Sunday, January 21, 2007

shot / reverse shot

René Magritte, La reproduction interdite (1937, Oil on canvas)
But also:
Jan van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait (1434)
Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas (1656)
Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882)

5 Comments:

Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Great analogy. :)
Velazquez is the only one who would show the creator (or camera) in the mirror.
Is it an echo to Zach Campbell's?

There's also Dali.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Actually on a revisit to Jon Jost's All The Vermeers in New York, it was this particular scene which made me think of Magritte's painting, where instead of the mirror we have a series of interconnected gazes, tied by a blind obsession (the man obsessed with Vermeer's Portrait of a Young Woman is now obsessed with the girl, who he thinks is a reflection/likeness of the painting).

The other three paintings involve the viewer more directly (there's also Goya's The Family of Charles IV and Count Floridablanca, which place the viewer in place of the mirror, with Goya visible as a minor presence in the 'reflection' in both). Most interesting is Manet's use of the 'mirror' in A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, in which the presence of the viewer is a lot more ambiguous, and the spatial discontinuity (because of the discrepancy between image and its reflection) is mindboggling. Youssef Ishaghpour calls this painting "a first sketch of shot/reverse shot", and of Manet: " Women are looking elsewhere, answering the call of the outside, with a gaze that joins the interior to the cosmos: ... the birth of modern painting, in other words cinema..."

I'm no expert and I've only just started thinking about these associations... To ponder (and I'm sure it's been dissected many times before): Manet's influence on Warhol, beginning from the mundanity of their subjects. And I wonder about your comment on Zach's post why the camera is afraid of mirrors, and if there is a narrative film which has breached this fear of reflection.

9:41 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Really interesting thoughts. Your film still, reminds me now of a scene in Costa's Colossal Youth, when Ventura stares at the wall in a museum, where a painting is hanging (I can't remember which painting), because he built that wall. Likewise, the confusion of gazes, assumed by the audience, or by the reverse-shot convention.

Where is the mirror in Manet's?

There is always a goof to note an unwanted reflection in a mirror/window. But I think some filmmakers did it intentionally too. I think of the last shot of Persona (though that camera is diegetic, not the one recording the film, but the ambiguity is meant to be). I believe I saw another film doing it for real, but I don't know which one it was.

Another fear of the camera is the "look into the lens", that has to do with the reverse shot (which avoids it).

1:56 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

A belated thanks for your reply, Harry. You always have such interesting things to say...

Re: the Manet, I think you'll find this essay of some worth!

6:20 AM  
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7:51 PM  

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