Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #15 (From MY FAIR LADY

186 posts in this topic

1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar withGaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course).

Both are set in London around the same time period it seems, with Cukor using the scene to make each leading lady almost disappear amid the clutter of the furniture and printed wall paper of the time.  Cukor also seems to use lighting and shadow to his advantage to set the mood of each scene. There is a scene in 'Gaslight' when Ingrid Bergman's character confronts Charles Boyer's in a similar fashion, finally showing frustration and outrage at him much like Hepburn did with Harrison. Both movies have the women trying to show emotions which their male counterparts are trying to subvert or manipulate to suit a particular outcome as well.

 

2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.  

Hepburn and her admittedly deserved anger seem to be the focal point of the scene, with the actress remaining almost at the center of every frame.  Harrison on the other hand is the exact opposite of her, not caring in the slightest what happens to her now that his bet is over and he has won. She is very emotional and he is detached and cold, more concerned with his slippers than any thought to what will become of her now that he no longer needs her.

 

3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

The relationship is rather cold and detached from the stand point of Higgins (Harrison), with the direction seeming to highlight that.  When Eliza (Hepburn) is beside herself with worry and grief, he seems rather aloof and unconcerned with her predicament.  She calms down only to become irate again when he merely offers her a chocolate and a pat on the head, telling her she should be happy it's over.  Cukor does an excellent job of showing him as cold and callous compared with her worry and fretfulness.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

Common theme in both is the dominating male character over the woman.  His film techniques are very stylistic in architecture, elegant costumes for men and women .  You also, see this in the Star is Born, and Les Girls.

Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

They are both able to communicate with each other on a more equal level.  She is able to let him know her oppressed feelings.  He is realizing at this point she is free to make her own choices.  Focus of the camera is made on each one to show different emotions.  He maintains his composure, and she breaks down.

What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

They have come to a point in their relationship that something was going to have to change.  She was either going to stay or move on in her life.  You can clearly see the anger and frustration between the characters.  Also, Cukor was very connected to characters that didn't feel accepted in society, and Eliza's struggle to fit in Higgins societal norms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) The common theme is a man manipulating and transforming a women for his own purposes, a bet or the hidden jewels. Also the use of light in both movies convey the inner conflict inside the female leads.
 
Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them. Light is used in the transition of emotions mostly on Hepburn's part. Harrison is at first congratulatory, then irritated and finally rational. Hepburn goes from upset over her future and then to what Harrison expects of her.
 
What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction? Cukor shows that the upper-class Englishman is a cold, distant man of rational thought that has won his bet and now cares not for his experiment, much like Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy in Trading Places, returning both Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd to the streets. Hepburn has all the lighting, shifts, emotion and action.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.    Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

I love the movie Gaslight.  The Cukor direction in that movie was superb.  He seemed to give Bergman freedom to put herself in a constant state of confusion, but to portray it subtly; little by little where we don’t really see her reaching her limit of possibly going insane until, we, as the audience, and Bergman's character can’t take her confusion any more. I think Cukor let Hepburn act the same way in this film. He let her gradually show the audience her impatience and struggle to get perfection and love in a slow step-by-step manner.

2.    Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

Again, I see that Cukor let Hepburn show her struggles to the limit and express her frustration so we can actually feel what Eliza is going through.

3.    What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

I think Cukor keeps Higgins in a patronizing character and keeps Eliza in a hysterical position.  He seems to keep Higgins arrogant and unfeeling yet Eliza is still expressing her torment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) The use of shadows and light plays a part in both films, and are used to express the emotions at the time in the films.  For instance, in our scene from "My Fair Lady," Eliza is hidden in the shadows -- in the shadow's of Higgins' success.  At the same time, Eliza as a lady is just a shadow of her real, true self.  The interplay of shadow and light throughout this scene, and throughout the movie, visually represents their relationship.  In "Gaslight," shadows and light not only express the emotions (Ingrid Bergman's character feeling as though she is losing her sanity as her husband deceives her), but they also highlight how sinister Charles Boyer is in this film.  Darkness seems to surround his character, both in tone and visually, while Joseph Cotton appears lighter and more good.  He helps Bergman discover the truth, and both characters are illuminated in the last scene at the end of the movie. 
     
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.  The camera pulls away to capture both of the actors so that the audience can better see them play off of and react to one another.  Cukor gave them many lovely props and carefully thought out costumes for the actors to portray their characters.  For instance, Higgins keeps his hands in his pockets initially.  He stands diagonally to her, not looking at her as someone truly listening would do.  He then reaches out to Eliza -- briefly -- before putting his hands back in his pockets or holding a tray.  This visually creates the emotional dance they are having.  Even when standing next to Eliza, there is a sofa between them.  He can't understand why she is so upset, and he doesn't seem to want to understand.  Like the very real sofa that separates them physically and visually, so does Higgins' attitude toward Eliza. 
  3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?  Cukor gave Eliza and Higgins the lighting and props to enhance their relationship and long takes to enhance as the two characters play off of one another and their environment in the scene.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  Both films, "My Fair Lady" and "Gaslight" in this case/in question, had the "Same" Director, George Cukor.

     Then, the Two Stories in Two Different Genres actually share the Similar/Same Theme:

  • The two Leading Female characters are both removed from their Familiar environments to totally "Foreign" environments, to be exact, two big luxurious houses in London, England ... respectively!
  • The two leading female characters both move into two big luxurious houses in London, English [just] to Fall UNDER the Control of the two Controlling leading male characters ... respectively as well!
  • Both lead female characters have to go through Big Emotional Roller Coaster Rides, e.g. Anger, Confusion, Fear, Frustration, day after day ... till they Finally break the Control imposed upon them by the two Controlling lead male characters and go back to be the FREE Selves they once were ... respectively!

