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Time and the long take in The Magnificent Ambersons, Ugetsu and Stalker

By Donato Totaro


My thesis is an examination of the formal and textual aspects of the long take, principally as used in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942, Orson Welles), Ugetsil (1954, Kenji Mizoguchi), and Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky). The thesis begins by defining the long take as a shot of 25 seconds or longer that usually contains one of the following qualities: a sense of completeness or wholeness, 'durational complexity, ' and a 'soft' formal/thematic determinism. This working definition is used as part of a 'philosophical' formal-textual methodological approach to the long take informed by a 'common sense' philosophical understanding of time. An important element of this formal-textual methodology is 'contextual statistical analysis' (CSA) and close, accurate shot description. This 'common sense' philosophical understanding sees time as being expressible by properties that are both outside the self (external time) and by properties that are within the self (internal time). External time becomes the 'measurable' aspects of the long take (duration), which condition and are conditioned by the 'less quantifiable' aspects of a long take's internal time (pertinent formal and textual properties within the shot). Internal and external time combine to express the 'emotional quality' of time in a long take, which I call temporal tonality. By employing this formal-textual methodology to my three case study films, I demonstrate how a dominant use of the long take is an important (though not exclusive) formal component of each film's particular thematic and/or philosophical treatment of time. The long take is also analysed in two other case studies with more general designs: a taxonomy of the long take time and narrative time (Chapter 4), and an analysis of the long take as an expressive narrative agent in popular cinema (Chapter 5). Lastly, the statistical differences concerning long take usage gives rise to an articulation of three long take practices: Dialectical, Synthetic, and Radical. This original observation will lay down a general groundwork for further exploration of long take practice, style, theory, and analysis

Topics: PN1993
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2355

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