Directed by Mark Cousins • 2018 • United Kingdom
Scene staging is an element of film form pointing clearly to cinema’s origin: theater. Kinuyo Tanaka uses staging in THE MOON HAS RISEN to shape the scene’s invisible geometry, accentuating the tension between characters. Maren Ade stages through depth in TONI ERDMANN, facilitating the tragicomic punch line. And in Maria Schrader’s STEFAN ZWEIG: FAREWELL TO EUROPE, the crisscrossing staging in the final scene makes its location come alive.
Movement is key to a motion picture, and journeys in film can be horizontal as well as vertical (into the self). Travel can be like glue and bind characters from two different worlds, like when a middle-class woman and working-class man go on a moral journey against society in KRANE’S CONFECTIONERY. Driving can be a test of will and courage, like in Nell Shipman’s SOMETHING NEW. A mode of transportation can serve as a safe space and a social microcosm, like the car in Andrea Arnold’s AMERICAN HONEY. Or, like in Jennifer Kent’s THE BABADOOK, it can take the character on a journey into her nightmares.
Discovery and revelation shape some of cinema’s most iconic moments. But beyond the best-known scenes, there lies the humanity, craft, and insight of discovery—like in Céline Sciamma’s TOMBOY, when the mother suddenly sees her child in a new light. There’s the discovery of the opposite sex’s naked form, like in the male-gaze-flipping scene from Patty Jenkins’s WONDER WOMAN. Then, in Sabiha Sumar’s SILENT WATERS, the audience is guided through a discovery that changes everything about how they view the story.