Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

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Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by glegrady » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:40 pm

Select to comment on either Antonioni's "Blow-Up" or Ridley SCott's "Blade Runner" (or both) and another of your choise in which photography plays an instrumental role in how it functions at the cultural, perceptual, psychological level. Be insightful and provide details to show you have studied the films
George Legrady

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Re: Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by crismali » Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:18 pm

Alicia Crismali
October 6, 2012

As the medium of photography has developed, the ways in which the image effects the human population has been changed greatly. As the years have passed, taking photographs has become a very plausible past time, hobby, or career for anyone, not just the wealthy or highly invested who could afford film and camera equipment. Today disposable cameras are very affordable, and the most basic digital cameras also can be bought at reasonable prices. This combined with the fact that most cell phones now have cameras built in has made taking photos a very important part of today’s culture. On facebook.com a profile is not complete without photos, and by extension of that idea one’s life is not complete without photos. Photographs represent much more than just an image– they are a second of life documented forever in detail, and so they are a small slice of one’s life. They represent memories, and without photographs one does not have all of their memories crystalized and clear to hold onto forever in physical form. Photographs are proof that something happened or existed, whether in the context of a police report or a shoe box full of old notes.

This idea of a photograph representing a memory, or even proof that one’s mind hasn’t betrayed oneself with false memories, has been used in many films. Two films in which this idea is exemplified is in Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and Christopher Nolan’s “Memento”. The first was made in 1982 about a 2019 dystopian Los Angeles starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. In this film, robots called “replicants” who are identical to human adults are produced by a major company called Tyrell Corporation. The replicants are used in other worlds to work on dangerous or tedious tasks, but are forbidden on Earth. When some of them rebel, and decide they want to live as humans do on Earth, “blade runners”(police members) hunt them down to “retire” them. The rebel replicants in this film have been upgraded to include their very own storyline– they are implanted with memories(mostly from real humans who are family of or are the people creating the replicants) and given photographs to prove that they are human. This is the interesting point in the film: if one has memories, and has photographs of their past, then they are “real”. The replicants are able to claim credibility through the use of photographs and “memories” even if they are not their own. In this way, the importance of photographs is shown: even robots can be almost “real” people if they have memories and photographs. However, there is a twist because while these photographs and memories prove a past life, they are false and represent lives that have not happened.

Similarly, in “Memento”, based on the short story "Memento Mori" by Jonathan Nolan, photographs play an important role in representing memory. In “Memento”, the main character Leonard Shelby has been affected with anterograde amnesia. This means that he is incapable of creating new memories and retaining them for long. He was attacked by two people, and during the attack manages to kill one, but the second clubs him and escapes. Leonard lives out his days putting together clues he has left himself in the form of tattoos, photographs, and papers to try to get revenge on the second attacker who got away. The police report denied that there was a second attacker, but Leonard conducts his own investigation and has concluded that the name of this attacker is “John G.” The film plays half in chronological order(black and white) and half in reverse(color) joining the two sequences at the end with a developing Polaroid. Spoiler Alert: In the end, it is revealed that Leonard has already killed many “John G.”’s, and has created an unsolvable puzzle for himself in order to have purpose in a shattered life. Leonard is shown killing a man he thought to be “John G.” and then consciously burning the Polaroid he took of the body, because with his lack of memory he can’t remember what has happened without the photo, and he can then continue his life looking for “John G.” He makes a note to tattoo the license plate of his friend whose full name also corresponds with “John G.”, which suggests the hunt and eventual demise of this friend.

“Blade Runner” and “Memento” both brilliantly exhibit the importance of the photograph and how it pertains to memories: without photographs, memories fade and are distorted by our own perceptions and wishes. But even so, photographs can misrepresent the past if shown in the wrong context. They function to prove the past("replicants"), to serve as memories in physical form("Memento"), to showcase our lives("facebook.com"), and to remember today what you usually would not be able to. Photography has become even more important to the psyche since these films were made (in 1982 and 2000). In today’s world, the photograph holds great importance in everyday life, and actually shapes our lives because without them, our memories are faulty at best.

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Re: Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by pumhiran » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:48 pm

Pat Pumhiran Report on Photography in Cinema

The film I choose to talk about is Blade Runner(1982). This Sci-Fi film takes place in the future of 2019 where a human like robot known as "replica" is being disposed inorder to prevent danger to the human race. The main character, detective Rick Deckard, is on the job to hunt down the remaining replicas. Deckard comes across a female replica name Rachel who did not believe that she is one of the replicas. Rachel brings out a photograph of herself (as a child) and her mother to show Deckard that she could not possibly be a replica since replica can only be active for four years. The photograph in this film represents the prove of an existence. It is a physical evidence that we can use to show someone about our life. On the other hand, Deckard also use the photographs as a key to get a clue for his investigation. Most investigations successfully solve the crime with photographs.

