Nikki Heyman's Blog

An Oberlin course blog

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March 13th, 2011 by Nikki · Uncategorized

M was Fritz Lang’s first sound film. He used sound in such a away that almost alienated the actor’s’ voices from their bodies, as there was so little diegetic sound that when an actor did speak it came across as if they were in a vacuum. There was very little diegetic sound, only the occasional shuffle of cards or lines from the actor can be heard for a large part of the film. This lack of on-screen sound makes the murderer’s whistled tune that much more chilling… it appears as a sound, a ghost sound, haunting us from out of nowhere. At first I found this lack of sound to be like an uncomfortable mistake; as the film progressed, however, this sound scape became appeared to be more appropriate. The silence allowed me to meditate on the images, and become engulfed in what i was seeing (and sometimes heightened the tension of the scene).

Another thing I found interesting about M was the scene cutting back and forth between the cops and the criminals. Both groups have different motivations for catching the murderer, but the positions the characters are in are often similar and the compositions of each setting have parallels.
Also, it might just be me seeing things, but the negative space on a blackboard in one of the scenes seemed to closely resemble the shape of the murderer’s shadow.

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Written on the Wind: Mirrors

February 28th, 2011 by Nikki · Uncategorized

Wirrten on the Wind was indeed a hyper-melodrama. The aesthetic of the film was largely fake and artificial looking, which was a sensical choice of Sirk’s to correspond to the melodramatic tone of the film. The music, also fitting to the melodrama, was over-the-top and very present; so much so that the music seems to be another character that draws attention to itself at the right moments. What struck me the most about this film was its use of mirrors. Perhaps the most noticeable “mirror moment” was when Kyle shows Lucy around the hotel suite and they pause on either side of a dresser; separating them is a mirror in which Mitch’s reflection is visible.

Mitch’s image separating the two soon-to-be lovers is something that prevails throughout the whole movie (Kyle is constantly feeling compared to Mitch by everyone in his life). The presence of mirrors occurs throughout the film: when Kyle drunkenly leaves the Hadley house he is shot in reflection through a mirror; after Kyle hits Lucy and she falls we see Lucy on the ground with her head next to a mirror; when Kyle returns the the house and pauses to take a drink next to a mirror. The mirrors seem to remind us to guess at what is real and what is merely a reflection of reality. Living in a reflected world of decadence and glamour, the characters struggle to attain something real in their lives, such as loving relationships. Marylee wants to be loved by Mitch, Mitch wants to find happiness with Lucy, Lucy wants a healthy relationship with Kyle, and Kyle wants to be appreciated by his family (and assert himself as a man). The mirrors seem to accentuate the idea that each is living in a false reality, especially Kyle. Mirrors highlight Kyle’s mindset; he chooses to believe in the false reality, an opposite/reflected truth that his wife had an affair with his best friend. At the end, Marylee’s reality is reflected not in a mirror but in a portrait of her father, as she attains the same position and holds the same phallic oil-rig sculpture that her father holds in the portrait.

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February 21st, 2011 by Nikki · Uncategorized

Typical owls.

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