Archive for February 19, 2018

Thunk!

Posted in FILM with tags , on February 19, 2018 by dcairns

One more thing about THE SILENT HOUSE, if you can bear it.

I was startled by a bit of beautifully staged action during the film’s lengthy Chinese flashback. The scene is a knife fight. We see one character draw back his hand to throw a knife.

We cut to a reverse angle looking past him at his target. His arm flashes forward.

 

The target reacts! And the knife juts from his bare chest!

Crikey, I thought, extras really were disposable in those days.

But no. Let’s break it down. It does indeed happen all in one shot, with the preceding view merely a set-up, convincing as that Man A has a knife in his hand. But he never throws it.

As his arms swipes forward (not throwing the knife, merely moving it behind his body, his victim reacts as if struck, moving his arm to reveal the knife in his torso, which was already there! This knife is a fake, with half its length missing and a base plate to hold it steady against his body, a pale strap encircling his chest holding it on, rendered invisible by the brightness of his skin in daylight in b&w.

A really clever bit of sleight-of-hand. Couldn’t work on stage, it depends totally on the camera only having one viewpoint at a time, unlike the many-headed theatre audience. So, I say, well done there, Walter Forde.

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