Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some Mornings

I feel I have the energy to fire the whole  cosmos !

Why would anyone put money in your film ?

I have been trying to ask and answer those questions. I have with me - a list of items that need to be brought to any pitching meeting table. But those are the secondary reasons for anyone to shell out the money. What are the primary reasons ?

To get a solution I turned the table - and asked myself - why would I fund - put crores of my hard-earned money on xyz's film ? What do I have in store. My answers were the following two mandatory things:
1) I get a sense of pride associated with the material.
2) I get my money back (atleast! - even if I don't make millions - there is no freaking way I want to lose money)

And essentially in that order. I really had no more reasons. Just these two.

For 1 - The more clarity on the film the better. The ideal case is the person putting money sees the film. But since we are short of money, we can't give that luxury to him/her. So the best is to provide the best possible approximation of the film - idea of the moments, moods, tight scenes, jokes, look and music of the film. Basically find out elements that represents your film well. Provide past work to give confidence that you can execute what you are talking about well.

For 2 - Again we have to use some data mining -find the best and worst movies of similar genre and try to see - if your film is rightly priced for fail safety. This requires work and research on the cost and recovery breakdown of other movies.

And I guess - in all the pitching meetings concentrate in these two.

It's one thing to make the movie, it is another to sell it.

Random aside 1: There is a counterfeit 50 rupee note in my wallet. And I can't place where I got it from. Patel stores or Subway. Dunno. But I am stuck with it. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Five things that I like in any movie

1) Alone unspoken, undiscussed moments - These could be anything-  the first thoughts when you wake up in the morning, or eye contact with a stranger, or a forced smile,  a person suddenly at loss of words and his initial stammering or  a sudden blackout on a crowded train. I like such  moments because on such moments both our subconscious and conscious flood us with so many thoughts that even words fail to describe them. I just feel that capturing those moments is the real power of cinema. I instantly connect with the character. Also contrary to popular belief, I had been a quiet person for the most part of my life. And all my life I have had people with whom I had silent relationships- no real conversations - but a deep sense of understnading.

2) Using associative memory: It is for example if for today if  I say japan - you think of tsunami and a sense of grief, dignity and seriousness dawn upon you. Care has to be taken that it is not very context specific. I like how lots of directors tap into the collective subconscious, use associative memory - of colors, of objects, of events to guide us emotionally. And I really admire that. I was initially a big fan of symbolism. Now I always evaluate a symbol for its entertainment value and context. The biggest high for any filmmaker is when a viewer "gets it". Using symbols from personal memory mostly come in the way of the viewer enjoying it. I have realized the importance of not having subjectivism or not making things too self-important. Atleast for the kind of mise-en-scenes I have, I play a lot with contrasts. Happy moments suddenly becoming sad moments, sad moments bringing smiles. Lots of my friends do get confused as to why am I shying away from holding onto the emotion. One reason is that a single emotion runs out for me after a while. I feel the need to keep audience glued, on their toes.  Prob also because these days I see movies in Gaity, Galaxy with audience reaction. And with girls giggling, popcorn munching, baby crying audience I feel that we have a really big challenge to engage that audience.

3) Chemistry between characters - Chemistry is all that is unspoken - or the manner in which the dialogues are spoken - almost similar to point 1 but also involves interpersonal relationships. You can see a couple and tell them they are a couple. You see two extras walking- they will look like two extras walking unless the director or a smart AD has made efforts to make them look like a couple. Every chemistry has to be build and I am a big fan of any director who manages that because I have faltered on this a couple of times.

4) Multiple forces in a scene - Truffaut says there should be 5 thoughts packed in a given scene at a given time. I have kept the minimum rule to 3 - always 5 can be difficult sometimes. Actually some scenes should have 0 thought - a shot/scene between two intense shots - so that audience can absorb the intensity. Also the best is if these things come naturally and organically to you. When you plant it too much - there is a risk of planting something that might be detected. Worst thing is when someone watching a movie feels that he is reading the final draft. Actually I felt that in 3 idiots when I could see all the plants and pay off. But unlike lot of people I am a big fan of revising the scripts. I am also glad that successful humble film makers in India - like Raj Kumar Hirani - also vouch for it (their scripts going upto 20 drafts). I think revision gives you an opportunity to fit the script in mind space and also gives a clearer idea of rhythm and direction of the script. Also it eliminates cliches, brings richness in scenes, de-sharpens the edges of planted thoughts and infact helps make the script more organic.

