Two Traditions: Irrational Enlargements with Robert B. Ray [Web Class]

[Note: refresh your webpage occasionally to see an updated post and to see your peers’ comments.]

Prewriting (4:30):

We need to start thinking about an adapted film to watch for the last day. So far, some suggestions you’ve given have been: “a chick flick,” American Splendor, My Own Private Idaho, Stranger than Fiction, Dark Knight/“something comic book-y.” I’d add to the list: Ghost World (Zwigoff), Beau Travail (Denis), and two by Catherine Breillat: Sleeping Beauty and Bluebeard.

Leave a comment with 1 or 2 suggestions (or even “genres of adaptation”) you’d propose the class watch together. We’ll try to winnow the list down over the next few weeks.

Part 1: (to come at 4:40)

You know what we HAVEN’T talked about yet this semester? Good old-fashioned film analysis.

As English graduate students, you have already become very good at literary analysis–you know how to identify a juicy quotation from a novel, read its symbolism or imagery, discuss how it works to establish a larger character arc or narrative, and come to an argument about a text’s real meaning based on these and other details.

But what you (probably) haven’t practiced as much is how to do that to a film. Take a look at this pdf link to a handout on basic analysis of a shot/scene in a film:
http://filmadaptation.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2012/09/MiseEnScene-Analysis.pdf

This handout was drawn from an online slideshow on mise-en-scene. Spend 10 or so minutes and walk yourself through the slide show here, seeing how the different “options” filmmakers have at their disposal can be used to analyze a scene in a film:
http://www.slideshare.net/kjera/mise-en-scene-analysis-presentation

Part 2: (to come at 5:00)

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with some basic film terms, let’s practice on a shared example. First, watch this short excerpt from Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet (2000). Then, leave a comment to this post where you make 3-4 observations about how ONE of the film analysis elements works in the shot that I made a screen capture of (it’s OK if you write more of a list or even find yourself saying “obvious” things). Hopefully we’ll not all pick “dominant” to write about….

Again: the elements are: The Dominant, Lighting Key, Shot and Camera Proxemics, Camera Angle, Color Values, Lens/Filter/Stock, Subsidiary Contrasts, Density, Composition, Form, Framing, Depth of Field, Character Placement, Staging Positions, Character Proxemics

Write about one of the 15 mise-en-scene elements in this shot (that’s Hamlet, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern in the frame):

Part 3: (to come at 5:20)

Now, refresh the website and take a look at your peer’s comments. Select two of them to quote along with your own thoughts and write a paragraph of 5-6 sentences that analyzes this shot. Start your paragraph by completing this sentence:

Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey _____________________.

Part 4: (to come at 5:45)

Robert B. Ray is one of my favorite film writers and I love two of his books especially: How a Film Theory Got Lost and The Avant-Garde Finds Andy Hardy.

What I like about Ray is how he helps us resurrect an alternate version of film theory very different from the one that is most dominant (which, not surprisingly, is the one we’ve been studying most this semester).

This is not unlike the argument Christian Metz raised–“The basic formula, which has never changed, is the one that consists in making a large continuous unit that tells a story and calling it a ‘movie.’ ‘Going to the movies’ is going to see this type of story” (Christian Metz, qtd. in McFarlane, 12). Similarly, film theory has come to mean a particular kind of appreciation of movies based on that kind of narrative impulse.

But that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case! Say no to path dependence! Ray ends his first chapter with his own example of a different kind of film from the most common one, on the Andy Hardy movies.

But first let’s first try to sort out the two film traditions Ray describes. Leave a comment to this post with the 4-5 most important “opposites” that describe, explain, or are analogous to the two film traditions Ray juxtaposes.  For example, the first one I notice in Ray’s essay is on page 2:

magic vs. positivism (2)
??? vs. ???
??? vs. ???
??? vs. ???
??? vs. ???

Part 5: (to come at 6:00)

Here’s my list of juxtaposed film tradition terms just from the first few pages:

magic vs. positivism (2)
photogénie vs. semiotics (2)
enchantment vs. mass production (2)
a vehicle of revelation vs. a means of argument (3)
Impressionist-Surrealist vs. Eisenstein (3)

Ray points out how the second column has become the dominant one, and he wants to resurrect the first column: magic, enchantment, photogénie, revelation, Impressionist-Surrealist. The technique for doing this is another pair: heuretics vs. hermeneutics (13). Here’s what he says:

A heuretic film studies might begin where photogénie, third meanings, and fetishism intersect: with the cinematic detail whose insistent appeal eludes precise explanation. Barthes maintained that third meanings, while resisting obvious connotations, compel an “interrogative reading.” In doing so, he was implicitly suggestion how Impressionist reverie could prompt an active research method resembling the Surrealists’ “Irrational Enlargement,” a game in which players generate chains of associations from a given object. Here are the instructions for such a project: Select a detail from a movie, one that interests you without your knowing why. Follow this detail wherever it leads and report your findings.

As you can see, this heuretic approach is very different from the one we practiced earlier with mise-en-scene analysis. Rather than try to uncover evidence for a “means of argument,” heuretics offers a “vehicle of revelation,” asking us to contribute meaning to the text more than try to find a hidden one.

Let’s practice this on that clip from Hamlet. We’re going to focus on:

the cinematic detail whose insistent appeal eludes precise explanation.

Watch the clip again, and then follow Ray’s instructions:

Select a detail from a movie, one that interests you without your knowing why. Follow this detail wherever it leads and report your findings.

Leave a comment with your findings.

Part 6: (to come at 6:20)

Whew, that’s it! Hang in there, conserve gas, and I’ll see you next Thursday. In the meantime I’ll compile a list of our final film suggestions.

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About Kevin L. Ferguson

Assistant Professor of English and Director of Writing at Queens
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124 Responses to Two Traditions: Irrational Enlargements with Robert B. Ray [Web Class]

  1. I would love to watch a classic adaptation like The Great Gatsby. I think it’s more valuable for us to see a film adaptation that is “based on” a piece of literature that most of us have already read (or feel familiar with).

    • amelia daly says:

      I would like to watch an old film, an adaptation of a classic like The Stranger or a Hemingway film. Anything before 1965. Only because I have no familiarity with films from that time and the readings had a lot of references to them

  2. Raj says:

    I suppose since today is Bram Stoker’s birthday I’ll throw Dracula into the mix. Here are what the Christian Science Monitor deem the 5 best adaptations: http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2012/1108/Bram-Stoker-books-The-5-best-movie-adaptations-of-Dracula/Dracula

    I’d rather see the Dark Knight though. It would be interesting to see something that isn’t a direct adaptation of a particular text, but rather an adaptation of a serialized text’s archetypes and myths.

  3. Sara Tener says:

    I really enjoyed Stranger Than Fiction so I would definitely not be opposed to tackling that work (since I will be presenting that day). Ghost World, on the other hand, is a movie that I have been intending to watch for a long time so that might be agreeable as well.

