Master Space: Film Images of Capra, Lubitsch, Sternberg, and Wyler

Master Space: Film Images of Capra, Lubitsch, Sternberg, and Wyler

Master Space: Film Images of Capra, Lubitsch, Sternberg, and Wyler

Master Space: Film Images of Capra, Lubitsch, Sternberg, and Wyler

Synopsis

This is a unique study of the use of cinematic space by four important directors in American cinema from the 1930s to the 1960s: Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, Josef von Sternberg, and William Wyler. Bowman examines each of their distinctive styles and diverse backgrounds and shows how these unique visual styles complement each other--representing the best in classic American cinema, from Ninotchka and Shanghai Express to Best Years of Our Lives to It's a Wonderful Life.

Excerpt

In the 1990's, the younger generation assumes that one is speaking of outer space, when using the phrase "film space." This generation was weaned on movies such as the Star Wars series, the Aliens, and the Star Treks. Even more earthly films, such as those featuring the characters Indiana Jones or Batman, treat space as though it were "outer" rather than rooted firmly on a particular planet in a familiar human context. Directors have the freedom to manipulate the illusion of film space in this generation of films in a way that directors of the 30's and 40's, those with whom I'm concerned in this study, did not. Filmmakers of the 80's and 90's do this by depicting a space that appears to be empty but dark, instead of most earthly films' depiction of a space that appears to be full but transparent. They also make us aware of the relation of space to time and motion. When ships flying through this space suddenly shift into "superdrive," still objects suddenly become dramatic slashes, as though time had really become a dimension of space for someone other than the physicist.

To bridge the historical shift for the young reader of this study between contemporary films and those I am studying, I will briefly describe the assumptions about space that characterize the films of Capra, Lubitsch, Sternberg, and Wyler in the 30's and 40's. Though employing very different sorts of settings, all of these directors endow the space in their films with great intensity despite spatial limitations. In fact, their creativity may be enhanced by these limitations, as a choreographer makes greater demands on dancers according to the size of the stage and the patterns of the music. These are limitations that an artist invites as they define his or her canvas and tools.

Both contemporary directors and directors of the 30's and 40's employ space . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.