5) Give orgasm to audience - I like the idea of giving orgasms to audience. And by that I dont mean a sex scene but just the amalgamation of perfect audio and visual that grabs their attention, shake their body and make them prepared for the film. Actually audio plays a very important role - hence the importance of music and sound design should never ever be under-estimated. I have tried to understand why certain scenes give people that feeling (a seperate blog entry for that). I guess that's because these scene present a new unseen image and so when one comes face to face with absolute creativity - all cells in his/her body resonate with it. Even if we achieve it once in our film, we know we have provided atleast one unique moment they would carry it forever with them. Those scenes are our windows to immortality. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Excerpts from my 3 part article on Stanley Kubrick - Kubrickism part 1- The mind

It is generally said about Kubrick that all his films deal with such diverse subjects that it is hard to believe that it is made by the same person. After having watched 10 of his 13 movies, almost all more than once, I feel that all his films are manifestations of intense philosophical and psychological realizations of Kubrick resulting from long nursing of his stories and plots.
In this 3 part essay I would try to formulate my synthesis with the forewarning that my experience, understanding of human psyche and of the film as an art form is infinitely small in front of the phenomenon I term “Kubrickism”. The initial part deals with the philosophy and the latter part takes about his crafts and technicalities that enabled him realize the above philosophies and create masterpieces.
  1. The emotions and the unconscious: One the reasons his movies (some made around 50 years ago for American audience) still continue to strike the chord with 20 year old audience sitting in India  is his understanding of the faculties of human emotions and the unconscious. He once said that a Beatles song is enjoyed alike by a Harvard Graduate and a truck driver even when they hugely differ in their intellect.

Kubrick constructed his mise-en-scenes such that they produced immediate emotional response but at the same time had unconscious bearing that would be revealed on further contemplation. The scenes had very thoughtful and crafty layering and hence most of his movies stood apart.  His movies were quite like the process of individuation proposed by Carl Jung where a bridge was made between the realities of conscious mind and the desires of unconscious mind. He chose stories were the characters were confronted with their unconscious desires coming true.
At the same time he ensured that a conscious autonomy of the scenes were maintained (I found the end of 2001 A Space Odyssey the only place where was lost for some of the audience (including me) who refused to slip into the unconscious world that Kubrick constructed).
Amongst popular Indian filmmakers and film industries there is always a divided opinion about the purpose of cinema. Some says it is a medium that provides escapism where one can forget the daily life and enjoy while others say that cinema should mirror the society to awaken them.  I feel both of the schools should watch Kubrick’s movies because he has a way of absorbing you into a fictitious world and still provide insights that are universal and relevant to the society. He has sometimes used unrealistic – past or future or fictitious settings to convey universal emotions that are very relevant to day to day life. It is remarkable how he has used surrealism (unseen places in physicality) to convey something extremely real.
  1. Man is imperfect: And hence all his constructions and inventions are. And this doesn’t limit to computers and machines like HAL (2001 Space Odyssey) but also extend to the constructions of societies and the formation of nations.   

If it was not so, we would not be suffering from threats of nuclear war and global warming. At a more molecular level prostitution, swim suit round in Miss Universe contest and WWF would not be existing. These are legalized outlets of the feelings that cannot be totally eliminated in the process of domestication. What exists in the man, exists in the society too.
There are invented virtues like non-violence, loyalty, patriotism that makes our societies function so that a man-made institution or concept (for example marriage, nation, society) and is higher than any individual man. I have found Kubrick in many of his movies questioning that. Kubrick tries to bring these marginalized issues in the forefront and brings it at the loggerheads with a completely domesticated society. For me the most outrageous parts Lolita is Humbert who is a civilized English professor (and enjoys the subtleties of any poem and) is in love with the daughter of the woman he has married, contemplates killing the mother. These feelings exist but are never verbalized.  Lots of times Kubrick brings to forefront the desires that exist but not allowed to be voiced in the society.
There is a power structure that exists in the society and majority of the films confirm to it. It provides validation to our belief system.  Anjum Rajabali in one of his classes said that we see movies even when we know there is a happy ending because we find reassurance in the moral values imparted to us where good happens to good people and bad happens to bad people. Similarly there are exalted concepts like police, soldier, religion, nation and our faith on them has to be constantly reinstated. Kubrick tries to challenge this faith and these concepts.
  1. Dichotomy/dual nature of man: So what is a better choice: die trying to fight slavery or live as a slave(Spartacus), stay apparently faithful and mentally stray or stray, (Eyes Wide Shit), fight and kill or advocate for peace (Full Metal Jacket). Man is guided both by instinct and intellect. I feel that instinct deals with an event in isolation while the intellect deals with the context of the milieu one is in. Kubrick places his characters in a situation where they are trying to walk the thin line between the two, sometimes stepping here, sometimes stepping there. He focuses their innate human frailties.

Kubrickism - part 2 - architecture

The craft
Kubrick’s films were known for their bold, flawless, impeccable scenes. Below are certain things that stood out.
  1. Architecture: Kubrick used architecture in such a way that elements like window, columns, corridors and staircases acquired symbolic and narrative functions in his movie.

Following is the table that talks about some of his architectural pre-occupations. Color would be dealt separately.