  4. Laura Callei says:

    If we are looking for something ‘chick flick-y’ I think that any adaptation of the Bronte Sister’s novels would be ideal. IE) Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre. OR Bridget Jones’ Diary anyone? haha. Very Chick Flick-y.

    Also, many people have said they enjoyed Fight Club, maybe that cold be a possibility.

  5. Maybe we could watch something like Nosferatu. Has anyone been to Google today? It’s Bram Stoker’s birthday so Dracula is on my mind.

  6. Mike Salerno says:

    Films to watch for last class:

    The Shining
    Carrie
    Sin City
    300

    I might think of more later :)

  7. Marie Mosot says:

    I can’t think of anything other than “straight” adaptations, but I liked the behind-the-scene, meta critical look that Adaptation. and Tristram Shandy offered. Following in a similar vein, I offer the following, Flavorpill’s “Most Eye-Opening Films about the Movie Industry” (http://www.flavorwire.com/344434/the-most-eye-opening-films-about-the-movie-industry?all=1). The fact that it includes Adaptation. prompted this suggestion. As you pointed out, we as former English majors are severely lacking from a film perspective. I think that’s something we need to correct.

  8. trevor11 says:

    Well i’m always up for something “comic booky” so what about Road to Perdition with Tom Hanks? A lot of people don’t even know its a graphic novel and not just a mobster movie. I also would like to watch stranger than fiction as circumstances in the universe have stopped me from watching it every time I tried.

  9. Just saw that Raj said Dracula first! Not stealing your ideas, I swear! I could also see us doing something like Dr Strangelove (another loosely-based-on-the-text kind of film).

  10. Sara Tener says:

    It also might be fun to go out to see the new Anna Karenina.

  11. Darwin Eng says:

    I think a “chick-flick” would be a good idea, only because it is something that a lot of people might consider not “academic”.

  12. Dana Choit says:

    I mentioned in class a couple of weeks ago the movie Clue, based on the board game. I don’t know of any other film adaptations based off of games- although there may be others out there. It a really fun take on the who-dun-it murder mystery party story and on Clue itself.

    Other genres that might be interesting: movies based on theater, especially very popular productions./ alot of them are also based on literature and other works (Things that I can think of off the top of my head: West Side Story, the Andrew Lloyd Weber Les Miserables is coming out and there are a lot based on the novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (two versions), etc.

    Tv shows based off of literature / movies based off of tv shows

  13. Going to second Ghost World.

    here’s just a list of some of my favorite book to film adaptations… I don’t know which of these is more valuable for class:

    A Scanner Darkly
    Total Recall
    Sideways
    Howl’s Moving Castle
    Requiem for a Dream
    Lolita (1997)
    What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

    As for comic books:

    Ghost in the Shell
    300
    Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
    V for Vendetta
    Watchmen (even this movie is like 5 lifetimes long… so maybe not)
    Sin City (which I passed out during but I hear it’s good)

    I’ll add more later if I think of any.

  14. Melissa M says:

    Dracula I actually wouldn’t mind. “Chick Flick” is a preference.

  15. Random Comment: Wow… that slideshow is something else. It almost makes me laugh because we’ve mentioned several times in class how so many people value literature over film because of this weird assumption that there is overall “less” to a film than to a book. It’s so funny seeing all of these terms and practices, especially explained through an actual analysis of a film shot – it gives some really solid depth to a film maker’s mind (especially for all of those film-haters)!

    • Raj says:

      Seconded. Neil Gaiman and the dude who directed Nightmare Before Christmas can do no wrong. Plus it’s fairly short.

  16. Marie Mosot says:

    How about a non-narrative film? It’s always brought up in passing, but I think we need to actually see one to highlight that narrative films and invisible editing are conventions. I can’t think of any that are adaptations, though.

    Birth of a Nation, I just remembered, is an adaptation (of The Klansmen, I think was the title) and a pivotal piece of film history as it demonstrates a lot of editing techniques at their most primitive and as championed by D.W. Griffith, who we’ve encountered only in name before. Obviously, the racist material has to be dealt with, but if we want to look at older films and how film and editing are conventions, it wouldn’t hurt. Except I think it’s super long.

  17. Melissa M says:

    See now I have a problem with The Dominant. Even though the film maker is trying to focus on one thing, can’t it be individualized? For me, when looking at that shot my eyes were focused on what was blocking the character, a box, or what was in her hands.

  18. Sara Tener says:

    Going through the slide show made me think of how closely related film analysis is to painting and theatre design. It also made me think of Barthes’ third meaning and Ray’s comments about movies being composed of images rather than words (14).

    • I think so, although we’re cheating a little bit by picking still frames. If there’s a complex camera (or actor) movement it becomes even trickier.

    • Marie Mosot says:

      Exactly, because we mustn’t forget that film is made mostly of camera movement and editing (am I betraying a Eisensteinian bias?), which we don’t get with a still shot.

  19. Laura Callei says:

    I wish I could watch those clips but unfortunately I’m using my public library’s internet which barely has any speed, and I forgot to bring my headphones. Sucks not having power :(. I look forward to reading everyone else’s comments!

  20. Melissa M says:

    Character Placement in this shot! It shows superiority for the character to the left. The character to the right and in the middle are powerless in a sense.

  21. Marie Mosot says:

    Obviously, Ethan Hawke in the foreground is in focus. He dominates the shot – in fact, half the frame. Steve Zahn takes up about a fourth and almst recedes into the middle ground. Dude in leather jacket (I always forget which is who, which is obviously on purpose) is in the background and out of focus because he’s not important. They switch places when the dialogue calls for it – they move into focus when they contribute to the scene/action. Ethan acts as the stable center of the shot.

  22. Character Proxemics:

    Though I’m not quite sure what’s going on in this scene, when it comes to character proxemics, Hamlet and Rosencrantz (I’m guessing that is Steve Zahn’s character) are at an intimate distance. The intimate distance between Hamlet and Rosencrantz instantly alert the audience that they know each other well. However, the fact that Hamlet’s face is turned away from Rosencrantz’ face, it sets the mood as defiant and showcases Hamlet’s resistance.

    I think this makes a general case that intimate distance doesn’t always imply friendship like the slideshow suggest. In this case, it works to demonstrate the opposite type of relationship – like an invasion of space.

    Guildenstern is not at an intimate distance but a personal distance so the audience knows he is still part of the group of characters, but he is not necessarily needed in the conversation between Hamlet and Rosencrantz. This keeps the audience considering his whereabouts (in the background) but hints that he is not a crucial part of the scene.

  23. Hamlet is facing us in this shot, so his staging position would be “full-front.” Like the pdf says, he is “inviting our complicity.” As the audience, we are to relate with him, and feel the tension of the interrogation as though we were him.

    Steve Zahn (not sure which character he’s playing) has the quarter turn. He’s still an intimate part of the shot, but with “less emotional involvement.” We’re not supposed to identify with him, but we do want to have close connection with that character.

