Monday, June 8, 2009

Director, Star and Body Language

Director Herbert Brenon discussing a scene with Alla Nazimova on the set of War Brides (1915-16). Both are all but forgotten today although looking through Brenon's credits I realize I've seen three of his films and have his 1924 version of Peter Pan on DVD. I've even seen writer-producer-actress Nazimova in a couple of things as well, including her final appearance in a movie, Since You Went Away(1944).

I'm not sure why I like this photo so much, discovered in an online University archive, but I think it has something to do with body language, something actors spends their whole life studying, and if you'll indulge me, over-analyzing.

First, there's something about the fact that, to my mind, they are disagreeing on how the scene should work but she seems to be intently listening to his side of it and he seems to be presenting his side with a relaxed sense of confidence, signalling a willingness to work together on both sides.

Second, the camera seems to create a makeshift "fence" providing enough separation of personal space that they can both be comfortable.

Finally, they both have their hands on the camera, that wonderfully simplistic camera, in a kind of physical acknowledgement of meeting halfway.


Click photo to enlarge