lecture 8: acting professor aaron baker robert deniro in heat (1995)

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  • Lecture 8: ActingProfessor Aaron BakerRobert DeNiro in Heat (1995)

  • *Previous LectureA Brief History of SoundThe Three Components of Film SoundDialogueSounds EffectsMusic

  • This LectureStage and Movie ActingRobert De Niro as Star ActorDe Niros Performance in Raging Bull (1980)*

  • *Stage and Movie ActingLecture 8: Part ILaurence Olivier as Hamlet

  • *Stage Actinggenerally receives less recognition than movie acting.emphasizes roles that arent confused with the actors real life.often evaluated by ones ability to succeed in well-known roles (e.g. Hamlet, Willy Lohman, Lady Macbeth)

  • *Stage performanceis done in one space and time, before a live audience.It requires sustained focus for the 2-3 hours of a play.

  • *Film Acting: One and Done

    Successful film actors are usually well known, compensated. Such star film actors are often seen as having a distinctive, appealing identity that they present in all their roles.Film roles are usually done just once. Movie actors perform a part and go on to others.There is no repertory of great roles in the movies as in theater to evaluate acting.

  • *Movie actors generally perform for just a few minutes at a time, spread out over the weeks or months in which a film is shot.

  • Four Challenges for Movie Actors:Lack of RehearsalOut of Continuity ShootingNo AudienceImpact of Other Contributors, Film Technology*

  • Lack of RehearsalSchedules, Cost Prevent RehearsalActors Do Own PreparationE.g. De Niro:--Lived in Sicily for The Godfather, Part II (1974)-Drove cab 3 months for Taxi Driver (1976) -Did interviews with Vietnam veterans for Jackknife (1989)


  • Out of Continuity ShootingAlso Cost EfficientAll Shots in a Location At One Time (Even If from Different Parts of Story)Master Shot of Whole SceneCoverage (Often without Other Actors)Actor Must Know Character So Well Can Play Parts of Story Out of Order and Without Other Characters/Audience Present*

  • *Film actorsoften have limited control over their performance.The director, editor, producer may decide how the actor will appear. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, director Steven Spielberg and actor Diego Luna on the set of The Terminal 2004.

  • *Some actorswill therefore learn more about other aspects of filmmaking to increase their control over the construction of their performances (Lehman and Luhr, Thinking About Movies p. 149).

  • *Marlene Dietrichlearned about lighting and cinematography to have more involvement in how she was shown.

  • *Brad PittJeff Kurland, the costume designer from Oceans Eleven, has said that Brad Pitts was very involved in developing the costumes his character, Rusty Ryan, wore.

  • Summary Film Acting vs. Stage ActingLess RecognitionLive Performance =Creative ResponsibilityStandard of Famous Roles*Fame and FortuneCollaborative PerformancesOne and Done

  • Early Movie ActingUsed emotive, conventional gestures from theater.Stage actors need to project to audience to overcome distance.As closer framing brought viewer nearer, film actors became more restrained.*Lillian Gish in Birth of a Nation, 1915

  • Method ActingAfter WW II became most influential acting style in movies.Based on psychological realism of Russian theater director Constantin Stanislavski*Stanislavski

  • Use Own ExperienceMethod actors connect feelings of character to own experiences to create performance.Marlon Brando was one of first film actors to demonstrate the viability of Method style*.Rod Steiger and Brando in On the Waterfront 1954

  • Emotional Reality in StoryMethod actors seek moments of truth.Express that truth with their voice, facial expressions, body, props Brando in On the Waterfront wears Eva Marie Saints glove to show his characters vulnerability.

  • Technical ApproachGood Actors Need Not Identify with Character, Draw on Own ExperiencesCan Instead Imitate Behavior They Have SeenThe Actor Simply Pretends To Be The Character.

  • Laurence Olivier, Technical ActorBragged that during his To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy from Hamlet (1948), while the audience was on the edge of their seats, he was thinking about what wine he was going to have for dinner later that evening.

  • Personification vs. Impersonation Barry KingPersonification offers the attractiveness of the star. What s/he is as a person.Impersonation asks the performer to create the character in the story.Impersonation for King defines good acting.


