Saturday, 26 November 2016

Repulsion - Film Review


Fig 1. Repulsion (poster art)

The film is described as 'an absolute masterpiece of psychological horror' by film critic, John Greco.

Carole shares her apartment with her sister until her sister leaves for an extended holiday.  Once she is alone, Carole's vivid imagination takes over her life, eventually leading to paranoia and a psychosis that turns her into a twisted and tormented character.

A dark and chilling atmosphere pervades this film.  From the outset and as a result of clever camera positioning, it is as if the apartment itself is a character.  The camera is placed at ground level and records movements in a still, wide-angled, deep focus shot as Carol moves between rooms.  As the camera moves through the apartment the rooms hide their contents until the camera finds them, causing an air of suspence and anticipation.

There is an uneasy sexual tension that exists throughout the film.  At intervals during the film, the camera focuses on a family photograph from different distances.  In one scene, the photograph is completely blacked out.  However the shadows fall in such a way that a light appears to stretch from a man's mouth  to Carole's crotch. This could suggest a sexual relationship between the man and Carole to the viewer. 

The use of  lighting in this way, is foreshadowing the storyline to the viewer. 

The camera creates a cold, dark and miserable atmosphere by using close ups and wide angle shots.  The film is set within a small, rundown apartment. Polanski is known for his ability to create a claustrophobic mood.  This mood is reinforced  by an apparent lack of sound.   Except there are repetitive sounds that are heard and that punctuate the script.  There is a ticking clock during an eerie imaginary rape scene.  A school bell rings. dripping water can be heard, Nuns are laughing, flies are buzzing, footsteps can be heard and a piano is playing. Such sounds are enough to drive anyone mad because they are intrusive, annoying and aggravating, in the same way that Carole's intrusive thoughts cause her paranoia. It is interesting that these external sounds permeate to the inside of the apartment.  Could this be indicative of the way in which external forces were penetrating Carole's mind and body?

The camera close ups of Carole make the viewer feel as if they know Carole intimately. There are perspective shots with Carole in the foreground but her back to the camera.  Consequently it feels as though the other actors are looking past Carole and interacting directly with the viewer. A further example of the way n which the camera work draws you in and makes you believe you are inside Carole's head!

Cracking walls, overgrown potatoes and the disgusting, rotting rabbit corpse close ups seem to support the idea that Carole is cracking up and her mind, as she was knew it, was rotting away.

The film's ability to create space by using deep shadows and wide angled scenes, really defines the film. Although confined areas, the shadows expand the space in macabre ways.  Yet, Polanski himself complained hat 'Repulsion is the shoddiest.......technically well below the standard I try to achieve'.  However, it won critical acclaim  from critics because the contemporary camera work spoke to audiences in a new way.

Illustration List
Figure 1. Repulsion (poster art) (Accessed on 26 November 2016)

Skip Cycle

As a group we decided to replicate a skip cycle in Adobe Animate. Ruth, Sam and I filmed each other doing a skip cycle and then slowed the video down so that we could study the movements. I hope to re-create my own skip cycle in Adobe Animate!

Black Narcissus - Film Review

Black Narcissus

Figure 1. Black Narcisuss (poster art)

Black Narcissus, created in 1947 and based on the novel by Rumer Godden, is an intimate and sensual film that gradually builds upon a sexual theme. I will be discovering how Art director Alfred Junge and Cinematographer Michael Powell used ‘Mise-en-scene’ to create this ongoing theme.
The story closely follows a group of Nuns, who decide to set up a school and hospital for the local people living in the Himalaya’s. However the Nuns struggle with the environment that they’re living in, influencing the way they should behave as nuns.
The film was made in Pinewood Studio’s, with many scenes actually being shot in the Leanardslee Gardens in West Sussex, home to an Indian army retiree.
As CGI (Computer Generated Image) wasn’t an option back then, they used techniques such as Matte Paintings. A Matte Painting would have been painted onto a glass panel, leading the viewer to believe that they’re really looking at the Himalayan Scenery. There is one scene when Sister Clodagh is ringing the giant bell at the edge of the cliff. The camera gives us an ariel perspective of what’s below the cliff. “Here we see it show the bell at the edge of the cliff, and the drop into the forest below. It appears to be hundreds of feet high but in fact, sister clodagh…is only ten feet off the ground.”

Fig.2.Black Narcissus (film still)

Technicolour was a relatively new technique at the time this film was produced. This was good as Colour Symbolism features throughout the film and is crucial to the film’s aesthetics. For example, as jealousy and sexual tension rises from Sister Ruth, the lighting also conveys this change in emotion through the use of warmer tones
“The palette starts to change as Sister Ruth starts to go off the rails. A copper light is thrown onto the walls through grills and windows and the scene of sister Ruth applying red lipstick, holding a vivid red compact, is spellbinding.” (Production Designer Michael Howells,19 March 2011)

Fig 3. Black Narcissus (film still)

It could be said that when Sister Ruth applies her red lipstick, she’s rebelling against the “nuns way of life” and trying to start a new one.  Interestingly lipstick actually has sexual connotations behind it. Diane Ackerman, author of “A history of the senses” says that “The lips remind us of the labia, because they flush red and swell when they’re aroused, which is the conscious or subconscious reason women have always made them look even redder with lipstick.” (Yesterface)
Colour symbolism is also evident throughout the costume design. The nuns wear only white robes, which signify “purity” and “innocence”. This contrasts with the erotic paintings on the wall of naked women.

