See the moving picture

FIGURE 9.7

Selective Perspectives

Un Tour de monde d’un policier (A Detective’s Tour of the World)

Charles Lucien-Lépine, Pathé-Frères, France, 1906

The shots excerpted here form an actual sequence from early in the film. The images in (1) and (2) are the same as those in Figure 9.1(1,2): the criminal, having had his pursuer carted off to jail and boarded an outbound ship on the Suez Canal, uses a pair of binoculars to confirm a successful escape. Shots (1), (4), and (8) locate the criminal aboard a studio-set ship that’s supposed to be moving along the Canal (the background, unfortunately, is not moving); in both (4) and (8), the character has just put down the binoculars to gesture in triumph toward the camera. All of the other shots—each masked to simulate an image seen through binoculars—represent what he sees: small structures along the left bank of the Canal (2), another ship passing through the Canal (3), the right bank of the Canal (5), an ornate Canal-side edifice (6), a large ship moving left to right toward the foreground (7). All five shots consist of actualité footage; three of them (2,5,6) are traveling shots (the camera, having been mounted on a moving vehicle, simulates the movement of the ship from which the character is looking at the various sights), and one (7) is a pan shot (in rotating right to left, the camera ostensibly records a lateral movement of the character’s head).

Granted, the respective components of each two-shot sequence are derived from technically and generically different sources; the action in each sequence, therefore, is discontinous. It’s important to bear in mind, however, that the pro-filmic space created by such juxtapositions is synthetic: it's created out of the juxtaposition itself, and the strategy of juxtaposition constitutes an effort to render space seemingly continguous by means of continuity (the principle of condensing time and space unobtrusively) (see Chapter 5.1).

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