Sep 02
CINEMATOGRAPHY: SEEING WITH THE SOUL by webmaster  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Sep 2, 2005

By Vince Ragay

Art was born from our desire to imitate life and nature. Yes, art emanates from our unquenchable longing to become creators and not to remain creatures that merely exist. When the child discovers it can make a lifelike snake out of a piece of clay, its soul experiences the initial surge of that inherent human power to create our own world separate from the one we live in. One where we are in control. And why not? A “safe” snake is better than a real-live one.

In the beginning, photography preceded the evolution of the movie industry, with its still images, until Muybridge came up with the idea of using progressive, multiple still-shots of a galloping horse to usher in cinematography, which Edison developed. And so, movies eventually became an entire industrial world with its irresistible, magical allure that brings in the people and the money.

The unique appeal of movies rests on the panoramic view it provides of people, events, landscapes, dreamscapes and whatever else causes the soul to imagine. As children we could not get enough of the few moments we spent seated before a lighted window into other people’s lives. We allowed and still allow ourselves to be hypnotized for almost a couple of hours because the feeling it brings goes beyond the ordinary range of emotions we go through in life. Thanks to artists — from the director to the actor to the visual artist — who are ever breaking all the technical and artistic limits in perfecting their craft of illusion.

The interplay of story, acting, special effects, color, motion, sound and scoring forms the canvas whereupon these artists create for us a virtual world we all love to visit because — just like the child — we know the anacondas or the dinosaurs will never hurt us. Yet, the thrill and adventure brings about almost the exact experience being portrayed on the screen. If you are lonely and you want to feel in love for a while, if not forever, load up your heart with classic romantic movies, like Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak or An Affair to Remember . In short, cinematography — what we see happening — makes all the difference. Life would be a still-shot without movies!

And yet if we think of it, what we see are just flashes of still images like those horse still-shots Mubridge took (to prove that all four feet do not touch the ground at certain times). This cinematic secret compares in essence to those uncanny tricks used by magicians. The basic technology of 24 frames or less flashing every second to imitate living motion has become the building block for all other visual displays such TV, animation, video cameras and now even cell-phone displays. A very crude imitation of the human eye’s ability to perceive motion at the frequency of visible light. Not bad at all.

As a bonus, we have become photographers and cinematographers to certain degrees. We have become artists or creators catching images and processing them in PCs for our own enjoyment and even profit. Software for editing movies allows us to make and edit our own movies. Many today prefer to create their own moving photo albums. Goodbye to those static and cumbersome photo albums. Everything moves now in color or black-and-white according to our world-view. And with music and sound, if you like. Personal memories made into movies! And who would have thought that we will have DVD films which will allow us to choose a different story-ending as if we were directors, too? Unbelievable!

And so, the human soul progresses because technology aids in its evolution from the slave-like mentality of seeing life only through one window with a single view into one where there is freedom to imagine and create according to one’s infinite capabilities. Mel Gibsons’ phenomenal The Passion of the Christ brought to the fore powerful images that mere reading of the Bible could not evince. The soul, in this case, is blessed and made richer.

The main reason we cannot get enough of movies is because there will always be people whose souls will journey into “the world of pure imagination” where what they (and we, too) see will “defy explanation”. All for a worthwhile and entertaining time.