Fig 4. Black Narcissus (film still)

The films name “Black Narcissus” is suggestive of a flower or organic plant. The flower Narcissus actually has pale yellow or white petals with a darker yellow centre. The introduction of the word black is almost a juxtaposition as the words don’t naturally sit together. It could be interpreted as the foreshadowing of rebirth or a nuns new lifestyle.

Many of the scenes were fairly melodramatic, especially when the camera focused on exaggerated, facial expressions. There is a scene when British Agent Mr. Dean walks in without a shirt on and Sister Ruth looks longingly at him.  It would have been particularly unusual at the time for the focus to have been on the male naked form. This is the opposite of the “male gaze.”

Fig. 5 Black Narcissus (film still)

This film and the way in which the staging was manipulated to convey high spaces, enclosed spaces, intimacy and emotion has been fascinating. The impact of colour to convey the feelings of the characters has taught me how powerful this tool is.

Illustration List:
Figure 1. Black Narcissus (poster art) (Accessed on 26 November 2016)

Figure 2. Black Narcissus (film still)
(Accessed on 26 November 2016)

Figure 3. Black Narcissus (film still)
(Accessed on 26 November 2016)

Figure 4. Black Narcissus (film still) on 26 November 2016)

Figure 5. Black Narcissus (film still)
(Accessed on 26 November 2016)


Yesterface, 'Why do women wear read lipstick?' ( June 5, 2011) In: Yesterface [online] At: URL: (Accessed on 26 November 2016)

Guru, Production Designer Michael Howells (Shackleton, Nanny McPhee), 19 March 2011 In: Guru At: URL: 2011. (Accessed on 26 November 2016)

Film Directing Tips, '12 Colors and Their Meanings' by Peter D. Marshall In: Film Directing Tips At: URL: (Accessed on 26 November 2016)

Monday, 21 November 2016

Life drawing - Lesson 8

Black chalk and orange Chalk - 20 mins

Focusing on the movement (not the drawing) and Incorporating
lines - 30 secs - 3mins for each position

(See above explanation)

(See above explanation)

Portrait, using just a HB Pencil - 10/15 mins

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Edward Scissor Hands - film Review

Fig.1. Edward Scissor Hands, 1990 (poster art)
Edward Scissor Hands was a film directed by Tim Burton and released in 1991. Despite it being Tim Burton's usual dark and gothic style, the film had a truly gentle and heartwarming feel to it. Much like Beauty and the Beast, the film was also a fairytail romance between an outsider (Edward who has scissors for hands) and Kim, a normal teenage girl.

Fig.2. Edward Scissorhands, 1990(Film still)

The film was set in suburban Burbank, California, with its massed produced and identical looking houses. The houses actually come from Tampa, Florida. They painted all of the houses to a certain colour scheme of "sea-foam green, flesh, butter and dirty blue..." The Film Producer, Denise Di Novi said that "The houses hadnt been sold yet. You know, It was like having your own little backlot to shoot in." (AnOther, 2015)

Fig.3. Edward Scissorhands, 1990(Film still)

In fact many say that the film setting and narrative was a personal reflection of Tim Burtons childhood: "Inspired by the director's own disaffection towards his suburban youth." (AnOther, 2015)
Tim Burtons conveys this "disaffection" by placing Edwards dark, mysterious castle in the center of the neighbourhood, creating an obvious juxtaposition between the bright neighbourhood and the out of place gothic castle.

You could say that the film had a surrealist setting as it  combines  suburban America with a fantasy castle. Ordinarily, the two could not go together. Many of the camera angles show this surealist aspect from Edwards perspective looking down from his castle at the suburban neighbourhood.

Production designer Bo Welch helped Tim Burton achieve this contrast, bearing in mind that CGI and green screens hadn't been invented yet! There's one scene in the movie when Peg (Kims Mother) is seated in her car and looks through her side view mirror at the mysterious castle standing there. "The castle she see's is actually a small study model, propped up on a c-stand." (AnOther, 2015)

Green foliage and bushes surrounds the exterior of the caslte. The bushes take on different forms, including a Giant Hand. Another thing you could say that was out of place! However the audience then later learns that its Edward who makes these creations by cutting the bushes with his scissor hands! Inside the castle is many empty spaces filled with a few rundown bits of machienerey and equipment. A staircase entwined with cobwebs leads you to the top of the castle, to a place which looks like an attic but with nothing inside it. They always keep the lighting dull within all the rooms of the castle, helping to portray Edwards sad and isolated character.

Fig.4. Edward Scissorhands, 1990(Film still)

Tim Burtons Character teaches us about accepting difference.  However you can't doubt that the mise-en-scene of the film helps achieve this too.

