In this paper I will compare and contrast the use of a cinematic technique in two films. For each film I will choose a scene that exemplifies a technique I will seek to analyse, in this case parallel editing in the Titanic (1997) and the use of 48 frames per minute in the Hobbit: An unexpected journey (2012). I will draw my references from the movies I seek to discuss and from the Internet.
Keywords: cinematic techniques, director, characters, set, film.
I am going to write about the Titanic (1997), and The Hobbit: An unexpected journey (2012). The techniques I will be analyzing are flash back in Titanic, and the use of 48 frames per second in The Hobbit. A brief summary of my research is as follows: while the use of parallel editing creates suspense in the Titanic, in The Hobbit it is used to bring out the errie setting of the movie.
Titanic was one of the most expensive films of its time that portrays a number of mainstream film features. Like I have mentioned before, parallel editing jumps forth as one of such techniques (Woods, 2004). In the film the scene where they run into the obstacle which is an iceberg, parallel editing is used as the directors take you back and forth. This occurs as they show us the scene where there is a chase, and then brings us to the scene where the couples escape. As this happens, the ship hits an obstacle and the couples feel the impact of that iceberg. It creates suspense as we do not know what the couple will do. But, as time goes by, for a moment nothing seems to have gone wrong then suddenly there is chaos everywhere.
After this incident the film moves to the place where some men are searching for Jack and Rose at the place where they witnessed the impact on the ship. Then the hulls break and the rooms are flooded (Titanic, 1997). At this moment, the audience is not sure what happens because Jack and Rose have just escaped from the room narrowly with their lives and have also successfully avoid being drowned. In 1997Titanic had made good amount money at the box office, it also won the Academy Awards for the director and the actors (Woods, 2004).
The use of the technique of parallel editing is used in the story to emphasize the parallel stories the writers sort to tell in the Titanic. This technique is very useful, because it has been used to portray a flashback (Woods, 2004). It is captured at the beginning of the film by showing the audience of a team of experts who after a long search have finally located the Titanic and therefore they are on a voyage mission to recover it from the ocean, where it is capsized. They are aware of the cause of the capsizing but either way they want to find out exactly what was the reason behind the unsinkable ship’s short life (Titanic, 1997). Also, we see an elderly Jane aboard the ship who through a nostalgic turn narrates the story of her teenage affair to her granddaughter. This is the first story that the writer brings to our attention.
The other story also involves the woman who is brought to the vessel with her grandchild; the one of a much older woman who is brought to the salvage vessel by her grandchild (Titanic, 1997). The film’s director employs a series of flashbacks to narrate the story of this woman to the experts and the crew who act as the audience. In the process of listening to the story the audience, the heroes come to salvage (Woods, 2004).
As the old woman tells her story, the crew is taken through several other stories, because in some way they are interconnected especially because all those stories affect each other to become one part of the bigger picture, the one that the writer is telling (Woods, 2004). From time to time we are reminded that the granddaughter and the salvage crew is also part of our audience who are listening to this narrative. We forget about them but at time we are reminded that a flashback is indeed. The director moves us back and forward in time, together with the heroine and ship which move forward in time and space toward his chief aim (Titanic, 1997).
By the end of the movie, the audience becomes aware of some details that the granddaughter and the salvage crew would never ever know. Only the heroine knows the final story, and the audience shares this knowledge, thus they identify with her character in a deeper level (Woods, 2004).
The Hobbit: An unexpected journey (2012). In his review of The Hobbit, David Edelstein wrote: "How nice it would be to weigh in on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit without having to lament its newfangled double-speed 3-D 48-frames-per-second projection rate, which must be seen to be disbelieved." The Hobbit broke the record to be one of the movies to be shot at the rate of forty eight frames per second.(48 FPS), as opposed to the usual rate of twenty four frames per second (24 FPS), which for a long time has remained the standard used in cinema for more than a century. While making the movie, Jackson, the director, chose to use such amount of frames because this variant is reputed to produce much sharper images that mimic the physical outlook; how the naked eye sees the real world (The Hobbit, 2012).
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The movie was shown at the 48 FPS in designated theaters and only in 3D. Majority of theaters will show it in a 24 FPS version. Though Edelstein, the renown movie critic, had very unkind words for this movie. It seems like the negative reviews have been echoed by essentially most film critics, who have used it to explain the reason Andrew Lesnie’s use of 3D.They have come up with the perfect way to explain why 48 FPS was so problematic. And yet, they often landed on similar analogies. Here is a rundown of the most common comparisons (The Hobbit, 2012).
When asked about the use of 3D, James had the following to say: that what people should realize that its use was not an attempt to turn over the filming industry. It just provides another choice for the future director to work with (The Hobbit, 2012). The reason is that the options can be worked with, because the projector can screen both the 24 FPS, and the 48 FPS. It can also be used because at a movie there can be shot a video at 24 frames and have sequences as 48 or 60 frames during the time when the movie is playing. He opines that it is possible to do the shutter-angle and strobing effects. Soit was not targeted to change how films will be made. “It’s just another choice that filmmakers have got and for me, it gives that sense of reality that I love in cinema.”
One of the first things that I take from this movie is the lighting which looked fake almost as if it was done by an amateur. The lighting, tonality were actually nice but the mind looking at it at that 48 FPS, 270 degree shutter must have lost 2/3 of light, but to watch it from 2D it is a beautiful experience. The costumes seem so fake even though it was employed to bring the fantasy setting, it failed because for a moment it sounded as though it brought the audience to the set where the screening of the movie was taking place, therefore losing the effect of a fantasy and failing to keep the attention of the audience (The Hobbit, 2012). This made them look so far too surreal and disconnected. As for me, this is what costed the movie to them, because it seems like they have reused them, and that is why 48 FPS do not work.
These are the two examples of cinematic techniques. Each one sets a pace of its own: parallel and the use of 48 FPS. One worked remarkably well and the other flopped considerably to the same magnitude. This should show us that in the cinema terms there are real risks and whether one trick would work depends on whether the director captures the attention of the audience, connects them and ultimately sells his movie (Titanic,1997) (The Hobbit, 2012).
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