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Pantomime
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This paper is about pantomime, about it"s origin, it"s people, how it has evolved, and how wonderful it is. Pantomime is a dramatic performance in which a story is told or a theme developed through expressive bodily or facial movement. The origin of pantomime can be traced back to classical farce and the Italian Commedia Dell"arte. Not all pantomime is silent. The completely silent performance of pantomime was invented in Rome. Pantomime is sometimes used to worship. Mime is a short way of saying pantomime and also means someone who performs pantomime. A mime, if performing on the streets, will...
heart that lights up like a neon sign when he sees a pretty girl, another could drive a really small sportscar, or one may wear a trick costume which enables him to change from an old lady to a midget, and back again. One clown may run away from a stuffed tiger that is attached to him by a thin wire.

As you can probably see, pantomime has changed over the years and there have been ups and downs during the change. There were also some performers who saved, or played a big part in the history of pantomime.

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Andre Parfeniuk Student # 10260974... Andre Parfeniuk Student # 10260974 December 3, 2001 The Impact of Dziga Vertov on Film " The main and essential thing is : the sensory exploration of the world through film. We therefore take as a point of departure the use of the camera as a keno-eye, more perfect than the human eye, for the exploration of the chaos of visual phenomena that fills space." - Dziga Vertov , Manifesto The Council of Three 1923 The innovative theories and filmmaking techniques of Dziga Vertov revolutionized the way films are made today. Man With a Movie Camera 1929, a documentary that represented the peak of the Soviet avant-garde film movement in the twenties, displayed techniques in montage, creative camera angles, rich imagery, but most importantly allowed him to express his theories of his writings of Kino-eye the camera. The film has a very simple plot that describes an average day in Russia, yet the final pieces of this film emerge a complex and fast-paced production that excites the audience. Vertov"s ability to use radical editing techniques with unconventional filming to present ordinary things has inspired many directors around the world. And still now modern avant-garde movies apply many of these same techniques to dramatize simple and complex stories. Vertov was one of the greatest innovators of Soviet cinema in the post WWI era. During this time, the freedom to make films was limited due to low stock of supply. Vertov and his colleagues had to be very creative and innovative if they were going produce anything at all. "The Kuleshov Workshop", a workshop class at the Moscow Film School led by Lev Kuleshov included famous Soviet filmmakers like Vsevolod Pudovkin and Sergei Eisenstein, but excluded Vertov. This is significant to the fact that Vertov was very different than any other Russian director. Unlike the other Russian filmmakers, Vertov usually captured people with a candid-camera that allowed him to portray the truth, for example in his series called Kino-Pravada 1922-1925. "Not "filming life unawares" for the sake of the "unawares", but in order to show people without masks, without makeup, to catch them through the eye of the camera in a moment when they are not acting..." 41 Vertov His original ways of thinking, isolated him from all other filmmakers. Even his style of using "montage" editing style commonly used by Soviet directors in Man with a Movie Camera was very different. In this film, hours of footage are edited together in many cuts, which is the style that Vertov is well known for. His cuts are very rapid and he displays them accordingly to music to add excitement to the sequence. The sequences act on all three levels of montage: narrative, intellectual, and emotional. For example in the beginning of Man with a Movie Camera, there is a sequence in a theatre where the cameraman sets up the film for the audience to watch appendix 1. The lights come on, the seats go down, the cameraman sets up the projector, the audience enters, the lights dim, the orchestra awaits and then the manifest begins. The narration comes from the editor throughout the whole film. The cameraman cannot possibly be the narrator since he is randomly out of frame and it is a silent film. "From the very beginning"¦ the centrality of the cameraman"s vision is put into question, since he moves out of frame in the third shot of the film. In other words, the cameraman cannot be equated with a central character, or even the central narrating intelligence of a narrative film, since visual perspective is not localized in a single figure, but dispersed through multiple perspectives." 