Women Make Film Episode 4: Staging, Journey and Discovery
The staging of scenes is an element of film form that clearly points to cinema’s origin in the theatre. Kinuyo Tanaka uses staging in The Moon Has Risen (1955) to shape the scene’s invisible geometry, accentuating the tension between characters. Maren Ade stages through depth in Toni Erdmann (2016), facilitating the tragicomic punchline. And in Maria Schrader’s Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (2016), the crisscrossing staging in the final scene makes its location come alive.
Movement is key to a motion picture, and journeys in film can be horizontal as well as vertical (into the self). Travel can bind characters from two different worlds, like a middle-class woman and working-class man on a moral journey against society in Krane’s Confectionery (1951, directed by Astrid Henning-Jensen). Driving can be a test of will and courage, like in Nell Shipman’s Something New (1919). A mode of transportation can be a safe space and a social microcosm, like the car in Andrea Arnold’s American Honey (2016). Or like in Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014), it can take the character on a journey into her nightmares.
Discovery and revelation shape some of cinema’s most iconic moments. But beyond the best-known scenes, there lies the humanity, craft, and insight of discovery – like in Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy (2011), when the mother suddenly sees her child in a new light. There’s the discovery of the opposite sex’s naked form, like in the male-gaze-flipping scene from Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (2017). In Sabiha Sumar’s Silent Waters (2003), the audience is guided through a discovery that changes everything about how they view the story.
See more episodes in our Women Make Film series.
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