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The Evolution of Film Essay

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In the early times of narrative cinema there was litter pressure on the filmmakers for the evolution of film forms before nickelodeons (Salt, 31) as cinema had not become a mass cultural product and film was still just a novelty expected to die out like rock n roll. And so the demand was low and so the supply could remain unoriginal. Mary Jane's Mishap was made in 1903 when ‘multi-scene films were becoming popular’ (Salt, 32). Mary Jane's Mishap is notable for its use of experimental and inventive shot transitions. It used a vertical wipe to instead of ‘separate successive scenes’ (Salt, 32) (as it cuts to a shot width a wider frame of the same locale) but to change the zoom level. This frame is essentially an insert and borderline emblematic shot. It doubles as an intertitle at the same time as to avoid ‘systematically anticipating the narrative content of the following shot and thus eliminating any possible suspense, were to constitute a major obstacle to the linearization of narrative for the next ten years at least.’ (Burch, 221) it which explains to the viewer clearly that it is Mary Jane’s grave as on which is important as it is a ‘self sufficient narrative’ (Burch, 221) as cinema had run out of stories that were familiar to audiences and the primitive viewer was not well versed in film (quote this). This is at a time when fades and overlaps were more popular.
In the development of the narrative close ups are used. Mary Jane's Mishap uses both types of these close shots that Salt defines (Salt, 38). Firstly the insert which only show the face but closer it furthers the narrative by highlighting the comedy and humour in the moustache she has given herself with shoe polish. Secondly, the ‘true close-up’ such as in this shot...


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...shot of Mary Jane in the first scene to join the shots and de-emphasize discontinuity as well as trying to match the character movement to bridge the cuts. (Gunning, 90) ‘The key articulation in the scene would be the cut-in (or the cut out) in which successive shots overlap spatially. This would find its beginnings in the cut-ins to medium shots in such films as Mary Jane's Mishap but becomes dominant practice around 1912.’ (Gunning, 93) According to this view, ‘the single-shot functions as a theatrical proscenium (long shot framing) and the theatrical scene’ (the lengthy uninterrupted shot)’ (Gunning, 97). Though Mary Jane's Mishap evolves from this by using these cut-ins though these are still only cut-ins filmed from the same perspective/position of the original shots/ where a audience member of a theatre show would stay. Understanding of it being primitive.



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