162. From this point, the film is bombarded with sequence after sequence of 9 daily ordinary events that occur from morning to night in an orchestral movement manner. Bombarded are the cuts because of the abundant amount of imagery and plenty of assorted camera angles. There are a large variety of metaphorical cuts that search an intellectual response of the audience. For example, when the woman wakes up from bed at the very beginning, a clip of window shutters, a camera lens opening and closing, are juxtaposed in a sequence of her blinking appendix 2. This sequence is a metaphor connecting the lens of a movie camera as "an extension of human vision". As the rapid-fire cuts increase with the music, tempo and rhythm, an emotional response is experienced, and this thesis metaphor of the film is emphasized. Other examples of this same technique are thoroughly presented in each other of the nine events. Amongst this array of symbolism, there exists other editing techniques that makes the film even more powerful at certain times. About twenty-one minutes into the film, Voltov"s wife Elizaveta Svilova appears at the beginning of a movement at the editing table, with a pair of scissors. She is in the midst of cuts between her and a series of freeze-frame stills, beginning with a horse pulling a carriage and ending with close-up faces of people appendix 3. At this point, the importance of the editor is achieved, and as more editing techniques or "visual treats" Mast, 187 are displayed to the audience, we realize that the editor is the other central figure in the plot. Formal cuts, an example of another editing technique, emphasize the importance of the circles or circular motion in machines, such as those of sewing machines, train and car wheels, and the movie camera itself. This demonstrates the machine as a major figure in film now as well. Accompanied with tonal, rhythm tic, and directional cuts, the filming comes from all different types of angles which grasps the audience"s intellectual response. From the very start, the cameraman is picked up in a car that is viewed traveling across the frame from a very high angle overhead appendix 4. Then he is taken to the railway where the music heightens as he lies on the railway tracks to get a very dangerous shot of the train approaching. The peak of this sequence becomes loud with music and extremely fast with cuts from all angles of the train appendix 5. A very powerful editing technique is used here to emphasize the importance of the cameraman in the scene. By adding blackness to the frames, giving the video a strobe lighting effect, the viewer becomes attentive to what is visual not black. Slow motion, split screens, dissolves, and the use of prismatic lenses are some other "visual treats" that make the audience appreciative of the film. Closer to the end of the film, there is even a stop-motion animation of the movie camera setting it-self up. The audience is brought into this sequence so that the film reminds us that this is a show for the audience. The camera has a job to entertain us, and Vertov who has always been very fascinated with the movie camera"s tricks, wants the audience to realize all the little tricks it is capable of doing. These tricks are more than just entertainment, but these editing techniques serve as the camera"s superiority to the human eye. Vertov explains this idea in his writings of Kino-Glaz Kino-eye or Cinema eye. "Starting today we are liberating the camera and making it work in the opposite direction - away from copying. The weakness of the human eye is manifest. We affirm the kino-eye, discovering within the chaos of movement the result of the kino-eye"s own movement; we affirm the kino-eye with its own dimensions of time and space, growing in strength and potential to the point of self-affirmation." 7 The relationship between man and the camera is one the main focuses of this documentary, which was a very rare focus in the times of a harsh state of communist propaganda. Man with a Movie Camera takes a break from the all the other Soviet films that only focused on unity between people, communism, and praising Stalin and mother Russia. The film has an excellent message describing the relationship between the worker and the machine. We discover the souls of the machine, we are in love with the worker at his bench, we are in love with the farmer on his tractor, the engineer on his locomotive. We bring creative joy into every mechanical activity. We make peace between man and the machine. We educate the new man. [Lynton, 110] Vertov uses this message to explain his job and his relationship to his camera. Declaring the lens of his camera as an extension of human vision, he searches for an "absolute language of cinema." "He moves outside of Hollywood storytelling, and closer to an absolute language of cinema that he seeks." Denkin 7 Run Lola Run The language that Voltov discovered has inspired the works of many filmmakers from all over the world. The film Run Lola Run 1999 by Tom Tykwer, is probably one of the most innovative films of today"s Hollywood style movie, which many similar filming and editing techniques originated in Voltov"s Man with a Movie Camera. Tykwer uses a number of different ways to film Lola as she runs to save her no good boyfriend from certain death. From an artistic point of view, the editing deserves most of the credit for all of the intensity that is felt by the viewer. Run Lola Run has a very complex story, which is very interesting on its own. However by using the avant-garde techniques of filming and editing developed and mastered by Vertov, the movie becomes alive and fast-paced keeping the audience in suspence at all times. In Run Lola Run, Lola has twenty minutes to find 100,000 marks if she is to save the life of Manni, her boyfriend who lost the money which was picked up by a homeless person on the subway. Manni has until 12 o"clock noon to get the money, or his boss, a drug dealer, will kill him. Lola runs into the streets of Berlin attempting to find the money one way or another. From the opening frames of the movie, several "visual treats" set the tone of the film. There is a clock sound with animation of a huge clock at warp speed. With the aid of accelerated speed of the frames, dissolves, thousands of people are passing into and out frame. Within these thousands