As I have mentioned elsewhere the framing and choice of shots for Low Season has been very deliberate and measured process, some have evolved particularly those involving movement and some have stayed precisely as I first envisaged.
I would like to look at questions of time and its representation and manipulation in Film as this is truly the essence of the medium and what differentiates it from all others, including stills photography.
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) Comes up again and again in my work and study, I am simply in awe of his work, he also wrote well on the subject of time and his book Sculpting in time gives us a clue to the importance he placed in the temporal. He is arguably the greatest exponent of time in film exploring in his work both in technical and metaphoric and linguistic sense the concepts and power of perceived time. He used long take cinema for what he believed to be its honesty, and truth in the depiction of the world and his films deal with memory and space explored always with a temporal twisting brilliance. In fact, he describes Cinema as “The search for lost time” (Tarkovskiĭ and Hunter-Blair, 2012)
I have made no bones about the fact that I wanted to shoot long take as part of this film, something inspired by Tarkovsky in the first instance, and although the takes used are actually quite short in duration the inspiration for movement remains, however, it is in the edit that we see in particular the full sculpture of time in a film and it is not just through the cuts, duration, placement of shots that the film develops its rhythm. the rhythm as Tarkovsky argues is about time pressure running through the shot (in other words what is occurring in the frame) and this is determined by the style of the shot (Tarkovskiĭ and Hunter-Blair, p117, 2012)
Rhythm also functions as much more than just duration or pace in a film it is nothing short of the heartbeat of the film, It dictates how we choose to convey the message and how we feel the film.”The dominant, all-powerful factor of the film image is rhythm, expressing the course of time within the frame”(Tarkovskiĭ and Hunter-Blair, p113, 2012)
I mostly agree with the master here, however, his opinions on long-take being the ultimate description are also up for debate. there are no absolutes in art or film in my opinion. and Rules simply exist to be broken. This is why I am still in love with the long take as a style, and often choose to shoot in this style, however, I tried to look at what constitutes a break from this, what happens when we cut and slash into these smooth sequences of continuity. This must, of course, be for a reason, and When I tried the technique in my graduation film ‘Fade’ (2015) It was to show a conflicting understanding of both time and reality as experienced by the character and the audience, I was seeking to challenge the dominant narrative function of linear time and memory. I believe it achieved what I set out to do, however, the style of editing is not to everyone’s taste, and can initially be harder work for an audience, it means often that repeat viewings are necessary to grasp the flow of narrative logic, but it describes not just an accepted and external view of the world that we agree on for the sake of reason and practicality, It screams at the borders of rationality, were our true memories of experience are melting down, and rational thought is slipping.
I have had to, and I stress the had to, do the same in this film I tried the sequences in a more rational flow of cause and effect of linear movement from a to b, and the film simply did not work, it betrayed itself and stubbornly sat like a dead thing immobile, lacking life and rhythm. It was only after I found the rhythm from the guts of the film itself that the film could live and breath, this meant the editing of time had to reflect back on the state and style of the shots but also the internal state of the character. all had to align.
“The consistency of time that runs through the shot, it’s intensity, or ‘sloppiness’, could be called time-pressure; then editing can be seen as the assembly of the pieces on the basis of the time pressure within them. Maintaining the operative pressure, or thrust will unify the impact of the different shots.”(Tarkovskiĭ and Hunter-Blair, p117, 2012)
Im not saying that all of the shots are the perfect length, there are a thousand ways to edit one film, but they reflect the process character theme and soul of the work. as does the painfully long walk into the sea. It is the only remaining true long take shot, and the time pressure holds for the duration, it is designed to go deliberately beyond the comfortable length of watching, the tide forced this situation of course.
But this was the reality presented to the camera, therefore it had to be held and I think In a way this uncomfortable duration is perhaps the strongest element of the film, I feel it every time I watch it! It makes me wince, I am actively willing Tip to “get under the bloody water” but it is here that even with the music swelling to climax I hope that I have pushed the image closest to breaking point, to make the audience feel the uncomfortable just for a moment, to not betray the reality of what We are witnessing even if it not real!
“The long take can be defined as an uninterrupted – and in Tarkovsky’s case usually slow-paced-cinematic shot which lasts longer than the conventional editing pace of the film. The long take remains open and refuses to be closed (edited), striving towards continuous presence. It invites the viewer to put aside the narrative framework and to contemplate time in its pure form- to locate ‘TIME within TIME'” (Skakov, p2-3, 2012)
In conclusion, if we were to compare and contrast this style to the intellectual montage pushed by Sergei Eisenstein in the 1930s then we see Montage come up against the unbroken reality of the moment. As I say, I don’t believe either constitutes in of itself a more honest or truthful way of showing a subject or the world, and This is because the means have to be justifiable to the ends or the intention, they have to serve the film. Long take describes only one vision of the world, only one way of perceiving memory, it is astoundingly beautiful, it is possible that this flow of time is how Tarkovsky perceives the world I don’t know, but it is not how I do, In fact I would suggest that a series of long takes and montages is probably closer to an approximation of this, depending of course on the circumstances for how I am perceiving time at that instant, fast or slow broken or unbroken.
I will not stray too far into Soviet montage here, I have previous writings blogs and films that explore in much more detail, however, it must be said that its main purpose of one plus one equals three kind of shot follows shot to create third meaning, can in a lot of instances be seen to be very manipulative on the part of the filmmaker. Hitchcock made exceptional use of this technique in a great deal of his films, it is unerring.
However, the reason I love the work of Tarkovsky so much is for the freedom allowed for the audience to find their own way into the work, the much-vaunted democracy of image. This is where I think believing in a totality of either systems or styles can reach limitations. As Tarkovsky says the time pressure and therefore the style must fit the piece, if they do not describe the events in a certain way, they become dishonest they do not fit anymore, therefore surely we must choose to fit, and if it suits, use them both as the need arises, Oh how terribly postmodern of me!
In Low season I tried to keep the takes intact, but it was to no avail the reality of the character demanded those breaks in time, we need to see that his mind and memory are becoming broken through fatigue confusion and isolation, He has stumbled onto the fundamental problem, of human existence, self-awareness, I this is taken in an over analytical loop toward its conclusion, if we are unable to control the mind from folding back in on itself continuously, we literally break our own narrative.
It is the narrative or the story/stories that we tell ourselves that seems to mark us out as a species, It is critical that these narratives or stories we tell ourselves and agree on by mutual contract with other humans, make some sense to us, without it we are lost, and Madness engulfs us. This is not to say that madness should be seen as a fallen or broken state, indeed It could be looked upon as glimpsing the true state of reality, that is chaos. For most minds relying on a fragile constructed ego, this is simply too much to bear.
We need the stories that we tell ourselves, they are the roots that hold us in the garden of our created and shared reality, however peeping over the back fence now and again at the wild patch, the chaos outside, is perhaps a dangerous necessity, if only to remind us of our thin understanding and hold over perceived reality.
Therefore to show a tiny fragment of this was my mission, not to propose a medically sanctioned depiction of a supposedly diagnosable mental state, but to sculpt a recognisable poetic truth, to show in image and sound the make up of broken thoughts and memories reflecting an ego fracturing under multiple crushing realisations, A narrative that is beginning to disintegrate, it may reform, reconstitute as another version of the story, or it may not, but to attempt to achieve this was to deliberately hack at the perceived passage of time, to manipulate within the edit this strange formless clay, to at least make honest the attempt, to sculpt in time.
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