The work of Hollywood director William Wyler offers a rewarding case for studying the narrative purposes of rhythmic variations. Film critics have traditionally viewed Wyler's scenes in terms of depth of field but by looking for elements that weaken his pace, we can explain his acclaimed work as the result of how performance and picture jointly serve rhythmic purposes. My study distinguishes between two kinds of narrative arrests in Wyler's films, 1935–1970. The unfocused arrests are critical for Wyler's art and depend on actors’ techniques for adding emphasis and Wyler's techniques for creating pictorial diversions. By halting dramatic progression during key scenes, Wyler seemingly expands the characters’ worlds with meanings in the spectator's eyes. Finally, I show how changing technologies and narrative norms constrained Wyler's later work.
Johannes Riis has published extensively on film acting in anthologies and journals, including Cinema Journal and Projections. He is a co-editor of Screening Characters: Theories of Character in Film, Television, and Interactive Media (AFI/Routledge 2019) and is currently working on a book-length study, Narrative Purposes of Film Acting Styles, 1910–1980. E-mail: email@example.com
Riis, Johannes. 2017. “Communicative Functions of Performer Expressiveness and Their Artistic and Aesthetic Aspects: Analysis of a Scene from Smiles of a Summer Night.” Projections 11 (2): 50–66.10.3167/proj.2017.110204)| false
Shingler, Martin. 2010. “Making an Entrance: Bette Davis in Jezebel.” In Film Moments: Critical Methods & Approaches, ed. JamesWalters and TomBrown, 34–37. London: BFI.10.1007/978-1-349-92455-4_9)| false
Watts, Philip. 2011. “The Eloquent Image: The Postwar Mission of Film and Criticism.” In Opening Bazin: Postwar Film Theory and Its Afterlife, ed. DudleyAndrew and HervéJoubert-Laurencin, 215–224. New York: Oxford University Press.
Watts, Philip. 2011. “The Eloquent Image: The Postwar Mission of Film and Criticism.” In Opening Bazin: Postwar Film Theory and Its Afterlife, ed. DudleyAndrew and HervéJoubert-Laurencin, 215–224. New York: Oxford University Press.)| false