“From a distant gaze …” (1964) directed by Jean Ravel, picture Pierre Lhomme & Chris Marker, words by Louis Aragon, narrated by Jean Negroni, music by Michel Legrand.
Describe a few things that intrigue you – it might be shot construction, camera work, editing, overall structure, thematic concerns etc. Describe the camera work and why you think it has been shot that way.
The most intriguing aspect i find with this piece is the camera work and shot construction that has followed interesting with the theme suggested by the films title ‘A Distant Gaze’. Very much so, the cinematographer has attempted to embody this thematic aspect through the way in which he attempts to shoot individuals in the environment from a point of observable distance (observable by audiences). I interpreted this as an attempt of the artist’s intention in observing the milieu of daily habits and interactions encompassed in the environment. Roughly speaking, it looks truly as if the camera itself is simply watching individuals, suggested by the informality of the camera work, the continuous framing and tracking of particular individuals for extended periods of time and the sudden cuts to arguable different aspects of the environment entailing different actions and tone that seem to have no relation
I feel the work attempts to re-envision the aesthetic of original travelogues through its chaotic and seemingly unplanned cinematography however simultaneously working under the thematic objective of distant observation that enables the piece to act as such. It brings to question whether the piece is intentionally chaotic or unknowingly superfluous. What brings doubt, at moments, to the possibility of this free-form aesthetic is the occasional moments of planned shot construction in which individuals are placed at proper spaces in the frame following framing techniques such as rule of thirds or 180 degree rules. Personally, i feel this adds to the enigmatic representation of the piece which one can perceive either as a chaotic cinematic rambling, or an intentional ‘chaotic cinematic rambling’.
Another strong characteristic that comes to my attention is the use of music. I feel the expressionistic composition mirrors the sense of chaos embodied throughout the various segments of the piece. The tempo of the background music seems to synchronise with the bustle and activity of the environment and concurrently also the rate at which the piece attempts to transition.
As a conclusive observation, the film truly intrigues me as I see it as a piece that has a thinly veiled line determining its aesthetic from absolute chaos to complete order; A line which, when the film is revisited, continues to confound its audiences.