Chapter

D. W. Griffith, Buster Keaton, Abel Gance, and the Precursors of Widescreen Aesthetics

Harper Cossar

in Letterboxed

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780813126517
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135618 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5810/kentucky/9780813126517.003.0002
D. W. Griffith, Buster Keaton, Abel Gance, and the Precursors of Widescreen Aesthetics

Show Summary Details

Preview

This chapter focuses on stylistic choices that can be read as forerunners of wide film poetics. It examines experimentation in the silent era with widescreen aesthetics by auteurs deploying certain stylistic devices. What experiments did filmmakers attempt that may be considered precursors of the norms following widescreen's debut in the early 1950s? Through a textual analysis of aesthetic choices in Griffith's film Broken Blossoms and Orphans of the Storm (1921), one can see that the directors of pre-widescreen films used widescreen poetics such as letterbox masking to create a wider image rather than a vertical composition. Keaton often used the long shot and resisted cutting to close-up to show his gags in full space. The discussion also looks at Gance's bravura use of his Polyvision triptych to close Napoleon.

Keywords: Academy ratio; camera movement; silent films; Polyvision triptych; widescreen poetics

Chapter.  10563 words. 

Subjects: Film

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at University Press of Kentucky »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.