The Dynamic Frame: Camera Movement in Classical Hollywood

1.3 The Extra Girl

As in many silent comedies, undercranking produces an exhilarating sense of speed in this scene. Working with an Akeley, the operator pans at a consistent rate, and the figures stay the same size for the entire shot. The background zips by because of the lens’s narrow angle of view; with a telephoto lens, shifting the camera one degree to the left completely changes the background. The exhilarating speed, enjoyable in itself, gives us insight into Mabel Normand’s daring character.

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