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Henry Breitrose requests:


> A student is interested in examining the techniques of using still images
> in films. Some examples are CITY OF GOLD and THE CIVIL WAR, composed solely
> of still images, MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA and BLOW-UP, in which still
> images play a major diegetic role. My student and I would appreciate
> suggestions of other examples.

There seem to be at least three separate categories in here, each of
which can offer a number of examples:

1. Compilation films that use photos or other images as part of their
main visual substance, as in THE CIVIL WAR.  Other documentaries often
use such images, but Erroll Morris probably makes more interesting use
of them than almost anyone else.  See especially THE THIN BLUE LINE.
Also, if you can find it, the short film FRANK FILM by Frank Mouris,
which uses clippings of images from magazines and newspapers.

2. Narrative films that use photographs or other still images in
significant ways in the diegesis, as in BLOW-UP.  As others have
already said, LA JETEE is an obvious choice, but Terry Gilliam's
THE TWELVE MONKEYS (based in part on Marker's film) also uses
photographs in some significant ways.  The opening of CHINATOWN uses
detective's photos of a roadside assignation, while CHINATOWN also
uses a few surreptitious photos along with the taped dialogue. Also see
the use of still and moving images from earlier John Wayne films that
open THE SHOOTIST.  More radical uses occur in some European modernist
films of the 1950s and 1960s--Bergman's PERSONA (the pictures on the
walls of the "morgue" at the opening) and THE PASSION OF ANNA (scenes
from Vietnam), Truffaut's JULES AND JIM (the slide of the monumental
sculpted head that prompt the relationship between the two title
characters and Jeanne Moreau's Catherine), and a number of films by
Godard: eg., BREATHLESS (the poster of Bogart), LES CARABINIERS, LA
CHINOISE, LE GAI SAVOIR, LETTER TO JANE, etc.  Photographs and film
clips are part of the visual evidence of a suppressed past in Wajda's
MAN OF MARBLE.  Photographs of Mao and Stalin adorn the walls of the
interrogation center at the beginning of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.
There are the family photos of relatives to be knocked off in KIND
HEARTS AND CORONETS. Films (like BLOWUP) that have photographers as
major characters also use such images--see THE EYS OF LAURA MARS, REAR
WINDOW (although there are only two signficant uses of such photos in
the film), the Avedon-inspired fashion photos in FUNNY FACE, scenes in
darkrooms like the one in EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN, Elliot Gould in Jules
Fieffer's LITTLE MURDER, Caradine in PRETTY BABY, Hugo Weaving as a
blind photograher in PROOF, Minnie Driver in THE GOVERNESS.


3. Some of the images cited above also segue into or out of freeze
frames--as in MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA.  That's a whole category in
itself: the end of THE 400 BLOWS is one obvious example, but also see
the end of FAIL-SAFE, THE WILD BUNCH, and many others.  Still shots
that "come to life" were already a cliche by the time Wyler brought a
wall sampler to life at the start of FRIENDLY PERSUASION.


Don Larsson

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

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