tension by having him be an unknown figure to the two men. In a way, this can be seen as almost dramatic irony since the viewers know that the man in the back is the villainous, murderous hitch-hiker. Darkness as a symbol is an obvious representation of an unknown or even an evil, which placing Myers in shadows allows viewers to get this notion quickly. Also this is in a medium shot, suggesting the close relationship the two men in the front seat share. With the placement of Myers in between them in the back seat, it could be left to interpretation that perhaps Myers will threaten to come between them and their trust in one another. This is present when Roy later punches Gilbert in the face as he goes to attack Myers when he catches them trying to escape. Which leads me
to discuss a particular shot that occurs just before the men are caught by Myers. It is a point of view shot from Myers’ perspective as he chases down the men with the car. The main lighting used is from the headlights of the car shining down on the men, serving as a spotlight. In a sense, this can be perceived as a predator-prey relationship, Myers hunting down the men as he drives the vehicle towards them. Also, this point of view shot can suggest a dominance or power Myers has in this moment since he has the potential to run down Roy and Gilbert (we later find he chooses not to only to trail them along more). Suspense is created in the way that the viewers fear for the well-being of the men being chased down the road.
Dealing with cinematography in the film “Killer Kiss,” there are prominent elements that can suggest film noir. In one shot of Vincent, the window blinds cast lines along his figure as he stands in front of the television in a medium shot. This is a common feature in film noir to utilize blinds while lighting. Also, this low-key lighting allows his figure to cast a shadow on the wall behind him, creating the sense of him being a dark character. The next shot that show aspects of film noir is the shot when Vincent’s bouncers are trapping Davey’s manager in the alley. The men are placed in a long shot with low-key lighting that cast all three of them in full shadow and darkness; the source of light comes from the back of the alleyway creating this darkness. The choice to place all of them in this darkness could be to create a more ominous mood to this moment as the manager is slowly being led into the alleyway, farther from escape. A predator-prey relationship is suggested here as well since the manager is slowly stalked to the end of the alley, where he is executed by the bouncers. One other idea I personally had about the choice to use this kind of low-key lighting was to possibly allude to the notion that no one literally saw this crime occur and it made it easier to pin the murder on Davey since no one would be able to identify the bouncers as the killers. The final shot that shows noir elements is the shot where Gloria is tied up and the overhead light shines on her face. These interrogation shots are typically found in film noir when someone is being questioned by a detective, yet it may be used here to show that Gloria’s intentions are being put in question by Vincent, showing his distrust in her. It is captured in a medium close up and the lighting overhead allows her and the bouncer untying the ropes behind her to have their expressions read by the viewers. It is important that this was filmed this way because it is unknown as to whether or not the bouncer behind her would be deceitful and signal to the other bouncer to attack Davey and Gloria being placed here for the viewers to question whose side she will go to.
My prior experience with photography has involved being both behind and in front of the camera. When I am behind the camera, I am typically taking more videos than photos, especially this year with my New Years’ resolution to get a short video clip each day. For these short video clips, I film something that catches my attention or something that makes me happy in that moment. When I do take pictures, it is more of pictures with my friends and family (mostly pictures of my dog :D) or if there is a pretty scenic moment, such as a beachy sunset; right now, I’d say I have more experience with shooting video clips than shooting pictures, which with most videos, they tend to capture the mood of whatever tone my story/video has to it. I enjoy editing pictures using an online site to create a whole new photo. I have done this with photos my friend Zachary has taken of me. We have done several photo shoots together and each one has a theme or concept we follow. He and I collaborate on types of poses I should do as well as expressions so we can capture the mood we are trying to convey. The two we did this year were a mermaid and a ghost shoot, the mermaid one portrayed the story of a mermaid who is slowly becoming human and losing touch with her true self. The ghost shoot showed the story of a girl’s spirit roams the earth, trying to grasp the humanity and bodily form she has lost; she longs to feel all human sensations, yet can’t. I really like creating a story through a picture and this makes me want to try my hand at photography since I already enjoy capturing moments on film. Also, last semester I took a Film Studies class where I was exposed to learning more about cinematography and how to create a story through an image. There, I saw how I could create more light and shadow through a video project I did for an adaptation study.
