(Roughly) Daily

And in conclusion…

The final image in Russ Meyer’s epic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Monte Patterson has done us the terrific service of creating The Final Image, a Tumblr that collects– yes!– the final images of films.  And by way of context, he’s included an illustrative introduction…

… Let’s examine the mise-en-scène of Big (1988, dir. Penny Marshall). After experiencing the age of 30 for a week, Josh, back a boy again, walks up a road with his best friend, Billy, much like the beginning, except this time new meaning is attached. The road seems wide and endless as it inclines out of the top-right quadrant of the frame, symbolizing the big road ahead for the boy. After a Josh reverts to his child form and is reunited with his best friend Billy. From these details, we can compile a list of the formal elements that comprise the mise-en-scène of this final image.

Formal elements of the Big final image:

  • composition: wide shot
  • subject framing: lower center
  • sets: residential street
  • props: bicycle, baseball bat, skateboard
  • actors: adolescent boys, one who has lived as a 30 y.o.
  • performance: the boys sing and leisurely walk up the street
  • costumes: kids clothing, shirts untucked
  • lighting: daytime, sunny
  • camera movement: fixed
  • sound: diegetic ambient, non-expository dialogue, film score

This list is the formula for a satisfactory emotional outcome of this film. As Josh ascends the road, we are happy he has returned home, and are aware of the wisdom he’s gained from what he experienced as an adult.

More of the essay, and many more final images at The Final Image.

***

As we compose ourselves,we might recall that it was on this date in 1880 that Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first wireless telephone message on his newly invented photophone from the top of the Franklin School in Washington, D.C.  Bell believed that the photophone, a device allowed the transmission of sound on a beam of light, was his most important invention.

Bell’s photophone worked by projecting the voice through an instrument toward a mirror. Vibrations in the voice caused similar vibrations in the mirror. Bell directed sunlight into the mirror, which captured and projected the mirror’s vibrations. The vibrations were transformed back into sound at the receiving end of the projection…  which is to say that the photophone functioned similarly to the telephone, except that the photophone used light as a means of projecting the information and the telephone relied on electricity.

It was many years before the significance of Bell’s work was fully recognized, as the original photophone failed to protect transmissions from outside interferences (such as clouds) that disrupted transport.  Its practical application awaited the development of technology for the secure transport of light… which is to say that Bell’s photophone was the progenitor of modern fiber optics, the technology that is, with wireless, displacing Bell’s much more famous creation.

 One of Bell’s drawing for the photophone (source)

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