Battle place, militaryFull Metal Jacket, Paths of Glory,  War scenes of Barry Lyndon, maze in The ShiningStraight lines - columns, uniform, simple functional architecture almost like drawn with scale, no decoration.  Military has been associated with precision. Any space is actually container of action and there is no room for frills.
Large groups of men as architectural elementFull Metal Jacket, Spartacus, Paths of Glory, The killerLong shots of large amount of men arranged in various shapes (like in Triumph of the Will documentary of Hitler)In Spartacus, he has used large collection of humans (soldiers) as an architectural element. Similarly in Paths of Glory, in the execution scene he has used large amount of men.

Similarly in Full Metal Jacket, all men are arranged like columns when inside the room and as group when on the field.

In the climax scenes of The Killer (low budget film), in the fighting scene with axe, Kubrick used lots of mannequins and their body parts to add to the drama.
Levels, progression, GrandeurLolita, The Shining, Barry Lyndon,  Eyes Wide ShutThe large staircases and the direction in which the protagonists climb them has been used  very effectively  by Kubrick. In Lolita – the first time she is shown climbing is the first time we see Humbert’s and her interaction, In The Shining the first time they climb is when Jack’s wife understands Jack going crazy. Staircase is also used to effectively show the grandeur of the architecture (like Raj Kapoor).
Going from one space to anotherAll moviesLong corridorsCorridors have no function. One cannot live in there or sit in there. The function is of connecting different spaces . Kubrick uses thin corridors effectively, almost like a tunnel which puts audience in a position of discovering what should be at the end of the tunnel.  The instinct to discover it, claimed by lots of psychologist is similar to the instinct of getting born  - through a tunnel.
Material used for the architectureThe Shining, Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, 2001 A space OdysseyEach material lends itself to a different feel. Kubrick tries to exploit it by using sound design.The Shining: Wooden floor (and carpets) and walls (with a reverb when the ball is hit). The maze is made up of green plants and not concrete.
The clockwork orange: The writer has clear wooden floor, the cat lady has carpet, Alex’s own home has a toy/plastic feel to it.
2001 A Space Odyssey:  It has spic and span white floors of undecipherable material, in the end, the floors have light emanating from them.
Barry Lyndon: When the kid brother wears the elder brother’s shoes, he clomps on the wooden floor for it to sound more irritating and obstrusive.

Here I want to talk about certain movies in particular and evaluate the key points in architecture.
  1. 2001 A Space Odyssey : Any fantasy movie should have that illusion of reality maintained and any break or error will totally spoil the effect of the movie. It will break the illusion. Kubrick achieves this in constructing immaculate production design. He also tries to bend our mind by showing architectures one wouldn’t envision with conscious mind but can have unconscious effect on us. Some key aspects of these are:
    1. Circular corridors that defy gravity – To see the airhostess or the pilot  go all around in any direction is a feature of a gravity-free environment. But it could be a square one too. He uses circular structure that lends itself to lots of subconscious and mythological impact. Circle also means endlessness, rounded/elliptical structures are more natural in terms of caves and more organic. Perfect squares are too manmade a structure. Eastern philosophies have the circular concept of time (kaal-chakra) where we eternally go round in time. I am not sure how aware Kubrick was (being a profoundly well-read person, I am inclined to believe so),  but it did have that particular effect on me. Also circular corridors lend themselves to smooth passage, where you cannot distinguish one spot from another.  

    1. Shape of the spaceship similar to body’s vertebrae: Never before and never later has someone shown design of a spaceship with an immediately recognizable structure. Currently science is trying to take inspiration from human and animal bodies (Eagles for fighter planes, neural networks for artificial intelligence), it is likely that Kubrick extrapolated that to give spaceship the design of human body. But at the same time, giving it relatable structure draws me more to it.

    1. HAL designed as one-eyed monster present in Homer’s odyssey.

    1. Speed of the spaceship: The doesn’t zoom past. It moves at a relaxed pace.
  1. The Shining
    1. Maze : The maze is a structure also not frequently seen. It is an inhabitable piece of architecture. Once the person is in it, he wants to get out. There is this fear of being lost forever – not knowing whether every turn is  leading one closer or farther away from the exit. This architecture attacks our primal instincts of security, of having the need to fathom our surroundings, of breaking away from any sense of claustrophobia. Kubrick, tries to compare this maze with the hotel (using various dissolves when the maze is first shown) and tries to bring parallelism between the hotel as a maze (mental) and the outside garden maze as a physical maze. In the climax shots Jack tries to follow his son in this maze while his wife is hallucinating in the hotel’s man-made maze.
    2. The hotel: The hotel itself with its long corridors and great sound design employed in mundane acts (ball hitting), cycle over the wooden floor is akin to a maze but is most importantly presented as an unfathomable structure. We are also given a tour (when the manager takes Jack around), but still we do not understand the map of  entire hotel. Also he chose 4:3 aspect ratio for his movie that made those columns of the hotel room more prominent.
    3. Element of snow as architecture: When it snows, one wants to be indoors and safe. But what if there is a killer inside and vast expanse of snow outside. Kubrick effectively plays with that tension. Foot prints on the snow is used by Danny at the end to confuse Jack.

