Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The power of film stills.

This Christmas, the cinema packs a punch. With large-scale, expensive productions of literary and musical classics such as Great Expectations and Les Miserables, film has never been more about self-conscious spectacle and performance. In light of this, I began to consider the power of film, and more specifically, iconography. Film stills are, arguably, works of art in their own right. As the classic saying goes, 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. Film stills have this overwhelming, all-encompassing effect, conveying an entire plot, characters, numerous cultural and metaphysical connotations in a single, yet profound image. Stills have the additional impact of being immediately, instantaneously, recognisable - offering more in a split second than a book could in a hundred pages.

Not just the signifier of monetary or popular success, famous film stills herald the cinematic success of a film - the beauty of its images, the finesse of its camerawork, and the impact of intricacies of plot. Concurrently, stills such as those below signify much more that simply the film they are from, but the art of cinema, their cultural location and the history of the era in which they were created.

I wonder if any films released in 2012 will achieve the 'iconic' status of stalwarts such as Titanic and The Godfather. If they do, they will be one of a special, transcendent breed.


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