Movies and Film: Film: Camera Movement

Film: Camera Movement

The word cinema comes from "kinematoscope" and is derived from the Greek word kinematos, meaning the science of pure motion. Think of some of the most exciting and kinetic filmic moments in your movie-going experience and in movie history: the chariot race in Ben-Hur (1959); the police chase in The Blues Brothers (1980); a young adolescent escaping the reformatory in The 400 Blows (France, 1959); and hundreds of space and cyborg battles in films whose very names are about movement and action—Star Wars (1977), Star Trek (1979), War of the Worlds (1979), Blade Runner (1982), The Running Man (1963), Logan's Run (1976), and all their sequels and television spin-offs.

We realize that people and things move in the frame, but most of the time we don't realize that the camera is in motion as well, either following the movement of people and their machines, or creating movement themselves around static objects. In this section, we will talk about the history of camera motion, the way the camera moves, and what it means when we see things in motion on the screen. We will also suggest some films that might be useful in beginning to read camera movement.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies and Film © 2001 by Mark Winokur and Bruce Holsinger. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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