  1. Lolita
    1. Dream world:  The opening shot is shown more as a mental space. There are times when we dream, a person we went to school with is with the person we met randomly on the train. The space time limitations are broken. When Humbert comes to kill Quilty the production design has these elements – packing and unpacking, table tennis in the living room, same paintings in more than one locations.

  1. Clockwork Orange
    1. The decaying society: The milkbar itself has traces of underwater decadence. The locality of Alex and the paintings on his wall also imparts that feeling.
    2. Prison as uniform with shelfs stacked with boxes and series of bathtub and with a line drawn for prisoners
    3. Cats as architectural element
    4. Paintings in cat lady’s house to inform about the upper class orientation towards art  
    5. Hospital where he gets his Ludvico treatment is more like a cold military setting. The setting of the actual treatment is quite similar to Plato’s cave (

Kubrickism Part 3: Sound design and other elements

  1. Sound  design to manipulate emotions:

Kubrick is one of the pioneers in sound design from which lots of post modern cinema like of Tarentino’s takes inspiration from.  He not only made intelligent use of digetic sound to convey various meanings but also very interesting used non-digetic sound and pioneered the use of music.
  1. Use of digetic sound:  Kubrick picked and chose the relevant digetic sounds to highlight the narrative. I mentioned above in case of showing the expanse and material of the architecture how he cleverly used the sound design in The Shining. In other places he used it to create mood – like the suicide of Bomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket where one hear a periodic metallic sound, the sound of shields cutting the air in Spartacus. Infact the tune of the songs sung by the prisoners in Full Metal Jacket resonated in my ears for the following two days, such was the impact of the song without music and sung in the same tune.

In Spartacus, in the battle scene, the cuts are around the sound of trumpet and the drums.  Something like this is later seen in Lord of the Rings.
In 2001 A space Odyssey, he used the sound of the astronaut breathing inside the helmet to highlight the point of him being suffocated to death later when the tube of oxygen supply tune is broken. Note that the sound effect contains no sound except him breathing. Similarly in Full Metal Jacket when the men are charging towards the sniper, the sound is only of their footsteps, all the ambience sound was brought down to zero. Another example is in Clockwork Orange where we hear the sound of the cat lady hitting Alex but not Alex hitting the cat lady.
  1. Use of non-digetic sound effects: In Paths of Glory, one noticed the sound of Lion’s roar when the hero walks in through the trench, and the sound of military march when the General walks in, the scary piano keys in Eyes Wide Shut when Tom Cruise is caught during the orgy scene and is in the verge of being caught later. The sound design of the shining leading to a high point and then cutting to a slide showing Tuesday, not giving a moment of relief.

  1. Pioneering use of music: In later movies, Kubrick increasingly became mood centric rather than plot centric. He felt that a movie should be succession of mood and minimized the use of dialogues for it to have more universal appeal. He started believing that movie is more a medium of visual story-telling and less dialogue based.  In here I will point out two unparalled use of sound till that date.  

The first is in ClockWork Orange where he manipulates us to see violence from Alex point of you. Since it is an enjoyable experience for him, it should be an enjoyable experience for us too. So the violence happens in slow-motion with music going on in the background. Ofcourse lots of people have now taken inspiration from it but this was the first time something like this was done. Using almost contrasting soothing music to show violence.
The second is in 2001 A Space Odyssey where the space ships were shown. Lots of Hollywood flicks shows it zooming right across but no one celebrates it with music, the way Kubrick does. The spaceship experience with that music feels like a mundane experience.
  1. Language and accent as product of the environment and narrative device

In every Kubrick’s movie, the language/accent with which the characters spoke was product of the environment they were in. It lent itself to the authenticity of the characters. Following are the examples:
  1. Full metal jacket – the abusive, firm language of the instructor
  2. Clockwork orange – the invented language of Alex and his gang
  3. 2001, A Space Odyssey   - The precise Brit accent of HAL computer
  4. Lolita – Humbert was from European (Paris) and from his accent itself he was different from the Americans. It gave him a distinct characteristic and set him apart from everyone else.

  1. Accuracy of details

Accuracy of small details helped in building up the reliability. As mentioned earlier Kubrick nursed ideas for long periods. Right from the various elements put in the military packet in Dr. Strangelove,  food in 2001 A Space Odessey, pieces of brains being blown out in Full Metal Jacket . His attention and thoughts given to every detail was exemplary.  Because of this, his story telling was more realistic, and less stereotype.

The attention was not just limited to the production design element but also gestures like Humbert applying nail polish on the foot of Lolita after placing cotton to separate the fingers. These new images that we saw were the ones that stayed with us long after the movie was seen. These details added the repeatability of the movie.

His characters were nuanced, none completely black and completely white. A little unpredictable.

