We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. Click here for more information.
AcceptReject

The Camera Moves #5

Light, shadow, and a moving camera keep Eddie G and company locked up with nowhere to go in the opening of Hugo Fregonese's _Black Tuesday_.
gina telaroli

There are no credits at the opening of Hugo Fregonese's Black Tuesday (1954), just a few shots, one wide and one a medium close-up, that tell very little but give you a moment to settle in. The opening's main sequence, which feels like it’s out of a lost pre-Code film, starts with a prisoner behind bars banging on an object and singing a song.  The camera stays with him a moment before quickly tracking and then panning into the darkness and landing on another prisoner (the always welcome Edward G. Robinson) bathed in shadows and constrained by glowing white bars. The camera stops, the man moves and the camera follows until it's time to find a new prisoner in the same situation.  

There’s no overall sense of the space itself in the sequence, just a seemingly endless parade of men illuminated in the darkness, with nothing to do but pace back and forth.   Exposition or explanation becomes unnecessary as the camera's continual back and forth motion and the continual back and forth motion of the men it’s recording creates an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia and dread that's finally echoed by a prisoner's outburst before an unexpected cut to the credits allow us all a quick escape.   

Tags

ColumnsHugo FregoneseQuick ReadsThe Camera MovesVideos
1
Please sign up to add a new comment.

PREVIOUS FEATURES

@notebookmubi
Notebook is a daily, international film publication. Our mission is to guide film lovers searching, lost or adrift in an overwhelming sea of content. We offer text, images, sounds and video as critical maps, passways and illuminations to the worlds of contemporary and classic film. Notebook is a MUBI publication.

Contact

If you're interested in contributing to Notebook, please see our pitching guidelines. For all other inquiries, contact the editorial team.