of people, certain characters, which are later introduced into the story, are focused on for a split second. This foreshadowing technique, hints who some of the characters are, in the film. It sets a high tempo where figures collide, quickly in and out of frame to the narration of a God-like voice that asks us questions about questions of man and where we come from. He gives us an answer, but it is probably the last answer we would expect: soccer. After the credits are displayed through an animated cartoon of Lola running, the real story begins and Tykwer establishes a smooth flowing arrangement of editing techniques that replicate those used by Vertov. Because there is panic felt right off the start as the phone rings, a techno drum thumps a heartbeat while the conversation on the phone is cut into rapid-fire editing from medium to close-up shots to Lola and Manni"s expressions and dialogue. The quick cuts are very attractive, as the camera at times doesn"t even move an inch, but with so many of them, there is a quick tempo that escalates on the dramatic parts of the conversation. These quick cuts are very similar to the rapid-fire editing between the juxtaposing clips of the woman blinking, the window shutters, and the camera lens opening in Man with a Movie Camera. Throughout Run Lola Run, Tykwer"s use of creative tricks of the camerawork and editing, give the story drama and comedy in 3 trials of Lola attempting to save her boyfriend. The repetition of Lola running through the streets of Berlin is original and anything but boring, as cameras flow with her running to her father to get Manni the money. Quick cuts, high and low angle shots, split-screens, fast and slow motion, animation, still frames, and symbolic music are amongst all the camera tricks Tykwer uses in the footsteps of Vertov. Several parts of Run Lola Run also use the effect of still-frame flashforwards to tell little stories within the main story. Like in Man with a Movie Camera, still frames were used to emphasize characters. However, Tykwer goes beyond the use of the stills to emphasize character. He used them to tell little stories about certain people Lola bumps into on her path to get the money. If Lola interacted with certain characters amongst her path, the camera would focus on that person and a series of flashforwards would snap ten different shots looking into their future. Each flashforward episode consists of a series of almost subliminal stills; each appears on screen for approximately one third of a second only. The flashforwards depict drastically different and quite extreme outcomes for each person, creating a humorous effect for the audience. It is as if Lola, in imagining/performing a series of three contrasting futures for herself, also creates different possible futures for other people. This editing technique is powerful in that the viewer is allowed to know how even the slightest split second difference in Lola"s action, changes the very lives of the people she encounters. This in turn foreshadows a different result of her quest to find Manni 100 000 marks every trial. Vertov"s unconventional ways of filming different camera angles with the use of machines and vehicles, is apparent in the film Run Lola Run. The different angles of shots, including helicopter and crane shots, reflect the myriad of perspectives possible at any one time. Particularly striking are the shots featuring Lola and Manni, in which the frame is split into two, three and sometimes even four sections. Lola and Manni"s points of view are revealed simultaneously and the performance of identity by different individuals is intertwined. Tykwer uses the split-screen effect to add suspense when noon approaches and Lola hasn"t arrived to Manni"s aid. The split-screen replaces the purpose of the cross-cut effect and displays both person"s point of view. She is running and he is deciding whether he should rob the store or not, so the suspense is increased when it is clear that she is very close to him. In Man with a Movie Camera, the split screen was also used to heighten the emotions of the audience. In the opening frame of the film, we see the cameraman setting up his camera on top of a camera appendix 6, giving the audience the suspense of what he is preparing to shoot and with the effect of an interesting and different image. This suspense is not as extreme as the effect of the split screen in Run Lola Run, nor does it provide a similar narrative function, however, this editing technique serves as a purpose in building montage in both films. Run Lola Run and Man with a Movie Camera are two very similar avant-garde films of their time specializing in editing, however the two films are completely different in plot. Man with a Movie Camera is a documentary and Run Lola Run is a suspenseful drama. There are no actors, dialogue, intertitles, scenario, or sets in Man with a Movie Camera. Vertov designed the film as an experiment with "the aims at creating a truly international absolute language". Run Lola Run, on the other hand, uses actors, scripts, sets, dialogue etc. to tell a story with the idea of one controlling one"s own fate. This in turn, demonstrates how Vertov has had an impact on films of all types. Tykwer may not have been an admirer of the works of Vertov and he might not have even seen Man with a Movie Camera, but his style of shooting with innovative camera angles and unconventional editing techniques, demonstrates the existence of Vertov"s styles and ideology. If the fact that Tykwer didn"t study the works of Vertov, this would boost the reputation of Vertov"s impact on the film industry, as