The Dynamic Frame: Camera Movement in Classical Hollywood

Chapter Three: Dynamism, Seriality, and Convergence

Films of the 1930s and early 1940s deployed the moving camera to analyze three distinct facets of modern culture: dynamism, seriality, and convergence. Each facet could be represented in a positive or negative way. First, the literal dynamism of the moving-camera shot might express the metaphorical dynamism of the big city as a place of energy and overstimulation. Films working in a celebratory mode presented this dynamism as vitality, whereas more critical films characterized the same quality as chaos. Second, a filmmaker might dolly down a serial array of objects--such as a row of desks in an office or a shelf of consumer goods in a department store--in order to emphasize the quality of sameness. As with dynamism, the representation of seriality could be positive or negative, championing the abundance of the U.S. economy or denouncing the meaningless repetition of mass production. Third, the camera might show how specific spaces, such as apartment buildings and train stations, brought previously unconnected characters together. This convergence produced the positive meaning of genuine community or the negative meaning of mere contiguity. This page includes links for all of the chapter's illustrated clips. For clips that are mentioned in the chapter, but not illustrated, see the "Additional Clips" page. 

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