"Its is a fairytale, but a fairytale with a moral." (Vincent Price, 1990) actor- "The Inventer" from the film.
Fig.5. Edward Scissorhands, 1990(Film still)

Illustration list:
Figure 1. Edward Scissorhands, 1990 (poster art) on 10 November 2016)  

Figure 2. Edward Scissorhands, 1990 (Film still) (Accessed on 10 November 2016)  

Figure 3. Edward Scissorhands, 1990(Film still) (Accessed on 10 November 2016)

Figure 4. Edward Scissorhands, 1990(Film still) (Accessed on 10 November 2016)

Figure 5. Edward Scissorhands, 1990 (Film still) (Accessed on 10 November 2016)


AnOther, (2015) 'Ten Things You Might Not Know About Edward Scissorhands' In: AnOther [online] At: URL: (Accessed on 10 November 2016)

Edward Scissorhands - Hollywood Backstories - PART1 (2008) [user-genereted content online]EviLQuicK, 31 Aug 2008 At URL: (Accessed on 10 November 2016)

Edward Scissorhands - Hollywood Backstories - PART2 (2008) [user-genereted content online]EviLQuicK, 31 Aug 2008 At URL: (Accessed on 10 November 2016)

Thumb Nails @Phil are these Thumb Nails on the right track?

Monday, 7 November 2016

Motion Path Retro Rocket - Maya Tutorial

Motion_Path_Retro_Rocket from Jennifer Ball on Vimeo.

Starting Points for Building Shapes - Photoshop Experimentation

In Photoshop I created some Custom Shapes, using Leigh Bowery's work as my inspiration. Doing this has given me a starting point for when I come to designing my buildings. Though these ideas are abstract and incomplete, I hope to portray a more darker and disturbing atmosphere within my thumbnails.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

La Belle et la Bête - Film Review

 La Belle et la Bête

This film adapted by Disney in later years is an absolute favourite of mine.  I am absorbed in the loneliness, love and romance that the film deals with. 

Fig.1. La Belle et la Bete (poster art)

The original story directed for film by Jean Cocteau however has a Cinderella feel to it.  Belle, the favoured daughter, is not treated well by her siblings . When her father wanders in the forest, he picks a flower for Belle but is captured by the Beast who lives in the castle.  Beast says that the man must die unless he sacrifices his own daughter allowing her to come and live with him in the castle.

Fig.2. La Belle et la Bete (film still)

Belle’s nature is evident as she willingly offers herself to save her father.  Whilst initially she is frightened by the beast, she soon develops a love for him.  Beast is scared that if Belle ever left that he would die from a broken heart.

Jean Cocteau directed a film that allows adults to escape and see life through the eyes of a child with all its fantasy, wonder and excitement.  This film was set against the backdrop of WWII ending, so in fact the audiences were looking for an escape from the impact of war: death, injury, austerity and politics.

Cocteau and his cinematographer Henri Alekan used reverse and slow-motion shots, mirrors and other camera tricks to striking effect.  "The black and white photography in contrast to the light gives the film a truly ethereal and dream like quality".  (Letterboxd)

Fig.3. La Belle et la Bete (film still)

This is evidenced in scenes showing the interior of the castle.  The  rooms come alive using unusual lighting techniques.  In one scene, a shadow grows enormously and appears to push open the doors of the castle. Belle’s room contains plant forms and is magical in its theatrical representation of bedding, furnishings and mirrors. It is truly enchanting.

Other effects create the scene where Belle’s father walks through the hall of living candelabras.  This sequence was shot in reverse to give the impression that the candles are magically lit by themselves. Such scenes create an almost supernatural atmosphere.

Cocteau was a sick man when he directed this film. Despite the pain of his condition he wrote daily, his diary of the film.  He was criticized for his lack of camera movement at one time and in defence he wrote on one Wednesday evening:

“In a spirit of instinctive contradiction, I am avoiding all camera movement, which is so much in the fashion that the experts think it indispensable……..I’m finding it very difficult to make the artists understand that the style of the film needs a lack of naturalness and a kind of super natural relief"

The film creates a sexual tension between the Beast and Belle but it is also created amongst the audience.  Strangely, even when the Beast is transformed into Prince Charming, the audience are left disappointed and longing for their old Beast back.  It is said that Greta Garbo yelled at the screen when she saw the film shouting; “I want my beautiful beast back!"

I echo her words!

Illustration List:

Figure 1. La Belle et la Bete (poster art) (Accessed on 10 November 2016)

Figure 2. La Belle et la Bete (film still)
(Accessed on 10 November 2016)

Fig.3. La Belle et la Bete (film still) (Accessed on 10 November 2016)


Letterboxd, 'Beauty and the beast 1946 Jean Cocteau' In: Letterboxd [online] At: URL: (Accessed on 10 November 2016)

Gwarlingo, 'Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beat : More Than Meets the Eye' In: Gwarlingo [online] At: URL: (Accessed on 10 November 2016)