Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Eyes On/In Film

posted by Nell Minow

My friend Alan Zilberman has a great essay on Rogerebert.com about the history of close-ups of the eye in films. The current release, “I Origins” is about scientists who study eyes professionally, one of whom has taken thousands of photographs of eyes and who falls in love with a pair of eyes he sees in an ad on a billboard.

YouTube Preview Image

Zilberman goes back to the earliest days of film, including the shocking image of an eye being sliced by a razor in 1929’s “Un Chien Andalou,” from Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali.  His analysis is deep, thoughtful, and knowledgeable.  Here is an excerpt:

Since the silent era, there have been dozens of captivating eye close-ups, and these shots have captured virtually every tone and mood. In Jean-Luc Godard’s “Alphaville,” there are series of close-ups on actress Anna Karina’s eyes that are mournful and seductive. The eyelashes deepen the beauty, while Godard’s farming give just enough facial context so that close-ups are not unnerving. While Godard saw an eye filled with passion,Alfred Hitchcock saw the potential of an inanimate eye with “Psycho.” After Janet Leigh’s infamous shower scene, the camera steels itself on her iris then zooms outward, a visual reminder how death begins in the eye then expands outward. One of Mike Cahill’s favorite eye close-ups is in Krzysztof Kieślowski “The Double Life of Véronique”: “It’s super-super close, and you see a reflection in the eyeof someone walking to the doorway. [Kieślowski] uses a [macro lens], he’s playing with the reflection so that eye’s purpose is twofold.” In fact, “I Origins” has several moments where a distant object’s reflection is in the iris; this shot is one of the most popular in film, within one genre in particular.

From “2001: A Space Odyssey,” onward to “Blade Runner” and “Looper,” science fiction filmmakers use an eye close-up to engage with the viewer’s sense of awe and chaos. The purpose of the close-up often depends on whether the viewer sees one eye or both. A single eye can be disorienting, both in terms of the character’s fear or the sheer enormity of what they’re seeing (filled with reflecting light, the eye close-up in “Blade Runner” is one of the more rapturous examples).

I really enjoyed the piece and it made me think of some additional examples, especially “Unfaithfully Yours” from Preston Sturges, when a close-up of an eye seems to penetrate right into the brain.



Previous Posts

In the Footsteps of St. Peter
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4c7qh9hMVY[/youtube] David Suchet (PBS' Hercule Poirot) is the host of In the Footsteps of St. Peter, out tomorrow on DVD.

posted 3:55:57pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Wrong About Critics, Wrong About Movies, Wrong About Faith
I am not going to give the people behind the idiotic and offensive press release I recently received the recognition of identifying them by name, but the claim that they make is one I have heard often enough I need to respond. The headline: Film Critics Don't Get Faith Films. This shows no understan

posted 2:36:30pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Disney Announced a New Animated Film for 2016: Moana
Entertainment Weekly reports that Disney has announced a new animated feature to be released in 2016: "Moana," with a Polynesian heroine in search of a fabled island. With Disney greats Ron Clements

posted 1:59:28pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Manners at the Movie Theater
Here's a cute reminder on movie theater manners. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Dz5Qwd93VpE?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:38am Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Ted Melfi of "St. Vincent"
Writer/director Ted Melfi got Bill Murray to appear in his first film by calling him. Murray does not have an agent or a manager. He has an 800 number. And Melfi left message after message until Murray finally called back and asked Melfi to pick him up at the airport. Apparently his pitch skills (an

posted 12:55:48pm Oct. 19, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.