Even at the script level, there were layers talking about various things, like violence as integral part of infantile nature of man in Clockwork Orange, the history of violence (esp against Red Indians) in The Shining, having a tender love for the person whom you are betraying in Eyes Wide Shut. These details did not exhaust the movie in the first viewing. Every viewing infact provided something new. Also we knew that apart from the entertainment the movie provided, there were treasures tucked in the movie which kept bringing us back to the movie.
This gave his movie his unique fingerprint and repeatability and an aftertaste that lingered on.

  1. Use of colors:  Every color has a psychological impact on us. It is difficult to state but is certainly felt. The colors like bright red unsettles us and the colors like blue gives us some calmness. Kubrick plays a lot with those colors and their use is clearly seen in all his movies.  I particularly like The Shining where he used warm red tones and well-lighted corridors. A departure from lots of horror movies where the ghosts are found in the dark. In lot of places he used warm and cold lights together in the same frame – e.g. bathroom scene of eyes wide shut.  

Kubrick used a narrator in most of his movies, in Clockwork Orange, it was Alex himself and in some like Barry Lyndon it was a third narrator. There are various other features of Kubrick’s work like use of bold shots – he never did anything small, great casting (The Shining is a good example), and maintaining a narrative tension – in none of his movies at no point one felt that there is nothing to be discovered.
Some might debate that Kubrick’s movies though flawless left them cold, really didn’t move them emotionally.  Kubrick really never gave a happy chocolate ending, except for Paths of Glory where the soldiers hummed to the tune. Lot many times he left audience with an unsettled feeling. For me “Eyes Wide Shut” had the most disappointing ending in that Nicole Kidman says “Fuck”. Interestingly, this movie was released after Kubrick’s death and that remains the last word we heard from him.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Francois Truffaut - my inspiration and my essay on him

Francois Truffaut was a film critic and director with his directorial career spanning from 1954-1983. He was one of the torch-bearers of French New Wave. He derived his film making styles from the Italian neo-realism but he used the neo-realist techniques to film personal stories and stories about human relationships.
I feel that the most significant characteristic of Truffaut films was the way he captured moments. The moments could be of male bonding, or a couple who are experiencing rumbling of first love, or of children enjoying a puppet show. Truffaut himself believed that the beauty of final film lies not in amount of work done on set or the money spent but lies in the chemistry achieved between the actors. And most of his scenes brimmed with tender moments of chemistry between the key artists.
In this article, I attempt to find out the various elements that Truffaut put in to achieve that chemistry. Since Truffaut’s movies are a personal work of art, discussions about his films will also include Truffaut himself.
When we enter a group of people having conversation at a party, it takes us a few minutes to settle and get an idea of what they are talking about. Initially we feel that we are invading someone’s privacy. But gradually we get to know their complex characters. This is how Truffaut treats his audience when he is filming scenes between people. We feel like voyeurs initially and then we become part of the characters. A lot of this can be seen in Jules And Jim when all three character are there together and also Two English Women when the girls sandwich the boy and do see-saw.

Every scene of Truffaut is rich and multi-dimensional. This is because in every scene he not only brought in one element but multiple elements. His motto was to construct a scene around multiple ideas. This made the scene more interesting. Truffaut collected ideas. In the sense that he collected newspapers cuttings and kept them in a film. He was so meticulous in the study of his films that he maintained files of films and directors. He used the things he liked within various scenes. For example – Soft Skin is inspired from a newspaper cutting. Various characters in his movies were modeled around interesting people he met or himself or childhood friend. This made foundation of the characters very strong.
Earlier films of Truffaut like 400 films, Les Minstons were essentially autobiographical and hence felt extremely honest as there were no holes left out in their telling. For developing the scripts he deliberately chose writers (As he didn’t want them to be total autobiographical). His writers were mostly the people who had deep understanding of the theme being dealt with and he refused to take industry script writers. Taking authors well-versed with the  subject insures the movie from any false representation of reality.
Truffaut was a great admirer of form. Though he employed lots of existing film making techniques, he never invented one. He was not keen on it. He delved more on the emotions. The emotions used in his movies were universal since the relationships he created on the screen were universal and honest. He dealt with everyday relationships of child and his parents and teachers and of man and woman that stimulated reflections in relationships that affect us. That is the reason why Truffaut’s movies stay with us as they make us think about our own life stories.

Truffaut believed in building real characters and his characterization formed a very strong base in all his movies. Even when there were large number of characters, like in “Day for Night”. He gave each of them a clear role and clear motivation - like the assistant producer’s wife who waits for him and eventually shouts at everyone for having affairs. Truffaut laid a huge stress on working with actors. He devised ways (like scriptless acting for Antonio in the psychiatrist scene of 400 blows) or giving physical movement to the characters. Infact Truffaut felt that an actor is good and comfortable when he is given physical movements and his movies are replete with characters going from one place to another. He felt that when there is movement then the audience is engaged. Truffaut was wary of audience getting bored (he would feel discomforted if the audience got bored in other people’s movies also). Also movement symbolized harmony and things moving. Characters moving from one place to another especially in the open space gave lots of space and fluidity to his movies.