The other film that I choose is the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone(2001). Most of us know Harry Potter as a young wizard who goes through all the adventures at the school of witch craft and wizardry. A photograph plays an important aspect in Harry's life. When Harry receives a photograph of his parents, the photograph becomes a keep sake to him. With this photo, Harry can see what his parents look like or how they dress. Not to mention it is the only photo of his parents, which make it priceless to him. Another aspect of photographs in the Harry Potter films is when Harry reading the newspaper. The newspaper often high light a photo of the character which give the sense of confrontation between Harry and the person in the newspaper.

From my point of view, every human age and will dies someday and that is a fact of life. Photograph can be pass on to the next generation. Today, more people have the access to digital cameras(this include a phone camera), which make it easy for anyone to take picture anytime and anywhere. Unlike film camera where you have a limited number of picture you can take per roll of film, digital cameras can take pictures endlessly. The majority of people who own a camera take pictures inorder to capture their personal life, which is exactly what they camera is made for. To me, I cherish the photograph of my family and friends because they mean something to me.
Last edited by pumhiran on Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by hcboydstun » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:44 pm

Hannah Boydstun
October 7,2012

In the film “Blow-Up,” Michelangelo Antonioni depicts the media-enthralled life of a photographer. From an outsider’s perspective, the photographer goes beyond personal boundaries in order to get his images on slides. For instance, photographing men, naked in their shower room. Yet, when analyzed closely, the audience can see that the photographer’s lifestyle is merely a series of synthesized moments: from objectifying his female models to driving madly through the streets in his car, the photographer is not present in the real world. By this, I mean to say that the photographer is only aware of what he sees through his lens, and takes little care of anything else. This is illustrated through the women that the photographer encounters. Despite being physically attractive, and seemingly ‘single,’ the photographer refuses to show any sort of affection toward the women fawning over him. Likewise, for the women, the desire of being photographed takes precedent over their feelings and morals. In one scene, two girls allow themselves to be taken advantage of by the photographer in return for a photo shoot (that ironically never occurs.) In both cases, photography seemingly blurs the line between reality and the disillusioned, fast lane lifestyle.

In the film “The Lucky One,” soldier Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) is in the midst of his third tour in Iraq when he discovers a picture on the ground. Unlike the hostile environment he has been dealing with during his last tour, the picture illustrates a smiling, wide-eyed young woman. Seconds later, he becomes the sole survivor of a car bombing. Thus, he keeps this picture as a memento throughout the war and promises to find this girl to which he attributes to be his ‘guardian angel.’ Throughout the film, Thibault constantly keeps the picture under his bed as a reminder of his triumph and survival of the war. Symbolically to the soldier, the picture comes to represent the ‘good’ in the world: a world without war, a world without death, and a world without problems. As a result, the picture serves to highlight the soldier’s constant inner struggle to find peace once again. For instance, Thibault often wakes up in night terrors, only to be consoled by this photograph. More so, when Thibault finds the girl, she is going through a divorce and is struggling with her own life. This contrast between the innocent girl in the picture and the desperate, lonely single mother that he finds serves to illustrate how a picture only captures a brief moment in time; Not only is the woman different from her picture, but the solider has also become a different person from when he found the photo. Thus, photography in this film also lies on a divided line between what is reality and what is fictionalized behind the pretty face in the photo.

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Re: Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by erikshalat » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:07 pm

MIchelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blow-Up is about the affect that photography had in contemporary popular culture, and culture in general, told through the more personal story of a photographer uncovering a crime with the use of his craft. Ridley Scott's cult classic Blade Runner is a sci-fi thriller loosely based on a Philip K. Dick short story, about a parallel Earth in which human's have created near-perfect, but emotionless androids which rebel against their creators. Both movies use photographs as a major clue in solving a crime case, but looking deeper, thematically both have the idea of the still image as truth in a deceitful world.

