Stephanie's Blog

a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

Archive for October, 2010


Invasion of the Body Snatchers

We all know it was in the Halloween spirit that we had to see a horror/sci-fi film. I was secretly hoping for Rocky Horror Picture Show, especially since it was made in the 1970s, but Invasion of the Body Snatchers was actually really good to watch. Sure it was no musical but the suspense and the effects and the camera angles, they meshed so well together to make a really good thriller, especially for a film from the 60s. This one of the few films that i actually enjoyed. I never saw this movie because when i thought 60s sci-films i thought cheesy effects like “saucers” flying with the visible strings being shown. But when i saw this movie i was surprised how advanced the effects look. From the pods to the process of them looking like the humans, it looked pretty realistic. Deep down i still wished we could have see Rocky Horror, but watching this film was worth it too.

Early Summer review

My God i hated this film. I mean I appreciated seeing that the movie was portraying the women as independent figures in their society and having the ability to make their decisions but the movie was so drawn out and boring. It did have its funny moments with the younger boy and the people he interacted with, but it still wasn’t entertaining as I hoped it to be. The understood that the director was going along with a different film technique but it was so LONG and BORING. When i heard we were watching a Japanese film I guess I was in over my head expecting the film to be like Hayao Miyazaki except less catoonish (no pun intended). I tried to find a positive outcome to this film as i was viewing it but all i thought was pretty  good was the acting and that cut little boy would the film fairly delightful. And the fact that the woman was able to choose her own suitor especially during those times. I didn’t think women in that country had that much freedom.

Film Analysis- M

One of the first films we saw together was the movie M and in my opinion the most interesting. The reason I chose M was because out of all the films we have seen so far, this one had me intrigued and had an amazing story. The recent movies we have seen such as The Lady Eve, and The Public Enemy were good but I found the films predictable. M is a great example of suspense thriller and and for a film made as early as 1931, the cinematography was  better than exceptional and was the director’s first sound film.

M is a 1931 film directed by Fritz Lang, whose thrillers were highly influential in the film noir style. This film is considered one of his finest works. The film tells the story about a child murderer on the loose and the pressure of trying to catch the murderer has the townspeople, the police, and even the crime world on the edge. The child murderer, Hans Beckert is played by Peter Lorre. Lorre’s portrayal shows two sides of the villian; one was a sadistic man who preyed on helpless little girls and the other as a mentally disturbed man who could not control his desire to kill because of his “demons”.

The scene that best describes this is the finale, when Hans is finally caught by the town’s top criminals and put to “trial”.  I realized that in usually climatic scenes like this use mostly close-up shots. However, this particular scene consisted more of long shots, medium long shots, and medium shots. It starts off with a medium long shot of Hans, his head covered by his jacket so he would not know the location,  being forced by two men to go up a set of stairs. Hans is livid, screaming and demanding to be freed but he gets quiet after entering the underground room. The camera then took  a long shot and scanned the room which to his horror was filled with his victims’ families and townspeople and underworld criminals. Hans still continues to play innocent and beg for his release. As he is doing this, the camera is medium shot of Hans’ face. Suddenly,  a hand reaches out and grabs Hans’ shoulder. Hans’ face is filled with surprise and fear . The camera pans out and in medium shot there is an old man next to him holding a balloon. It was the blind man who sold a balloon to Hans, who in turn gave it to one of his victims. Based on Hans’ voice the blind man could identify Hans as the man who was with the latest victim, Elsie.

Realizing he’s been caught, Hans once again tries to escape and  goes up the flight of stairs and out the door. However, there is a guard there and he’s beaten and thrown on the floor. There he is given a “trial” which is basically made up of angry people as the “jury” and his “lawyer” being a poor man. However, this sort of trial iss unfair, because it was obvious by the way people were yelling “Kill him! He isn’t a human being! He has no rights!” that the decision by the “jury” is death even if Hans tried to defend himself.

Using shot and reverse shot, it reveals how the large mass of people accusing Hans of murder is intimidating. Yelling, booing, and taunting him, it is obvious these people are showing no mercy especially as Hans is trying to defend himself. In the beginning of the film, we obviously see Hans as an evil man who preys on defenseless little girls and looks like he is in control of the situation. In this climatic scene however, we see a a man broken down by his demons who he himself doesn’t know why he would do such heinous acts.  He only follows the voices in his head. Hans has to murder, he cannot control his urge. Because of this statement, the jury finds no reason why he should be spared, after all they can’t allow a man who will continue killing to live.

However, it is after these statements, that his “lawyer” actually puts effort in trying to get a fair conviction from the “jury”.  Han’s “lawyer”  explains that since killing has become an obsession, Han’s has no control or responsibility over his actions. Han was simply acting out on impulse. Because he is mentally disabled, Hans should be placed in an asylum, and be cured before being placed back into society. However, because of the severity of his crimes and a mother’s anguish they insisted that he be killed. This puts in question what the true conviction should be. Here is a man whose crimes without a doubt is so severe that he deserves to be punished. However, his actions were due to a mental disability so is this man truly at fault for what he has done?

As the violent protesters corner Hans, the police break in and take Hans away to be dealt with by the law than by vigilantes. The final image of the film is that of five judges about to give Hans his sentence. Before the sentence is announced, the shot cuts to three of the victims’ mothers crying, with Elsie’s mother saying that either sentence will not bring back the dead children.

I believe the reason that Lang did not show the viewers the sentencing was because he wanted us to decide the fate of Hans on our own. This scene really brings up a lot of controversial questions on whether this man should be punished by death or taken to an asylum to be cured. I really like how Lang brings up the controversial topic of whether a man should be punished for heinous acts he cannot control. Especially since this was in the 1930s, it shows that Lang like to push the limits in the cinema industry.


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