The Technical Aspect of Acting
Acting was developed in ancient Greek Theatre. The Greeks were the ones who introduced theatre and bought out an individual’s talent known as acting. However in those days the technology had not advanced and there weren’t any films, the only source of entertainment the people had was through theatre. Theatre acting and acting in films differ vastly from each other. According to actress Kim Stanley “ No matter what you do in film, it is, after all, bits and pieces for the director, and that’s marvelous for the director but it doesn’t allow the actor to learn to mold a part. In films, it’s the director who is the artist. An actor has much more chance to create on stage.” (Giannetti, 2008) Film acting is a basic tool of the director to make his film successful. Indeed it requires talent and learning for the individual in the field of acting. He needs to understand the role and connect himself emotionally to the character and then enact it for the audience in a way that it may seem real. A film actor gets several chances for displaying the emotions in front of the camera and a director may take several takes till the time the right emotions are bought out to his satisfaction. Unfortunately this is not the case for stage actors; they do not get several chances to bring out the reality in their acting, they only go on stage once and that’s it, it is then in their hands to grab the audiences’ attention and do their best.
Film has different categories of actors; extras, nonprofessional performers, trained professionals and the stars. Extras are the actors who are merely used to fill the camera frame, they are the unnecessary people needed to surround the main actors or just to be a part of the set. For instance if a film shows a market scene; to make it real the director puts in several people in the frame just to show the crowd in a market place. Nonprofessional actors are those that are not really good in acting; they don’t master the art but; their physical appearance and presence on screen suits the character’s personality on the basis of outlook. Trained professionals is that particular category in which majority of the actors are. They are those actors who have the ability to fit into any character and play any role according to the director’s will. The last kind of an actor is the star. The stars are the actors who are successful in the film industry and their talent is admired and appreciated by the audience and the critiques. They often grab the audiences’ attention through their acting as well as their physical appearance.
In the history of cinema the first kind of motion pictures that came out were silent films that did not have many dialogues. In those times acting was much more challenging then it is today. The emotional display of character was done through the facial expressions and the movement of the actor. The actor had to work hard to make the audience cry or laugh merely through his actions and expressions. Slowly and gradually as the technology advanced, there was advancement in cinema as well. There was more dialogue added to the film and now it was a challenge to the actor to develop a style of acting which would help him convey his message through dialogue delivery alongside, with the expressions and body language. Now the actor did not only have to make sure that his facial expressions were good but; he had “to know what words to stress and how to stress them, how to phrase properly for different types of lines, when to pause and for how long, and how quickly or slowly a line or speech ought to be delivered.” (Giannetti, 2008) The talent bought out in an actor is basically the art every director has. The actor works the way his director wants him to. If the director is successful in explaining what he wants and the way he wants it, and the actor is a master in his profession, the film ends up being a hit. The director also brings out the acting in a scene through the kinds of camera shots he takes. If he wants his audience to closely relate to the actor he would take a medium or a close up shot of the actor. The audience feels the intensity in the emotion the actor displays. For instance if the director is capturing an emotional scene and wants his audience to feel the sorrow the character is going through, he would want to take a close up shot; where he might zoom in from a medium shot moving his camera towards the actors eyes and showing the drop of tear that falls from his eye. The way the camera zooms towards the actor that is the time when the director grabs the audiences’ attention and they feel the intensity of emotion that the director is trying to bring out and many a times the actor is so good and the director’s shot is so perfect that the whole scene seems real and makes the audience cry as well. There are several different techniques that make a film successful and all of them are very closely related to each other.
Acting is closely related to the technique of mise en sense and editing. Mise en scene is everything shown within the screen frame; such as, the entire background, the set, the objects and the actors in a particular scene. It is the technique where the director places everything in the screen frame of his shot. Mise en sense would be incomplete without acting and acting would be incomplete without the technique of mise en sense. The technique of acting can be brought out with a perfect frame the director would set up. If the frame is empty or in other words there isn’t any frame then the actor alone would not be able to do well on his own. Acting and editing are also very closely connected. A director takes several shots of an actor and then in the end it’s the editing that puts it altogether. The connection of shots appropriately is all in the hands of the editor. If edited correctly the acting seems perfect, an editor may edit a single shot in several different ways and chooses one particular shot that brings out the best acting that the actor has shown.
