Dana's Film Theory Blog

a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

Written in the Stars?

Filed under: Uncategorized — dana318 at 10:58 am on Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In Richard Dyer’s “From Stars” he discusses how the body language and expressions from an actor/actress relates to the film in which they are performing. He says that “performance” is much more than just acting out lines and actions that are given to them. It has to do with gestures concerning voice, facial expressions, posture and so on. This is something that I find extremely vital. When viewing a film, i feel that although the setting, camera movements and lighting do play an important part, if the person within all of this is not believable, it can change the overall feel of the film. For instance, characters are written with a personality on mind. This than transcends onto the screen within the relations between all of the personalities being portrayed. A good example is that of posture. If a performer is slouching, they come off as uncomfortable and maybe weak in a way. This is can alter a character if they are meant to be the strong and outgoing. Same with facial expressions. If we see facial motions that are not believable to the action taking place, we will leave the film unsatisfied saying the “acting was bad”. It could ruin a film. What Dyer says that I disagree with at points, is that he says sometimes the performance has nothing to do with a film. Using the film “Queen Christina” as an example. She is at the point of her life where everything is a mess but yet has no facial expression. The setting is what makes the scene. This could have worked in this case but for the most part I believe you need to feel what the character is feeling at that point to give the viewer a deeper connection with the film. Dyer then goes into explaining how actors such as John Wayne always had the same performance regarding whatever film they were in. This is the only exception I feel. John Wayne is hired in terms for the “westerns”. Its his star quality that landed him these roles because this is what he is most believable at. In recent times a good example is Kate Hudson. She is prone to taking bubble romantic comedies. This is what we believe her as considering this is what she appears to be in “real life”, however films such as those are not meant to get you connected. They are massly produced and for short term enjoyment. But considering she is a “performer” we see her bubbly persona transform into the calm, cool, infamous groupie Penny Lane in “Almost Famous” which makes us somehow forget her usual roles. In my opinion, it is the performance, coinciding with the type of film, which makes it something remarkable in terms of cinema.

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   Ronnie Jaber

March 15, 2010 @ 1:41 am

I don’t necessarily agree that actors alter their performance based on what movie they’re acting in. A fair example for why an actors demeanor or body language might be changing from performance to performance could be the quality of production. Many actors perform much better with a lower budget film, using minimal lighting and a smaller crew. Where that same actor who preformed well on a low budget film may have their demeanor changed by the large staff and multitude of lights on a larger budget film.



March 15, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

Skeleton Key is another Kate Hudson film that we don’t see Hudson as the “bubbly” character you discussed before. I believe many factors go into an actor’s performance. It’s up to the actor/actress to make us believe in their performance. I guess in a way if they do their job well, then we’ll assume they are the character outside of the movie world. John Wayne was a huge symbol of masculinity, a man’s man, chivalrous, and an upright individual – when in fact in real life he was abusive and racist. However, he was a star and was able to embrace each role that was given to him. I am not a fan, to be quite frank. Westerns aren’t my cup of tea.



March 16, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

I definitely agree with you on how the actors play a major role within the process of a film and if they aren’t believable the audience’s entire perception of the film can be manipulated. If a character’s emotions are a bit off, especially during a close-up shot the entire scene can ultimately give off a different vibe towards the audience. Some actors are consistent within all of their films as they establish our prejudged expectations to a theme that we are already familiar with. Keanu Reeves is a good example of this theory, he is definitely an action actor and we automatically associate him with the Matrix but within his 2006 role for The Lake House which was definitely a romantic movie I feel that he wasn’t quite as good as I thought he would be and another actor could have done a much better job with that film, but that’s just my opinion.



March 16, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

An actor doesnt always have to be believable. It depends on the role and the intentionality of the director. In “Lost Highway” the actors perfomances are very hollow and unbelieveable, but this disconnection is an essential element to understanding the film. Stanley Kubrick is known for directing stars to be very cold and unemotional. This is not to disparrage the actors ability. Different films call for different performances, and sometimes the material on the whole is supposed to transcend the performances purposefully. But i do agree that an actor like John Wayne had a penchant for being typecasted, but this was just his niche in film history.



March 20, 2010 @ 1:08 am

Ronnie- I have to disagree with you. I think any talented actor does change their performance from role to role regardless of the quality of the production. That’s the mark of a truly good actor. I think the quality of the production should have no bearing on the abilities of the actor.

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