Truffaut’s movies have lyrical quality to them. They have a mix of happiness and lingering sadness. The happiness is never felt in extreme and very rarely we see a character have a hearty laugh that seems long lasting. Even the humour in his movies are suttle. This is seen in all his movies right from 400 blows to Jules and Jim to Stolen Kisses. Truffaut effectively uses music to create that haunting mood of sadness. Sadness seems more permanent in life than happiness.

Truffaut had said very beautifully: “Happiness is hard to recount. It is used up before one has perceived it”. In all his movies the principal characters are looking for happiness but never get it permanently. Infact no moment in life is permanent. This is best shown in the movie Stolen Kisses were the character Antonio keeps going from one job to another, one relationship to other – back and forth. He says a dichotomy exists between provisional and permanence and they never seem to co-exist in life. And almost all of the movies of Truffaut I have seen, there is none that has a “happily everafter” ending. Life is unstable. Death is stable, permanent.
Truffaut, maybe because he saw death of his grandmother with whom he lived till the age of 10 in his childhood, feels death as an integral part of life. Death is integral to all his stories. Sometimes like in Jules and Jim, Soft Skin, Two English Women, they come as solution or salvation of the characters. Death seemed to be part of most of his scripts but he almost all the time avoided the gory violence and blood.

Truffaut used lots of motifs across his movie like fire (400 blows, Farenheit 451), caresses, sudden and unexpected slaps, protagonist looking through or talking through a window, women legs (As discussed earlier) and the character in the movie enjoying watching cinema in theatre.  Truffaut struggled a lot with the endings of his movies and considered them to be the most challenging part during the writing. Several of his films are characterized by sudden endings.

Truffaut and childhood: Truffaut didn’t have a normal childhood. He felt that adolescence should be compensated for with the things that were not present in the childhood. He craved to be part of a family, he craved to remain innocent, vulnerable, child-like. Infact in all his auto-biographical movies he has strived for the above things. He has shown that character always looking for an anchor and struggling against a authority.

Truffaut and women: In his various movies, his women are identical regardless of the character they play. He doesn’t even spare the character of a mother who is shown perceived as being sensuous by her child (400 blows). Infact Truffaut claims that relationship of a man with woman is same as relationship of a man with his mother. Women for Truffaut are headstrong individuals around whom the life revolves. The women are both angelic and selfish. They repel and attract simultaneously. The best illustration is in Stolen Kisses where the shoe owner’s wife looks angelic and unattainable initially and later on she is degraded to someone offering herself to Antonio. All the women are shown having both these elements in varying proportions. The women are like river, cannot be controlled. But most of the times they are shown directionless with no clear intent. Right from Jean Morreau’s character in Jules and Jim to the two sisters in “Two English Girls”, the women are shown fickle when it comes to choosing their object of affection. Loyalty is a virtue that does not rest in women.
At the same time, Truffaut didn’t see loyalty as a virtue. He never upheld it or advocated for it. However, he always showed that disloyalty or moral confusions lead to doom, not because of the moral dilemmas involved but because of the emotional entanglement they lead to.
The underlying theme with women in all Truffaut’s movie was the compelling need to love but much above it, the compelling need to be loved.
Truffaut was fascinated by women.  Since he felt that the world circled around women and so did his characters and movies. However, he could never fathom women and most of his movies deal with the male protagonist fumbling in their understanding of love and even understanding of women. “Are women magic?” – most of his characters would ask. He didn’t see any permanence in any relationship with women (though he has shown lots of permanence in male bonding) and if any relationship did culminate into marriage, Truffaut has shown boredom and later adultery seeping into the marriage.
Nonetheless, Truffaut has shown beautiful love making scenes. Love for him meant passion. A feeling that makes a man totally lose control. This also means that these intense moments are temporary but their temporariness makes one enliven it even more rather than refute it. The love making scenes that are shown are beautifully choreographed, replete with caressing of face with hands. Truffaut considered women’s legs as the most beautiful part of her body. Like in “Man who Loved a Woman” , Morane says that “The legs of women are points of compass that bestride the terrestrial globe in all directions, giving it its equilibrium and harmony”.
Truffaut picturizes his women with graceful smooth movements and provide them certain lightness, by making them float on a bicycle. He chose camera stylistics also accordingly to give them a fleeting angelic movement.

Truffaut lived and breathed cinema. He felt that he grew through the movies he made. At the same time his movies were huge expression of himself. Truffaut and his movies hence are an integral part of eachother.