Blow-Up stars David Hemmings as an unnamed celebrity mod photographer who has gorgeous women on his beck and call to be in his latest photo shoots. He is a very hollow person, there isn't much to him beyond his image as a famous person. He lives his life from thrill to thrill, getting little enjoyment out of anything. In this way he is similar to his photographs- a flattened image. Hemmings comes upon an innocuous couple strolling through he park. Upon examination of the photographs he takes of the couple, he discovers the body of a man, shot dead in the background. In this way, the photographs he took reveal a reality hidden just behind the false peace represented in the rest of the photograph.

In Blade Runner, the main character Deckard (portrayed by actor Harrison Ford) is on the tail of several escaped android "replicants", who are trying to find a way to live beyond their programmed four years of life. Deckard discovers the identity of one of the replicants using a photograph. With the use of a computer, in what i'd consider an absolutely ridiculous scene, he manages to zoom into the photograph and actually go around corners in the space of the image. Here the flattened image has suddenly become an entire world to be discovered, a single moment paused to be examined from any angle- but again, like in Blow-Up we see the use of a photograph to uncover the hidden world beyond ours- a world where lies are exposed in the light of truth.

City of God (2002) is a more recent film directed by Fernando Meirelles about organized crime in Rio de Janeiro over the span of twenty years. In this film, the main character (named "Rocket" in the film but based on an actual newspaper photographer) develops an interest in photography at a young age. He has an innate ability to take great photographs, and it is this ability that allows him to escape the confines of the crime-infested slums in which he lives. He gets to take his talent to the news, who hire him because of his direct connection to the gangs. The irony in this movie is that the gangs themselves want to be photographed, as a symbol of their popularity and respect- despite it getting them recognized by the authorities. We see this desire to be photographed in Blow-Up as well, with girls desiring to be captured on camera despite being exploited in the process.

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Re: Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by rdouglas » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:30 pm

Blow-up, a 1966 film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, depicts the elaborate life of a fashion photographer as he comes to discover that a roll a film shot on a quiet afternoon may contain undeniable proof of a murder. His lifestyle is quick and seemingly without any moments of pause. If he is not quite literally bouncing off the walls of his studio he is aggressively flirting with potential models or driving his car recklessly through the streets of London. Each image is crucial within the fictional photographer's fast-paced lifestyle but, for him, it is only momentarily an object of value. As the next model(s) come into his studio the old image is hidden away to be simply considered as a thing that helped finance his lifestyle. However, as he discovers on a clear and calm day, an image of his could actually depict not only the frozen motion of a model, but the lack of motion in a lifeless body. When he realizes that this roll of film is undeniably valuable (after blowing up a series of images and magnifying them) he is instantly enthralled by the potential and impact of this image and seeks to uncover every and any visual or physical detail concerning the dead man at the park. With the serious consequences surrounding murder and death, this film has shown the priceless value of the image in culture as a tool for truth.

Manufactured Landscapes is 2006 documentary film about the photography Edward Burtynsky as he travels around the planet photographing landscapes that have been massively altered by society through very artificial means. The footage in the film is derived from a trip to China where the photographer focuses on factories that society depends on for most of their creature comforts. A scene that remains in my thoughts is the opening scene that consists of a very long tracking shot of the nearly kilometer long factory where the majority of the world's irons are assembled by 23,000 Chinese workers. With no audible commentary, this scene leaves the interpretation of labor, society or consumerism up to the viewer, but only after providing them with serious, ethically questionable footage. By themselves, the photographic prints from his journeys are often described as beautiful or stunning, but his primary goal was to raise questions about the connection between visual aesthetics and environmental ethics. Using artistic mediums such as photography to reveal very basic yet dangerous societal issues allows them to be known in an almost appreciative and critical manner by not only the art world but each part of society of which the art world connects to.


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Re: Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by ddavis » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:18 pm

In Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner," we are introduced into the dystopian future of Los Angeles where the line between natural and synthetic has become almost indistinguishable. Soon, Detective Rick Deckard finds himself searching for a group of replicants, that have been created with false memories, and remove them from society. Rachel, the main replicant in the story, has memories of a past that belonged to someone else. She holds onto a series of photographs to prove that her fabricated past is real to Deckard. The use of photography in this film helps to make the characters struggle with what is real and what is not, and shows how photographs can be used to add validity to claims.

In the film "Paranormal Activity," the young couple, Micah and Katie, soon find that they are the targets of a being not of this world. In an attempt to catch the events on tape, Micah sets up a video camera in hopes of proving to his girlfriend that there is something more serious going on in their home. As the events begin to increase in seriousness, the couple heads into the attic looking for the source of mysterious sounds. Upon investigation, Micah stumbles upon a scorched photograph of a smiling Katie and her sister from when they were children. This discovery frightens an already emotionally distraught Katie who had believed that this photo had been lost in an unexplained house fire that occurred when she was still little, leading her to believe that some evil force has been following her since childhood. The importance of the photograph in the film is used to reaffirm the psychological fear that had plagued this individual throughout her life.