many other filmmakers have produced films with the same innovative techniques. "I am kino-eye, I am a mechanical eye. I, a machine, show you the world as only I can see it. Now and forever, I free myself from human immobility, I am in constant motion, I draw near, then away from objects, I crawl under, I climb on to them. I move apace with the muzzle of a galloping horse, I plunge full speed into a crowd, I outstrip running soldiers, I fall on my back, I ascend with an aeroplane, I plunge and soar together with plunging and soaring bodies. Now I, a camera, fling myself along their resultant, maneuvering in the chaos of movement, recording movement, starting with movements composed of the most complex combinations. Free of the limits of time and space, I put together any given points in the universe, no matter where I"ve recorded them. My path leads to the creation of a fresh perception of the world. I decipher in a way a world unknown to you." 17 Vertov originates a timeless ideology about the possibilities of the movie camera, and these ideas pertain to the filmmakers of an endless era. Tykwer is one to have brought to life these ideas on a new level in Run Lola Run, which glorifies the camera"s results with movement in every frame. Run Lola Run feeds the kino-eye with collision, contrast, and conflicting scenes, which make the film a huge success in giving the audience a new type of story with suspense, comedy and drama. Appendix Appendix 1 - Preparation of the manifest Appendix 2 - Metaphor of the Camera as a n extension of the human eye Appendix 3 - The use of still frames Appendix 4 - Conflicting motion colliding across the frame Appendix 5 - The train and the uses of rapid cutting Appendix 6 The Split Screen of the Man and his Movie Camera   

Andre Parfeniuk Student # 10260974 December 3, 2001 The Impact of Dziga Vertov on Film " The main and essential thing is : the sensory exploration of the world through film. We therefore take as a point of departure the use of the camera as a keno-eye, more perfect...

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Thesis: Luc Besson is one of...Thesis: Luc Besson is one of the best French Directors of this century. His works can either be viewed as mere action packed thrillers or the viewer can go in depth and question society and morality. Besson wishes to make the viewer question the importance of individualism, the role of each individual in society and whether the individual should follow the norms of society or follow his heart. Besson's humor, sense of pathos and his reflections on life deserve credit. Besson draws on his own life in some movies. Besson lacks presence of family and religion and in his movies the protagonist has to sacrifice one love so as to attain another, which he feels to be of greater importance to his life. Introduction Luc Besson was born in Paris on March 18, 1959, and spent most of his childhood living in the idyllic settings of various Mediterranean hideaways between Yugoslavia and Greece where his parents worked as diving instructors. A tragic diving accident when seventeen, put an end to his dreams of a career in marine biology and he diverted his interest to films and directing. He dropped out of school and moved to Hollywood at the age of nineteen where he spent three years working on and learning about American films. There was a time when he used to watch a dozen films a week so as to understand filmmaking. Considered the French equivalent of Steven Spielberg, Besson is popular for creating fast"“paced stylish and hugely budgeted films. What are noticeable in Besson's movies are the visual style, humor, pathos, and sense of direction, reflections on life and declination of modern society. Susan Hayward, 1998 The Movies Luc Besson's movies can all be viewed not just as movies but movies with a meaning. One of his major themes in all his movies is social existentialism - the decline of society and morality. The protagonist develops his own sense of morality and what is right and wrong in relation to their decline in society as a whole. What are noticeable in his movies are the absence of family and the demise of the community, which he brings out with great sophistication. His childhood spent near the sea and his passion for it and diving also had a profound effect even on his work as can be seen from his movie "“ The Big Blue. It is also worth noting that religion plays no major or obvious part in the proceeding of the movie with the sole exception being "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" which although religiously oriented in real life, finds Besson concentrating on the action and adventure and the society and morality of those times. The difference between the story of a young girl who claims to have been visited by specific saints and one who is transfixed by thrashing winds, rushing clouds and a wolf pack on the hunt is the difference between the real life Joan of Arc and the fictitious marionette of this film. Ronald F. Maxwell, 1999 Besson's films represent the conflicts and tensions of a post-modern age and are perceived as signs of their time. Besson made his first film in 1980, a short black and white film entitled, "L'avant-dernier". The film won a number of prizes encouraging Besson to remake it as his first long film "“ "Le dernier combat". This too was a huge success. "Subway" starring Christopher Lambert was his next venture. The story is about a thief on the run who becomes involved in the interesting but weird sub "“ culture of Parisians living in the city's underground. The drama is set entirely within the Paris Metro and examines the