Scarlett O’Hara, raging at Ashley Wilkes’ rejection, huffs within the gigantic drawing room.
She grabs a nearby vase and hurls it across the room. A voice startles her. Rhett Butler emerges from behind the sofa, a hidden witness to the melodrama. The camera steps back, re-establishing the geography of the living room.
Scarlett tries to dominate the space with her immense temper and huge dress, but she’s no match for the strapping Rhett. He mocks her. She rages. He’s not having any of it. The more she fumes, the taller he stands.
The camera cuts to reverse shots, giving each character their own space to speak. Scarlett, not able to take the mockery, storms from the room. The scene ends.
We’ve witnessed moments like this thousands of times in films and television shows. This is classical scene construction, the basic building blocks of cinematic language.
The scene begins with wide angles to show how each character controls their business and navigates the surroundings. Then, as the emotions intensify, the camera cuts to reverse angles to give characters their turn to talk. Finally, there’s close-ups and inserts to signal to the audience, “This is important.”
The audience is immersed in the story instead of noticing the techniques onscreen. This was plainly evident while watching both the DNC and RNC in consecutive weeks.
The DNC rejected classical filmmaking. The RNC embraced it. It would behoove the DNC to watch “Gone with the Wind” instead of cancelling it.
Since the French New Wave of the 1960s and continuing into today’s third generation of film school brats, leftist filmmakers have replaced classical filmmaking with postmodern deconstructive auteur theory.
Startling jump cuts, smash cuts and never-ending extended shots have usurped the measured patience of scene structure. Yet with all the Hollywood heft behind them, the Democratic National Committee could only muster a parade of anonymous social justice warriors speaking on Zoom chats or politicians standing in front of low-grade cameras during last week’s convention.
The results? Images on par with YouTube podcast recordings.
The only visual flourishes were children’s toys spelling “BLM” in the classroom behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Billy Porter singing “For What It’s Worth” in front of bad green screen technology.
The performance was so off-putting that Robert Zemekis probably wished he could remove that song from the “Forrest Gump” soundtrack.
What does this communicate to the audience, both thematically and visually? Sen. Kamala Harris can speak of social justice, systemic racism and racial equity, but at no point does she ever define these terms. Visually, what’s presented is a cavalcade of talking heads, confined to their computer screen cameras, growing more melodramatic, and unhinged, with every word.
These bureaucratic Karens can barely control themselves as they micromanage the camera space around them, yet these gadflies are imploring Americans to grant them the power to micromanage society and turn it into utopia.
Cinema deconstructed ’til there is no cinema, only “Orange Man Bad.”
Not even an art critic from Tom Wolfe’s “The Painted Word” can make this sound entertaining. It’s postmodern cinematic socialism onscreen for America to see.
Contrast the DNC with the RNC’s use of classic filmmaking techniques. The camera frames each speaker from wide angles, allowing them the freedom to breath within the frame. Cuban-American businessman Maximo Alvarez shifting uncomfortably only humanizes him more, making his final tearful words, “There’s no place left,” all that more powerful.
Sen. Tim Scott, Gov. Kristi Noem, Ky. Attorney General Daniel Cameron, and Former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell all showed command of their own personal space while the camera flowed and cut from static front shots to side tilts and pans, framing the speaker reverently below the American flag.
Madison Cawthorn, a paraplegic, used his own personal space best when at the climax of the speech, the camera framed him in full shot while he chose to rise from his wheelchair and stand for the flag with the help of his walker.
The message is clear – “I control myself while not controlling the world around me. This is what America means.”
All the building blocks of cinematic language were there: classical staging, wide shot, inserts, the end product hearkening back to the westerns of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Even campaign ads featured Trump silhouetted in a doorway, recalling the opening and closing shots of John Wayne in “The Searchers.”
Nothing groundbreaking, no gimmicks, just good, old fashioned cinematic Americanism.
The choices are clear: the claustrophobic images of unhinged SJW’s on zoom screens, or the open images of men and women commanding their space and standing for the flag even if their legs won’t let them.
It’s Cinematic Socialism against Cinematic Americanism. Now, where’s my copy of “Gone with the Wind.”