While Rachel from "Blade Runner" uses photos to hold onto false memories of a better time, "Paranormal Activity" uses the photograph to instil fear. Both of these become a way for the characters to look back on their pasts to convince themselves what is true. For Rachel, it was to show others that her memories were not implanted and that she was not a replicant. In Katie's case, it was proof to her that she had not been imagining the events that had plagued her in the past. Each movie shows how photographs are used to prove whether or not something took place in an individuals life, though who that truth is intended for, is unique from picture to picture.

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Re: Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by kateedwards » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:56 pm

Blade Runner: In director Ridley Scott's science fiction film Blade Runner, Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a special police agent responsible for tracking down machine made humans known as “replicants,” and executing them before they cause harm on Earth. The replicants, created by the Tyrell Corporation for the purpose of performing dangerous labor in colonies on other planets, are virtually indistinguishable from regular human beings with the exception of their inability to express a full range of emotion. They have been programmed with select memories from real people in order to appear human, yet are limited by the reality that they are simply reciting events they've never actually experienced. Deckard meets replicant Rachael, who is unaware she is not human, and he reveals the memories she believes to be true are in fact fabricated and belong to her manufacturer's niece. She shows him a photograph she is convinced shows herself as a child in her mother's lap. The photograph serves as the only evidence of her supposed prior existence, but Deckard is skeptical. Throughout the film Deckard is seen flipping through photographs, trying to get a grip on what is real and what is artificially manufactured. The camera's ability to capture fleeting moments in time becomes a way for him to try to make sense of a world in which what is true and what is artificial is incredibly difficult to distinguish.

Despite the technological advancements prevalent in the cosmopolitan film, Deckard still clings to tangible prints as a way to disconnect himself from the futuristic setting and connect with a more traditional representation of memory. Ironically, the film is set in 2019, complete with flying cars, enormous buildings, and electronic billboards filling the sky, yet photographic prints are used as cold hard evidence. Today, photographs can easily be manipulated by technology with graphic programs such as Photoshop and altered to depict things which never occurred. It's interesting to see what a 1982 film imagined the future to be like versus what our editing software is actually capable of. I would argue photographs are becoming more and more unreliable as “proof” of anything considering the ease with which one can tailor images to suit their agenda. Photographs were once thought to be documentation of the real world, of what is true. Now their dependability as mirrors of the real world is faltering.

What a Girl Wants: Photographs serve a similar purpose in the 2003 film What a Girl Wants starring Amanda Bynes as American teenager Daphne Reynolds. The movie opens with a photo of Daphne as a young girl in Chinatown, dressed in a tiara and boa while blowing out her birthday candles. The voice overlay explains that every year Daphne wishes to be able to meet her father, a man she has only heard stories of from her mother. Her only proof of his existence and prior presence in her life is what she has seen in photographs from when her parents first met. Images of their travels and wedding give her hope that one day she will be able to finally interact with the man she had been idolizing for so long. Daphne decides to take matters into her own hands and travels to London in search of her father, bringing a photograph of him and her mother. When she first arrives she discovers her father is engaged to another woman and has a soon to be step daughter. No one believes she is his biological daughter because her mother had never told Henry, Daphne's father, of her pregnancy. The only way she finally convinces them is by showing the photograph and reciting the story her parent's travels. Just like in Blade Runner, the image depicting an event from the past is used to reinforce the reality of the character's present. Through photographs Daphne is able to reconnect with her father and regain a part of her history she had always been missing.

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Re: Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by amandajackson » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:00 pm