lives and morality of the punks and fringe "“ dwellers living there. The film received 13 Cesar nominations and became known as a cult classic. Even greater success followed with Besson's next film in 1988, "The Big Blue". Besson's passion for marine life and the sea is evident in this movie and directing this movie gave him a chance to revisit his happy childhood. The film about Jacques Mayol and his personal interaction with the diver influenced the film greatly. The film had astonishing commercial success in Europe but failed miserably in America due to poor last minute editing, changing of the ending and a change in sound track. Besson's biggest hit came with " La Femme Nikita", in 1990, a lightening paced story of a troubled woman who is trained to become a sophisticated, deadly government assassin. Besson"s "La Femme Nikita" spawned a new form of thriller-the neo-noir action film-an influence that still reverberates throughout world cinema. Next, in 1994, came "Léon" also called "The Professional". The film is about a young girl who befriends a professional hitman so as to avenge her family's murder. The movie contained graphic images of carnage and death. Besson's next movie "“ "The Fifth Element" was a huge success with the masses and soon acquired a cult following. It is a tongue "“ in "“ cheek science fiction based on a story that Besson wrote as a teenager. "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" is his latest release and did not perform well and marked Besson's first commercial failure. The analyzing of Besson's movies separately, throws light on Besson's ideas and views showing great similarities in all his movies even if the basic theme of the movies are different from each other. The nature of the characters, their relation to each other, their development as a result of the society they live in and the extremity of society are important aspects of all his movies. He attempts to take us below the surface of society in most cases both literally and metaphysically to view society from a whole new angle. The principal characters in most of Besson's movies have at least one thing in common "“ they are all loners and outcasts from society. They do not conform to the norms and regulations of society. At the same time, the societies portrayed are extreme and probably not to be found on earth. They are invariably societies on the decline that has conflicting principles and ideologies with those of the protagonist. The worlds explored are dark and uncertain places where conventional views of right and wrong are challenged. The principal characters are the only ones to show any real "integrity" although they have their own sense of morality, which the viewer may not always be able to accept or agree with. Luc Besson makes interesting but challenging observations on life, morality and personal development. The characters are all results of this extreme society and therefore extreme and intense in their own way. The extremities in his movies actually help in providing greater clarity to Besson's ideas. Susan Hayward, 1998 Subway "Subway takes us into the underground system in Paris. Fred is a small time thief who steals some important documents from a gangster. The gangster, his wife "“ Héléna and some henchmen follow Fred into the metro. Fred finds a new way of life in the underground where there are no laws to conform to and are free to do what they please in an attempt to survive and yet have maintained a sense of integrity. The gangsters on the other hand, conform on the exterior to the norms of society and yet lack all morality. They are shallow and superficial and lacking in character. Their only goal is to make money, however deceitful or unscrupulous the methods may be. Héléna falls for Fred as she finds him a refreshing change from her husband and his friends. Although amoral, Fred has a sense of honesty, sensitivity and understanding. He acts on impulse, doing what he wishes, and yet fully aware of the consequences of his actions. He is an independent entity having a free spirit, just like all the other residents in the Underground "“ refusing to be crushed by society's laws and expectations. His ambition is to form a rock group and the armed robbery and money made is a means to this end. Luc Besson has used quotes at the start of the film: "To be is to do" "“ Socrates "To do is to be" "“ Sartre "Do be do be do" "“ Sinatra. Stuart Fernie, 2002 These quotes are essential in understanding the point that Besson wishes to make through this movie. Man does what he feels he must do and not what is required of him by society. Society may impose laws but his nature and emotions control man more than these laws do. This conflict between civilization and man's nature is one of the key themes of the film. Fred is not the perfect protagonist but is more attractive than his opponents as he is innocent, direct and acts on what is in his heart. It is a modern play on existentialism, in which the nature and very existence of morality is called into question and each character exercises an influence on the lives and fates of the others. The Big Blue Although distinctly different from "Subway", Besson once again takes us below the surface of society in more sense than one. The movie is gentler and different from his other movies because it is based on the true-life story of Jacques Moyal. Yet, it is stranger than his other movies, maybe because the viewer knows it to be a true story. Jacques is a misfit diver who is passionate about the sea and diving. He may be a misfit in society and uncomfortable with humans but when in the sea, he is free and