As I read the first webpage, I took note of a few photography tips to experiment with. I want to add more depth and differing perspectives. I will look into using low key lighting as well and use lighting that illuminates a model’s face and create more shadows. This week will be the beginning of my experimentation with photography and my mind is already crafting some noir photo ideas.
Dealing with the noir genre, the writing pieces I read for this week contain common aspects/ideas of noir. By reviewing “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Chinatown,” and “A Wild Party,” one can take note to how the themes of mystery, male dominance vs. the fem fatale, water symbolism, and death seem to be prominent in the noir genre.
The essence of mystery or suspense is a definitive theme among most noir works. In “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” suspense is created when Chambers and Cora plot to kill Nick, Cora’s husband. In a sense, dramatic irony is created in this way since the readers know of the events to come while Nick is unaware of their devious plans to kill him either through the staged bathtub accident or the planned-out car accident into the ravine. This kind of mystery and suspense is also present in the screenplay of “Chinatown” as Gittes, a private investigator for unfaithful spouses, is sent on a mission by Evelyn to find out who murdered her husband. In “A Wild Party,” a different kind of mystery is created as the reader is witnessing party guests interact with each other as they share exchanges of lust and feuds. Suspense may be present here since it is unknown to the readers how the party guests will behave altogether and the most suspense may be seen as Queenie and Black begin to fall for one another under Burr’s nose. Based on these readings and from the films I saw last week, the noir genre seems to have a common idea of a mysterious-riddle storyline where the characters are presented with a problem they must investigate and overcome and they face deceit and corruption along the way.
Male dominance over women is definitely something to take notice of in the noir genre. Chambers in “The Postman Always Rings Twice” seduces Cora almost too easily, giving the notion that she is easily attainable or suggesting that she is easy. Gittes in “Chinatown” makes a comment about how it is fine for a husband to cheat and the woman should sleep on it or accept it. He also shows a male dominance that seems to normalize violence towards women. When he is asking Evelyn who Katherine is and she switches between her answers of “sister” and “daughter,” he slaps her repeatedly. The same or worse violence is seen in “A Wild Party” as Burrs beats his wife with the heeled shoe and as he twisted Queenie’s wrist. Verbal abuse is also seen in the way he called her a “lazy slut.” Yet, these female characters are not fully dominated by the male in the way that they serve as the fem fatale character. Cora in the end of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” succeeds in outsmarting Chambers as she brings a puma to show Chambers as to suggest that she knew he had talks of killing her with another woman and she frames him for her demise at the end of the story. Evelyn in “Chinatown” is seen as a fem fatale since she does not give in to Chambers so easily and is seen as mysterious and secretive as he hears rumors about who she was and is, from her young pregnancy to her father saying she is a jealous one. In “A Wild Party,” Queenie is a candidate for the fem fatale since she is displayed for her sexuality and she uses it to her advantage to hurt Burrs by seducing Black. Yet at the end of two of the three stories (“The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Chinatown”), Cora and Evelyn end up dead, possibly suggesting that their behavior as the fem fatale is threatening to the male and his dominance and therefore, she must perish to preserve the male dominated normalcy of the time period.
The symbolism of water is prevalent in these noir stories. In the end of “The Postman Rings Twice,” Cora tries to drown herself in the ocean and Chambers rescues her only to have her be killed in a car accident shortly after. Water is seen in “Chinatown” as the story is a mystery involving the drowning of Evelyn’s husband, one of the co-founders of the water irrigation company. The water, as a symbol, typically represents rebirth and renewal, which may allude to the idea of the birth of a new kind of beginning, for Chambers as he faces life in prison, and a new mystery unfolding as Gittes investigates the drowning of Mulwray and learns many secrets along the way about the irrigation company and about Evelyn’s past. There is no water symbolism found in “A Wild Party,” but there is the common theme of death in this story as well as most noir. In each story, murder occurs, which in turn creates mystery and suspense for the readers to uncover the truth. Chambers and Cora plot to kill Nick, Mr. Mulwray is murdered as is Evelyn in the end, and Black kills Burrs as he charges at him.
