Pictorial beauty on the screen (1923)

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PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 19 definition. The best cinema composition is that ar- rangement of elements in a scene or succession of scenes which enables us to s§e the most with the least difficulty and the deepest feeling. A remarkable thing about composition is that it cannot be avoided. Every picture must have some kind of arrangement, whether that arrangement be good, bad, or indifferent. As soon as an actor enters a room he makes a composition, because every gesture, every movement, every line of his body bears some pictorial relation to everything else within range of our vision. Even to draw a single line or to prick a single point upon a sheet of paper is to start a com- position, because such a mark must bear some relation to the four unavoidable lines which are described by the edges of the paper. To place a flower in a vase is to make a composi- tion. If the arrangement contains more meaning, more significance than the exhibition of the flower and the vase separately, and if this meaning can easily be perceived, the composition is good. A bad com- position would doubtless result if we placed the flower and vase together in front of a framed photograph, because the three things would not fuse together into a unity which contained more meaning than the things had separately. In fact, even the separate values would be lost, because the vase would obscure the photograph, which in turn would distract our atten- tion from the vase. In other words, the arrangement would not help us to see much with ease. On the other hand, to place the flower and vase against some hanging or panel which harmonizes with them in color and emphasizes the beauty of the flower,