feels one with the dolphins whom he believes are kindred spirits. He dives professionally, primarily because of his passion for diving and secondarily to make a living. Diving, to him, is an end in itself. A fellow diver "“ Enzo Molinari, diving is a way of life but it is also his way of making a living. He is a champion swimmer and wishes to compete against Jacques to prove to himself, above all, that he is the best. He is a sociable character who enjoys his life in society as much as the sea. Jacques does not wish to compete although in his heart he knows that he is better of the two. He is not driven by ambition or desire, solely by love for marine life. Johana, the third character is drawn to Jacques and he to her. Their chemistry is difficult to define and Jacques finds his interactions uncomfortable. Jacques is unable to cope with the commitment and responsibility of a relationship for his spirit belongs to the sea and that is where he feels himself. Johana ends up coming second to Jacques's true love "“ the sea. Once again, Besson deals with a man's place in society. But in this movie, he deals also with the characters and not just society and morality. The main characters have a great influence over each other's lives and Besson has closely examined this relationship in comparison to the characters wishing to follow their own instincts. Stuart Fernie, 2002 Nikita With "Nikita" Besson returns to the familiar territory of questioning society and morality, the place of an individual in society and his reaction to society. Once again, the movie takes the viewers underground, where Nikita is trained by the government to be an assassin who protects the interests of the state. Morality has little place in this world and yet the people involved have firm belief that what they do is in the interest of the nation. For this purpose, they need people like Nikita whose conscience s unlikely to trouble her after she commits her actions. Nikita, an orphan who grows up with a bunch of drug addicts and under the influence of drugs kills a policeman is trained by the government and the government gives her a direction in life and is responsible for her development. Once again, Besson reveals the farce of society as Nikita learns how to behave in society and be accepted and at the same time continues her work of assassin which in no way conforms to society's laws. Slowly Nikita develops a sense of independence and self "“ respect and exhibits greater morality than her masters. She is indebted to the government and so continues to perform their tasks but on her own terms and with little violence. Eventually Nikita gains her freedom but pays the price of losing her fiancé Marco and has to leave Bob, her immediate superior for whom she ahs deep feelings. The question of morality is raised where the assassin in the end has more sense of right and wrong than the government and people of society. Leon Leon is about an assassin who takes in a 12 "“ year "“ old girl whose family is killed by the federal police who are acting beyond the law. Besson mocks present age society in the movie by showing Leon's best friend to be a plant "because it never lies and it's always happy". Leon's world is black and yet he turns out to be the hero. The police that are considered to be protectors of society are shown as manipulative, cynical and criminal in nature! Leon trains his young charge to be an assassin just like him and the movie ends with Leon and the girl on a rooftop as she takes aim at a Bill Clinton "“ like figure jogging in Central Park. Stuart Fernie, 2002 This again has a touch of love, which is again strange, unusual and tragic for the relationship between Leon, and the girl can never be fully understood and is complicated. Besson used New York in the movie as the scene of action as it is a large town where people can easily be anonymous. In Leon's words "“ "So, at the beginning, it"s very large and very big Besson"s camera sweeps across New York like a comet careening out of control. Then you come in, in, in, to tell the little teeny story. This is a small, small story in this big town." It is worthy of note that just as the principal characters appear to develop and grow the societies in which they evolve appears to deteriorate and decay. In "Subway" society is seen as a gray area, in "Nikita" it becomes considerably darker while in "Leon" the police itself is bad and the assassin, Leon, is the protector of the innocent. The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc Although this movie directed by Besson presents itself as a celebration of a martyr's faith, it shows more interest in the violence and hatred that surrounded her life and how society ill-treated her and finally betrayed her. It is a thoughtful exploration into the life of a courageous French teenager whose "voices" made her lead an army, defeat the English invaders and finally perish at the stake then renounce the justness of her cause and deny existence of the divine guidance. True to form, Besson reveals his agenda in an early scene where Joan watches helplessly as her sister is murdered and raped in that order by an English soldier. In the movie, there is no significance given to Joan's encounters with the saints Catherine and Margaret. There is also no mention of Saint Michael whom she claims to have seen and heard. Ronald F. Maxwell, 1999 This is because Besson was not interested in the historical aspect as much as he wished to portray a woman's morality and faith in contrast to the weakness of her nation and her society and the lack of morality in a society that finally betrayed it's very