Weird montage Palace. Boy(s) swinging over large pool. King walking around.

My prof showed us a short clip in film school as an extreme example of formalism. He couldn’t stand to watch very much of it, so he only showed about 30 seconds of this movie, and I’d like to share it with my own students.

It is probably from a feature film. It was in color, but a little aged. I would guess it was from the 80s. I don’t remember if the film was in English, but it looked European. It reminded me of an Eliabethan period costume drama, like Barry Lyndon, but more warm color tones.

The clip was very short, so I don’t have too much to go on. It was very formalistic, almost like a montage with a lot of dissolves from scene to scene, and then back again.

It took place in a palace. Everything was extremely ornate. I remember a king-like fellow walking around talking. There was one or two young boys swinging from very high swings over a gigantic indoor pool. I remember statues. I seem to remember, (or just suspect?) that one of the boys was urinating in the pool while swinging. The scene seemed to have a slightly homoerotic vibe to it.

That’s all I got! I know it’s not much, but I’m sure someone here can get it! Thanks in advance!

8 thoughts on “Weird montage Palace. Boy(s) swinging over large pool. King walking around.

  1. I know that there is something like this in Prospero’s Books, with the indoor pool and the boy urinating from the swing.

  2. I don’t really understand formalism. I’ve taken one advanced film theory class and I have a masters in Film and Television and as far I understand formalism is just editing stylistically so something is coherent and doesn’t stink on ice.

    1. Well, it’s not just the editing. Formalism focuses on all the technical elements – the editing is part of the focus, but also lighting, composition, sound, set design, costume, the score, ect. The intent isn’t to mimic reality – the viewer is should be aware they’re watching a film, and not feel like they’re witnessing a real life scenario. At least that’s how I always took it. If I’m wrong, feel free to correct me – film theory was never my favorite subject 🙂

    2. Ha! I agree. Some people like to take their film that “stinks on ice” and try to sell it as being “artistic”!

      Technically “formalism” makes the viewer aware of the director. The shot composition, the editing, the lighting, and even the acting may be obviously manipulated by a director. Think of Federico Fellini’s “Juliet of the Spirit” and Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” as extreme examples. Even Alfred Hitchcock films have quite a bit of formalism to them, although he always claimed they were realism “with the boring bits cut out”.

      In “realism”, the camera is out of the way, and the story and characters reign supreme. Think of Jim Jarmusch’s early stuff like “Stranger than Paradise” as an extreme example of realism. Basically the camera is locked down while the scene plays out.

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