Martin Scorsese - my essay on his early influences and stylistics

"I can't really envision a time when I'm not shooting something."
- Martin Scorsese 

Martin Scorsese is one of the most exciting and entertaining directors of Hollywood films. His intricate scenes, documentary like but yet stylized and personalized and various techniques used to communicate the psyche of the individual are some of the things that set him apart.
Early Days
"I grew up within Italian-American neighborhoods, everybody was coming into the house all the time, kids running around, that sort of stuff, so when I finally got into my own area, so to speak, to make films, I still carried on. " - Martin Scorsese

Being an Asthama patient, Scorsese was left indoors most of the time. This led him to do two things:
1) Watch movies in theatre
2) Observe people from his home from an unstable Italian neighbourhood.

He was also part of various social gatherings happening around his house and we can see that in every movie, the social gatherings- the food, the people attending them are very elaborately shot. Scorsese wanted to be a priest before he wanted to be a director but decided to not be one. We can see the presence of the church as an integral part in most of his movies. 
Sacred and sinful images co-exist even blend together in his movies. 

Cinematic Influences during growing up years (Western classics):
Scorsese has inspiring enthusiasm and his love for films started early. At the age of 8 he got himself an 8 mm camera and made a movie with his friends (see pic attached of the credits). Doing this enabled him to watch movies, more as a student than as a mere audience. At the age of 14-15 he became aware of the vision behind the camera. It is interesting to see how some of the Western films watched during childhood and certain aspects of these films find their way in Scorsese's future work. A list of the films and Scorsese's learnings from those films is enlisted below.

1) Duel in the sun - He got excited by the visuals and music in the film. A few techniques used like dissolves to the sun can be seen in his later films most notably Age of Innocence.
2) Land of the Pharoah - This was a movie about the death and he got enchanted by the idea of a story that leads to doom of people.
3) East of Eden - He liked the acting of James Dean and felt like this is how real characters talk. In most of his films, dialogues are mostly conversational almost as if we are evesdropping into those characters life just like in East of Eden. 
4) Citizen Kane - This movie made him aware of what goes behind the camera as he noticed the change in camera angles, use of deep focus, use of sound track, overlapping dialogue and various technical tricks
5) Tales of Hoffman - This movie made him aware of the use of music. The movie had a  sword fight without any digetic sound effects but only music. He used this technique a lot ( for example in  GoodFellas when Robert De Niro is sizing up pple in the bar or during the sequence of deadbodies being uncovered)
6) Public Enemy - This movie influenced his style of using music the most. This movie had a sequence when the protagonist's brother starts playing music for the arrival of the brother. Instead of the brother his deadbody arrived. This made an ironic comment on the situation. Scorsese observed that in his neighbourhood too, there could be music playing at a pizza parlour and some guy is getting roughed up. So this seemed more natural way of using music to him.
7) The searches - Scorsese went with his friends to watch this movie where John Wayne played a negative character. He and his friends identified with him inspite of being angry with him. To Scorsese, he felt like a real character - more fallible. He saw the picture again and again and found more meaning and more levels.
World Cinema Influences
1) Eisenstein : The idea of juxaposition of images, to create a new meaning and the idea of the audience synthesizing the movie fascinated Scorsese. For example in the movie Taxi Driver, the scene where Robert De Niro is adding some powder to a glass of water and tiny bubbles are  being formed, or the series of montages in the movie Kundun, where we see the shot selection to be based on the memory of a young boy.

2) Italian Neorealism : Use of real locations and breaking the boudaries of the studio, documentary like but intensely personalized film making has been prominent features of all Scorsese's movies.

3) Fellini's 8 1/2: A film about artistic dillemas - was the singlemost remarkable movie for Scorsese. The scenes had a dream like, floating quality to them that stayed with Scorsese. In 8 1/2 the camera is always in motion and the images are always fluid, almost pouring into one one another. To Scorsese, the shots seemed natural and integral to the movie, looking immensely simple on screen but were extremly difficult to execute. Fellini's relationship with women - who are elusive, and uncontrollable resonated with Scorsese's idea of women. Scorsese was deeply affected by this brutally personal film by Fellini.

4) Jules and Jim: Truffaut's Jules and Jim had an opening shot that directly dives into the core of the movie. Scorsese was impressed by this approach of getting right into the subject without dilly dallying and employed this techniques in the majority of his movies. Jules and Jim also used freeze frame to underline a point about the character and Scorsese used that a lot in GoodFellas to underline the key moments of growing up years of the protagonist.

1) Opening Mise-en-scene:
The first scene of every movie by Scorsese inevitably fulfils the following two purpose:
 a) Sets the mood of the movie
 b) Tells us what the movie is going to be about.
For example - the opening long take of Raging Bull, has Jack La Motta standing in the ring to fight. We instantly know that the movie is about boxing. That shot is also slow, lyrical, so we know that the movie will deal with poignant side of the boxer's life also.
Another example is Last Temptation of Christ: It starts with a voice over of Christ being tormented and the images of him struggling alone with this thought and struggling physically on the floor. We know that the movie will be about the struggle of Jesus trapped inside a human body and mind.
Some other examples: Age of Innocence- Flowers made up of fabric in the backdrop of handwritten words (with changing font colors) and the accompanying music, Casino- Blowing up of the car, GoodFellas- Killing a half dead person kept in the rear of the car etc.