savior! Conclusion Besson's movies are all based on social existentialism. They are set in extreme conditions and have extreme characters in order to accentuate the point Besson wishes to make. His films present interesting and thought provoking observations on life, society and man's nature. There is a progression in the development of these themes in all his movies, with society and morality depicted as being in slow decline and decay. At the same time the character evolves living in the very same society but refuses to bend down to society's laws and has his own set of rules, morality and follows his heart. Family and religion are non existent in Besson's movies and it is only love that makes an appearance in all his movies, always to give a touch of tragedy to his movies. Fred lost his life as a result of pursuing his nature and love for Héléna in "Subway". Jacques abandoned his love for Johana to pursue his nature in "The Big Blue". Nikita learns to contain her feelings and pursue her future as an independent woman taking control of her life while recognizing her sentiments but refusing to give in to them in "Nikita". Joan renounces love and marriage for her only goal is to attain freedom for her nation in "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc". Susan Hayward, 1998 Luc Besson is one of the most thoughtful directors of our times and his movies though at times excessively violent, portray the declining society of today and man's place in society. Art is not what it looks but what it does to us and Besson's movies are works of art for they make the viewer think about his society and raises question on morality.   

Thesis: Luc Besson is one of the best French Directors of this century. His works can either be viewed as mere action packed thrillers or the viewer can go in depth and question society and morality. Besson wishes to make the viewer question the importance of individualism, the role of...

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Ours is a world that is...Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where our bodies live. Barlow, 1996 You've been living in a dream world Neo. This, is the world, as it exists today: Welcome to the desert "“ of the real. Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix From Plato's "Charmides" to the Wachowski brothers' "The Matrix" 1999, there is a tradition of writing in Western literature, which thinks about and imagines the city as either a utopia or a dystopia, or both. I believe that what such imagining allows us is to do is locate ourselves within a type of dialectic of the best possible or worst possible outcomes that our own historical conditions may lead us to. By imagining utopian and dystopic cities we are alerted to the ethical and moral implications that constantly changing social structures, always under continual sway by developments in technology, hold for communities in cities. Visions of dystopia and utopia function as allegories of contemporary society "“ of the particular historical moment of society in which a particular utopian or dystopic vision is produced. They historicise given moments by alerting us to and imagining the possible implications caused by technological change. Most of all, they historicise by reminding us of the fact that ours is just a given moment "“ things do not stay the same. Jameson 1992: 11 notes that, "If everything means something else, then so does technology." Particularly in an era where technological change is so very rapid, and where traditionally accepted notions about the position and function of the subject in a community or society have come under sustained attack, visions of dystopia and utopia ask just what technology might come to mean for us, in an age where living in diverse city communities challenges the dominance of any single meaning. "The Matrix", like a number of contemporary science-fiction films eg "Bladerunner", "The Terminator" deals with themes of conspiracy, paranoia, the loss of privacy and the dissolution of human society in favour of a technology that has become supreme in its own right. Their space of action is within the city. In both "The Terminator" and "The Matrix" humans have lost out to artificial intelligence, which, soon after having been invented, quickly becomes malevolent and takes control of itself at the expense of human society. The implication seems to be that two different sentient, intelligent types of beings cannot possibly share this world together "“ one has to go, and it is inevitably the carbon-based humans which end up as the inferior life form. Where "The Matrix" really fascinates though is in its rupturing of what we know as reality. In "The Matrix", the artificial intelligence AI has devised the ultimate conspiracy theory "“ where reality itself is nothing but a collectively dreamt conspiracy set in contemporary urban society. The story goes that when AI went bad, humans "scorched the sky" in order to deprive the AI of its power source, ie, the sun. Deprived of its power, the AI then came across the very novel idea of using humans themselves as its power source. In order to get almost perfect compliance, the AI constructed a virtual reality: a perfect replica or simulacrum of life in the city in 1999, put the humans to sleep and plugged them in. In the 'real' world it is actually the late twenty-first century. Humans lie peacefully unaware of their actual condition in endless rows of artificial wombs, digesting the liquefied remains of the dead, functioning as so many billions of Duracell batteries for the AI it's fascinating to consider the types of images and ideas corporations