    I’m guessing the guy in the background would be profile. Like the pdf says, he’s “unaware of being observed, lost in his or her own thoughts.” Even though we can’t see his face, we know he’s not looking at the camera head-on. He’s also at a social distance from the other two characters, who are in an intimate distance from each other. This lets us know that the main tension in this shot is between Hawke and Zahn, and that the other character, while still involved in the situation, is not intimately involved in that specific moment.

  24. I think the use of color (or relative lack thereof) in this shot is important. They’re in a laundromat, a place of bright (if not terribly flattering) lighting, where things go to get clean, and Hamlet and his friend are both wan and wearing dull colors. There are bright colors in the background, but there’s obviously nothing cheerful or pretty happening in this scene, in which Hamlet feels like his friends are turning on him as he confesses to having killed his girlfriend’s father (while the intended victim is on his way to apprehend him for the murder).

    • Marie Mosot says:

      Also about the color:

      I’m going to sound like Bazin for a moment, but the person in yellow in the far right is distracting. I wonder if that person was an extra who was ordered to wear the color or a random passerby caught forever on film. It’s the only warm color in a frame that consists largely of cold colors (blue, grey), which is consonant with the tone of the dialogue. The warm old-school buddy relationships between these boys has turned cold.

    • Great point about Marie about the person in yellow. Does seem attention-grabbing when we slow down to analyze it.
      I guess another about Brigitte’s point about laundromats is that they tend to have this fluorescent light, which makes the colors appear differently.

  25. trevor11 says:

    So I see character placement in the first clip working really well. Hamlet is in the bottom front of the shot and is proportionally (because of the angle) “bigger”than everyone else. This works to the effect of giving the idea of a sense of power. Hamlet knows something the other characters do not and it seems as though he is deeply contemplating his next moves, if he has already judging from his facial expressions. I Like shots like this because the power of the shot itself is amplified, the opening to this scene is extremely intense because of the character placement and works to elicit an internal reaction in the viewer.

  26. Raj says:

    Scene analysis…

    Character placement: Hamlet is both towards the top of and somewhat to the margin of the frame, whereas Rosencrantz (is that Steve Zahn?) is positioned below and towards the other margin. Gildenstern is not in focus, but maintains a looming yet distracted (he’s on his phone) presence in the center rear of the shot, which seems to take away whatever authority he could derive from his vertical positioning relative to the other characters. So Hamlet is clearly the dominant party in the scene, the person with authority, someone Rosencrantz approaches mindful of status and position.

  27. Darwin Eng says:

    Color Values:
    In the short scene, because it takes place in the laundromat, the background is mostly pale or white. This is in contrast with the characters, who are all wearing dark colors such as black and blues. This contrast highlights and makes the viewers focus on the characters, and not the environment they are in. Additionally, the mostly white environment gives the impression of sterility, which is made more obvious because it is a laundromat. All f the characters area so wearing dark colors, and it is clear to the viewer that they are not wealthy–in fact, they all look tired. When placing them into the sterile white laundromat, their dark color connotes dirtiness–that they are in a a place where they do not belong.

  28. Jeff says:

    I like the idea of watching My Own Private Idaho. Also, we seem to talk about The Dark Knight quite a bit in class. Wouldn’t have a problem with that one

  29. Mike Salerno says:

    The close-up in this shot functions in the following ways:

    – Allows the audience member to see the inner struggle Hamlet is going through. We can see small changes and tension in his facial muscles.
    – Shows the importance of Hamlet in this scene and the secondary, albeit important, functions of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
    – Reveals that Hamlet is not looking at something in the laundromat, but rather through something, as if there is something else completely on his mind.

  30. Dana Choit says:

    I seems like this shot has a number of elements working to create the dominant. I think this has more to do with the Lens/Filter/Stock – wide angle lens (I was also thinking camera proxemics (long shot) and lighting) but the background of the shot appears to be blurred in comparison to the two figures up close. In addition, the laundry machines to the left of Hamlet’s head also appear more in focus, and as you follow toward the right side of the screen there is a gradient effect of (for lack of a better word) blurriness. In the back-center Guildenstern is in a leather jacket, which reflects lights and helps to create this effect. Above him, lights in the laundry room are reflected against a glass wall, and are blurred in distance and gradient as well. As the eye follows all the way to the end, there appears to be a woman dressed in orange, who is less recognizable. At first I was unsure if this orange figure was not an object above Rosencrantz’s head (I remember seeing pumpkins on a table at some point) but then realized she was another person just trying to do her laundry.

    • Dana Choit says:

      Also- It seems that this gradient effect – in blurriness and also in size – shows the audience who and what is most important in the shot to slowly trickle down to the least important. Hamlet is in the best focus(and his head is huge), followed by Rosencrantz (lower down and smaller/blurrier), Guildenstern(in the background and even blurrier), and the other objects and outsiders lurking in the laundromat.

  31. amelia daly says:

    Related to the Character Placement is the Composition. It seems that the composition is diagonal. From the character placement Point of View. The horizontal lines of the machines in the background, and their organization in rows is juxtaposed with the angle of the camera to heighten the anxiety of the scene.

    The Low angle of the shot shows the power that Hamlet has

    • I’m glad you pointed out the triangular composition–even though Hamlet is taking up half the screen, it’s not simply a binary shot with two characters (like you saw with Ghost World). Almost like a spiral really

  32. Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey the tension that has developed since the murder of Hamlet’s father, and that is slowly building up to the eventual bloodbath at the end of the play. As Marie pointed out in our discussion about the color elements of the scene, “the warm old-school buddy relationships between these boys has turned cold.” As Lisa points out, the fact that the three friends are in close proximity to one another doesn’t necessarily imply that their friendship is as close as it once was: “In this case, it works to demonstrate the opposite type of relationship – like an invasion of space.” Rosencrantz (Guildenstern? You know, Steve Zahn) is invading Hamlet’s personal space as a means of extracting information that Hamlet is not prepared to give up to his friend. The dull lighting and pale faces, as I previously pointed out, also add to the tense feeling as it lends a sort of sickly pallor to the scene that leaves the viewer feeling as uneasy as the characters would be.

  33. Sara Tener says:

    This may be a bit of a stretch, but I believe that, with respect to the camera angle, we are getting an eye-level shot of Steve Zahn and a low angle shot of Ethan Hawke. Though this is makes me wonder if it has more to do with character positioning than camera placement, I am, nevertheless, running with this. To me, it seems that the audience being at eye-level with Rosencrantz puts them on a moral footing with him and in an inferior, although initimate, relationship with Hamlet. This is highly appropriate given the fact that Hamlet is a tragic hero in the classical sense.