The film Blow Up follows the life of fashion photographer David Bailey, played by actor David Hemmings. The 1960s film begins by establishing that Bailey works on his own time table- you cannot predict or rush the art that is created by the lens of a camera. Bailey is late for a photo shoot at the beginning of the movie, which makes him late for his following appointment with a group of models. When Bailey becomes bored with the shoot he abruptly leaves, telling the models to close their eyes, he says "it's good for you." After he makes his departure, Bailey encounters two young, aspiring models whom seem to be so desperate to be shot and captured by the photographers weapon that they pay no mind to the little or rather nonexistent display of respect they are given by Bailey. As an artist, Bailey is more interested in the unusual and unique pieces that tell a story than what is easy and right in front of him. After visiting an antique shop he follows a couple of lovers into the park, snapping their photographs from various angles he captures cues of emotion that are not visible with the naked eye. The woman in the photographs whom was accompanied by a man in the park desperately wishes to have all the photos, but her plea of urgency only helps grow the photographers curiosity at what is hidden in the shadows of the shots he had taken in the park. Using the technology of his dark room, Bailey blows up the sequence of images from the park; using clues from body language and the direction of vision in the photograph's subjects, Bailey uncovers what the woman in the park was so desperate to conceal- her lover was the victim of murder. By uncovering this truth, Blow Up shows the value of technology and photography, the ability to capture a moment in time and make it visible for everyone to witness as truth.

A 2007 film, Mr. Brooks with Kevin Costner, again illuminates the cultural values of beauty and truth that cameras, technology and the resulting photographic images provide. Mr. Brooks is a wealthy, successful man with an addiction, the addiction to kill. As his urges to shed blood grow stronger, Mr. Brooks gives in to the temptation. Following his ceremonious routine of preparation Mr. Brooks interrupts and kills a couple in the throws of passion. He meticulously cleans the apartment after the murder only to notice that the window coverings were left open. Following the incident, Mr. Brooks is approached by a man, "Mr. Smith", at his office building. The man, played by actor Dane Cook, blackmails Mr. Brooks with photographs of him in the deceased couple's apartment the night of the murder. The photos were taken with a high-powered telephoto lens, giving the photos great detail and depth of field; there is no doubt from the evidence in the images that Mr. Brooks indeed murdered the couple. Mr. Smith gives the photos to Mr. Brooks so that he can see significant truth that Mr. Smith has uncovered. Technology having developed a great deal since the 1960s, the decade of the film Blow Up, Mr. Smith's photos were all produced digitally and he has made copies and digital back-ups to ensure that his images will not be lost. If digital imagery were available in the time of David Bailey, perhaps his blown up photographs from the incident in the park never would have been lost when they were stolen from his apartment.

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Re: Wk02 - Photography in Cinema

Post by rosadiaz » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:04 pm

Photography became an instrument of great use to capture a picture of a family member as a memento. A photo in itself not only tells a story from the moment the picture was taken but what happened before and after, setting, the other people who were cropped out of the shot and the surroundings. The medium of using photography as art brought many talented people to artistic exposure. Composition, lighting and subject became important. This was a prelude to films. A pause in a film is a story in itself. If a person were to walk into a paused movie they would wonder where the character is, what movie is it, surroundings and other various questions. Everything then becomes a memory from before and after the shot was taken.

Blade Runner uses an old age method, photography, to set in this futuristic age how precious a person’s memory can be. Leon the main antagonist of the story treasures the memories within his photographs. The Replicant sees these images as a part of him as he did not have childhood photographs to have an emotional connection to. He earns to be human and equal to a human who have longer life spans, emotions and can have connectivity towards people. These hand held images became something he can only grasp to becoming one step closer as a human. Rachael a Replicant as well holds onto her implemented memories as if they were her own relying on photographs to reel in this sense of connection and bond with her “childhood.”

Deckard in the mean time is sorting through photographs attempting to find evidence with these technology advanced devices that can let the viewer see small details in high resolution as well as objects or people who were not there before. The use of photographs in the movie is used as concrete evidence as everything on it is real. Unlike now where people can become skeptical of any photograph they see online as photo manipulation can look flawless from time to time. But even now photographs are still used as mementoes through digital or hand held images.

In UP Mr. Fredricksen, the old grumpy man, is lost within his mind in this world where he wished he was back with his wife and joyful of life. His wife’s passing caused him to become depressed and looking over photos of a once younger self. Within his home there are tons of photographs of the couple from their younger and older years. He cherishes these photographs with his life because he feels it’s the only tangible way he can still connect to his late wife Ellie. All their mementoes in life from dreams and aspirations to childhood and adult photos are placed into a photo album called, My Adventure Book. This book is what causes him to lapse into a sense of depression once Ellie is gone. But this same book gives him the inspiration that the adventures have not faded away or forgotten but to make his own new memories to place in the books.

Like in the Blade Runner Mr. Fredricksen has these emotional responses and attachment to the pictures. The photos in this album have an everlasting effect to the holder. They are not memories that were implemented but just like those that were inserted they can be everlasting and hold true meaning to the holder.

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