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The Age of Innocence?


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#1 David Lawrence

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 03:39 AM

I would be pleased to hear your feelings on the directing and editing in this period piece by Scorsese.

The Cinematography is wonderful, full of rich images, wonderful detail and marvelous lighting, and the acting is servicable, the audio good, the soundtrack interesting and with good flow, but each time I try to sit and enjoy this movie, the editing ties me in knots!

To oversimplify, it's like MTV in slow motion.

Jarring angle cuts, disolves and jump zoom but at prozac speed, and to my eye, totaly out of sync with the scene.

Another thing that pulls me out of the movie is the cutaways on minutae, details like the food on people's plates, a cigar cutter, folded gloves, etc, etc...

David Lawrence [NZ]
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 11:53 AM

I think it's the attention to the tiny details and ritual that keep the movie from being a simplistic melodrama -- think of it as an x-ray of a society. Occasionally I think there is one-too-many dissolves in mid-scene for no discernable reason, but overall, I like the editing.

Edited by David Mullen, 22 December 2005 - 11:53 AM.

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#3 Justan Zimmerman

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 06:41 PM

The Age of Innocence happens to be my favorite Scorsese film, or at least the one I watch most often. Scorsese has always had an expressionistic streak and with the exception of the boxing sequences from Raging Bull, it is unleashed to the fullest extent in The Age of Innocence. Likewise he is also fixated on examining the lifestyles and cultural minutiae of his characters, in this case performing an anthropological autopsy as much as telling a story.

The editing reduces the important but lengthy rituals of the characters' lives into short, comprehensive sequences - opera and theater going, obsessive letter writing (pre-telephone), dining, marriage and the expected European honeymoon. The dissolves to flashes of color and the close-ups of trinkets, jewelry, clothing, cigars, and other conspicuous adornments serve as exclamation points. I'll agree with David that there are sometimes two (or three) dissolves when one will suffice, but usually I think they're well utilized.

I've known other people who were thrown by the editing style but once they reconciled it with men in top hats and women with parasols they usually thought it was a good fit. The omniscient narrator is what tends turn off friends I get to watch it.

As far as the cinematography goes, I think Michael Ballhaus did very nice work. It may not be flashy but by playing it straight the cinematography gives the editing and directing a freer reign. Still there are some expressionistic moments of lighting - most evident in the final letter reading scene. It certainly makes watching a Daniel Day-Lewis reading more interesting than it would be normally.

The stylistic flourishes offer a greater insight into the characters' psyche and culture. Without them it would be like watching the version of The House of Mirth from a few years ago. Pretty locations and fantastic costumes, but everything behind the restrained manner of expression employed by the characters that Edith Wharton delves into in her books is lost on screen. But then The Age of Innocence is a much richer book than The House of Mirth.
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