will desire to have their product placed with!, in a landscape that looks like it was taken right out of an H. R. Giger painting. This wholly computer generated simulation of reality, functioning to pull the wool over the eyes of the human race, is what is referred to as The Matrix. It is in a way the ultimate dystopia and the ultimate conspiracy "“ as no one submerged within the matrix is even aware of it. Having not the space for detail here, I will limit myself to making a few comments as to themes in "The Matrix", and how it figures and allegorises the modern city, tying these in with ideas I have encountered in the reading for this essay. The world of the matrix and that of historical reality beyond the matrix is exclusively the world of the city. Within the matrix all the action is played out within the western city of the late twentieth century. In the 'real' world it is played out in the remaining sewer systems of the once existent cities. Nowhere in the film is any space beyond the city alluded to. By this I conclude that "The Matrix" is commenting upon city life as we experience it now. It is warning against a 'dehistoricisation' of reality in the city and an uncritical acceptance of and attitude to technological progress and its ethical implications. It is of note that "The Matrix" conserves the domain of an actual historical reality "“ the plot revolves around those few who have managed to escape the matrix back into reality and are waging war with 'agents' "“ sentient computer programs existing only within the matrix which serve as a kind of police force for the matrix. David Levery 2001, 158 has contrasted this conservation with Cronenberg's film "eXistenZ" 1999, noting that In The Matrix we know very well where the "real" world is. The real world exists [and]...can tell a heroic tale of its recovery. In contrast, Cronenberg's eXistenZ...has no such faith. For even they [the characters] cannot escape from the ever-recursive game of eXistenZ and TransCendenZ. Unlike the world of eXistenZ, this retaining of a sharp distinction between the real and the simulation allows for the possibility of resistance. As much as "The Matrix" may, in a critical sense, fail by its Hollywood style reliance on an individual hero Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, who is almost messianic in his functions he even 'rises' from the dead and its somewhat unconvincing resort to mystical notions of the Oracle and prophecy in the 'real' world, the fact that there is some type of social movement of resistance is made possible only by an awareness of the 'real' world, by liberation from the suffocating 'false consciousness' of the matrix. Miller 2000, 60 focuses on this theme in the film in his article 'The Matrix and the Medium's Message', noting that The Matrix flirts with showing how an organized, multicultural movement can sustain resistance to a system run by "suits". This sets it apart from much recent Hollywood fare [where]...aberrance from the norm is usually punished within the film. We can see the simulated city that is the matrix also as a powerful allegorical figure of Capital [which has]...completed, without resistance or remainder, the "real subsumption" of society, without the need to pass through any cumbersome entanglements with producers and consumers, except that they are pure "terminals" or "switching points" to use Baudrillard's terms [compare the figure of humans as battery cells] in the parthenogenetic intercourse of capital with itself. It is precisely at this moment, when capital appears as the quasi source of all social life as such...that capitalism seems increasingly invisible and unnameable as a distinct entity. Beyond posing questions about reality, "The Matrix" may be read as asking what the fundamental motive for the existence of the city is. Does the modern city blind us to the 'real' potential of social action and interaction by overwhelming us with the images and rhetoric of the movement of capital within the city, as if that were all there is to life? In "The Matrix" there is the last 'real' city named Zion, which we never see, but which seems to be the communal source of the efforts of the resistance and the place where hope for the future of the human race lies. This is the sort of city, which the film appears to legitimate as 'real' in opposition to the city life we as viewers know and experience as real. Jameson 1992: 45 writes that, In principle, indeed, the here-and-now ought to suffice unto itself, and need no further meaning; but that would only be the case in Utopia, in a landscape of sheer immanence, in which social life coincided fully with itself... The extent of the dystopia in the way "The Matrix" figures the culmination of technology's influence on life in the city, is such that there is no longer even a 'here-and-now' to speak of "“ history has stopped. The Matrix looks to a restoration of 'real' meaning by making people aware of their situation. Interestingly, in the final scene we are not outside of the matrix, but back in it, in control of it. "The Matrix" doesn't seem to propose a nostalgic return to the real world, but hints that besides allowing for a sequel, after all, the simulation may be negotiable and even acceptable as long as human beings are ultimately the ones in control.   

Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where our bodies live. Barlow, 1996 You've been living in a dream world Neo. This, is the world, as it exists today: Welcome to the desert – of the real. Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix...

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