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ReFocus: The Films of Paul Schrader$
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Michelle E. Moore and Brian Brems

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474462037

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474462037.001.0001

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Movement and Meaning: The “Unmotivated” Camera in Four Films by Paul Schrader

Movement and Meaning: The “Unmotivated” Camera in Four Films by Paul Schrader

(p.33) Chapter 2 Movement and Meaning: The “Unmotivated” Camera in Four Films by Paul Schrader
ReFocus: The Films of Paul Schrader

Deborah Allison

Edinburgh University Press

Centres on Paul Schrader’s use of camera movement (or absence of movement) as a means of articulating themes within his films and, furthermore, as a tool with which he expresses himself prominently as an author. His ethos that “style determines the theme in every film,” that “unity of form and subject matter” is paramount and that for a film to succeed artistically its unique style must deliver “the right solution to the right problem” runs through them all. Shows how in many films he makes regular use of “unmotivated” camera movement, which he describes as “when the storyteller imposes himself on the story, when the camera calls attention to itself.” It encourages us to participate actively in the process of viewing and the construction of meanings. The chapter presents case studies of four films from different stages of his career – all of which have very different styles and camera techniques to illustrate these points. Each case study will feature close textual analysis of between two and four scenes: American Gigolo (1980), The Comfort of Strangers, Auto Focus (2002), and First Reformed.

Keywords:   Paul Schrader, American Gigolo, The Comfort of Stranger, Auto Focus, First Reformed, Film Style, Camera Movement

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