The art of sound pictures (1930)

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120 THE ART OF SOUND PICTURES Now, in a sound picture, what varieties of rhythm may develop? Ignoring those which may arise solely in situa- tions presented by particular stories, we find the fol- lowing: 1. The ordinary rhythms of music. 2. The ordinary rhythms of march and dance. 3. The ordinary rhythms of language, especially singing and dialogue. 4. The extraordinary rhythms of total picture tempo, now within a sequence; and again between sequences. Only the last of these calls for comment here. It is the recurring time pattern of the longer story movements. What the literary critics refer to as the subclimaxes of an advancing plot may sometimes constitute the rhythmic units of story movement. We say they may. It all depends upon the feeling for time patterns which the writer and director happen to have. Within each mo- ment of action leading up to a subclimax, the velocity of dialogue and episode may increase up to the sub- climax itself; then back it sinks, to make a fresh start toward the next subclimax; and so on. Another mode of this same picture tempo is the char- acter rhythm. The hero, for example, may have a typical and significant slowness of speech and gesture, as Lord Elton does in that magnificently rhythmical sound picture. The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (Metro-Goldwyn-lMayer), whose finer structure, we fear, was far too subtle for most spectators. In each sequence of dialogue, this precise pat- tern recurs many times, with a startling cumulative effect. It attains extraordinary quality as the major tempo of the story accelerates toward the grand climax. Lord Elton refuses to speed up at all. Let everybody else