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Fms 530 Reading Report

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Reading Report 1

        Writer, actor, and director Béla Balász’s essay, “The Close-Up/The Face of Man” from the book, Early Film Theory: Visible Man and The Spirit of Film, explores the central meaning(s) of the close-up as he believes they are meant to reveal the hidden life of humanity as art. His thesis draws upon the conception of the (cinematic) image and the wide range of non-verbal synonymous expressions: face, physiognomy, body, and gesture. In summary, Balász believes that the language of film (or facial physiognomy) reveals a new way of seeing and experiencing what an audience sees through these expressive presets. These expressions shown by close-ups have the effect to deliver an art of emotion to an audience and shows “that the perception of a close-up has not only widened our vision of life, it has also deepened it” (Balász 304).

        The Face of Man: “Every art deals with human beings, it is human manifestation and presents human beings.” In other words, “the root of all art is man” paraphrased by Marx. This section of the article was an interesting point for me because (from my point of view) this theory is resonated to be true. For all eternity art has not been known to exist without man kind. The cinematic language of facial physiognomy discussed by Balász, reveals a new way of seeing and experiencing the thought, feeling, and position through a person as a way of art and that is through a close-up. He says, “when the film close-up strips the veil of our imperceptiveness and insensitivity from hidden little things and shows us the face of objects it shows us man, for what makes objects expressive are the human expressions projected on them. When we see the face of things, we do what the accents did in creating gods in man’s image and breathing a human soul into them. The close-ups of the film are the creative instruments of this mighty visual anthropomorphism” (Balász 306).

        A sense of emotion is generated when viewing any film, hopefully, but the revolutionary idea of art, facial expression, and humanity and how it is used in a close-up is put to the test in a scene of the film, The Skin I live In (Almadovar 2013). The art and cinematic language is used in many cases however near the beginning of the film, when Vincente in locked up in Dr. Robert Ledgard’s basement, Dr. Ledgard is violently dispersing Vincente’s soul as he starves, and is forcefully spraying him with water. Balász says, “they show the faces of things and those expressions on them which are significant because they are reflected expressions of our own subconscious feeling. Herein lies the art of the true cameraman” (305). This feeling of disturbing emotion felt in this particular scene of the film is due to the primary subject his look and language given off of Vincente’s physiognomy. He doesn't use any dialogue however the audience feels this way because of the subject of his face and the close-up. I truly believe that if the shots hadn’t been close-up or weren't subjected among the actors’ face, the director wouldn't have achieved this emotion, feeling, or overall connection with the character that we all feel when viewing this scene. This art form used specifically in this scene complies with the idea that expressive objects are the human expressions projected on them. We, the audience, see this breathing human (Vicente) soul in a position of maltreatment, and mindfully feel what he feels due to the tight spacing in the close-up and his physiognomy.



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