The Photoplay eBook

Hugo Münsterberg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 156 pages of information about The Photoplay.
the first four pictures we go back to picture 3, then give 4, 5, 6, and return to 5, then 6, 7, 8, and go back to 7, and so on.  Any other rhythm, of course, is equally possible.  The effect is one which never occurs in nature and which could not be produced on the stage.  The events for a moment go backward.  A certain vibration goes through the world like the tremolo of the orchestra.  Or we demand from our camera a still more complex service.  We put the camera itself on a slightly rocking support and then every point must move in strange curves and every motion takes an uncanny whirling character.  The content still remains the same as under normal conditions, but the changes in the formal presentation give to the mind of the spectator unusual sensations which produce a new shading of the emotional background.

Of course, impressions which come to our eye can at first awaken only sensations, and a sensation is not an emotion.  But it is well known that in the view of modern physiological psychology our consciousness of the emotion itself is shaped and marked by the sensations which arise from our bodily organs.  As soon as such abnormal visual impressions stream into our consciousness, our whole background of fusing bodily sensations becomes altered and new emotions seem to take hold of us.  If we see on the screen a man hypnotized in the doctor’s office, the patient himself may lie there with closed eyes, nothing in his features expressing his emotional setting and nothing radiating to us.  But if now only the doctor and the patient remain unchanged and steady, while everything in the whole room begins at first to tremble and then to wave and to change its form more and more rapidly so that a feeling of dizziness comes over us and an uncanny, ghastly unnaturalness overcomes the whole surrounding of the hypnotized person, we ourselves become seized by the strange emotion.  It is not worth while to go into further illustrations here, as this possibility of the camera work still belongs entirely to the future.  It could not be otherwise as we remember that the whole moving picture play arose from the slavish imitation of the drama and began only slowly to find its own artistic methods.  But there is no doubt that the formal changes of the pictorial presentation will be legion as soon as the photoartists give their attention to this neglected aspect.

The value of these formal changes for the expression of the emotions may become remarkable.  The characteristic features of many an attitude and feeling which cannot be expressed without words today will then be aroused in the mind of the spectator through the subtle art of the camera.





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The Photoplay from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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