This week’s Friday Fundas covers yet another interesting editing technique in movies popularly known as Creative Geography.
Creative Geography is an artificial landscape that is created in movies. This technique was invented by Russian film maker Lev Kuleshov. You might also remember few weeks back I had covered another popular experiment called as Kuleshov’s effect in movies which was done by Lev Kuleshov. Creative Geography involves a subset of the montage in which various segments are shot at different locations. But in the way it gets assembled during editing, all these appear to be one continuous location.
Consider a shot involving a person walking into a big bungalow and then the next shot shows him walking into a large hall. These two locations could be entirely different and in fact miles apart. But in the way the editing is done it appears to be a continuous space for the viewers. The shot of the person entering the bungalow is shot first and then the next shot is shot entirely in a different location in a hall where the person is walking in. The costume of the artist is maintained the same for the sake of continuity.
Let us now look at some examples of this in Indian movies
In the recent Bollywood movie Dhoom 3 starring Aamir Khan, the entire story is based out of Chicago, Illinois in the United States. However the climax portion of the movie where Aamir Khan rides on the top of a bridge is shot in Contra Dam, Ticino, Switzerland. Actually he starts his bike in Chicago and within few minutes he is in Switzerland. In the movie the dam is shown as a location in the outskirts of Chicago. This is achieved through editing and thus it forms the creative geography for the movie.
Similarly in the Tamil Blockbuster Nayagan the entire movie is based out of Mumbai and follows the life of a Mumbai don. The climax portion of the movie is shot in College of Engineering, Guindy. The college in Guindy becomes part of the creative geography of Mumbai for the movie.
This is again an elementary technique used in movies and it is used by the film makers to achieve the desired outcome of the image they had while writing the script. Next time when you watch movies look out for its creative geography. You will start appreciating the amount of efforts the film makers undergo to give a visually compelling product.
Over the shoulder shot is a filming technique in which a shot is taken in an angle that is gazing onto the character from over a shoulder of a different person with whom the subject is talking to. The back of the person, shoulder and the head is used as a frame the image of the scene. Although this sounds simple a lot of planning needs to go before this shot is taken like which side of the frame should the shoulder occupy and how much it should occupy so that the relevant emotions of the character in focus is shown.
This shot is very useful when you need to have the character not focusing into the camera and delivering a dialogue. Having the shoulder of the other person in the frame also intensifies the interaction between the two characters. Maniratnam had used this technique to a great extent in the movie Thalapathy for the interactions between Mamooty and Rajnikanth. It places equal importance between the two characters and also exemplifies a high degree of emotion.
Maniratnam had also used this in Nayagan to show Kamal Hassan’s reaction for his grandson’s question “Neenga Nallavara Kettavara” (Are you a good person or a bad person) over the shoulder of the kid. K Balachandar had used this in many of his movies to highlight the emotions in the face of the main character and also to intensify the scene. The following still from Ninaithale Innikum is an example of it.
It could simply be used to change the point of perception or to focus the attention on the main character in the scene. The following scene in the movie God Father is an example of this where over the shoulder shot is used to reinforce the presence of other people in the room and also focus is given more on Don who watches out of the window. The object of focus is in the center of the frame avoiding distractions from the right half enhances the focus on the action of the character.
This can also be used for hiding the identity of the character like an unknown person not relevant to the plot talking to the main character or a mysterious person talking whose identity may be revealed later.
A simple and ordinary scene can be made interesting through the angle of the shot. The skill of the director and the cinematographer is involved in choosing one from a varied set of options for the camera angle. Over the shoulder shot is definitely a powerful one which has been used very aptly by many great film makers. Next time you watch a movie watch out for the camera angle in which a shot is taken.