Week 15

During the last week of class, my professor, Phil Solomon, showed a few examples of his work. I personally valued the films due to the high level of thought that went into their design. One of the films featured three pieces of footage being played side by side. Each clip related to the clips beside it and the juxtaposition of the clips added a personal narrative which highlighted the feeling of chaos felt by many Americans who were witness to some of the most turbulent times of the twentieth century. The events depicted ranged from the rise of Hitler and the nazi regime to the assassination of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and the struggles of African Americans during the segregation era. He used often used shots which eluted to these historic events without overtly displaying images of the events. For example, during his chapter about nazism, Phil Solomon would display images of Charlie Chaplin performing a satirization of Adolf Hitler instead of displaying footage of Hitler. I believe this replacement of images adds more meaning to the piece. I believe that the likeness of Charlie Chaplin’s impression of Hitler is strong enough for the audience to clearly understand that Hitler was the subject of the portion of the film. By using an comedic representation of Hitler, the power of the figure in the eyes of the viewer is diminished. In our society today, images of Hitler still conjure powerful emotions in people. He represents the destruction of millions of innocent lives and is a human embodiment of evil. By replacing his actual image with an off kilter representation of Hitler, the power of his image is diminished and the viewer is left to ponder the ridiculousness that this character was one of the most prominent figures of the twentieth century. This use of representational images was also used during the Civil Rights sequence. As we all now, the 1950’s was a hot bed a racial violence with the lynching of African Americans in the south being the epitome of the disgusting nature of the conflict. During this sequence, instead of viewing the actual horrid act, Phil Solomon shows a montage of trees missing leaves. This technique adds a complexity to the reading of the film. The tree can ‘literally’ be read as the location where some of these violent killings took place but the quality of the trees being shown can create a parallel with the reality. The trees lack leaves which could represent the lack of life or morality and humanity which ultimately allowed people to commit such heinous acts on other human beings by virtue of the color of there skin. I believe the use of representational images is emblematic of Phil Solomon’s approach to film making. “I’m something of an archaeologist in reverse, I bury things rather than excavate them.” – Phil Solomon (Aldouby 7). Rather than making the meaning of an image crystal clear, he buries a variety of meanings into the image allowing for a variety of readings and opinions on the message of each shot. This technique not only increases the complexity of the film but also makes the subject matter more interesting to watch.

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