These readings of noir have been enlightening to the noir genre. Common themes present themselves and share commonalities with one another, the most evident being the idea of death, or more specifically, murder. As for the writing styles of these noir pieces, there seems to be a clear conflict, but many sub-conflicts that occur simultaneously with the over-arching conflict. For example, in “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” Cora and Chamber’s conflict is that they want Nick gone, yet they do not succeed the first time they attempt to kill him and run away. The same can be seen in “Chinatown” as Gittes has to interrogate various people to uncover the truth and finds himself in trouble as he searches for the truth, and this is seen when his nose is cut as a threat when he is near the area where Mr. Mulwray was found. In “A Wild Party,” there are multiple sub-conflicts; the men fighting with each other over one other man, the young girl almost being assaulted by a man, etc. These sub-conflicts add depth to the mystery itself and build up the main conflict more by giving it depth. It seems each sub-conflict is an event leading up to the resolving of the main mystery being presented to the readers.
Prior to this assignment, I had very little knowledge of the film noir genre. Just last semester I took an “Introduction to Film Studies” class where we covered topics such as auteurs, adaptation, and the science fiction film genre as well as the basic structure of film-making. I was somewhat disappointed when we did not hear too much information about film noir, but was very excited when I saw that “Film Noir” was our first assignment for this class.
While viewing the film noir readings and videos, I was intrigued by how each platform connected to the other based on the common aspects they shared of film noir. In one of the readings, it was said that the typical setting seen in film noir are “dark, slick, city streets” filled with crime and corruption. I especially noticed this in the film “Sin City” since most of the scenes were shot in night clubs, dark rooms, and alleys. One of the kinds of corruption that was present in the film was the power of the police over the residents in the city. When the prostitutes murder the cop and his friends in the car, they worry about what may become of them if it were to surface; they city was said to return to its’ darker ways where there was more corruption then as well as more violence towards women allowed. Also, the reading of film noir by Schrader discussed a “tough” attitude of the characters that is prevalent in this genre. In “Sin City,” Hartigan and Marv are portrayed as the strong, tough fighters of the film, Hartigan doing all he can to protect Nancy and Marv goes out with a violent thirst to avenge Goldie. In the same reading, Schrader stated that the film noir genre is known for not always having a film in chronological order. This was seen in “Sin City” when Hartigan reappears at the last section of the film, having only been present in the beginning, as his story is continued until the end; it was dumbfounding for me since I thought him to be deceased after being shot saving young Nancy in the beginning of the film. Another common theme in film noir seen in “Sin City” was how the characters do not face a typical happy ending; it is more realistic according to Narremore. Hartigan commits suicide as the cops come to take him away while Nacy is driving away from the scene, thinking she will see him again. Marv in his final scenes of the film is imprisoned and his name is printed on the newspapers as a murderer. Also the fem fatale idea is in some film noir and she in this particular film was Gail as she is the leader of the killer women/prostitutes. The episode of “Pretty Little Liars” also shared film noir aspects as “Sin City” did. In both the film and the episode, the lighting was very sharp and created shadows, allowing for a more dark and ominous mood to protrude. They both also shared similar cinematographic and editing styles. Both were shot in a black and white filter, making the lighting a key element on the screen. With editing, there were occasional dissolves/fades to the next shot, which may be a reference to older film noir. Also, dealing with music, there was more jazz and piano playing in the background in the film and the episode. In the “Pretty Little Liars” episode, one particular moment stood out to me. When Aria was seated with Ezra, half of his face was shadowed, which may indicate secrecy or something that is mysterious to Aria about him and this coincides with the episode’s focus on him possibly being “A.” He is also in darker clothing as opposed to Toby, indicating a sense of evil figure/ untrustworthy versus good/trustworthy figure. The final video I watched was “The Racketeer Rabbit” episode of Bugs Bunny. In this episode, I noticed it had similar film noir concepts, such as the interrogation shot where Bugs Bunny is in the seat under the lamp being asked questions. This idea was also seen in “Pretty Little Liars,” as Spencer was being interrogated by Toby. The costumes were all very film noir appropriate, yet “Sin City” had very unique costuming for some of the female characters that isn’t typically seen in film noir; the men had long trench coat jackets and some wore the brimmed hats as well. What all of them had in common was the idea of crime in different forms, which is very common in film noir.