    • Marie Mosot says:

      Interesting! Morally, we probably are meant to identify more with Zahn’s character. The thing about low-angle shots, though, is that they’re often used to make actors look bigger. It’s not necessarily that we as the spectator-audience are in an inferior position compared to Hawke – he’s lording over us. (Is that a significant difference? I’m not sure :D)

  34. Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey the tension that exists between Hamlet and Rosencrantz. When considering character proximity, the fact that Hamlet and Rosencrantz are close does confirm that they know each other, but when you combine that with other elements, tension is created. For example, Faye agrees that tension is being conveyed because she mentions that “Hamlet is facing us in the shot” because “as the audience, we are to relate with him.” This staging position instantly forces the audience to choose which character they are ‘siding’ with during this subtle verbal altercation. Trever brings up that due to the angle of the camera, “Hamlet is proportionally ‘bigger’ than everyone else.” The size perception combined with the assumption that Hamlet is “deeply contemplating his next moves” also adds to the tension being created and built up. Finally, for good measure, Mike S. also mentions that the close-up in the shot allows us to “see small changes and tension in his (Hamlet’s) facial muscles.” It seems as if all elements are working together to convey tension – which by the way – can be considered a tone. Which of those critics said something like “poor camera cannot convey tone?” Obviously he was incorrect!

  35. Melissa M says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey character placement. According to Trevor11, “Hamlet is in the bottom front of the shot and is proportionally (because of the angle) “bigger”than everyone else.” Raj noted, “Gildenstern is not in focus, but maintains a looming yet distracted (he’s on his phone) presence in the center rear of the shot, which seems to take away whatever authority he could derive from his vertical positioning relative to the other characters. ” Rosencrantz, however was partially shown, (head up), and was much “smaller” than Hamlet. This particular shot shows the viewers distributions of power without using words.

  36. Marie Mosot says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey character relationships. The staging of Hawke and Zahn’s characters, the former facing away from the latter, “sets the mood as defiant and showcases Hamlet’s resistance” (Lisa). Hamlet will not comply with Zahn’s character and refuses to even acknowledge him eye-to-eye as an equal, a childhood friend anymore. In fact, the full frontal angle given to Hawke acts as mirror: we the audience are meant to identify with him, not the pliant Zahn. The medium shot allows Hawke to dominate the frame, which puts Zahn in a position of less power: “Hamlet is in the bottom front of the shot and is proportionally (because of the angle) “bigger” than everyone else. This works to the effect of giving the idea of a sense of power…. it seems as though he is deeply contemplating his next moves” (Trevor). He probably is plotting or playing up his facade of madness or both. Despite Zahn’s orders coming from the more powerful but (as of yet in this shot) absent character of Claudius, Hawke dominates.

  37. Mike Salerno says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey the central character’s importance to the overall narrative. First, the close-up the camera provides shows the viewer Hamlet’s importance in contrast to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who are not provided with close-ups. This suggests their secondary importance in the shot. Secondly, Raj states that “Hamlet is both towards the top of and somewhat to the margin of the frame, whereas Rosencrantz…is positioned below and towards the other margin.” Hamlet is the more dominant of the two men and Rosencrantz is the subservient, approaching Hamlet from below with a sense of humility. Finally, as Faye suggests above, “Hamlet is facing us in this shot, so his staging position would be “full-front.” Hamlet’s body position not only suggests his importance but also provides the audience member with a sense of ‘complicity’ and intimacy.

  38. Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey a sense of interrogative, claustrophobic tension for Hamlet. He is taking up about half the shot, signifying an impactful moment for him (because why else would we need to see his face so clearly), and the two other characters crowd the rest of the shot, taking up about a third of it. Lisa nailed it when she said it demonstrates an “invasion of space,” since Hamlet is looking away from Rosencrantz. And as Mike said, we can “see small changes and tension in his facial muscles,” which is allowed by the close-up of his face. The fact that only Rosencrantz is directing his focus on Hamlet (rather than Hamlet reciprocating) reminds me of those drawings that teach you point of view, where all lines meet up at the same point. Hamlet is that point, and everything seems to be zoning in on him here.

  39. Raj says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey the sharp intra- and interpersonal conflicts which are key elements of Shakespeare’s revenge-drama. The close shot, which manages to maintain three characters in the frame, provides a sense of tension. Mike Salerno points out that this shot “Allows the audience to see the inner struggle Hamlet is going though” because he is the dominant character in the shot. In this scene the cause of his tension is made clear to the audience by way of character placement. As trevor11 states, “Hamlet is in the bottom front of the shot and is proportionally (because of the angle) “bigger”than everyone else” implying that he knows more than he will let on to the “smaller” Rosencranz and the distracted (and relegated to the background) Guildenstern.

  40. Sara Tener says:

    Rambling:
    I also was particularly stuck by the contrast provided by the costumes and colors in the clip. The white room makes one think of the corpse of Polonius and the morgue to which it will make its way. Claudius and his men are dressed in suits, which seems to suggest both authority and mourning. The fact that Hamlet and his old school “chums” are dressed causually indicates that they not only have no emotional attachment to the deceased, but also that they perhaps yearn to allign themselves more with life than death. This is rendered ironic not only by the rest of the tale but by the stark, institutional-like setting in which they find themselves.

    • Marie Mosot says:

      The difference in clothing also suggests their respective ages. “Hamlet” could be rendered a generational war between a usurper and a young inheritor.

  41. Jeff says:

    The dominant figure is Hamlet. I also found the character proximity of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as intimate to be important as they are pretending to be friends of Hamlet. Later when troops come in there is a formal proximity as they stand far away from Hamlet when addressing him. I suppose this is a medium shot (close up) as the scene is cropped to Hamlet’s upper torso (even when viewing him through the reflection in the washing machine). Certainly the shot seems to suggest that Hamlet’s frame of mind is what is most important in the scene.

  42. trevor11 says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey intensity between characters.
    Almereyda uses character placement in this scene by strategically placing Hamlet in the bottom front of the shot where he is proportionally larger than the other characters working towards the effect of giving the idea of a sense of power. Faye states that “Steve Zahn (not sure which character he’s playing) has the quarter turn. He’s still an intimate part of the shot, but with “less emotional involvement.” We’re not supposed to identify with him, but we do want to have close connection with that character.” This is two fold has it also implies less warmth between the two characters because of the kind of body language he uses by only turning slightly as opposed to completely, as though guarded. Mike additionally brings to light the emotion present on Hamlets face which is one of the more captivating parts of the scene, he states that we are able “…to see the inner struggle Hamlet is going through. We can see small changes and tension in his facial muscles.” This combination of character placement, body language and facial depictions all contribute to the creation of a tension filled and near-nailbiting scene between these characters.

  43. Seeing that it doesn’t have to do a book (it doesn’t right?), I would love to watch a video game adaptation. So I’d recommend *Dead Space: Downfall* (2008) from the Dead Space horror video game franchise or *Halo: Forward Unto Dawn* (2012) from the Halo franchise. Both very good movies.

    For books, *Girl With The Dragon Tattoo* (Original Swedish version with subs) (2009). *The Shining* (1980).

    From Manga: *Spirited Away*

  44. amelia daly says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey anxiety and stress among the characters. Darwin noted the use of color saying, “in the short scene, because it takes place in the laundromat, the background is mostly pale or white. This is in contrast with the characters, who are all wearing dark colors such as black and blues. ” From the point of view of the dominant, Hamlet, there is a diagonal composition. This too is in contrast with the laundromat and its organized, horizontal lines. Mike S. also notes the character placement and how it “shows the importance of Hamlet in this scene and the secondary, albeit important, functions of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.”

