Elements of the Cinematic Periodic Table

†††††††† Music, costumes, cinematography, actors; all are elements on the periodic table of film. I felt there was no single film that depicted all aspects the best; however many did show values in a specific category. Some films showed terrible elements of the filming process, perhaps there are some things I would do differently

†††††††† Beginning with the good, My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shawís 1913 Pygmalion, shows tremendous success in the music category. Time after time we are soothed by the singing and story telling. This aspect shows another way to manipulate the plot, and make for advancing the climax. Not just because George Cukorís 1964 My Fair Lady was a musical, did it have good songs and music selection. Is it not harder on a musical, due to the fact that so much more is riding on the songs?

†††††††† Another movie that benefited from music selection and sound effects was the converted 1961 movie, Jack Claytonís The Innocents, based on Henry Jamesís 1898 The Turn of the Screw. The film makers let the music exists inside the characters, having the children, Miles (Martin Stephens) and Flora (Pamela Franklin), sing that chilling tune one hears over and over. Horror movies are given great power with music. They can use it to manipulate our minds into feeling fear.

†††††††† One great part of making films is the filming. There are many different ways of going about capturing that great shot. The best cinematography I witnessed was most likely the most simplistic. In Patrick Garlandís 1973 version of Henrik Ibsenís 1879 A Dollís House, many scenes are left with one or two angles, thus catching every emotion of the characters. At the end of the movie when Nora (Claire Bloom) gets up to leave, she walks out the door, and the camera never changes. There is no transition. This makes one feel for Torvald (Anthony Hopkins), one sees the scene the same way that he did.

†††††††† Cinematography, like music, can be very powerful in horror movies. In The Innocents, it seemed to me the cinematography field, led by Freddie Francis, did not use very many experimental shots. I would have filmed the lighted characters from dark places more often. This gives the audience a feeling of dissatisfaction, a sort of eerie feeling. Also the movie is mostly shot of the characters levels until the end when Quint (Peter Wyngarde) is seen in the garden. Filming from high levels builds suspense.

†††††††† Music, costumes, settings, cinematography are all very important, but let us get to who is receiving all the credit, the actors. I think the best acting performance came in Eila Kazanís 1951 movie, A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williamsí 1947 play. The movie is completely held together by the acting of Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski. One cannot decide whether one likes the man or hates him. His constant mood swings force certain indecisiveness. But this is why he does such a good job; he evokes different types of emotions from the audience. Some actors cannot bring any emotions out, let alone multiple ones.

†††††††† Throughout movies there has to be a consistency, consistency in cinematography, costumes, music, and acting. What makes a good movie is first having all the elements present. Secondly, performance by actors must nail their characters. If both these things happen, all the film needs now is for one other element to be great and one has got a good movie. Granted, all remaining existing elements of the film must not be terrible.

Joe Benton

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