The film clip starts with a scene taking place in a victorian opera theater. It is probably set in the late 18th century as we can see from the setting. The setting plays highly important role in most of films as it tells us, in this film, what kind of people in the society they are, without hearing their conversation. Ladies are wearing long night dresses, and gentlmen are wearing suits with flowers on their left chests as such. The costumes simply refers to the clothes that characters wear. Costume in narrative cinema is used to signify character, or advertise particular fashions, or to make clear distinctions between characters. In the clip, costumes suggest they are in an upper class society. But they do not have a specific function indivisualy, but instead they are cautiously orchestrated with one another in their colors to creat one big elegant mood in the opera theater.
The theater has luxurious interior decorations and the texture of screen space is very rich which shows the important relation to the characters. It is both comprehensible; as we can easly notice the higher community, and significant; as it gives us the idea of when it is to be taken place. Like Richard Maltby says; “mise-en-scene is a system that requires recognition, but not necessarily articulation, on the part of its audience, since meaning it produces is displaced to another area of the movie”.
In this scene, lightig, at one point, is a very strong sign. When Ellen tells her last line before Newland Archy leaves from the balcony, she turned around to him, looked into his eyes, then a light, probably from the opera stage, spotted her back. Then she told him her line. A combined use of lighting and quietness of their surrounding is used to create a tensed atmosphere between the two characters. It is very powerful and effective editing technique.
“Sometimes the camera’s viewpoint gives the audience knowledge the characters do not share,”2 In this shot, the spot light on her back is more than just illumination that allows us to see her, but it suggests that she is saying something important to him. Backlighting creats the contrast of the brightness of the blue spot light on her back to the darkness of the opera theater. It creates stronger emphasis on what had been said by her. It also brings a dramatic emotion of the characters out. The silhouette of Ellen Olenska leads to bring some kind of mysterious sence as well.
Camera angles serve to indicate where charaters are in the scene. Ellen looks down at Newton from the balcony seats. Here, an angle of framing, the high-angle position is used. Then the low-angle is used to show that he was looking up at the balcony. The complex camera movements and editing bring to serve complecated situation of characters make audiences’ mind distinctive. The editer then uses elliptical editing which “represents an action in such a way that is consumes less time on the screen than it does in the sotry.”3 After the low angle position, which is the view from Newton’s seat, the segment gose to the balcony where he is entering the balcony. The editor obviously has edited the part where he gose up the stairs from his seat to the balcony where his fiance and her cousin, Ellen are. The segment unneccesary to the story and ellipsis formulates articulation in the scene by using this “conventional punctuation shot change.”4
Whithin the scene, iris out is used to concentrate on the two characters, Newland and Ellen as they wisper. The sound around them, the sound perspective, becomes quieter and is gone at the end of the scene. The surrounding sound suggests not only there are many people in the theater, but we as a spectator is able to sense a spatial distance and visual depth of gigantic theater. ‘Deep space’ is used to map out the actual distances involved between one location, the balcony, and auditorium in order to emphasize the dimention. Iris out leaves the two characters’ speaches, as well as their actions, clearer and more focused. Close up shots and revers-shots serve more perticipation to the segment. Close ups of characters give us more information of their feeling from their expression on their faces.
“Conticuity editing establishes spatioal and temporal relationships between shots in such a way as to permit the spectator to ‘read’ a film without any conscious effort, precisely because the editing is ‘invisible’.”The revers-shots guide the viewer deeper into their conversation and into their emotion, yet these editings are made to go invisibly. This editing is not easly defined as over-the-shoulder framing as two characters are not facing to each other. An extream close-up of an opera glasses, however, is clearly noticed. The distinctive movement of Ellen’s hand to pic it up suggests her confused state of mind in the conversation between Newland. Similary, close up of his troubled facial expression puts the same effect.
Sound plays one of the most essential functions in most of films and this film, Age of Innocence, was not an exception. At least, sound fills the silence and adds crutial mood and atomospher in each scenes. It can be played just as background music or it cues us to form expectation. “In all cases, the sound track can enter into an active relation with the image track.”6 When Newton leaves the balcony we hear music, probably from the stage in the story.
Ellen puts her opera glasses and pays attention to the stage. So we think that the music comes from the performance, but when the sence moves on to the next, the same music is played. It plays a role as a sound bridge. The carried out music becomes non-diegetic from what we first thought it as external diegetic sound. Diegetic and nondiegetic sounds, which is the same orchestral classic music, are juxtaposed during the connection of two scenes. Since the music is played vey quietly it is made to go unnoticed but making the transition of the two is very smooth.
Newland writes a letter to a flower shop to order yellow roses to send them to Ellen. A close up shot of his hand and the letter, and a shot where he sits down at the desk writing the letter overlapses. A narrater reads the letter out loud at the same time. The overlapping editing of the two different shots creates less serious attension to the action, but puts more emphasis on the quantity of letters he writes instead. He keeps writing to them until he recieves an answer and that is the main point of this scene.
However, he gives up to buy yellow roses ene when he sees them in the shop when he passes buy the shop. The scene is bluer and seemes darker in order to stress the significance of the moment. The next scene where the two characters walks in the snow, uses the 180 rule. Infact, this system of editing is used in most of the scenes in the entire clip so that to make sure spectators see the relative posisions in the frame. Eleen’s red court suggest passion and is very feminine, making a distinctiion with white snow. It is suggested that they are playing with colour to signify love relationship exists between the characters.
They go into the house and puts a fire on in the next scnene. The sound of the fire is exhasulated, editing technique called accentuation, so that to make a stress on warmth in the house, cotrasting to the coldness outside. Grafically and visually it is warm and viewer can almost feel the same warmness as the two. But ironically he stands at the window, and the shot which is taken from his back suggest us his loneliness suported by the snow that can be seen from the window. He asks her ‘you must tell me what you are running away from.’
Then camera casts Ellen but she says nothing. Here, silence is the beauty. It serves her mind that she dose not want to tell him anything. He then closes his eyes and she comes up to him and hold him tite from his back. He puts his hand over her hands. An extream-close shot is used to put stress on an affection. Unfortunately, it is only his imagination. Right after he opens his eyes, close shot takes his action, turning around and looks at her, then exterior long shot casts her, what is being observed by him, where she is still sitting on the same chair and in the same position. The camera movement called eyeline-matche is used here. It is a simple way of editing but very persuasive and functional. It creats strong spatial conticuity and assures us as to the characters’ locations.
At this point of the clip, although it is a very short one, we as spectators have an idea that this film is a romantic film with a bit of mystery. Most of genre cannot be defined in “a single hard and fast way.”7. The main theme can be defined as love, but there are some other spices to add to the story. The story line is stretched out so the speed of the action is to be said very slow because of the complecated situation of the two characters- so far, viewer are not given enough information about what exactly is the relationship between them but we are given with sufficient amount of facts to tell the genre of the film. Like the other classical Hollywood narative, this film is also focusing on characters, has chain of events in cause-effect relationship occurring in time and space. It has a well forcused and tensed story line which, in this clip, is continuos- meaning no flash forward or flashback and it is in order of the time.