  45. Marie Mosot says:

    Lumiere vs. Melies
    documentary vs. fiction
    Eisenstein vs. Impressionist-Surrealist
    montage vs. photogenie and automatism
    “the temptations of rationalization” vs. “the requirements of seduction” (2)

  46. Darwin Eng says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey Hamlet’s struggle in determining what is right and wrong. The movie does little to diverge away from hamlet’s struggle-it constantly stays focused on him. Mike S. talks about the close-up shot on hamlet’s face. Not only does it force the attention to be drawn on Hamlet himself (his face visually becomes bigger than everyone else’s), but it “allows the audience member to see the inner struggle… we can see small changed and tension in his facial muscle”. This intense focus on Hamlet is further emphasized through the character placement. Even during the long shot in the beginning of the scene, only Hamlet is visible to the viewer–he is sitting by himself. Yet. once Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern enter the frame, Hamlet holds onto the viewers attention. Trevor notes that because he is bigger, “[it] works to the effect of giving the idea of a sense of power”. The viewers should be focusing on the person who has the power, in this case Hamlet as he tries to decide whether to tell where he buried the body.

    • Great–and made me think of an idea we’ve talked about before: that narrative after the 18th century began to privilege interiority and the “showing” of things. Seems like this film is not an exception to that general rule.

  47. Would the second one be “documentary vs fiction” or “spectacle vs research”, as Godard put it?

  48. Mike Salerno says:

    (((Professor Ferguson,

    Apologies for interrupting the flow of our class, but I need to leave work now because I carpooled with another group. I will finish all the assignments once I get home.

    Thanks,
    Mike)))

  49. Melissa M says:

    Spectacle vs research
    previous representational technologies vs the new “random generators”
    significance vs real details
    documentary vs fiction

  50. I’m really unsure of these responses, but some “opposites” that Ray discusses are:

    Temptation of Rationalization and The Requirements of Seduction (Page 2)
    Documentary and Fiction (Page 3)
    Surrealists and Impressionists (Page 4)
    Narrative and Photogenie (Page 5)

  51. Darwin Eng says:

    Russian “experiments of the cinematic montage” (1) vs Hollywood and mass production (2)

    D.W Griffith vs. Irving Thalberg

    Documentary/Lumiere (“research”) vs fiction/Melies (“spectacle”) (3).

    Impressionst-surrealist approach vs. Eisenstein’s approach (4)

  52. Jeff says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey the internal and external conflict of Hamlet. hamlet is the dominant figure who does not bother to look at the other characters in the scene. As Mike Salerno pointed out, Hamlet is not looking at something in the laundromat, but rather through something, as if there is something else completely on his mind. This is because of the inner struggle Hamlet faces in dealing with his own sanity, the betrayal of former friends and conflict over what actions he is justified in taking. Mike also noted that the close-up in this shot allows the audience member to see the inner struggle Hamlet is going through. We can see small changes and tension in his facial muscles. The close of this shot certainly focuses the viewer on the pain in Hamlet’s face as he struggles with his internal conflicts. At the same time, Hamlet faces very real and threatening external conflicts as his so called friends are attempting to betray him. Their proxity changes as they come in to an intimate distance to try and convince Hamlet to tell them what he has done with Polonius and then move away to formal distances in frustration with his refusal. Furthermore, the use of the close shot heightens the feeling of impending menace. As Faye Sakellaridis said the close shot conveys a sense of interrogative, claustrophobic tension for Hamlet. Danger seems to be lurking just beyond the frame as the three characters fill the frame with their disagreement.

  53. Raj says:

    1. magic vs positivism (2)
    2. decorative/feminine vs. functional/masculine (2)
    3. fiction vs. documentary (3)
    4. glamor vs. thrift (3)
    5. spectacle (Eisenstein) vs. automatism (Impressionist/Surrealist) (3)
    6. Ideogrammatic vs. mystical (photogénie) (5)

  54. Element: Character Proxemic Patterns.

    1) The close up makes it seem like intimate distance, but there is obvious hostility between the guys.
    2) I will say that the scene represents personal distance. The characters in the shot are pretty close to each other but not intimately close to each other. Seeing that I’m guessing these guys are friends (I read *Hamlet* in high school), this is the perfect distance between the characters.
    3) The two characters talking to each other having privacy, but they don’t exclude the third guy talking on the cellphone. Their privacy isn’t exclusive the way intimate distance would work, because we see the third guy walk up and talk to Hawke, while the other guy moves back.

  55. Spectacle vs Research (3)
    Words vs Images (14)
    Intentional vs Accidental (in the discussion of “photogenie”, pg 8)
    Surrealism vs Impressionism (4 and 8)

  56. documentary vs. fiction (second paragraph, page 3)
    realism vs. anti-realism/art (i took the liberty of juxtaposing anti-realism with realism, since it’s kind of implied – i got this from the bottom of page 10)
    glamor vs. thrift (top of page 3)
    fetishism vs. knowledge (bottom of page 5)

  57. trevor11 says:

    I just went in order of what I could find without getting lost…

    Temptation of Rationalization vs Requirements of Seduction – 2
    Documentary vs Fiction – 3
    Impressionist vs Surrealist – 4
    Fetishism vs Knowledge – 5

  58. Sara Tener says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey, in this particular still, Hamlet’s superiority as a tragic hero in the classical sense of the term. He is the character that is most in focus and dominates the shot, hence, stressing his importance and his internal turmoil. The fact that the viewer appears to be looking up at Hamlet and at level with Rosencrantz emphasizes both the secondary characters’ and audience’s inferiority to the main dramatic figure. Though one would not prefer to identify with Rosencrantz, the director, by making the viewer do so, puts the audience in a position where they can vicariously aspire to the greatness of Hamlet and sense Rosencrantz’s duplicity. Furthermore, the angle aids the viewer in grasping the monumental nature of the problems that he is afflicted with. His crime is not something that an everyday audience member will experience.

  59. Melissa M says:

    an adaptation just came to mind! It can work as a chick flick, action, adventure, etc! SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN!!! It’s fun for all :)

  60. Dana Choit says:

    Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey the notion of power and dominance that works within Hamlet. The camera work and lens/filter/stock set up works to create a gradient in size and clarity to show the dominance of Hamlet in this scene. As Trevor points out, “Hamlet is both towards the top of and somewhat to the margin of the frame, whereas Rosencrantz is positioned below and towards the other margin. Gildenstern is not in focus, but maintains a looming yet distracted (he’s on his phone) presence in the center rear of the shot, which seems to take away whatever authority he could derive from his vertical positioning relative to the other characters”. This allows the viewer to gain an unconscious understanding of the most important and least important figures within the scene. This effect is also create through use of color. Darwin adds, “In the short scene, because it takes place in the laundromat, the background is mostly pale or white. This is in contrast with the characters, who are all wearing dark colors such as black and blues. This contrast highlights and makes the viewers focus on the characters, and not the environment they are in”. The audience is encouraged by each element to ignore the minor objects and figures (the random woman doing her laundry being smallest and most blurry is therefore least important) where as Hamlet (the largest, clearest and darkest figure) is most dominant for the audience.

