Sergio Leone Web Board
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 11, 2017, 02:13:23 PM
Home Help Search Calendar Login Register
News:


+  Sergio Leone Web Board
|-+  Films of Sergio Leone
| |-+  Once Upon A Time In America (Moderators: cigar joe, moviesceleton, Dust Devil)
| | |-+  Visual Motifs (Doors, Mirrors, Timepieces)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
Pages: [1] 2 Go Down Print
Author Topic: Visual Motifs (Doors, Mirrors, Timepieces)  (Read 17698 times)
dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13703

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« on: December 27, 2007, 03:38:50 PM »

The first of many thresholds to cross: the journey begins.

The door closes . . .

. . . dissolves . . .


. . . revealing other doors.

The plane that was a door is now a pane of glass: doors reveal.

Noodles has his pick of doors:



Sometimes there is even a friend to hold one open.

Some doors offer passage into the past:


Young Noodles was big on doors also.


Deborah will later bar this door to Noodles, portending ill for their relationship.


Doors not only reveal, they conceal. Dead time is locked away, out of view.

Mr. Williams also encounters doors.


Another door, another window.

For Noodles, doors mean many things. Temptation:

A barrier to be surmounted:

A path not taken:

A fatal choice:

The quest for knowledge:

An easy evasion:



In the end is his beginning:


. . . Noodles entering/ re-entering/ re-re-entering the opium den.

« Last Edit: January 17, 2012, 11:32:53 PM by dave jenkins » Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for being such an annoying Melville fanboy.
Noodles_SlowStir
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 544



View Profile
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2007, 06:57:36 PM »

 Afro   Nice.  Showing it pictorially really hits home.

I’m glad you made this thread.  It’s been discussed more than a few times on various threads but now there’s a place to reference..... and maybe add new observations when watching the film over. 

We’ve talked about doors with OUATITW as well.  How that is most likely a reference to Ford and The Searchers.  Sergio also uses mirrors in OUATITW. When Jill looks in the mirror when she’s alone in the evening after the burial.  She seems to be reflecting on what could of been, her loss and what she will do next.  Do you think it was just a matter of Sergio seeing an opportunity with OUATIA with the various themes of the film to use these things again with more depth and meaning?  We’ve talked about how, in particularly the last three films, he takes his themes of friendship and betrayal further in each subsequent film.  Seems he does the same with these images. 

I got to thinking about Duck, You Sucker as the film in between.  There are doors as well.  The door and doors inside the bank that Juan anxiously tries to open came to mind.  The door of the pub in the flashback scenes.  There’s the mirror in the pub into which Sean looks, reflecting upon himself and also watching the door for the arrival of Nolan and the police.  The other thing in DYS is the gaze through the slats of boards behind the poster and in the freight car which frame the screen like a wide screen film perspective.

Doors, windows, mirrors all can potentially provide different perspectives and be related to vision.  Vision and the image of something is always in the mind of a director.  Sergio seems to have this "vision" theme running through the films as well. 

Quote
Mr. Williams also encounters doors.

But he has the situation in hand.  Smiley

Logged

Tuco the ugly
Guest
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2007, 07:27:53 PM »

If I can make just one observation, about all those doors in Sergio's movies - I've noticed that most of those doors get closed if they've been opened. A pedant little Leone touch that I've always appreciated.

Logged
dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13703

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2007, 08:19:00 PM »

We’ve talked about doors with OUATITW as well.  How that is most likely a reference to Ford and The Searchers.  Sergio also uses mirrors in OUATITW. When Jill looks in the mirror when she’s alone in the evening after the burial.  She seems to be reflecting on what could of been, her loss and what she will do next.  Do you think it was just a matter of Sergio seeing an opportunity with OUATIA with the various themes of the film to use these things again with more depth and meaning?  We’ve talked about how, in particularly the last three films, he takes his themes of friendship and betrayal further in each subsequent film.  Seems he does the same with these images. 
I'm going to think on this some more, but my immediate thought is, yes, OUATIA gave SL the opportunity to invest his usual motifs with, as you say, more depth and meaning than before. Another motif in OUATIA is timepieces, principally the watch Max beats Noodle out of when they first meet (and which is still with Max years later at their final interview), and the grandfather clock at Fat Moe's (which apparently stops working for 35 years until Noodles returns with the key). The significance of these timekeeping instruments is obvious in a film about time and memory. That doesn't mean (necessarily) that the watch in FAFDM operates the same way: motifs can change their significance across an artist's oeuvre.

I'm not quite sure if the doors in OUATITW have much to do with those in OUATIA or not. More to think about. Also, I haven't given any of the motifs in DYS much thought at all yet, but I will do so now, prompted by your comments. As to the mirrors in OUATITW: was the pun intentional when you spoke of Jill "reflecting" ? Either way, it's a great insight; I wonder if SL was in on the gag?

Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for being such an annoying Melville fanboy.
dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13703

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2007, 08:24:39 PM »

If I can make just one observation, about all those doors in Sergio's movies - I've noticed that most of those doors get closed if they've been opened. A pedant little Leone touch that I've always appreciated.
Excellent observation. Afro I wonder if there is any deep significance. Perhaps it is just a function of SL's obsessive tidiness. It makes for a nice contrast to the kind of filmmaking that has a camera follow a character over a threshold, but then doesn't allow the character to close the door because the camera is following.

Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for being such an annoying Melville fanboy.
dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13703

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2007, 03:41:36 AM »

One way to show characters crossing a threshold with a camera following:

Thatcher Library Door (from Citizen Kane)


The door, highlighted, draws our eyes.

We are not surprised to see characters approach and open it.

The room within is temporarily revealed.

A character, quite naturally, then closes the door.

Our view is obscured, yet the camera moves ever closer.

It would seem there is nowhere now for the camera to go . . .

. . . but the door begins to dissolve.

The camera pushes through the dissolving door into the room.

The interior is re-revealed; shifted positions mark the passage of time. Characters have not surrendered their motivations, yet the camera still gets the shot.

Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for being such an annoying Melville fanboy.
Noodles_SlowStir
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 544



View Profile
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2008, 04:33:40 PM »

I was watching some scenes over.  Came upon the scene in Florida with Max and Noodles.  They learn about the repeal of Prohibition in the headlines.  Max takes the opportunity to talk about his “dream”.  The film has so many great transition scenes.  Sometimes it’s easy to overlook some of them.  The threatening Federal Reserve Doors never get to be opened as "planned", but they become the center of another great transition cut in which the doors that represent a supposed “dream” are almost like a projection screen..... that take the viewer from Florida back to New York.  Perhaps a visualization that provides another link between dreams and cinema in the film.



« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 04:55:24 PM by Noodles_SlowStir » Logged

dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13703

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2008, 11:38:35 PM »

That's very interesting, a dissolve that also appears like a double wipe (and, as you suggest, the curtains pulling open to reveal a "projected" image). It puts me in mind of some of the transitions in MNIN.

Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for being such an annoying Melville fanboy.
dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13703

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2012, 11:38:38 PM »

This was a thread about the Door Motif in OUATIA, but I've re-purposed it to include all visual motifs. (Have at it, D&D).

Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for being such an annoying Melville fanboy.
drinkanddestroy
Global Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8440

trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders?


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2012, 02:16:35 AM »

                                               MIRRORS

There are at least 5 times in OUATIA where I can recall the scene involving mirrors (if I'm missing any, please add 'em!)

A) in one of the most memorable scenes in the film,young Noodles looks in a mirror as he is escaping New York; then we are immediately introduced to old Noodles 35 years later, looking into the same mirror

B) As the gang (in its first scene as children) walk in the crowded streets of the Lower East Side, they pause to look into a mirror on the street.

C) When Noodles returns to Fat Moe's after having been gone for a while  --(dating and raping Deborah, "seeing her off" at the train station, spending time "by the Chinks" mourning her," -- he looks into a mirror as he walks into the back room.

D) Noodles's meeting with "old" Deborah takes place entirely in front of a completely mirrored wall

E) Bailey's study has a couple of small mirrors on the wall



What's the significance of all this?

B occurs just after Deborah says, "Just look at yourself, David Aaronson!" So the theme has something to do with people "seeing themselves"; I remember someone once said that at the end, when Secretary Bailey looks out the window at his young son, he is "looking at himself," as a youngster.

In C, Noodles only very briefly glances in the mirror as he is walking by -- he doesn't even stop, he just slows down as he is walking to briefly look into the mirror as he fixes his hair. Perhaps, since Noodles has just been spurned by and raped Deborah, he feels like a total piece of shit and doesn't want to "look at himself."
(btw, since this mirror is in the speakeasy, it appears in the speakeasy scenes as well, but I do not mention that separately here cuz i) it's the same mirror; and b) more importantly, I don't recall it serving much of a function in the speakeasy scenes; we don't see any individuals looking into it; we only see it in the background of long shots, with a bunch of people dancing).

Also, as we've discussed at length, the character of Noodles is very much based on Leone's meetings with Harry Grey -- a man who who was basically had mixed reality with fantasy (ie. leone believed that much of The Hoods was subconsciously copied from crime movies), and a man tryig to make sense of his past, etc. Perhaps this can be part of a man "looking at himself," ie. sizing up his life, time gone by, a life wasted, etc. (as old Noodles tells Bailey just before exiting his study, "it would be a shame to see a lifetime of work go to waste).

The mirror in D is significantly bigger than in the other times; in fact, it seems to dominate the picture (there is also another large mirror across the room from the main one, so this shot is surrounded by mirrors). Is this because now, after all this time of anguish, regret, reflection, etc. and then finally returning and coming to terms with what his life has been all about, things are starting to finally become clear to Noodles -- the huge presence of mirrors meaning that he is finally able to "look" and see things clearly for the first time? (When he finally tells his story to Bailey, he says, "Just the way I see things)."

