Ways In Which The Film Vampyr Works Against The Coherence (Movie Review Sample)
Demonstrate the various ways in which the film Vampyr works against the coherence and continuity prized by classical cinema.
It's not compulsory to use all the sources from the list. Any additional sources could be used as well
Bordwell, David (1981) Vampyr, The Films of Carl-Theodor Dreyer. Berkeley: University of California Press, 93-117.
Bronfen, Elisabeth (2006) â€˜Speaking with Eyes: Tod Brownings Dracula and its Phantom Camera, in Herzogenrath, Bernd (ed.) The Films of Tod Browning, London: Black Dog, 151-171.
Burch, N (1980) â Carl Theodor Dreyer: The Major Phase in Roud, Richard (ed.) Cinema: A Critical Dictionary. London: Secker & Warburg, 297-310.
Carroll, N (1998) Notes on Dreyer's Vampyr, Interpreting the Moving Image, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 105-117.
Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1976) VampyR, Monthly Film Bulletin 511, August, 180. Rudkin, David (2005) Vampyr. London: BFI.
Wood, Robin (1974) On Carl Dreyer Film Comment 10:2, 10-17.
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Demonstrate the various ways in which the film Vampyr works against the coherence and continuity prized by classical cinema
Vampyr, released in 1932, and produced and directed by the celebrated filmmaker Carl-Theodor Dreyer, is considered to be one of the best horror films of all time. Not the preferred staple for all film fans, it is loved and hated in near-equal measures, with some lauding it as an innovative masterpiece ahead of its time while others criticize it as a confusing experiment gone wrong. The film revolves around Allan Grey who has an obsession with the occult and is seeking evidence of the supernatural. He ultimately discovers what he's been looking for in a nearly deserted small town where his wanderings through the town lead him to an encounter with a ‘vampyr’ and terrors of various kinds (Nash).
Upon its release, the reception of the film was, to a large extent, very negative and it was booed and heckled down by audiences when it first came out. However, despite this reaction, the film was undoubtedly ahead of its time considering it was filmed in the early 1930’s. It has a surprisingly high number of amazing special effects, impressive visuals, and very complex shots. There are several glimpses of genius within the film especially with regard to the complex shots that were simply non-existent in this era since, at the time, the mere act of creating a film was considered to be a big deal for most filmmakers (Milne).
Despite these strengths, the film is plagued with several instances of coherence errors and instances of discontinuity. The following discussion will determine what coherence and continuity means with respect to classical cinema and thereafter analyzes the various ways in which the film goes against classical coherence and continuity, providing specific examples of the same from Vampyr for a comprehensive critique of this most controversial classical horror film.
Coherence and Continuity in Classical Cinema
According to Berliner and Cohen (56), coherence in cinematic terms is referred to as ‘spatial and physical connectedness in films.’ Continuity, on the other hand, refers to the illusion allowed by the human brain's capacity to join together fragmented images when the images in question follow particular logical principles and patterns (Berliner and Cohen 46). The sequence of images created by classical editing is similar to those viewed in daily life in the sense that both types are non-continuous (images are perceived in a fragmented manner), both are characterized by similar patterning (the image patterns of classical film are similar to those that human beings usually experience in their everyday experience), and both abide by similar logic (the sequence of images in both cinema and everyday life follow similar principles). Due to these similarities, the same perceptual systems that produce continuity in human perception similarly produce the same type of continuity in classical cinema.
When arranged according to the principles of classical continuity editing, the result is a film sequence of cognitive processes that produce a coherent form of on-screen space. The perceptual processes that produce spatial coherence within the viewers of classical films are the very same processes that create coherence in perceivers in the real world (Berliner and Cohen 46).
In short, continuity and coherence in film is whereby there is a sense of seamless and effortless flow between time and space with regard to shifts in scenes and cuts. The goal of classical cinema was to produce the ‘highest form of spatial clarity’ (Berliner and Cohen 59). Continuity editing is used to realize this goal, smoothing the discontinuity that is characteristic of the editing process and creating coherence in between shots. In a majority of films, coherence is realized by cutting to continuity with the focus being on the need for the smooth transition of space and time.
The Various Ways in Which Vampyr Works against the Coherence and Continuity Valued by Classical Cinema
At the time of the release of Vampyr, most filmmakers had just discovered the process of staging scenes and creating continuity. It was a very important new device in the film industry. Dreyer, however, was very experimental and daring, going against the grain particularly in Vampyr which was characterized by continuity and coherence errors.
Continuity errors are generally mainly seen with respect to editing, visual or plot errors and Vampyr is plagued by all these three. Indeed, Vampyr contravenes the principle of spatial coherence in various ways. It relies very heavily upon the device of the ‘absent cause’ which substantially weakens the narrative logic's ability to hold the film together (Bordwell 62). The camerawork employed results in an uncertain and visually inconsistent space.
There are several breaches of classical continuity editing in the film at a time when Dryer’s peers were placing emphasis on the power that camera movement has in orienting viewers and unifying the scenographic space. Vampyr instead uses the power of the camera to disorient the viewer and create disunity by completely controlling the off-screen space (Bordwell).
Editing errors are replete in the Vampyr, leading to do unsettling discontinuity. The editing in the film causes a major disruption in the spatio-temporal continuum. The film relies on a crosscutting that continuously fragments the narrative continuity. The crosscutting liberates the spatio-temporal relations, resulting in a film that is more perceptually unclear. From the onset, it juxtaposes spaces whose specific r
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