The podcasts I listened to for this section were very interesting to me since the image was created through sound and fit with the film noir genre. The “Suspense! Ghost Hunt” episode is what I listened to and I took notice of how there was a sense of mystery that usually is present in this genre. Also, the Schrader reading discussed how the characters in film noir have a focus on the past and it consumes their present in some way or another. The radio host is alone downstairs talking to his audience and he reveals that he had a lonely childhood and that he was alone for much of his life. This becomes part of the reason why he commits suicide. The ghosts say they will go with him to the cliff where they will all jump off and he never protested since he was promised that he would not be alone. In this way, he was filling this void of loneliness he had and it resulted in his demise. But my favorite film noir piece was the “Moon Grafitti” podcast. It was a very powerful piece and I was especially moved by the speech the actual Richard Nixon wrote in the event that the Apollo 11 crashed; what would have been said if they had never made it back to earth and what we would have lost because of it. Connecting back to the readings on film noir, both writers seemed to allude to the notion that this genre has a more realistic view to it, and sometimes a more brutally honest one at that. In this podcast, Buzz and Neil are in a hopeless situation as they state that the amount of oxygen will not sustain them after 2 hours and that the radio is dead, so they will not be able to say goodbye to their loved ones. It rattled me more when they said they would possibly have a memorial built in their honor and one of them asked, “Why should our legacy be only footprints?” This again is an example of film noir since it does not sugar coat the truth about what would have happened if Apollo 11 crashed.
After reviewing film noir as a whole, I have come up with examples of film noir I have encountered in the past. I would say the film “Zodiac” falls into the film noir genre since it is a crime thriller (as most noir seems to be) as Jake Gyllenhaal’s character is a journalist working with detectives to find out who the Zodiac killer is. Another example of film noir could be “Strangers on a Train.” I saw many parts of this film during my film class and it seems to be noir to me since it is a crime film and it also utilizes lighting in a significant way. In one scene, Bruno is cast in lighting where there are bars created on his face through the light coming in from the window, foreshadowing how he may become imprisoned or has a history of being guilt of a crime. Also the distinction between the good and bad characters are shown through costuming; Guy wears more white and Bruno wears darker clothing.
During this week, I definitely became more attune to aspects of film noir. It almost made me want to search for more film noir since it was very interesting to me. I only really enjoyed the “Pretty Little Liars” episode since it was presented in a noir style. Otherwise, I have gone out of my way to avoid that show :). What was difficult for me dealing with this section was seeing how films today contain film noir. I was not completely sure if most crime films fell into that genre. I have learned what to really look for when watching a film from this particular genre. It was again interesting how a podcast can be considered film noir and I may go back to the “Moon Graffiti” one to give it another listen in the future. It was a very moving piece since the speech written for the astronauts was written beautifully and I connected most to that podcast.
Also, I wrote my introduction for my page this week as well as tried one of the Daily Creates. It was the silk threading and I have never seen anything like it before. I called it “Fraying Anchor.”
I also created my accounts on Soundcloud, Twitter, and Flickr. I also have my Youtube account below:
I do have one question about film noir: are driving scenes common to this genre or is it just a coincidence that most of the films had these?