Suckas Essay

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The Evolution of Short FilmShort film has been around for longer than many of us think. The very first films made in the early 1910s were not feature-length by any stretch of the imagination, and never more than 15 minutes long. D. W. Griffith, well-known for experimentation in cinematography, was the first director to venture into films longer than 15 minutes. These first films were short films (or "shorts"), these pioneer directors experimenting with what they could or could not do with a moving camera. Early shorts involved filming people boarding a train, or some similar mundane act. People reacted to this, and flocked to watch these movies, simply because of the novelty of watching reflections, instead of shadows, on screen. But as the audience got more sophisticated, filmmakers began to see the need to innovate. In the 1920s, experiments in surrealism occurred, with people, such as Salvadore Dali, dabbling in the "new" art of filmmaking (Cooper, ii). Despite great advances made in the field of technological expertise and film technique, short films of today still suffer from the same limitation that their predecessors had: time. For a single narrative to be compressed within 15 minutes, the director and scriptwriter have to be sure that every single object within the mise-en-scéne is of absolute relevance, thus maximizing the use of screen-time (also known as "story-time", or histoire). This essay uses a contemporary short film and an 18th century text to discuss Chatman's concern of bestimmtheit in films. I hope to address certain concerns such as the extent to which a film can "specify" a particular object and what this specification does with regards to our understanding of the text. In addition, I will relate the compression of information into imagery to the limitations of time, given that a short film has a limit of 15 minutes. To do this, I shall analyse

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