Manipulated Emotions

     There are many important aspects in producing a successful film. One might think the actors are the most important, but in reality they are just props. The three most important are as follows: costumes, settings, and especially cinematography. One can have a mediocre actor with great costumes, sets, and cinematography; and the movie can still be a success. But if there is a great actor and horrible costumes, sets, and cinematography the movie will surely flop. People do not realize the impact that these three components have on a movie.

     For example, in the film My Fair Lady, directed in 1964 by George Cukor and based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion and Alan J. Lerner's and Frederick Loewe's 1956 musical, the sets and costumes are awesome. The use of complementing and contrasting color is astonishing--especially the scene at the race track. All the gentility in their finest outfits. All of the outfits are black and white. The hats are very striking. They really give a feeling as to the mood of the snobbery that is present. Also the camera movement goes right along with the very uptight mood. The camera movements are jerky. The camera usually moves against the action of the high-class people. When Eliza, played by Audrey Hepburn, arrives, her outfit is black and white. Yet her costume is more flowing and not as rigid as the others. Also, the camera movements are more fluid when they are focused on her. Costumes, sets, and cinematography give great insight into the mood of the movie.

     Another example, is the 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play. The costumes that are worn give the illusion of a very humid place where one drinks the air instead of breathing it. They show how oppressing, not only the weather, but also the lifestyle, is. The sets also show the general attitude of the people in the movie. Stanley (Marlon Brando) and Stella's (Kim Hunter) apartment is very small. When Blanche (Vivien Leigh) moves in, it becomes even smaller. The small apartment set shows how pent-up everyone is. It shows the emotions running high. The situation is like a pressure cooker with way too much pressure about to explode. Even the set of the space surrounding the apartment is small and cramped.

     While audiences probably are not aware that all of the things they see were put in a certain way for a reason, they do feel the impact when their emotions react to what is going on the screen.

Colleen Klein

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