  61. The “detail” that interests me is the setting’s function. (I’m not positive that’s what the question was implying, but here goes nothing!)
    Why does this scene take place in a laundrymatt? I noticed that I am distracted by the constant spinning of the laundry in the dryer combined with the mechanical noises coming from the row of dryers. Is that the point? To show distraction? I do find it interesting that the first dryer we see is in the opening shot, directly behind Hamlet’s head. Maybe it is supposed to represent his thoughts cycling in his mind – never stopping, endlessly turning over and over. It also adds to the tension I discussed in my earlier post. When is it going to stop? Wouldn’t it be “out of place” if the dryer did actually stop? Because if it did stop – the audience would assume it was symbolic of something else ending or being stopped. After just watching it again – I realized that when Hamlet is staring into the dryer, Rosencrantz steps behind him and starts to speak – the laundry pauses, and then reverses before Hamlet starts speaking. Isn’t that symbolic of his thoughts going in reverse once his thought process is interrupted? Maybe the noise created by the dryer adds to the disturbance and tension – taking away the audience’s focus.

    • I like the laundry-mirror shot too! And that in the next shot it almost looks like the laundry is spinning right out of Hamlet’s head. I bet the surrealists would want to know exactly what kind of clothes were in those dryers and washers…

  62. Marie Mosot says:

    Hawke’s red undershirt.

    Red is a warm color, one of the primary colors, a color of passion and of blood. (The blood recently shed by Polonius, the blood of his dead father, the blood of Claudies yet unshed, etc.) In contrast, blue is a cool color. Blue is the color of the sweater Hawke wears over his red shirt which is closer to his skin. Red is closer to Hamlet’s true nature, and he covers it with a blue shield in the same way he conceals his true intentions with his facade of madness. The color of passion is hidden beneath a cool exterior, which ironically also inhibits his motivation to act – the color of action begets little action. Red as passion can also manifest as madness, so the madness is within as well, not just an act. When Claudius drapes the pin-striped jacket over Hamlet, it’s his way of pigeonholing his nephew/stepson and rationalizing the irrational Hamlet.

    Did any of that make sense? I can elucidate :D

  63. Melissa M says:

    The most obvious detail from this scene which stood out most to me was the opening of the scene, where we see just one eye. Since I have taken a class on the representation of dreams, this struck me. In that classes we learned that usually when film makers focused on a set of eyes, or an eye it usually meant the character was dreaming, or going into deep thought. Also, it signifies it will reveal something about the inner character.

  64. Someone earlier mentioned how the person in the background wearing yellow seems sort of incongruous to the rest of the colors in the scene. I noticed this elsewhere as well – the bright colored clothing in the machines, the pumpkins, the sunflowers. All these things are sort of random and mundane. The flowers, in particular, are domestic, homely, and sweet. I don’t think they were put in for any specific reason, but their existence ties into the commonplace, everyday setting of a laundromat. They’re reminders that this is Shakespeare thrown into a slice-of-life every day world (that’s how it seems from this scene anyway; I haven’t seen the movie). The sunflowers and pumpkins were particularly eye-grabbing. They hold worlds of meaning on their own (flowers are beautiful, romantic, remind you of spring – pumpkins are tasty, kind of quirky looking, Halloween, autumn, black cats, pie, etc.). So just by existing in this scene, you get that sense that these two worlds are converging – the lofty Shakespearian theatre world and the laundromat down the block where, usually, no one is saying pithy, poetic things every other line.

    • Marie Mosot says:

      The pumpkins stood out to me, too. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the movie, but I think it took place around Halloween, so that might explain their existence in the scene. At any rate, its setting during Halloween – All Hallow’s Eve – wouldn’t be wholly dissonant with “Hamlet” and its use of ghosts and the supernatural.

  65. I’m sort of cheating on this last assignment, because I do know why I picked the detail that I did, but hopefully it’s still valid- it’s interesting to note that, if you’re paying attention, there are actually quite a few spots of color in this otherwise drab scene, in particular shades of yellow and orange. Apparently this is supposed to take place in the fall because there are pumpkins placed throughout the laundromat, as well as a trick-or-treat, jack-o-lantern shaped bucket and you can just make out some orange leaves on the trees in front of the store as the king as his cronies walk in. The chairs are orange (although, notably, Hamlet’s chair is covered up by his black coat) and there appears to be some orange lighting above the machines. There’s also a man dressed in yellow sorting clothes in the background during the conversation of the three friends, and yellow clothes are seen in the dryers. Finally, there are yellow sunflowers hanging in one of the windows. I suppose the purpose of this would be to show that life is going on outside of this depressing play.

  66. Sara Tener says:

    Magic vs. positivism
    Hollywood (mass production of enchantment) vs. cinema
    Argument vs. revelation
    Faith in image vs. faith in reality
    Automatism vs. intentionality (art as unconscious presentation of reality vs. art as anti-realism)
    Hermeneutics vs. heuretics
    etc.

  67. Jeff says:

    The first I noticed was on page 2 where he uses the analogy of the Model T vs. General Motors trying to sell seduction. He finishs by describing them as Enchant vs. Mass production.
    Another is Eisenstein’s alignment with pictoralism vs. the Surrealists’ photogenie or automatism.
    A third would be Bazin’s objective representation of reality vs. Eisenstein said something must be built up or poised.
    And a final difference is the documentary or research vs. spectacle.

  68. amelia daly says:

    was drawn to the clothes in the dryer. They have that hypnotizing quality. Plus, there is the flash of the one yellow/orange piece of clothing that sticks out. Watching just the clothes in the washer, I realized that the one bit of color moving in there made me also see the other spots of similar colors; the sunflowers in the picture on the wall, the two pumpkins on the table, the two orange chairs. I am still not sure of the significance accept that the whirling sound, the circling movement of the clothes, and the intermittent flashes of the yellow color create a jarring effect because they interrupt the language and tone of the characters.

  69. Darwin Eng says:

    A single detail I have noticed is how during the beginning of the clip, Hamlet never looks at Rosencrant, and Guildenstern even when they are talking to him. Instead, he is always looking away. His gaze is not at the camera, but instead into open space. It is unclear if Hamlet is actually looking at something (the beginning of the clip shows him at, but not into, the revolving washing machine) or is actually lost in thought. Of course, this makes me wonder what he is actually thinking about. The bags under his eyes shows that he is extremely tired. Perhaps it is from all of the thinking that he is doing–he is unable to make a decision. As a viewer, this makes me feel uncomfortable. In a strange way, I WANT to know what Hamlet is doing, and not kept guessing on what he might be thinking. This kind of disconnect between the viewer and the main character is disconcerting.

    • Another interesting contradiction: on the one hand Hamlet faces us so we have a sense of “intimacy” with him; on the other we viewers still really feel that “disconnect”!

