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April 2001, Week 1


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tue, 3 Apr 2001 11:44:38 -0600
TEXT/PLAIN (61 lines)
Arnt requests:

> I'm currently writing on the use of voice in relation to social /
> communicative 'intimacy', 'distance' etc. in television, and would
> like to explore some examples from film too. Can anyone come up with
> typical or classical examples of the use of (extreme) close-up shots
> of a preson screaming, and (extreme) long-shot shots of a person
> whispering?
> I would be grateful for any suggestions, and also if you can remember
> if the sound is 'loud' vs. 'soft', or with a 'close' or 'distant'
> sound space (i.e., much vs. little reverb, 'full' and 'bass-rich'
> voice vs. 'thin' voice).

Although they alternate with other distances, there are close-ups of
the agonized rooster crow of Emil Jannings toward the end of THE BLUE

For a fairly brutal example, see the death of Cloris Leachman's
charater near the beginning of KISS ME DEADLY (we see only her *feet*
in close-up, dangling above the floor) as well as Percy Helton's
pig-like squeal when Mike Hammer catches his hand in a desk drawer!

Although it's taken as a rule of thumb that "tragedy is in close-up,
comedy in long shot," you can find close-ups of comic screams in Laurel
and Hardy films, HOME ALONE (the aftershave), etc.

There's also the screeching cockatoo towards the end of CITIZEN KANE.

The beating of "Private Pyle" by his bunkmates in FULL METAL JACKET, as
well as the subjective shots of the D.I.'s mouth just before he is

The often-parodied scream of the pod-people when they recognize a human
in Philip Kaufman's remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

In films like OTHELLO and CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, Welles sometimes resorts
(often from post-dubbing necessity) to long shots of characters who are
talking at normally audible levels.

In films dating from the 1960s on, it's not uncommon to find long takes
of characters who walk from a distance into midshot or close-ups while
their conversations remain at the same volume.

Although I can't cite a specific example, I'd look and listen to some
of Bresson's films as well.

Don Larsson

Donald F. Larsson
English Department, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite