Friday, 29 October 2010

Week 6 - Life Drawing

The aim of our life drawing this week was to focus on negative space within the picture.
What this essentially means is we were not to focus on the model, rather.. everything else but the model.

I think I love life drawing more then anything right now. It's... aesthetic...

Blocking out the model shape, and aiming to draw around her outwards (40 minutes)

Aiming to put in the model within a scene, rather then just leave the model floating in thin air like my other life drawings (1 hour 20 minutes, I think)

I need to try and find a way of making use of life drawing in this particular project. At the moment, it's simply a way to channel my traditional drawing skills.

Review - Metropolis (1927)


...What a film.

I don't really consider myself to be a film buff but holy mother of all that is good and pure, that was a pretty decent film considering it was made 80-ish years ago. I want that soundtrack.

...and the t-shirt..

...and maybe a small Bobblehead of The Machine Man.

Metropolis is a 1920’s science fiction film; underlining the message that "There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator" In a nutshell, the film promotes the importance of compassion, working together, and the brutality of capitalism. As well as to not trust a scientist whose woman you stole. Watch this. Watch this now.

The plot of the film is based within the future, in which humans are living in a dystopian society. The population is divided quite sharply into two classes; the thinkers, and the workers. The relationship between the two is very delicate, so much so that a single woman is able to influence the entire working class into rebelling and therefore destroying the entire society. Well done.

The thinking class is led by a domineering Joh Fredersen, who founded, built and runs Metropolis. The division of classes can be simply defined by their living conditions. The thinking class lives above the world in tall skyscrapers with transportation in forms of planes, cars, and public transportation. Whilst the working class lives beneath the earth, in dull housing apartments with no motorised transportation to get around. The only way to get above is by cargo elevator.

The working class is motived by a woman named Maria, who prophesies the coming of a mediator, or saviour, to join together the thinkers and the workers. Considering the devastatingly low morale of the workers that the audience sees in the first scenes of the film, I’d believe it’s justified to think that the entire working class population is clamouring on desperately to Maria’s preaching.
The mediator of this film is Freder, Joh Fredersen's son. Freder falls in love with Maria, who the audience sees as a woman of the working class; represented by her attire. Slant magazine’s review of Metropolis describes it as down to ‘His innate sense of goodness is a direct reflection of the boundless opulence of his father's city and more than likely why the film confirms his staunch belief that he and not Maria is the city's savior’ Freder is fundamentally a good person, his will to unite both classes is somewhat spiritual or Christian in human nature.

I think the message of “There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator” becomes clearer as the audience learns towards the end. The thinkers are shown as the people who live above the grounds, who have visions, yet does not do the work. However, the workers achieve goals, even if they do not have the vision.

The film contains elements resembling the Tower of Babel- if you didn't read the book of genesis, one of the scenes in the film gives a brief summary of what happened. Including the story of the Tower of Babel within the film is an interesting move from the writers; essentially the scene, along with Maria’s prophet-like character, adds a component of spiritual proportions. The Independent film review of Metropolis puts it eloquently stating ‘The addition of biblical references brings the spiritual-vs-science battle to the forefront’As Metropolis can be interpreted as a modern day Tower of Babel, driven by science. Furthermore, the inclusion of the story of the Tower of Babel helps the audience to understand the current conscientiousness of the two sides, as well as help justify what are going through the workers minds when they rebel in the later part of the film.

The camera angles of the film are somewhat unusual by today's standards. It lays emphasis on a certain artistic quality, this ranges from the Mise-en-scène, to key elements such as the score. I noticed one particular camera angle that I truly wish would be used more in modern cinema- First-person angles. (It is worth noting that the last film I’ve seen which used that angle was Doom (2005). It’s a shame because it wasn’t due to creative thought like Metropolis; rather they used that particular angle in only one scene as paying homage to the first-person shooter the film is based on). The first person angles in Metropolis are used sparingly but add to great effect, such as highlighting a key area or a point of significance within the scene.
Small details within the film add to dramatic effect, such as the use of film being sped up. This is used frequently in scenes where there is a lot of chasing or running, such as when Freder is running around the city trying to find Maria.

The BBC Film review adds 'Narrative logic takes a backseat to rampant expressionism - with sense less important than ideas and startling visuals.' This is especially true when coupled with the films dramatic scenes. The actors compliment some parts of the film through their talent of emphasising drama as a result from their body language.