  70. One more recommendation, because this deserves to at least be considered. Both the film and book are amazing.

    Silence of the Lambs

    Stay safe, everyone.

  71. Melissa M says:

    This was a clever idea, and kind of fun!! See everyone next Thursday! Be safe and WARM!

  72. trevor11 says:

    The detail that strikes me the most are that of the gentleman in the leather jacket in the background (not sure which one he is) but this is a great use of character proxemics. He is on the phone, then he is idol, then he stands ominously in the background slightly blurred out. Now I have a particular eye for this as I have seen in many films recently that directors like to place something in plain view and then either take it away or move it, etc and you feel that something is coming, like a pulled back shot of a character standing the street with foreground blurred? Probably going to get hit by a car. Here, the use of social distance is in great effect because this character is going to do something, and we know he is important but I can’t put my finger on whats going to happen or how he will alter the scene, but I can’t stop looking at him…just in case.

    • Add to that that we see that Hamlet *doesn’t* see that menacing guy either–so our anxiety gets added to an anxiety for Hamlet. I guess that makes us identify with Hamlet more?

  73. Jeff says:

    One detail I noticed was how the clothes in the machine are spinning clockwise and when Rosencrantz begins to speak, the cycle immediately changes and spins counter clockwise. This seemingly insignificant detail certainly seems to reflect the relationship of the friends turning on Hamlet and speaking in lies.

  74. Raj says:

    Because it’s so “prominently” off in the margins in the still we were asked to close read, I suppose the person in yellow folding laundry is the unintentionally captivating element for me. Of all the modern elements of the film (used to make antiquated Shakespearean dialogue more jarring) this yellow person folding laundry, oblivious to the drama behind her(?) provides the greatest slap in the face to anachronism. Having dwelled in apartments for much of my adult life I know well the cardinal rule of the laundromat: wash your garments, dry them, fold them, get out. It’s like the subway–make no eye contact with anyone else, lest you get sucked into their drama/dirty laundry. Anyhow aside from yellow person’s insistence on folding laundry in a laundromat rapidly filling with irate non-laundry-washers being admirable it causes me to wonder if the director decided to film in a working laundromat perhaps for a greater air of authenticity, a greater sense that the drama is unfolding in the present. There is a commonality, a blue-collared, perhaps puritanical insistence on completing her work, which suggests she is more a salt-of-the-earth type than an aristocrat such as Hamlet. Rosencrantz, once he gets off the phone, can be seen sporting a bright yellow tshirt, perhaps linking him with the dedicated folder, implying his (and of course Guildenstern’s) lesser status in relation to Hamlet. When Hamlet is accosted by the guy from Twin Peaks we lose sight of dedicated folder, returning my focus to the speech and anachronistic Shakespearean tension. However towards the end of the scene, behind Hamlet’s head in the dryer a glimpse of a yellow bit of clothing can be seen tumbling around! We are again reintroduced to the present, the common, and those blissfully unconcerned with Ethan Hawke’s terrible acting.

  75. Michael Almereyda uses specific elements of mise-en-scene in adapting Hamlet in order to convey hostility/confrontation. The characters proxemic patters set the bodies in the scenes in such a way that hostility is produced. I get the feeling that Hawke is being attacked and Mike’s close-up analysis helps to confirm this. We get to see the tension on Hawke’s face and Zahn moves in proximity provides a threatening intrusion from a friend?, while the second guys is off in the background, but appears in the center of the scene to show a continued threat. The composition of the scene, which Amelia points out, also increase the anxiety of the scenes, which increases the hostility between the characters. As Zahn and the guy in the black jackets in and out of the close-up, it feels as if the scene is pushing more and more towards the direction of Hawke producing more tension, anxiety, and therefore, more hostility.

  76. Magic vs. positivism
    documentary vs. fiction
    argument vs. revelation
    automatism vs. photogenie

  77. Dana Choit says:

    I don’t think this went through from the first time (or I can’t find it):
    Important Opposites :
    Fetishism v. knowledge (5)
    Automatism and photogenie v. artificial, posed reality (4)
    Impressionist/surrealist v. Eisenstein (2)

  78. Dana Choit says:

    I couldn’t help but go back to the woman in the back doing her own laundry. It seems she is the only other person in the laundromat outside of the Hamlet cast. She then caused me to take a further look at Guildenstern. When Guidenstern approaches Hamlet, unlike Rosencrantz , he actually stands slightly more upright, and blocks this woman from view completely. It makes me think that perhaps he is inadvertently saying: “Hey! Ignore the background, I’m important too! Pay attention to only me when I speak!” He stands with his back to the audience and on his cell phone for much of Rosencrantz’s part at the beginning of the clip, and when watched in isolation, as we did, one might think that Guildenstern (at least at first) may be another Laundromat patron minding his own business. Later after the suits arrive, he is pushed even further back behind his original spot in between two of the men.

    Just wanted to add – After the initial conversation between Rosencrantz, Gildenstern and Hamlet is finished and others arrive, we see an additional man who sits in front. In this scene that he appears (in white), the woman in yellow is not seen, yet she reappears when the shot returns to show the front of the laundromat (where the man in front who perhaps possibly works there or is also doing his laundry, is again not pictured in view). I think its an interesting detail that these two outsiders seem appear and reappear when the shots change from a close up view of the front doors to the panned out view of the front from afar.

  79. Sara Tener says:

    I was struck by three things in the shot: the sunflowers, the number “2,” and the dryer that Hamlet stares into. I looked up some information on the number “2” and sunflowers and attached it below with their sources. Then, I made some personal comments on the dryer in relation to the play. I hope you enjoy!

    Sunflower (http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/flowers/s1.html )
    Helianthus annuus
    Family: Asteraceae (Daisy family)

    Sunflowers originated in North America in 3000 BC. During the 1500s, explorers brought the sunflower to Europe, where it spread along trade routes to Russia, Egypt, and the Far East. There are over 150 species of sunflowers. Some grow as high as 15 feet, while the dwarf plants grow 2-3 feet tall only.

    Helianthus comes from the Greek ~Helios~ which means ~sun~ and ~anthos~ which means ~flower.~ These flowers always turn towards the sun. They were grown for their usefulness, not their beauty. In 1532 Francisco Pizarro reported seeing the natives of the Inca Empire in Peru worshipping a giant sunflower. Incan priestesses wore large sunflower disks made of gold on their garments.

    According to Greek mythology, there was once a water-nymph, who fell in love with Apollo, the God of the Sun. She was so in love with him that she sat on the ground and stared up at the sun all day long. Apollo never noticed her. The other gods, however, took pity on the young girl and turned her into the sunflower. This is why the sunflower forever follows the path of the sun in the sky. She does not want to lose site of her lover.

    Another legend tells that Clytie, a nymph loved Helius the Sun god, but he scorned her in favour of another girl called Leucothoe. In a fit of jealousy Clytie told the affair to Leucothoe’s father, King Orchamus of Persia, who then buried his daughter alive as a punishment. Helius hated Clytie even more, and poor Clytie wasted away and became the sunflower, whose head turns to follow the course of the sun across the sky each day.

