Archive for the ‘Film Reflections’ Category

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Hey sons and daughters,

Below are a few questions to assist a critical analysis of  4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. While reading you might notice that I say that “Mungiu”, and not “the film”, does this or that. I encourage you to think of directors as the true authors of films, even though doing so always opens up a big ol’ can of worms. For example: Is director Arthur Penn the “artist” of Bonnie and Clyde, or was hands-on producer and star Warren Beatty more responsible for the film’s form and content, the final product? (It’s said that Beatty was the architect of crucial scenes, including the ultra-violent finale.) While such conundrums of true authorship– if it’s even possible in film– may discourage you from endorsing a “cinema of directors” in academic contexts, on our blog and at CFS meetings I encourage you to place all emphasis on the director’s credit, for the purposes of categorizing and humanizing films. So let’s talk about what Mungiu is doing (to great effect, I believe) in 4 Months in the same way we talk about what Quentin Tarantino “does” in any of his films, ‘kay?

How would you describe the camerawork? When are you most strongly reminded that someone is manipulating the camera? Do you think this is intentional? If so, what purpose is served by the camera being “present”?

How are scenes framed? On average, what is the distance of the camera to the actors? How often are close-ups used? When Gabita and Otilia are talking, are their conversations presented in conventional “shot/reverse-shot” fashion? Are the (physical) distances between characters important to each scene? What techniques does Mungiu use to emphasize them?

Does Mungiu employ elaborate or glamorizing lighting? Why or why not? Is the set design carefully considered?

How abrupt are the scene changes? Are there on-screen actions that anticipate a cut from one scene to the next, or from one locale to the next? (Pay special notice to the first 20 minutes.)

In which scene (or scenes) is sound– not dialogue–most important to the telling of the story? How does the audio being amplified contribute to the particular feeling these scenes are meant to evoke?

How is colour used within the film? Is there a colour which stands out– a motif? If so, what ideas, feelings or themes does it connote?

How is Otilia treated throughout the film? What sort of tone do the “adults” take with Gabita and Otilia’s boyfriend? What distinct societal differences are being portrayed? How might they be split? What is the general mood of the film? Do you think we are meant to compare it with a specific mood or atmosphere enveloping Romanian life at this time?

Hopefully there are enough humdingers and brainbusters in there to cultivate a Saturday night of quiet study and sober reflection. If you wish to respond or comment on the film, the Internet allows you to do so below.

See you next week!

Scott, Gaddafi of CFS

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