In E, there are a couple of normal-sized mirrors that would be on the wall of a study, and we don't really see the mirror image of either of them as they are looking into the mirror. We see each of them in separate long shots as they are standing in front of the mirror, but not actually looking into it.

How do we interpret this: Especially after the huge mirrors in D , when everything becomes clear, why do they revert to being small (and nobody looking into them) in E? Perhaps it is because in this scene, there really isn't much "looking" going on, ie. Noodles refuses to even acknowledge Max, referring to him as "Mr. Bailey" or "Mr. Secretary," so there is still some sort of "voluntary blindness" going on in this scene? (UPDATE: I discuss E a bit more extensively in Reply #13  Smiley )



« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 08:10:28 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

There are three types of people in the world, my friend: those who can add, and those who can't.
dave jenkins
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 13703

"One banana, two banana, three banana, four...."


View Profile
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2012, 05:59:54 AM »

This is interesting. You may want to cross reference these examples with those in OUATITW. Do you see any similarities between the way Leone uses mirrors in the two films?

Logged


That's what you get, Drink, for being such an annoying Melville fanboy.
drinkanddestroy
Global Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8440

trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders?


View Profile
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2012, 01:46:42 PM »

This is interesting. You may want to cross reference these examples with those in OUATITW. Do you see any similarities between the way Leone uses mirrors in the two films?

I only recall one shot of Jill looking into a mirror. Which other mirrors are there?

« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 01:59:31 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

There are three types of people in the world, my friend: those who can add, and those who can't.
MatViola
Bandido
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 50


View Profile WWW
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2012, 07:10:18 PM »

Noodles isn't the only one who peers into mirrors throughout the film. When we first see Deborah, dancing among the “empties and the broom sticks,” she takes a long, admiring look into a mirror, which points to the little prima donna’s conceit and narcissism. In 1933 she looks at herself in a compact mirror just before her reunion with Noodles at Moe’s speakeasy. And she spends virtually the entire 1968 scene with Noodles looking into a mirror - though here Leone is commenting less on her narcissism than her two-facedness.

And speaking of two-facedness, Max (whose younger self even has a double in the form of his son) also looks into a mirror during the climactic scene with Noodles.

Did anyone mention Noodles looking into the bathroom mirror just before his encounter with Peggy? This occurs just after Deborah's "go look at yourself" comment.

Mat  

« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 08:19:39 PM by MatViola » Logged
drinkanddestroy
Global Moderator
Bounty Killer
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8440

trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders?


View Profile
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2012, 07:56:12 PM »

Noodles isn't the only one who peers into mirrors throughout the film. When we first see Deborah, dancing among the “empties and the broom sticks,” she takes a long, admiring look into a mirror, which points to the little prima donna’s conceit and narcissism. In 1933 she looks at herself in a compact mirror just before her reunion with Noodles at Moe’s speakeasy. And she spends virtually the entire 1968 scene with Noodles looking into a mirror - though here Leone is commenting less on her narcissism than her two-facedness.

And speaking of two-facedness, Max (whose younger self even has a double in the form of his son) also looks into a mirror during the climactic scene with Noodles.

Did anyone mention Noodles looking into the bathroom mirror just before his encounter with Peggy? This occurs soon after Deborah's "go look at yourself" comment.

Mat  

good points, Mat  Afro

But I do not believe either Noodles or Bailey look into the mirror at all during the scene in Bailey's study. When Bailey goes to pour Noodles a drink, the bottle is right in front of a mirror, and as Bailey goes to pour the drink, we see a long shot of him in the mirror. As he is pouring and Noodles is standing behind him, we see a long shot of Noodles in the  mirror. But we do not see any of them look into the mirror at all.

Interestingly, as Bailey is pouring the drink and Noodles is talking to him,(at the 3:27:21 mark) there are a couple of shots where we see Bailey looking up and straight ahead (ie. toward the camera), -- which would mean that he is obviously looking in the mirror, cuz the mirror is in front of him, right where the camera is. But we don't actually see his face in the mirror. So I do not believe there is any point during that scene where we see either of their faces as a mirror image, looking into the mirror.

Even in the long shots in the mirror, it's one a shot of each of them, and not the two of them together. I guess cuz Noodles can't "see" Bailey as being Max -- just as he insists on referring to him as "Mr. Bailey" or "Mr. Secretary."

« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 10:10:28 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

There are three types of people in the world, my friend: those who can add, and those who can't.
MatViola
Bandido
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 50


View Profile WWW
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2012, 08:37:42 PM »

Yeah, Max definitely looks into the mirror, but he doesn’t look at himself. He looks at Noodles. Make of that what you will.

Logged
Pages: [1] 2 Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Visit FISTFUL-OF-LEONE.COM

Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
Page created in 0.039 seconds with 19 queries.