    Sunflowers represented different meanings in many cultures. In China they symbolized longevity. In the Andes Mountains, golden images of sunflowers were found in temples. They were used by Central and North American natives to make oil for food, medicine, and dye. North America Indians in the prairies placed bowls of sunflower seeds on the graves of their dead. It is said that if a girl puts three sunflower seeds down her back, she will marry the first boy she meets. The sunflower’s turning as it follows the sun symbolizes deep loyalty and constancy also symbolizes power, warmth, and nourishment (all the attributes of the sun), as well as haughtiness, false appearances and unhappy love. The dwarf sunflower stands for adoration in the language of flowers.

    Sunflower is grown for the seeds and oil it produces. Each mature flower yields 40% of its weight as oil. One sunflower head can produce up to 1,000 seeds.

    Sunflowers have become the symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. After Ukraine gave up its last nuclear warhead, the Defense Ministers of the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine met on a former Ukranian missile base on June 4, 1996. They celebrated by scattering sunflower seeds and planting sunflowers.

    The number “2”(Wikipedia)
    In religion:
    The number 2 is important in Judaism, with one of the earliest reference being that God ordered Noah to put two of every animal in his ark (see Noah’s Ark). Later on, the Ten Commandments were given in the form of two tablets. The number also has ceremonial importance, such as the two candles that are traditionally kindled to usher in the Shabbat, recalling the two different ways Shabbat is referred to in the two times the Ten Commandments are recorded in the Torah. These two expressions are known in Hebrew as שמור וזכור (“guard” and “remember”), as in “Guard the Shabbat day to sanctify it” (Deut. 5:12) and “Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it” (Ex. 20:8) Two challahs (lechem mishnah) are placed on the table for each Shabbat meal and a blessing made over them, to commemorate the double portion of manna which fell in the desert every Friday to cover that day’s meals and the Shabbat meals
    In Jewish law, the testimony of two witnesses are required to verify and validate events, such as marriage, divorce, and a crime that warrants capital punishment
    “Second-Day Yom Tov” (Yom Tov Sheini Shebegaliyot) is a rabbinical enactment that mandates a two-day celebration for each of the one-day Jewish festivals (i.e., the first and seventh day of Passover, the day of Shavuot, the first day of Sukkot, and the day of Shemini Atzeret) outside the land of Israel

    Numerological significance:
    The most common philosophical dichotomy is perhaps the one of good and evil, but there are many others. See dualism for an overview. In Hegelian dialectic, the process of synthesis creates two perspectives from one.
    Two (二, èr) is a good number in Chinese culture. There is a Chinese saying, “good things come in pairs”. It is common to use double symbols in product brandnames, e.g. double happiness, double coin, double elephants etc. Cantonese people like the number two because it sounds the same as the word “easy” (易) in Cantonese.
    In Finland, two candles are lit on Independence Day. Putting them on the windowsill invokes the symbolical meaning of division, and thus independence.[citation needed]
    In pre-1972 Indonesian and Malay orthography, 2 was shorthand for the reduplication that forms plurals: orang “person”, orang-orang or orang2 “people”.[citation needed]
    In Astrology, Taurus is the second sign of the Zodiac.

    The dryer:
    The repetitive motion suggests something trapped in a mechanical cycle which seems highly appropriate given Hamlet’s situation. He does not wish to be bound to the old, destructive codes of revenge, but, because he is trapped in Denmark rather than pursuing life and his studies in Wittenburg, he has no choice but to fulfill the role his society expects.

  80. My eyes follow the dryers in the background. They’re always there. And the sound they make move in and out of the scene. Sometimes they’re loud and then their noise reduces. Why a laundromat? Why the spinning dryers? In the very beginning of the scene, we see Hawke and then the second thing for me is the washer working. Spinning like the dryers behind it. Is the spinning supposed to represent the machine of the mind, i.e. Hawke working through his feelings, but also the machine of torture in trying to beat the information out of Hawke. The tumbling of the clothes. Hmmm…the tumbling of the clothes. The mundane-ness of the dryers, washers, spinning, tumbling, with the tension, anxiety, hostility, the guys in the slick black suits and well coiffed and jelled hair.

    • The juxtaposition of these things works well together. I’m not sure why. But I’m drawn to everything, because everything seems out of place. Lets not forget the checkered floor. I’m forced to not only notice the guys, but the background. And the lighting — bright florescent lights — as opposed to shadows and shades. Everything is supposed to be seen, mirroring perhaps Hawke giving up where the body is.

    • Ray would love this sentence: “The mundane-ness of the dryers, washers, spinning, tumbling, with the tension, anxiety, hostility, the guys in the slick black suits and well coiffed and jelled hair.”

  81. Mike Salerno says:

    Ray’s 5 sets of opposites:

    1. Magic vs. Positivism (p.2)
    2. Documentary vs. Fiction (p.3)
    3. Spectacle vs. Research (p.3)
    4. Chance vs. Reality (p.9)
    5. Lumiere vs. Melies (p.3)

  82. Film Adaptations we can watch:
    I am so uninterested in watching Carrie. I think I will have to be absent since that scene in class has traumatized me so very much. I’m not kidding. (And if we do end up watching it I think it would be mean and it would hurt my feelings.) I was thinking we can watch The Lion King, as it is an adaptation of Hamlet. I think we can put many of the theories we have learned to good use here. I do love Stranger Than Fiction. That’s a good choice. As far as other “chick-flicks” how about “He’s just not that into you?” I think that would be interesting because the book is not a narrative, but the movie uses montage to make a narrative. Other options: The Devil Wears Prada or Spiderman vs. The Amazing Spiderman.
    Staging Positions:
    Hamlet (Ethan Hawke) is in the center facing the camera. The intimacy created by this technique allows us to sympathize with Hamlet even though at this point in the movie, he is not a very likeable character. When Claudius enters the Laundromat, he has two body guards with him. They are at the top right corner of the frame, which shows that although they in position of authority/strength, they are not very important to the story line. When Rosencrantz is speaking to Hamlet before Cornelius enters, he is in profile towards the bottom of the frame. Perhaps this is the cause because Rosencrantz does not have as much power as Cornelius who is king.

  83. Mike Salerno says:

    My eyes were immediately drawn to the two orange chairs we see when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter the laundromat. These chairs are empty and would seem to be the perfect number of chairs for Hamlet’s two friends to sit in, especially if they really need to get some information out of him. Instead, the chairs are barely in the camera shots for the remainder of the clip, perhaps signifying that Hamlet does not want his friends to be there nor does he want interference from anyone during this difficult time.

    My eyes were also drawn to the two pumpkins sitting on a table in the background towards the end of the clip. As others have pointed out, the pumpkins may simply represent that it’s near Halloween or set during the autumn, however, perhaps the filmmakers intended a deeper, more significant symbolism? The pumpkins seem out of place in the shot and similarly, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s presence is out of place, at least from Hamlet’s perspective.

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