Introducing: Movements

This is the first of a long series of vids, concentrated on camera movements. Study the movements, the first video does not have any subtitles – on purpose. Watch the movements and get the feel for why they’re used.


Movements 001 is a selection of all the movements executed by one of the greatest — and largely to the general audience, unknown — Soviet cinematographer of all time. He’s responsible for shooting films of Kalatozov; The Cranes are FlyingSoy CubaLetter Never Sent, etc.

MOVEMENTS 001: Sergei Urusevsky – The Forty First (1956)


A Passage from Film Technique



The Americans were the first to discover in the film-play the presence of peculiar possibilities of its own. It was perceived that the film can not only make a simple record of the events passing before the lens, but that it is in a position to reproduce them upon the screen by special methods, proper only to itself.
Let us take as example a demonstration that files by upon the street. Let us picture to ourselves an observer of that demonstration.

In order to receive a clear and definite impression of the demonstration, the observer must perform certain actions. First he must climb upon the roof of a house, to get a view from above of the procession as a whole and measure its dimensions; next he must come down and look out through the first-floor window at the inscriptions on the banners carried by the demonstrators; finally, he must mingle with the crowd, to gain an idea of the outward appearance of the participants. Three times the observer has altered his viewpoint, gazing now from nearer, now from farther away, with the purpose of acquiring as complete and exhaustive as possible a picture of the phenomenon under review.

The Americans were the first to seek to replace an active observer of this kind by means of the camera. They showed in their work that it was not only possible to record the scene shot, but that by manoeuvring with the camera itself — in such a way that its position in relation to the object shot varied several times — it was made possible to reproduce the same scene in far clearer and more expressive form than with the lens playing the part of a theatre spectator sitting fast in his stall. The camera, until now a motionless spectator, at last received, as it were, a charge of life. It acquired the faculty of movement on its own, and transformed itself from a spectator to an active observer. Henceforward the camera, controlled by the director, could not merely enable the spectator to see the object shot, but could induce him to apprehend it.

It was at this moment that the concepts close-up, mid-shot, and long-shot first appeared in cinematography, concepts that later played an enormous part in the creative craft of editing, the basis of the work of film direction. That was the time when the film was rightly named “a substitute for the stage.”

4 thoughts on “Introducing: Movements

  1. I’m completly agree with trying to find the WHY it works, but never take any answer as 100% exactly and valid.
    Once, an american director asked Akira Kurosawa why did he put the camera in a certain place to show the castle in Ran. Kurosawa said: “because if the camera would been placed more to the left, a factory would enter to the shot, and if it would been placed to the right, another factory would have been visible.”
    We can guess, but sometimes the reason maybe is completly different.
    Great video by the way. The movements are perfect and very expressive.

    • Oh that’s true, but that’s mostly true for static compositions. That’s why a choice of locations is vital – whether you can LOGISTICALLY shoot there. If you can’t find anything else, that’s when you compromise like Kurosawa did, or you rebuild, re-stage.

  2. That American director that questioned Kurosawa was Sidney Lumet. This anectdote is in the first paragraph of his book “Making Movies” – a must read!

  3. Pingback: Movements 002: The 400 Blows + analysis | filmschoolthrucommentaries

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