I believe the most significant part of the film is the score; there are different versions of the film with different scores, so it’s worth mentioning that I watched the restored version. Despite being a ‘silent film’ the use of music adds another layer of drama to scenes; this was strongly evident in how the scene cuts from Joh Fredersen, to the workers. As the scene changes, the change of music from an upsetting tone to a somewhat revolutionary tone is abrupt and incredibly powerful. The audience is somewhat able to feel the roar of the workers rebellion within the music. To me, despite its creative brilliance, tones of science fiction, dystopian views and minor romantic quality, it’s the score that takes this film from great to incredible.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Review- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Regarded by many film buffs as the first true horror film, moreover the first film that created a twist ending, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920’s black & white silent film. If you have the time and can tolerate slow films, I would fully recommend it.

Although for me, if it wasn’t for my peaked interest in the unusual mise en scène and the odd twist at the end, I may have fallen asleep watching this film.

As aforementioned the most visually striking aspect of this film is the Mise en scène, which I believe was one of the most significant and defining aspects of the film.To a regular audience, the set design would seem like an abstract twisted city or town, to an artist it would seem to be a film within an expressionistic painting.
This style is reflected within the entire architecture of the film, from the disproportionate buildings, to the crooked doors, to even the windows which frames are unequal. In harsh contrast this allows the characters, who look normal, to stand further out. This is due to the story coming from Francis’ perspective. A brief review from Netflix agrees with this in that ‘This stark expressionist film from German director Robert Wiene astonishes with the power of its sets and visuals’. This is certainly true when the audience learns later in the final plot twist; Francis happens to be a patient at a mental hospital and the ‘flashback’ Francis is having is really his own concocted fantasy. The set design reflects his ‘delusional’ mind-set and constructs a powerful abstract world.

This use of mise en scène is rarely used in modern cinema, with the only exception I can think of being Tim Burton, a review from puts it perfectly; saying ‘Thematically it has rarely been copied, and the style only really infiltrated in dream sequences and other odd devices.’ I find it a shame that most modern cinema doesn't implement a creative style within their work, the Cabinet of Dr Caligari's artistic and unusual mise en scène adds a layer that makes a good film much more appealing/interesting.

I believe that as a compliment to the unusual set design, the lighting helps to create this incredible atmosphere within the film. As the BBC film reviewer Nick Hilditch puts it, ‘it is difficult to imagine the film done better with the benefit of sound, colour, or any innovation since.’ From a visual perspective, the audience sees that the town looks all jagged and sharp-lined with perspective lines that just feel awkward; however, the lighting helps to create an authenticity that this truly exists. This is directed through its small details, such as the glowing light of a street lamp in the foreground, to larger details such as a bright light to create a contrast with the below three characters.

I found the story hard to follow, after watching it in the lecture theatre I had to watch it again at home to fully understand it. The confusion is mainly due to its twists and turns that aren’t as linear as most modern film plots. As mentioned before, the film is told from the perspective of Francis, who the audience learns at the end is a mental hospital patient. At first the film draws the audience into believing the plot that Dr. Caligari and Cesare are the main antagonists of the film. However, towards the end the audience is hit by the final plot twist. I believe it was quite a strong twist to the story, as the audience authentically believed in these characters. For the characters to be quite the opposite of what the audience had originally perceived, and putting in this plot twist towards the end takes some time to fully comprehend.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

So I had spaghetti for dinner and...

I've finally gotten time to update this blog and open my folder. It turned out to be...

*Drum Roll*

Never heard of it..

The Time Machine. By H.G Wellsm is a science fiction book, first published in 1895, during the years where Science was the big thing- Darwin published the Origin of Species, Thomas Edison was busy creating the lightbulb, and Mark Twain was in his prime.

The Time Machine got made into three films- one in 1960, one in 2002, and a television film in 1978. I'll aim to grab and watch these when I have time.

Because I stupidly started writing this a little too late, I need to do a few things..


  • Follow everyones' blogs (Done!)
  • Make a template for this blog because my god is it atrocious to look at right now
  • Review The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
  • Watch Metropolis
  • Review Metropolis
  • Put up the Life Drawing from today

Friday, 22 October 2010

Digital Painting: Final

Click for full size

Digital Painting: The Final Process

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Anatomy: Head/Face studies

Maya: My Scene

Visual Aids-Cultural/Other

Week 5: Life Drawing

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Maya: Chips

Maya: Bottle

Maya: Magnifying Glass

Maya: Pen

Maya: Fan

Anatomy: Feet Studies

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Digital Painting: 4

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Anatomy: Hand sketches