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Slices of cinematic traditions: Stills from Ankur (Parallel Cinema), Breathless (Nouvelle Vague) and Nosferatu (German Expressionism)


What it is.. A term in film criticism used to denote a set of films made during a particular period of time and usually in a particular geographical location that share similar aesthetic, political or philosophical concerns. A Film Movement may or may not be backed by agenda, theory or literature published by the filmmakers. Normally, it is the community of critics that recognises disparate films as being part of movements. Why

The establishment of a Film Movement acts as a roadmap of sorts for filmmakers, who can orient their works based on stylistic constraints, sociological concerns or end needs. Moreover, classification of films into movements often helps get a better understanding of film history and assess the lineage of a particular film with ease, much like traditional historiography. How


Features Film Movements, unless they are supported by elaborate theoretical texts by the filmmakers themselves, are classified by critics generally based on similarities between films originating from a country in a short period of time. These similarities may be in the method of filmmaking, the kind of world view they adopt or the aesthetic strategies they employ. Pitfalls There is always a risk of grouping films that have nothing in common other than surface similarities and share no larger preoccupations into film movements. For instance, the success of a particular film might trigger a series of films from the same country deriving from the original and reducing the former to a formula. The recent slew of village-based Tamil films, then, should not ideally be called a Film Movement. When does it evolve... The idea of Film Movements has existed for about a hundred years now. Various movements have risen and fallen throughout the 20th century and still do. Almost every one of these evolved as response to a moment of crisis that is either historical or artistic. The last century the century of film has been rife with major crises that cinema has responded to, often as movements rather than stray individual films. Where to find it... Major Film Movements have now been widely recognised and even been canonised and absorbed into academic discourses. The most famous film movement in the history of cinema is probably the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) that originated in France in the late fifties and persisted till the end of the following decade. The films that comprised this movement not only broke away from tradition but have had an incalculable influence on filmmakers that followed.

Outtakes: Freeze Frame

motionless pictures The shot comes to a halt in (clockwise from above left) The 400 Blows, Rang De Basanti, Young Frankenstein, The Birds.

What it is An editing device in which one particular frame of a shot is repeated a number of times in succession. As a result, the shot seems to suddenly come to a halt, freezing at that particular frame. One could say that it is the momentary pausing of the film by the filmmaker. The soundtrack, however, could remain uninterrupted during this duration of time. Why it is special... The Freeze Frame is a highly self-reflexive device. That is, it reduces film to its scientific basis photography and prompts us to think about the nature of the moving image of cinema by, ironically but understandably, stopping its movement. If one views cinema as a living, respiring organism, the Freeze Frame is the moment when it finds itself out of breath, as it were. When it is deployed... In addition to scenarios such as described, Freeze Frames appear regularly in action scenes, where a combat is suddenly paused for effect. More surprising and questionable use of the technique is in certain news reports, where the most sensational instant of an unusually insignificant event is frozen and pointed out to the audience over and over. In such cases, the Freeze Frame performs the same dramatic function as in fiction. Where to find it... Just before the two characters are killed in Rang De Basanti (2006), the director freezes the image of DJ and Karan as they smile one last time. Coupled with the voiceover, the Freeze

Frame renders the shot very potent, even making it the central image of the film: a frozen smile before death. How it is used Intense Drama Freeze Frames are mostly used at intensely dramatic moments. A crude and clichd example would be the sudden freezing of shots of nature birds freezing in flight, river water turning still when key information is revealed to a character, in order to illustrate his/her universe suddenly coming to a standstill. Unsurprisingly, Freeze Frames are generally reserved for closing shots to maximise emotional impact. Memory/Photographs Freeze Frames are regularly used to suggest someone taking photographs within a movie. Usually accompanied with the sound of a camera click or with crosshairs, these Freeze Frames become the point-of-view shots of the camera. Similarly, in scenes of jubilation, such as the grand victory in a sports film, Freeze Frames are used to present a very cherished moment etched in memory forever.

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