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March 2004, Week 3


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David Bordwell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 15 Mar 2004 22:45:18 -0600
text/plain (63 lines)
dear colleagues,

An interesting thread...

On ROPE: I suggest that we find eyeline cuts in ROPE because Hitchcock
planned the film to be seamless but was defeated by the conditions of
contemporary projection. He shot it in 8 long takes, each one within the
length of a 35mm camera reel--1000 feet (maximally 10-11 minutes). But by
1948 most theatres were mounting and showing films in 2000-foot reels. I
believe that films were shipped on 2000-foot reels as well. So what Hitch,
cunning devil, did was plan to have his "invisible" cuts (tracking into and
out from a back, or some such) between 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, and 7 and
8--all the camera reels which would be mounted adjacently on 2000-foot
reels. The more obvious cuts, like the eyeline matches, fell between reels
2 and 3, 4 and 5, and 6 and 7. These, coming at reel changeovers in the
theatre, would have been nearly impossible to match unobtrusively. Once
more, style is constrained by conditions of material production.

By contrast, shooting on high-definition digital video allowed Sokurov a
feature-length take in RUSSIAN ARK. Interestingly, when this premiered at
Cannes, it was shown twice--once digitally (preserving continuity) and once
on film (with the inevitable reel changes).  In 35mm projection, it is a
real challenge to blend the RUSSIAN ARK reels seamlessly, but I have seen
it done more than once--a test of a good projectionist!

For what it's worth: I have a book coming out in January on staging in long
takes, with chapters on Feuillade, Mizoguchi, Angelopoulos, and Hou

best regards,

David Bordwell

  08:06 PM 3/15/2004 +0000, you wrote:
>Donald Larsson writes:
>>I do need to go look at the film again, but as I recall, there are 2
>>distinct cuts in ROPE, which would mean that there are 3 "shots" in the
>>film.  The interesting thing is that the actual cuts seemed far less
>>obvious than the track to bookshelf device used to cover the reel
>>changes that Leo mentions.
>I, too, would have to look at the film again (not to mention various
>Hitchcock literature).  But I'm pretty sure that those cuts are not
>supposed to be there, and that they were introduced either when some
>footage was pruned to find the film into a TV broadcast slot or due to
>censorship.  I can remember one of the cuts I think you mean, from viewing
>an off-air tape of the film a couple of years ago.  After the guests have
>all gone and James Stewart is trying to extract the confession from Farley
>Granger, there is what almost looks like a cut to a reverse shot from his
>POV.  It would be totally unremarkable in any other film, but in that
>context it sticks out like a sore thumb.
>Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite

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