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August 1996, Week 3


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Dennis Bingham <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 15 Aug 1996 17:44:31 -0500
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In addition to the prolonging of suspense and the sense of helplessness,
slo-mo can also be used to suggest character subjectivity, as in dream
sequences, or the scene in TAXI DRIVER when Travis in voiceover "tells"
his diary about the first time he saw Betsy as we see her--as he
does--moving in slow motion.  Scorsese often uses slow motion this way,
as when Jake in RAGING BULL prepares to receive the crushing blow from
Sugar Ray Robinson, or when Ellen approaches Newland at the Van Der
Leyden's party in THE AGE OF INNOCENCE.
As for the first freeze-frame ending, I always thought it was the famous
shot of Jean-Pierre Leaud at the seashore in THE 400 BLOWS. In fact, I
had recently been wondering if anyone had done it earlier.  By the time
Hitchcock made TOPAZ ten years later, the freeze frame ending had become
a cliche.  Another example from the same year (1969): BUTCH CASSIDY AND
THE SUNDANCE KID.  Still the very idea of Hitchcock imitating Truffaut
shows how the aesthetic tables had turned by the end of the sixties!
Dennis Bingham
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