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William C. Altreuter
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Surface".

SURFACE : A film from underneath from tu on Vimeo.

If you have a high speed connection, I recommend the full-screen version of this. As I continue with my "Lawyers in Movies" project one of the things I've been thinking about is the way we watch videos and movies. When I took film classes as an undergrad my professor would screen movies in a dark lecture hall once a week. We saw the movies under pretty much the the conditions that they were made to be seen. If I am lucky my students will watch the movies we'll be talking about on a television screen, but chances are that most of the time they'll watch them on their laptops. I think this is a shame-- there are a lot of nuances that will be lost, but there is not much I can do about it. We think of lawyer movies as intimate little dramas, and there think that there is probably not much that will be lost, but that's a mistake. We went to "Harry Potter and the Something-or-Other" last night, and had a fine time. It is a good example of the sort of movie we think "needs" to be seen on a big screen, so we can get the full benefit of the fx-- but seeing what's on the wall behind Jimmy Stewart in "Anatomy of a Murder" might be more important to understanding what is happening there, and what Otto Preminger is saying, than seeing every lick of flame that consumes the Wesley's house.

Movies are texts, and need to be understood that way, in total. The tie a character is wearing was selected to make a point, and that point is lost if we can't see it. One of the things I've been noticing in the background of the movies I have been watching lately are the books on the shelves. Sometimes they are there for a reason, and sometimes they are there just because they look lawyer-y, I think. In one movie I watched last week they were upside-down, and I can't decide if that was deliberate or not.

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