The hidden laws ruling screens Ⅰ~Ⅲ



Professional comercial movies are different from  home movies by amateurs, of course. 


 Do you remember your father's home movie ?  

might his camere  just follow you whether you would move right or left ?


You just moved as he wanted.

and  the  camerea just follow you.





But characters in proffesional comercial movies never move freely as you did in your papa's video. Acters' movements are controled by a directer'will  or a camera or a script.


Today, in a movie,

a goal is set in the end of right direction.

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 If character goes right, he or she will come close to the goal.

If left, away from the goal. 


For example

" From the Earth to the Moon "  Melies 

(a very old short movie,but  showing clearly how movie is edited)

A Trip to the Moon / Le Voyage dans la lune - 1902 ...

This famous french short film in the era that movie had just began, already showing "the movie's law " . 

The moon locates on the  right end of the screen . 

Travel to the moon is shown  as .

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On the moon, the astronauts encountered the moon creatures and then they obstacled the way  of adventure.

In the middle of the juarney, the astronauts took back their way from the moon. The returning direction is shown as  .







 This is a very simple logic.

And too simple to be cared  by ordinary audiences.

How old are you?

How many movies have you ever seen?

Did you notice this logic before already?

Do you feel you have been fooled by movies?


Yes, movies have fooled us for a century.



form " 2001: A Space Odyssey "



 The Spaceship travels from the moon to Jupiter.

If you are careful to check the direction of the spaceship taking on the screen, it keeps the way as to Jupiter.

But  nobady cares…

Because our minds are not made to do it.



For example,

this is a famous impressionist's work  "Impression, Sunrise"


 How do you watch this picture?

Try for 10seconds.


In this picture, I found at least 3 rowboats.

But for only one locating in the center, the others have vague shapes. 


When we see a picture, our eyes foucus on the point which we are most interested in.

Then others become just a back ground.

This famous painting imitates such a style of the eye's function of foucusing.

We only carrefully wacth the inside of the red circle, because only that part painted rather in detail.

The other is as this,repples of watrer.


  The back ground is always treated as this way, paid no attention.

(This expansion seems to me a modern abstract art. How do you feel? Title must be our subconsious ripples. )


Another exsample, sometimes we feel TV sound are annoying.


 Because TV sounds are ajusted to emphasaise the sound range of human voice.

For us the most important information is carried by human voice. then our mind is arranged to foucus on the sound range of human voices.


It is very natural for ordinary people to foucus on melody sgng by voices and ingore low tone range.


In movies, we foucus on stories.

Who cares the directions as  or   ?





In our daily communication, we mainly care about words of the others.

But if we check nonverbal parts, for exsample the movement of fingers of the rythme of breathing and blinking, we will get more pieces of information behind  the words. 


basically, pictures has no words.

But very often they are more eloquent than words.


In silence of centureis, by how this picture has talked to us  ?

By fingers ? By postures? 




Our minds are set to foucus on stories, voices, word , and centers of view.

Such materials consist our shapes of conciousness.

And the rest and marginals may consist our subconciousness.


We can emphasise the others by checking  fingers or blinkings or clearings of throat. 

By that way, we can share the almost subconcioss feelings of the others.


If we are more carefule about bass tones, we may unerstand  music better.

 If we are more careful about marginal area of our views, we may understand art better.


and, how about movies ? 




Another too simple logic to be paid attentions is 

 Characters sharing the same values or emotions face the same direction.


This very often can be seen in propaganda posters.


The workers, soldiers and Mao have only one value.

They are all 


If they don't, they face each other.


 A propaganda poster of Korean war.

North  Korea and China share the same value and the same direction as  .

But the USA as   .


 This logic  is too simple. Never an invention by communists. 

For exsample   Goya 1808



Naturally this logic was taken into movies.

for exsample  " The lonley villa by D.W.Griffes"



This screen is composed as below.



The robbers try break into, the members of the family try to defend the villa and then  police help them. 

Screen somehow seems like a chart of battle field .



From "Sound of Music" 

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 Julie Andrews as Maria, who is too freewheeling and always late for morning adration .

 The sisters who denounce her stand   ←  side.

 The sisters who vindicate her stand   side.


 From "Sound of Music" 

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 ColonelVon Trapp

The children singing  to soothe the stubborn Colonel's heart  




For  exsample "Ikiru by Kurosawa "  

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 Shimura Takashi acted a terminal cancer patient.

This girl is the last chance to give him a meaning of life.

