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Opening movements in Ophuls: long takes, leading characters and luxuries

Gibbs, J. (2017) Opening movements in Ophuls: long takes, leading characters and luxuries. In: Gibbs, J. and Pye, D. (eds.) The long take: critical approaches. Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television. Palgrave Macmillan, London, UK, pp. 89-102. ISBN 9781137585721

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Abstract/Summary

This chapter provides an analysis of the orchestration of long takes and camera movement in the opening of Caught (Ophuls, US, 1949), and develops a comparison with the opening of Madame de… (Ophuls, 1953 – U.S. release title The Earrings of Madame de…). The restricted framings of the opening shot of Madame de… have an inverse but parallel relationship to the carefully varied views of Caught: in one case furs and jewels are rapidly revealed to be a fantasy, in the other they provide the heroine with an illusion of wealth, power and freedom. In both, the objects prove to be more substantial than the women who wear them, while the films come to portray, and analyse, the commodification of the characters themselves. Tensions between on- and off-screen spaces and sounds are critical to the interest of the long takes under discussion. Camera movements subtly inflect the extent to which we are aligned (or otherwise) with the characters and the ways in which their material circumstances are revealed to us, offering perspectives on suggestively staged action and performances. The chapter has a parallel life as a video essay, published by [in]Transition (issue 3.2), and includes reflection on the relative merits of written and videographic methods of style-based criticism.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:72314
Uncontrolled Keywords:long take, ophuls, Caught, Madame de..., camera movement,
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan

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