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From Wong Kar-Wai to Scorsese: Video Essay Discusses the Use of Slow-Motion in Film


Julian Palmer of The Discarded Image‘s most recent video essay covers the use of slow motion in films, and takes a look at how the technique is used. Examining Kubrick, Scorsese, Wong Kar-Wai, and more, Palmer describes how slow-motion might communicate a superpower, emotional longing, anxiety, or a number of other ideas.

Going on a bit of a literary tangent, Palmer’s video touches on film narratology in a really interesting way. One of theorist Gérard Genette’s concepts was the idea of duration, and the relationship between text space and story time. Observing slow-down or stretch, which is when textual space exceeds story time (in contrast to summary, when story time exceeds textual space), opens opportunities to understand the temporality of the story and the interior of the characters. What does a character describing another person in heavy, heavy detail say about their emotional state or that relationship? When we follow a character contemplating a setting or an object for longer than the scene would play out in real time, what does that mean? Seeing how slow motion operates in a similar way visually is an obvious connection, but one I never quite made explicitly!

While there are some obvious examples of excessive slow motion (FSR lovingly pokes fun at Zack Synder’s affinity for the technique), Palmer’s video praises how slowing things down can create a strong and iconic moment. A really great slow-mo scene from High-Rise, which I recently saw sticks out in my mind. Do you have any favorite slow-mo film moments?

(via Film School Rejects)

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