Director Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon was one of the foreign films which proved brilliance in the acting technique. The first impression that the viewer forms in this film is confusion because there are different stories going on at the same time or rather one story with the same characters being told by different people with different angles. The major star cast of the film includes; Toshiro Mifune (the bandit), Masayuki Mori (the husband) and Machiko Kyo (the wife).C:UsersAfifaDesktopR1.bmp The film revolves around a crime committed by Mifune; he raped the wife and murdered the husband. The main plot of the film is how this story is interpreted and told to the jury from different point of views and how each character gives a different outlook to the entire situation. The actors have done quite an amazing job with their acting, according to a review “Direction is excellent. Shot completely outdoors, the camerawork is flawless. Toshiro Mifune gives a sterling performance as the vermin-ridden bandit. Machiko Kyo supplies a role of dramatic intensity as the wife. Masayuki Mori lends an impassive, glowering presence to the part of the husband.” (Rashomon Review) The actors of the film are certainly talented actors. As said earlier that the film has one basic story which is told from different point of views through different characters. Whenever a character tells the story, it includes the main actors of the film; the bandit, the husband and the wife. However the role each one plays in the different stories told by the witnesses and the victims changes the personality of the character completely.
Each individual tells a story in the way he or she wishes. We see the story through the way the director wants us to. It certainly is a very challenging task to bring out the actor’s talent, where the character changes time and again. There is one story in the film where the director wants his audience to feel sympathetic towards the wife. Kurosawa very smartly has been successful in changing the audience view. There is a scene in one of the stories where the wife is being attacked by the bandit and she denies to him and tries to save her life. In that scene we see Machiko Kyo extremely hurt and asking for help and pleads the bandit to release her husband and let go off them. In that scene the director successfully portrays that the wife is weak and in pain and makes the audience feel very sympathetic towards her. The same story when told by another eye witness proves the wife to be very smart and cunning. In that scene the wife is flirting around with the bandit and asking him to marry her and kill her husband. In that scene the viewers don’t really like the wife’s character and get a bad impression about her character. She proves to be a woman who is selfish; doesn’t care whether her husband lives or dies as long as she survives and is in safe hands. C:UsersAfifaDesktopR2.bmp
Two different stories being told in the same film by two different people but the story has the same characters with different characteristics. Each time the story has been told the characteristics of the actor changes, in one scene he is shown weak and in the other scene very sharp and cunning. Kurosawa has been successful in bringing out the acting skills of his actors in this film, in the scenes where he wants us to feel sympathetic, he has taken long shots, in which we see the wife being mistreated by the bandit and the husband tied up in the other corner. The frame covers all three characters in the story. However in places where he portrays the wife to be very cunning, he takes medium to medium close up shots and captures the sharpness in the facial expressions of the wife, and shows her flirting with the bandit and motivating him to kill her husband. In that scene the focus is on the bandit and the wife and lesser on the husband. It’s the camera shots that the director takes and the way he shoots the scene which brings out the acting skills of the actors in a perfect manner. There are several scenes in the film that are magnificent in their structure and in the setting as well, which as a result brings out the simplest scene acted in the most simplest manner to look extraordinary.
The director wants the bandit to look as wild as possible, even when he is seducing the wife is one of the scenes and expressing his liking for her, there is a constant vicious look on his face. He is perfect in presenting the role of a wild bandit roaming around in the woods; just the sight of the bandit would scare its viewersC:UsersAfifaDesktopR3.bmp. Mifune’s performance as the bandit was greatly admired by the film critiques; he was successful in bringing out the intense vulgarity in his acting that ideally represented evil. Mifune’s acting style has been applauded by critiques from Japan itself and even the American Cinema (Smith). The American critiques drew a conclusion that his acting was so wild and closely related to an animal from the wild. Kurosawa was looking for the animal in that character and he even told Mifune to connect himself to the lion and show the ferociousness of a lion. No doubts the actor was a perfect choice and representation of the bandit. For the acting to have a stronger impact on the audience and make them feel the character the director takes his medium close ups quite often so that the anger and frustration is bought out through the actor’s eyes and facial expression.
Kurosawa’s Rashomon is a foreign film liked by many critiques all over the world; for its acting techniques and camera techniques were over – powering. Many reviews and critique state that the film was one of its kind and the actors had done a marvelous job since it was very challenging to show different characteristics at one time in the same film.
- Giannetti, L. (2008). Understanding Movies. New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall.
- Japanese Film Greats . (n.d.). Retrieved decemebr 11, 2009, from http://asian-films.suite101.com/article.cfm/japanese_film_greats_akira_kurosawas_rashomon
- kleph.com – Rashomon . (n.d.). Retrieved december 11, 2009, from http://www.kleph.com/blog.php?b=1&e=1175&pg=Rashomon
- Rashomon Review. (n.d.). Retrieved december 11, 2009, from http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117794327.html?categoryid=31&cs=1
- Smith, G. M. (n.d.). Greg Smith, Greg M Smith: Critical Reception of Rashomon in the West. Retrieved decemeber 11, 2009, from http://www2.gsu.edu/~jougms/Rashomon.htm#Schemata