The Dynamic Frame: Camera Movement in Classical Hollywood

5.11 Letter from an Unknown Woman

Lutz Bacher has described Max Ophuls’s signature technique as the “rhythmic long take.” We see that rhythm here. The harp, the carriage door, the piano, the movers—all are interposed between Lisa and the camera at some point during the sequence. Although Ophuls does not bury Joan Fontaine in the background of the shot, he does create an alternating pattern whereby attention shifts from Lisa to the harp to Lisa to the movers to Lisa to the piano and back to Lisa again.

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