  • *Robert DeNiro: Star ActorLecture 8: Part IIRobert DeNiro in Raging Bull, 1980

  • RecognitionAcademy Awards:1. Best Supporting ActorThe Godfather, Part II (1974)2. Best Actor Raging Bull (1980)3. Nominated forTaxi Driver (1976) Deer Hunter (1978), Awakenings (1990), Cape Fear (1991)

  • Critical Praise Robert De Niro is nearly incapable of a thoughtless performance. . . . [He] has been a prolific screen actor, appearing in an astonishing variety of roles both starring and supporting, and playing each with equal aplomb [complete and confident composure or self-assurance]. --Robin Woodhttp://www.filmreference.com/Actors-and-Actresses-Da-Ea/De-Niro-Robert.html

  • Angry, Violent Characters Taxi Driver (1975)Raging Bull (1980)The Untouchables (1987)Goodfellas (1990)Cape Fear (1991)Analyze This (1999)Meet the Parents (2000)A Shark Tale (2004)

  • Choked Rage [DeNiros] often fearsome screen presence . . . full of choked rage--Fred Schruers in Rolling StoneThe Untouchables (1987)

  • De Niro Exemplifies Impersonation Not Personification-Creates the Character-Trained in Method (Stella Adler)But Also Uses Technical Skills:-Research -Physical Transformation -ImprovisationRobert DeNiro as Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull 1980 (Top), and as Al Capone in The Untouchables 1989

  • Good Acting Requires Creative ControlGood acting is based on . . . authorship.--Barry King

    *Robert De Niro as Max Cadyin Cape Fear (1991)

  • Parodies of MasculinityDe Niros Extreme Anger, Violence as Critique of Tough, Violent MasculinitySuch Anti-Social Behavior Conceals Insecurity/Fears About Other Desires (Connection, Expressiveness)DeNiro in Frankenstein 1994, as Mafia Boss in Analyze This 1999 and as cross dressing pirate in Stardust 2007

  • Revisionist Roles: Alternative MasculinityAverage guy inFalling in Love (1984)Reborn missionary in The Mission (1986)

  • Acting as Social Critique DeNiros Acting Skill to Create CharactersAngry, Violent Masculinity as Social PathologyAlso Alternatives to Violent, Individualized Masculinity

    Vigilante in Taxi Driver (1976), Loving dad in A Bronx Tale (1993)

  • *De Niro in Raging BullLecture 8: Part IIIRobert DeNiro in Raging Bull, 1980

  • De Niros Preparation Research Time with Vicki LaMottaTrainingJake LaMotta: De Niro as good as ranked middleweightTransformation: After fight scenes shot, gained 60 lbs. to play older LaMotta.

  • De Niros as a Contender DeNiro trained hard to present credible performance of professional prizefighting skillsDeNiros Hard Work, Preparation to Act Analogous to LaMottas Desire to Be ChampTool of a Method Performance/Clip 1

  • DysfunctionLaMottas JealousyHis ViolenceDe Niro Uses Failure of Language and Excessive Weight to Represent Jakes Frustration and Lost ControlClip #2

  • Weight as Trait of DysfunctionDe Niro Influenced Other Film Actors to Manipulate WeightPhysical Trait Creates Realism, Represents Characters Flaw, Dysfunction

  • Sugar Ray RobinsonFought LaMotta Six TimesRobinson Won FiveIn 1951 Robinson 128-1-2Welterweight and Middleweight Champ

  • Clip 3: Last Robinson FightDark, Expressionist SettingPoint of View shots show us Jakes perspectiveShow Whats in Jakes MindMasochism attempt to assert control in defeat

  • WhitenessRichard Dyer: Identity Based on Feelings of Unjustified Racial SuperiorityLaMottas Obsession w/Control Involves Sense of Self as White.LaMotta sees Robinson as dark monster representing his loss of control, dominance over others.Equates Blackness with loss of control.

  • De Niros Acting as Social CritiqueLaMottas Masculinity Defined as Domination of OthersDestroys Him, Those Around HimDe Niros Performance in Collaboration with Director Martin Scorsese (Cinematography, Mise-en-Scene)

  • SummaryMovie and Stage ActingRobert De Niro as Star ActorDe Niros Performance in Raging Bull (1980)


  • *End of Lecture 8

    Next Lecture: Stars/George Clooney



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