He is trying to ask  her such a very serious question.

But the girl feels  umcomfortable being in a stylish cafebar with a shabby old man.

She looks at the lovers enviously. 

← who don't share the sadness of him.



From  " The Wizard of Oz " 

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Her direction is basically when she comes to Emerald city

Toto, Scarecrow, Tinlumberjack and Lion :  all companions also share the same direction.



 → Dorothy and the companions  

 The  evil witch  



The members of the Millennium Falcon appeare one by one.

But the first shots show the same direction, because they share the same goal.

Liberate the universe.


From  " Star Wars " 





Screens are composed very similar  to football field. 


Or ”Starwars” is composed like footballgame field.



Team members  share one purpose: To get goals for victory or defend goal gate.



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If a movie does not a represent aprocess of  travelling, the goal is an achievement of the purpose.





Combination of these two logics are the basis of compositon of screens.

  • a goal is set in the end of right direction. If a main character persuits the goal,  the trail is basically shown as
  •  Characters sharing the same values or emotions face the same direction.


 When I suddenlydiscoverd these laws about movies a few years ago, I was very surprised and felt having been fooled for long years since I was born.

Then, I told about these to anybody around.

But their reactions were always

" So what ?  "

Then I asked them, " have you thought about this before ?"  

" Never." They said.

"Are you surprised to know about this laws ?" I asked.

" Why ? "


These rules seems too simple and very natural for us. That is why most of us ignore the meaning of these rules.

But do we always care about nonverbal expressions belonging to subconsiouss field, for exsample blinking or breathing?

Some shcolars insist that our daily comunications are consist mainly nonverbal factors not by words.


Let me introduce exsamples to indicate how these hidden laws ruling screens.


Exsample  "The Kid "  by Chaplin

The Kid [DVD] [Import]

The Kid [DVD] [Import]



A baby was abandoned by the mother.Then the tramp happened to take him and raised him up.

 In this movie the goal is not a geographical one.

Here they pursuita mother and child reunion.

The actions leads them to the goal are done as, if not as .

 This film goes as below.


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When the mother abondoned the baby at a palace, sheleave as ← .

This action never leads to the goal.


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She regreted it and turned back there  

Now baby was gone.


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the tramp found the baby by an accident.

At first, he did not care to take the baby. But circunstance made him to carry baby home.

He walks   with holding the baby.



The main characters pursuit the goal, they basically face  → 

Basic layout is 


Scean of fight  The kid vs the other boy


Chaplin and the kid   the other boy


If main characters take positon in raight side, they are in situatiions in which they can't pursit the goal.


The mother became a sucessful actress, but she always never forget the baby.



 A man from a orphanage is taking away the kid from Chaplin.


On the screen, the story flew as  → 

If character pursuit the goal, they must face


He lost the kid and also lost meaning of his life. 

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 There a cop comes.

He takes the tramp and get him on a car.


The car goes 

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The car takes him to a mansion where the kid and his mother happily live.


We can feel something happy will happen just because of the direction of the car.

This is a kind of subliminal effect. 

Of course, BGM leads us to such a premonition.

But without this control of directions, how can musicians put BGM on films?


"The Kid" is composed by many shoots.

But if you see this film by a bird view as we do in football stadium, we will get this vison.





And  why movies go →  ?

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In silent film, acters could not speak on screens.

Subtitles were needed to tell storis.

To read them,audiences must move their eyes ,

This gives films enevitably "streams".

Audience move eyes more often way than the other.

The story progress way is less stressful to our eyes.


And this also not a new invention by filmmakers.

Inserted pictures in books are under the same rule.

For example ”TINTIN


 Letters are written and pages are turned as 

If things are going well for TINTIN, he runs


My review  for "The Kid"

When the tramp and the kid are on the screen together, layout is basically as below.



The tramp can not give the kid good enough meals.

They only eat pancake, never meat on their table.

How can the tramp pay school fee of the kid?

and day by day, the kid is filled with dirty tricks to earn money.

Under a such condition, what kind of adult he will grow up to be?

A gangster? or another tramp?


The mother threw away her baby.

The tramp pick him up, but he already threw away important things in his life.


The mother realized how important the baby was in her life,when she throw him away.

The tramp realized that he'd not had nothing in his life, when he lost the kid.


Taking back the kid means taking back his own life.



This film, in only some sceans the tramp and the kid face the same direction.

Those are magical moments in this film and most heartbreaking.




 (to be continued)