Master Space

Master Space

by Barbara Bowman
     
 

ISBN-10: 0313280266

ISBN-13: 9780313280269

Pub. Date: 05/30/1992

Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated

This is a unique study of the use of cinematic space by four important directors in American cinema from the 1930s to the 1960s: Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, Josef von Sternberg, and William Wyler. Barbara Bowman examines each of their distinctive styles and diverse backgrounds and shows how these unique visual styles complement each other—representing the

Overview

This is a unique study of the use of cinematic space by four important directors in American cinema from the 1930s to the 1960s: Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, Josef von Sternberg, and William Wyler. Barbara Bowman examines each of their distinctive styles and diverse backgrounds and shows how these unique visual styles complement each other—representing the best in classic American cinema, from Ninotchka and Shanghai Express to Best Years of Our Lives to It's a Wonderful Life.

These great directors viewed space not as simple emptiness, nor as something to be manipulated pragmatically, but as a frame or palette in which to work. Their arrangements of cinematic space become not just visually recurrent techniques, but aesthetic touchstones that alert spectators to the narrative shape of the film and invite the spectator to have a more self-conscious relation to the film. Bowman explains how Capra's challenge was to take what is spatially familiar, like James Stewart's or Gary Cooper's neighborhood or small town, and defamiliarize it enough so that we see it for the first time. Lubitsch's creation of film space relies on the indirection so apparent in his scripts by Samuel Raphaelson; he depends on what the spectator cannot yet see or only anticipates, relying upon our imaginations, especially our potential lasciviousness. Sternberg's veiled shots of Marlene Dietrich and others convey a very basic skepticism about human capacity for both sight and insight, and Wyler emotionalizes his films's space by having characters like Bette Davis confront each other in triangular groups or by double framing his figures with architectural second frames. Each director approached film space with his own singular style, but all four techniques shared a common purpose to explain characters or to teach the spectator to see more intensely.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780313280269
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/30/1992
Series:
Contributions to the Study of Popular Culture Series, #31
Pages:
186
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)
Lexile:
1360L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Space in Classic American Film

Film Space as Implied by Narrative: Capra's Protagonists Learning to Look Inward

Capra's Film Images: Ritualizing Habitual Space and Framing Acute Space

Lubitsch's Film Space: Implying Space to Stimulate the Imagination

Sternberg's Film Space: Obscuring Space to Stimulate Curiosity

Wyler's Film Space: Arranging Confrontation to Intensify Understanding

Conclusion: Habitual and Acute Film Space

Appendix: Career Survey of Capra, Lubitsch, Sternberg, and Wyler by Steven P. Hill

Bibliography

Index

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