2) Characters:
The characters of Scorsese films are real. We can see glimpses of Scorsese's personality and growing up influences in his characterisation.The characters are lovable, real and talkative. There is an inherent dichotomy that exists in all his protagonists that make us debate whether what they are doing is right or wrong and in the end we feel that what they are doing is natural and probably we could be doing that in that situation. For example his protagonists in Departed(questions about loyalty) , GoodFellas (decision to sell drugs), Casino (Robert De Niro's marrying Sharon Stone). There is no celebration of heroism but celebration of realism in his movies. Even in "Last Temptation of Christ", Jesus is a real person throughout the movie. 

Scorsese uses voiceover to dwell deep onto the psyche of the characters and tries to strike a fine balance between the motivation of character defined by the plot and the motivations defined by the characterisation itself. There is a sequence in GoodFellas, where the protagonist is being followed by helicopter and he is eluding that and trying to avoid being caught. At the same time he is cooking family dinner and is worried about the sauce being stirred and sticking the bottom of the pan. Sequences like these makes the character more real and identfiable.

3) Camera Movement:
The camera movement of Scorsese's movies are mostly fluid and consist of a good amount of long takes (even though he is doesn't shy away from cuts and uses them when appropriate). The camera is used a lot for showing point of view and becomes a personality of its own. For example usage of point of view for introduction of other gang members in a party. Scorsese is brilliant in picturizing large disorganised social gatherings with a long take and brings his camera right in the middle on the gathering as if we are part of it and satisfies our natural instincts of looking at the food, eves dropping into an intersting conversation. Choregraphing and shooting that situation is a remarkable quality.

There is a lyrical quality to his long takes and are almost like brilliant brush strokes. The most memorable shots are the first party sequence in Age of Innocence where the camera goes around revealing the paintings in the room and introducing the character. It slows down on the characters being talked about. Again, introduction of Sharon Stone and Robert De Niro's reaction to her has camera being a conspicuous character in the context of the scene. 
Also Scorsese combines lots of track in and zoom in to underline the emotion/tension in the scene (After Hours, Last Temptation of Christ, Cape Fear), he uses lots of long takes with steadycams to maintain the flow of the scene for example in second date (long take sequence) in the restaurant of GoodFellas. 
As music is inherent part of Scorsese's movies, some of his camera movements are planned according to the background tract that would be playing (example - in GoodFellas (finding of the dead bodies) - the sound track was playing during principle photography as well so that camera movement could be planned accordingly).

4) Editing pattern:
Scorsese in lots of movies uses parallel sequences so that the words spoken accompany the images (example Departed sequence - Dicaprio's confession to the psychatrist "you heart rate wis jacked"), his one scene flows into other and for this he uses lots of sound bridges. One of the most brilliant of these is in Casino, when Sharon Stone gets married and the visuals of marriage sequence is juxtaposed with te conversation of Sharon Stone and her boyfriend on phone immediately after marriage.
In Age of Innocence, there are lots of dissolves to various colors - red, magenta - to associate the thought of the lover with certain color. There are lots of editing experiments in Scorsese's movie (like disssolve within a shot).

5) Use of Music:
Scorsese is a connoiseaur of music. His various scenes are rich in music. Most of the music is not the original sound track but are tracks from vaious albums that could be playing around the time the events in the movies are happening. The songs make a comment on the scene, mostly ironic (as mentioned in Earlier Cinematic Influences) but sometimes emphasize the mood of the movie (baby baby track in casino). He uses music to create the mood of the film (Last Temptation of Christ) and also to establish the movie in a certain space and time and sets its social context. The music connects to the psychology of the character it is played on.  

6) Overall Mise-en-scene construction: 
Scorsese works hard on mise-en-construction - shot division, story boarding, choice of colors in the frame, angle of shot, relative height of characters, choice of music and editing pattern etc. His mise-en-scenes ar consistent with the look of the film too. Example in Last Temptation of Christ, he chose earthy palette - brown was the predominant color throughout. Even the clothes were muddy are black, grey or brown, there were no trees shown inspite all the shots being outdoors. 
For his gangster movies his mise-en-scenes are generally intricate and provide the social fabric on which the film is resting. The shots are mostly midshotsto tell that the people live in a crowded environment with no personal space.
For Taxi Driver, to show the world seen by Robest De Niro (protagonist) feels like an outsider observing the world. The blurriness of streets (point of view of Travis) is underlines by the blurry, skewed thoughts of Travis. His lonliness is underlined even when he is with his friends and the fireds occupy one side of the table and he alone is on another side of the table. Scorsese managed to create a dream like quality. The most impressive is "you talking to me sequence" with jump cuts. The last shoot out scene is graphic but also dream like.