Silent Movies and their Techniques

In The Passion of Joan of Arc the use of a silent film was very effective for showing emotion to the audience. This emotion is shown through the musical soundtrack, the close up frames, and through other techniques that the director uses. With the lack of speech from the characters, emotion can be hard to show if not done correctly.

The emotion of the movie has a lot to do with the music. When I first watched this film, I had watched it without sound. Needless to say it was a little hard to sit through, but adding the music added so much more to the films quality. For example, during the scene where they take Joan to the torture room the music added more emotion to the scene. Had the music not been added to the movie the viewers would not have had the same sense of emotion from the film.

The close facial shots is a signature technique that is used by the director for this film. This technique allows the director to show how the characters are responding without hearing the tone in their voice. One shot from the movie that best shows this is when Joan is being prosecuted by the judges. In the first shot below we see Joan’s fear in her eyes. We do not need to know how her voice sounds to know that she is fearful and offended by the question. In the next shot we see the judges facial expression. This shows us that he is determined for her to answer these questions, and that he does not sympathize with her unwillingness to answer all of their questions. If the actor’s did not do show enough emotion then the silent film would fail. The viewers need to be able to understand their characters, and be able to see and feel what they are feeling. The director, and the actors of this film do a great job at showing this.

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One of the last things that the director does to really get the emotion of the trial to the audience is by ignoring the 180 degree rule. In class we talked about in The Seven Samurai the 180 degree was used correctly. This is where during conversations the camera shot during a conversation is not suppose to turn 180 degrees, but in The Passion of Joan of Arc this is ignored. We can see this when the camera goes from Joan’s face to one of the Judges face during the question. (an example of both of these shots are shown above). This method allows the director to show all of the characters emotion, and is not really questioned as being a wrong technique.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Silent Movies and their Techniques

  1. mcostin23

    More so than the musical soundtrack, I think the close up frames had the most effect on the audience, which is why this actress is considered one the of the best. Her emotions are captured in every single scene. The part I liked most about the film was the imagery of the jury while she was on trial. The way the scenes were shot made them look like monsters. There was a hence the lighting and lack of make up involved with those specific actors. The movie is most likely used as the archetype for close up shots and enhancing the audiences response by that specific method.

  2. The movie made good use of the combination of its facials and musical score. While either was a powerful force on its own able to evoke emotion and resonate with the viewer, together they could augment each other to multiply their effectiveness.

  3. Personally, the music in this film did not do as much for me as the actual close ups of the characters. Had the music been then same, and the emotions not nearly as intense, I would have been beyond confused and terribly bored. The music merely enhanced the emotions the author was trying to portray. For a director to conjure up the same amount of emotions from a silent film in comparison to a normal film, is astonishing. It requires a fine balance between visuals and musicals, and the director of The Passion of Joan of Arc was able to do just that.

  4. Pingback: What makes Silent Film interesting? – nhungng

  5. Pingback: What makes Silent Film interesting? | mediaday

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