Axis of Action

Example 1

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Here are stills (read them like a text) from a sequence of shots (each counter-shot indicating a new shot; longer shots are represented by a number of stills) from a sequence of Kubrick's The Shining. This is one of the most dramatic and frightening scenes in the film. It is also very dynamic: she is backing up through a large room and he is pursuing her. Orient yourself in these stills by paying attention to the room in the background (in the last still you can see a view of the whole room from the top of the stairs; they move from the top right of the room to the left middle and then to the right bottom of the stairs, then up the stairs).

 

Now: look closely and spend some time figuring out whether the axis of action it is maintained throughout.

Ask yourself: what is the position of the camera in each shot and where are we, the audience thereby placed during the sequence?

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

8

9

10

11

12

13

14a

14b

14c

14d

14e

15

16

17a

17b

17c

18

19a

19b

19c

20a

20b

20c

20d

20e

21a

21b

22

23

24a

24b

25

26a

26b

27a

27b

 

27c

28

   

 

Question: Do you notice any violations of the axis of action?

Question: In the course of this sequence, what is perhaps the most significant change in the mise-en-scene?

Challenge: Describe the effect of these changes.

Challenge: After closely analyzing this sequence you may wish to go here.