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How do movies minimize the awareness that they are simply an artificial construct?

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paramount1232012 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:21 AM via web

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How do movies minimize the awareness that they are simply an artificial construct?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 20, 2013 at 6:01 PM (Answer #1)

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There is no question that accomplished actors contribute more to the verisimilitude of a film than any other factor. One needs only to watch some of the classic films such as Casablanca to understand the impact that actors can produce.  Added to the expertise of actors who are able to create the reality of the imaginary, a well-written script and a believable setting are two other factors which dispel artificiality through the truth of human thought and emotions. Lines spoken by actors that are pregnant with timeless and universal significance also contribute to verisimilitude. For instance, in Casablanca, when Ilsa comes into Rick's club and he is forced to talk with her after she abandoned him in Paris years ago--

RICK: You understand how I feel. How long was it we had, honey?

ILSA: [on the verge of tears] I didn't count the days.

RICK: Well, I did. Every one of 'em. Mostly I remember the last one. The wow finish. A guy standing on a station platform in the rain with a comical look in his face because his insides have been kicked out--

there are few viewers who cannot empathize with Rick's feelings.

Alluding to another classic film the 1939 David O. Selznick's production of Gone With the Wind provides evidence of how a well-constructed screenplay and realistic settings can bring to life a time gone by. The realistic re-creation of history and its emotive aura capture the imagination of viewers so well that, again, they are immersed in the reality of the imaginary.

With the employment of cinematic expertise, the dramatization of such a film as Gone With the Wind also immerses viewers in its specific world so well that it removes any sense of the artificial. The creative and skillful use of camera angles and shots further dispel artificiality by excluding it.  For instance, panoramic shots generate a sense of grandeur that does not really exist on a set.

Therefore, there are at least three elements of film which certainly minimize any sense of artificiality:

  1. great acting
  2. skillful screenwriting and creation of sets
  3. creative and technically skillful use of cameras

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