White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal's power spectral density has equal power in any band, at any center frequency, having a given bandwidth. White noise is considered analogous to white light which contains all frequencies.

Who am I?

Neo-hippie cinephile. Follower of the great Jim Morrison who once said "If the doors of perception are cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Narrative

The narrative statement shall be a mature and self-reflective essay (2-3 typed pages) detailing the applicant's reasons for pursuing a degree in the motion picture arts. The essay should take into account the individual's history, formative creative experiences, contemporary influences and inspirations, and personal artistic dreams.

Orson Welles once called the middle class the enemy of society. My father's life bears testimony to Welles' rather politically incorrect observation. As a young man in his unsettling twenties, Dad wanted to make films, but the pressures of a middle class existence in the Indian city of Calcutta, especially that of putting food on the table for the family prevented him from following his dream.

Around this time, Indian cinema, particularly Bengali cinema was undergoing a transition from predominantly escapist story lines to tackling more socially relevant issues, led by the master directorial eye of Satyajit Ray. Dad is a great admirer of the work of the filmmaker and it would be no exaggeration to suggest that I grew up watching his films.

Dad is also an amateur photographer of considerable repute and thus, at an age when most boys play with GI Joe's, I was experimenting with a point and shoot camera.  Gradually, Dad started allowing me to borrow his Canon SLR with growing regularity and eventually, gifted me a Nikon SLR as I became the President of the Photography Club of my high school. Photography served as the formative creative experience in shaping the filmmaker in me as I learned to tell a story using an image, which was the basic essence of film making in its infant silent era.

Satyajit Ray talks about a couple of films in his book 'Speaking of Films', which I have watched since reading the book. The first is 'Battleship Potemkin' , a Russian silent film about a revolt on a submarine with very moving images. The other film is  'Bicycle Thieves', an Italian neorealist film about post-World War II Italy, with very little dialog and yet showcasing a wide range of emotions. I had always been an admirer of character driven plots, and after watching 'Bicycle Thieves', I was infatuated with the concept of neorealism.

What followed was watching the films of other neorealist directors like Michaelangelo Antonioni, Frederico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman, each of which is proof of the power of images. I am especially in awe of Antonioni's 'L'Eclisse' and its opening scene. The scene features a man and a woman in a hotel room and there is no dialog for a good three to four minutes, raising questions as to the mood of the scene in the viewer. The rest of the film is filled with such scenes that more than speak for themselves, including a long unspoken ending sequence that relays a sense of loneliness that few words can match.

A few days back, a friend suggested Wong Kar-Wai’s 2000 film 'In the Mood for Love' to me. It is a period piece set in 1960's Hong Kong about two neighbors – a man and a woman, who with their growing friendship discover that their respective spouses are cheating on them with one another. What makes this film special is that it is a love story that is so subtle that there is not a single scene where the protagonists are shown in traditional romantic liaisons and yet, the sense of togetherness comes through. Kar-Wai uses rain, vivid colors and unorthodox camera angles in narrow hallways of a Hong Kong apartment building to achieve this.

I was very heavily influenced by neorealism and particularly, 'In the Mood for Love', while writing the script for my short 'The Wet Cigarette'. Certain decisions like  setting the events in an environment where it has just rained, having just one line of dialog and casting an ordinary looking male lead, were results of this influence. There are also certain aspects of magic realism like the female character's attire and the sudden appearance of her beau, ostensibly to surprise her, meant as tributes to Fellini's 'La Strada'.

Unfortunately, one hardly sees any neorealistic films being made these days and it saddens me that future generations may become forever oblivious to cinema of this beautiful sub-genre As an aspiring film maker, my ambition is to reverse this trend by making more movies that fall into the sub-genre of neorealism and to tap the human element of the middle class, the very class Welles had criticized, as a source for stories.

3 comments:

rohmen said...

I read about neo-realism on wiki. It seems like a genre I'd like to know more about. "Neo noir" is a style of filmaking that I've been enchanted for a while. Its off-beat, and that's what appeals to me the most. Unfortunately, most movies under that genre get shown only at festivals n all, and don't make it commercially.

dreamy said...

I saw "Bicycle thieves" in my film studies class and I was smitten.

I specially liked the "open window" concept. The frame is an open window and we see what we want to see!

ArSENik said...

@Dreamy: That almost sounds like Hitch's Rear Window, though of a different genre.

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