Archive for June 11, 2019

Ceiling Hero

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on June 11, 2019 by dcairns

One bit of film-making in THE SUN ALSO RISES got me excited about the Henry King retrospective at this year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna (mere weeks away!)

Ty Power stares gloomily at the ceiling of his Paris flat.

His POV:

Yes, that’s a Parisian ceiling alright.

Ty continues staring.

King wants to be really sure we’ve grasped this, because he’s about to do something unusual. So here’s a second view of the ceiling:

Slightly closer, also decentring the light because that’s not what Tyrone is interested in. If we’ve all grasped the concept that Ty is staring at the ceiling, perhaps we can move on –

Ty is REALLY staring at that damn ceiling, OK? You with me on this?

Aaaand…

…King cuts to a DIFFERENT ceiling. Clearly different — no light, different lighting. Clearly, a 1957 audience is going to be confused. Even a 2019 audience isn’t going to know what’s going on yet.

And King cuts to Ty, under very different circumstances, staring at this new ceiling. We’ve gone into flashback BY DIRECT CUTTING. Albeit with a lot of careful set-up. But a year before LE BEAU SERGE and two years before LES QUATRE CENTS COUPS. Solidly pre-nouvelle vague.

The screenwriter is Peter Viertel, son of Berthold, a man steeped in cinema, and the idea may have come from him. But King went with it. The editor is William Mace, who also did some fairly turgid stuff at Fox but cut THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK which must have been an adventure. And Darryl F. Zanuck is the producer. Credit belongs with all of them because any of them could have messed it up or stopped it happening.

“It’s terrific!” as the CITIZEN KANE poster says.