Monday, August 8, 2011

Left Buttons vs. Right Hooks

Movies are a window into other cultures when watching foreign films. Despite performing the same activity, it sometimes catches us unaware and leaves us thinking 'something's wrong'. Occasionally it's obvious: watching Irish films, the cars are on the wrong side of the road, which just feels wrong until you actively stop and think "oh, yeah, it's from [insert country that didn't bother to kick out the English before 1900]. There are other things which pop up, trigger "something just feels wrong".

Masterpiece Mystery: Sherlock is a modern re-take of Doyle. I highly recommend it - so much so that I'm planning to write a review of it. Holmes & Watson are going up an escalator. For you Americans, imagine a pair of escalators side by side. One up, one down. On which side is the Up escalator? On the right, right? Same as the side of the road we drive on. The scene on the English TV show, however, caught my attention by "something's wrong". The pair of escalators has the Up escalator on the left. It just looks wrong.

The Man with a Camera, a Russian film from 1929, is a fascinating look at ordinary life there. Short - a few seconds each - images of activities ranging from cars driving in town around horse-drawn carts, coal mining, factories, store fronts, and a woman waking up and rising from bed. The film returns to the woman several times, doing the various things one does, including getting dressed. With her back to the camera, she put on a bra. Again, my brain catches and my thumb hits 'pause'. The bra has a button/loop closure, and not a hook & eye. I've never actually seen a bra with that kind of closure. I'm left wondering if we used them here. I'm all the more amused because she's clasping it behind her back, rather than the hook-in-front-then-rotate method every women I know uses.


Anonymous said...

"I'm all the more amused because she's clasping it behind her back, rather than the hook-in-front-then-rotate method every women I know uses."

I hook mine clasping it behind my back...LOL.

You could write something about how culture dictates observation. For example, in the 1920's, people focused on the world around them, making observations accordingly. What do people focus on today? How does that show how American culture has changed or not?

I think we can see this especially in how movies have been constructed over the years -- length of scenes, tracking shots, cuts, etc. The pacing of movies has changed drastically and I think that reflects a cultural change.

Gopher MPH said...

okay, every woman I know except you & myself.

One thing which I did notice about the editing/assembly style of the film is that it is in short bits, rather like a very modern video - a few seconds here, a few seconds there. I couldn't seem to fathom any connection between the various images. Although the woman dressing and a city center were repeated, with her getting more dressed as the film progressed. And, I finally realized, the city center was the same location, and I think it was a progression throughout a day. I didn't watch the entire film, so I can't be sure.