Star-dust in Hollywood (1930)

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Hollywood — The IDirector reached. And yet one little question will show quite un- suspected problems in the making of a good cinematograph film. How is it that one can watch a seven-reel film, full of rapid, often contradictory action, packed with varied aspects and changes of lighting, moving from small figures to close-up heads, and yet feel no optical fatigue ? The fact is that every picture has to be carefully planned, not only in itself as part of a story, not only as dramatically expressive composition, not only as beautiful light and shade, or as rhythmically appropriate action, but each little scene has to be planned optically with reference to the pictures that went just before and with those that shall follow immediately after. Each picture in a first-class film can be considered as the words in a poem. In the case of mere doggerel the words hardly matter, as long as they fit the metre and rhyme at the verse ends, but in genuine poetry each word should grow harmoniously out of its predecessor and should lead inevitably to the next; if not the tongue will trip and stumble and feel uneasy. In a good film the sense of coherent sequence is given by motion and by tone values, instead of by articulation. For instance, if each succeeding set of pictures skipped from rapid move- ment to quiet or from dark scenes to light, or if the chief interest were concentrated on the right, but appeared on the left in the next, the eyes would soon become fatigued. Pictorial rhythms must seem to sway from scene to scene, must pick up naturally from one to another, and must vary enough to avoid monotony. Consider three consecutive scenes, A, B, and C. If at the close of A the interest is placed on the right, then scene B, although perhaps quite unconnected in subject-matter with A, must begin with the interest concentrated almost at the point which the eye was watching at the close of A, or it must [105]