Chapter 26 of 30 from Martin Scorsese

Scene Discussion: Out of the Past

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Martin analyzes the visual language of this scene from Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past, explaining the director's use of light and shadow. Martin discusses camera tilts and Robert Mitchum's performance in this scene.

Topics include: Scene From Out of the Past (1947) Directed by Jacques Tourneur

Martin analyzes the visual language of this scene from Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past, explaining the director's use of light and shadow. Martin discusses camera tilts and Robert Mitchum's performance in this scene.

Topics include: Scene From Out of the Past (1947) Directed by Jacques Tourneur

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking

In 30 lessons, learn the art of film from the director of Goodfellas, The Departed, and Taxi Driver.

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Martin Scorsese drew his first storyboard when he was eight. Today he’s a legendary director whose films—from Mean Streets to The Wolf of Wall Street—have shaped movie history. In his first-ever online class, the Oscar winner teaches his approach to filmmaking, from storytelling to editing to working with actors. He deconstructs films and breaks down his craft, changing how you make—and watch—movies.

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A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

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4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I love the "handing down" teaching style of Martin

This is a class that did an amazing job emphasizing the philosophical aspects of filmmaking. There was plenty of practical info too, but I would have preferred more examples from his own work. Why he made the choices he made. There is still plenty to absorb, and I will go through it all many times!

I really like Martin's approach to teaching about his art. The Masterclass covered basically all the steps of a film, but I felt that it could have had a bit more depth in several chapters, like for instance in the scenes discussions.

More tips and tricks on film making. So many little things Directors do that they have developed over the years that could spark ideas on filming. More specific less general over view.

Comments

Desiree

For a film that is undeniably spare and economical in it’s movements, or as Marty says “cool,” it’s also a film chockfull of subtle imagery. The power of this film is that the imagery never intrudes. It’s just there right under the surface, pulling at your subconscious. For instance, in midst of the action, at the beginning of this scene, there are these great pauses — subtle — but there. Mitchum sees the body and pauses just a moment. And it’s that moment allows for tension to creep in on us as the audience… What is he going to do? It’s a moment of hesitation before flowing into action and it’s masterfully done. There’s a metaphor here too with him weaving through the shadows to clean up this mess. He’s weaving through shadowy morals and motivations here too, and you get the feeling he knows it. He’s becoming more and more complicit, all the while knowing that the truth is becoming more murky the further in he gets. The camera films through a gauzy curtain, and like the camera we see into the room, but not clearly. It’s a nice commentary on Mitchum, who’s acting, knowing full well he only has partial knowledge. He doesn’t have any clearer picture than we, the audience, do in this scene. He’s just guessing, running on instincts and action at this point. In the scene Mitchum ends it by closing and locking doors in the room. And you get the distinct feeling he’s closing doors on himself too, locking himself out of options. As you watch, you have to wonder if his actions here are going to bite him in the ass later. No, scratch that. You KNOW it’s going to hurt him later. Yep, I’m a sucker for this kind of film though. I like my imagery to sink in and create a mood, not bang me over the head.

Rich T.

And can't forget Brute Force. Other Tourneur classics: Cat People and the Leopard Man. Cat People=classic, classic, classic.

Rich T.

A great classic noir film. Up there with Double Indemnity, Touch Of Evil and the Asphalt Jungle to name a few.

Mia S.

"I'm a great admirer of Tourneur's films. Here, you see an extraordinary example of it in terms of the use of light and shadow, and the subtlety of his visual language. Dark and shadowed, he looks down, the camera simply tilts, and you realize there's a body there. Cuts back up, full light on his face; now the camera stays behind the see-through curtain, tracking to the right. Really, the whole scene becomes about how Robert Mitchum moves through the shadows and the light and how he 'clean up' this horrific scene. This scene is something - again, with the shadows, very strong shadows - one of the key elements in this film is how... well, it's the epitome of cool, in a way. It's processed through Mitchum. Young people have seen the picture and suddenly turned and say at the end, 'Boy that's the coolest film I've ever seen.' It's restrained, and yet extremely powerful and rich, as opposed to the camera moves for example in '8 1/2', or the very bold use of movement and color in 'Vertigo.' This seems to be the opposite. If anything were to become iconic of film noir, this picture is it, obviously. I was five years old and saw this in a theater - I was concerned, I think it was on the bottom half of a double bill on a re-release of 'Bambi', and both were RKO releases, so it could be - I remember my aunt who had taken me to see 'Bambi,' I was complaining that this film was going on too long. She told me to be quiet, she was really enjoying it. I'll never forget the body being put in the closet and the impression it left on me, the picture, because of the use of shadows and light. It may have been the first true noir that I saw, inadvertently."

Lance B.

Wonder if remembers Bambi's mother getting killed as well that day? Lots of killings in his movies ...

Jake "Joker" B.

It's beautiful to watch Martin watch these films; so clearly, cinema is his religion, his personal and spiritual outlet. Him watching the film is a film itself. Music plays such huge part in the building tension of the scene. Light and shadow dancing together, and the grey colors, the mixing of the two, seemed to popped out of the screen. Noir, how I love thee!

Vivian

I do like the LIGHT and DARK contrast of this film and the use of shadows as mentioned. Camera moves are smart and fluid to trace movements and create a little mysterious "look-and feel".

Wendy R.

What I noticed most--and what he didn't discuss--was why we first saw his clean-up first from the outide and then from the inside. The camera did not move with him when he walked into the house. The use of moving through shadows was phenomenal. Note to MC if this were ever done in another class: If you're showing us a clip on which we should comment, please let us see it unobstructed, so we can have the full experience. Scorsese's comments should have been VO.

Kerry P.

Great movie, along with Tourneur's others - and Mitchum at his best...although Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter are also my favs.

Kimberly S.

I agree again. Beautiful, inspiring example of interplay between light and shadow.

Transcript

I'm a great admirer of Tourneur's films. So here you see an extraordinary example of it in terms of the use of light and shadow, and the subtlety of his visual language, particularly in the next cut here. Dark and shadowed, he looks down. The camera simply tilts, and you realize there's a body there. It cuts back up, full light on his face. Now the camera stays behind the see-through curtain, tracking to the right. And really, the whole scene becomes about the way Robert Mitchum moves through the shadows and the light and how he "cleans up," quote unquote, this horrific scene, so to speak. This scene is something, again, with the shadows, very strong shadows. One of the key elements in this film is how-- well, it's the epitome of cool, in a way. And it's processed through Mitchum. You know, young people have seen the picture, and suddenly turned and say at the end, boy, that's the coolest film I've ever seen. It's restrained, and yet extremely powerful and rich, as opposed to the camera moves, for example, in 8 1/2 or the very bold use of movement and color in Vertigo This seems to be the opposite. If anything were to become iconic of film noir, this picture is it, obviously. I think I was five years old, and I saw this in a theater. I was concerned. I think it was on the bottom half of a double bill on a re-release of Bambi, actually. And both were RKO releases, so it could be. And I remember my aunt who had taken me to see Bambi. I was complaining that this film was going on too long. And she told me to be quiet, because she was really enjoying it. But I'll never forget the body being put in the closet and the impression it left on me, the picture, because of the use of shadows and light. I think it may have been the first true noir that I saw-- five or six years old, inadvertently.