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October 1994


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Gerald Forshey <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 18 Oct 1994 19:05:22 -0400
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ON 17-OCT-1994 GENE STAVIS  said,
>It seems to me that most discussions of a director's "pacing" are generally
>smokescreens for an inchoate dislike of a film. It is such a vague and
>indefinable term that it is a favorite scapegoat. Pacing involves almost
>every aspect of a film from the most obvious - the rate of edits within a
>scene,... to the more obscure - the style of the dialogue, the amount of
>dialogue, the lack of or style of the musical score, the style of the
>camerawork, the acting style of the performers, etc.
While I generally agree with the content of this post, there are a few
things which can be said for pacing.  For instance, how does the director
handle exposition of necessary data, the treatment of character?  This of
course has something to do with shot selection, editing, lighting, etc. but
it is usually in the service (or in many recent cases, NOT in the service)
of storytelling.
    I am always amazed at how quickly Hitchcock gives us information.  In
"Shadow of a Doubt," there are dissonant sounds of the "Merry Widow Waltz"
and ballroom dancing from dizzying angles under the credits.  In the opening
sequences, he lets us go past a bridge, a junkyard, and into a seedy
neighborhood before giving us an angle shot of Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten)
lying on a bed as the camera pans toward him, shoes on, tie in place, money
on the floor.  When in a few moments we meet Little Charlie (Teresa Wright)
she has the same shot and is talking in the same voice, while her father is
carrying around a magazine called "Unsolved Crimes."  The economy of film
making in that short strip is marvelous "pacing"  it seems to me.
                Gerald Forshey
                Dept. of Humanities
                Daley College,
                City Colleges of Chicago