     So, the filming techniques applied to enhance the stories include, for example, the main rooms in the scene are NOT always Completely Bright or Well Lit for the afraid or angered or confused lead females in the scene to go through their emotions, crying even.  But, when the emotional lead females either become more confident about what they are about to do or are forced to react, e.g. to Confront the Controlling men, they mostly will be moved into the Brighter or Better Lit area in the rooms.  In this clip, Eliza, i.e. Audrey Hepburn's character, turn one brighter lamp OFF to crouch down and cry out of her anger first -- in the Darker area; then Professor, i.e. Rex Harrison's character, comes in ... to find his slippers, Eliza throws the slippers at him, the gets UP -- Now, there is Light on her face; she then struggles with Professor and is dump on the sofa (?) which has a lit lamp right on the table by her face and this is the moment and where she starts to express her anger to Professor.

2.  Wow!  The filming techniques applied and the example described ABOVE for the #1 Question extends for the #2 Question here.

      Now, lots of things happened before the segment we can watch/see here.  The Accumulation of whatever happened prior to this moment is Why Eliza comes to realisation that she is NO more than A Bet which Professor made with Colonel, i.e. Wilfrid Hyde-White's character.  And THIS Realisation, really upsets her.  However, Professor, on the other hand, has only considered this whole thing as an Experiment, a Bet, so that he only pays attention to what Eliza does to show others if his theory and his effort stand, NOT what Eliza Feels or Thinks Inside of Eliza.

     Thus, you see Eliza's movements go with different brightness in lighting, but NOT Professor's movements.  Professor may be good at Phonetics, but Definitely NOT human feelings and human relationships for sure, even his mother has problems with him in this aspect which comes into the film later.  He has NO idea Why Eliza is Outraged, but he does offer some Simple Solutions, e.g. Chocolates, telling Eliza to sleep it OFF, just to "get it over with".

3.  Once these two character start talking, or say ... Arguing, Eliza stays in the area of the SAME Brightness with Professor.  Now, they are Equal!  Eliza does NOT just answer his commands to practise anymore.  She Expresses herself More than what Professor asks for.  She throws Professor's slippers at Professor, yells at him, talks Back at him.  She expresses she knows about the Bet, and she is No More than A Bet to Professor and/or others, and she is Angered by it.  She even wishes she "was" dead.  He is NOT expected by her Outrage, but instead of Dismissing her, he actually makes suggestions TRYING to soothe her, or say ... to Stop her Temper Tantrum, even he has NOT thought very highly of her as a person ... Yet.

     Director also let these two constantly move around each other while talking to show their interaction has evolved from "Professor in Control of Eliza" to "Professor Reacting to Eliza".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar withGaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course) 

In both, women are in a beautiful, lush, middle to upper-class environment.  Despite the surroundings, they are essentially prisoners of a world created and controlled by men.

  1. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

As each character has a moment of realization (often referred to with the Stanislavski term: a "Beat"), there is either a close-up or 3/4 shot of that actor alone.  This focuses our attention on his/her facial and body expression as the emotional tone changes. 

  1. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

Higgins is always upright he stands throughout the scene while Eliza is downcast and either sitting or laying down.  She hardly ever looks at him but off in the distance.  He, in turn, is always watching her.  This conveys her sense of disconnection from others ("What's to become of me!?") and his trying to understand what she is complaining about ("How on earth should I know what's to become of you?").

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Daily Dose #15

1. Both characters in these two movies are strong dominating men this makes them similar however, the Higgins character concentrates on improving his ‘muse’ with high society and class.  The Gregory character concentrates on his own selfish outcome by keeping his wife feeling insecure and alone. He manipulated Paula and kept her down and depressed where Higgins encouraged Eliza to improve herself.

2.  Eliza has been given much attention from Higgins which makes us fee that he has feelings for her but then we learn he too is being selfish and will benefit her outcome as a high society woman.  We then see that Eliza is struggling with this.  Gregory has Paula believing she is insane and manipulates her totally but we see Paula's struggles throughout this film.

3. Cukor has Eliza accepting Higgins as he trains and teaches her to become a proper woman of society during most of this film until Eliza no longer accepts what’s happening to her. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Explore any common themes and filmmaking techniques in a very different movie also directed by George Cukor, Gaslight. (If you are not familiar with Gaslight, compare and contrast Cukor's theme in this scene and his techniques with another musical you have seen during this course)

I have not seen Gaslight, but I have heard that a theme of the movie that is common with MFL is that a very powerful has taken a poor, downtrodden woman, and takes control of her. As far as filmmaking techniques, the acting in many of the other musicals viewed has been lighter. Cukor may or may not be a woman's director but he is certainly an actor's director as he gets award worthy performance from his leading lady and man.
 

2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene, how the actors portray them, and how Cukor supports them.

Eliza is in the middle of a good cry when Higgins enters looking for his slippers. She throws then at him. Higgins is shocked and worried about his slippers. This sparring goes back and forth. Cukor uses wide shots so that we can see the emotions and reactions of both actors as they play out the scene.  

 
3. What do you notice about the relationship between Eliza and Higgins that seems enhanced by Cukor’s direction?

Eliza is upset that Higgins has taken all the credit for her transformation. She truly finds herself caring about him and realizes he does not feel the same. She is just the useful object of his experiment. He has won the bet and she is being case aside. Higgins has no earthly idea why she is upset. So when she is angry or sad he is astonished or dismissive of what she is feeling. Cukor's uses lighting to effectively portray this part of their relationship (i.e.) Eliza turns off the light, representing the end of their relationship. Eliza seems to fade into the shadows of Higgins's home just as she is in the shadows of his life. It's a contrast to the previous scenes that were well lit and colorful where Eliza is performing and Higgins is joyous. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us