Saturday, October 01, 2005

Immediate Responce to Capote

The close-ups of Capote, as essential as they are to Ingmar Bergman or Samuel Fuller, reveal so much more than just the actor’s face: they illuminate an intensely intimate, yet aloof, construction which is the contradiction that lies at the heart of Truman Capote’s struggle to write In Cold Blood.

Capote’s face is framed just above the eyebrows, and just below his mouth, expanding just the width of his glasses and nothing more. This tight-frame holds while Capote stares off-screen, below the camera. The focus isn’t centered on Capote's eyes (which are hardly present on-screen anyways), nor on his glasses, or on anything to do with what he is doing: it is on his nose. The shot is at once private and reserved, not penetrating like Bergman’s shots (where the actor stares back into the audience’s eyes), but expressing a completely different relationship between spectator and actor. It is much like the relationship between Capote and Perry Smith: the writer stares at the murderer, both as friend and as writer, but unable to do both at the same time, for they contradict each other. The ethics of the former step on the toes of the latter; the former invites privacy, and the latter presents the possibility of exploitation. In this way, we stare at Capote, filming his story as he wrote the story of Perry: we try not to judge, but are unable to do otherwise. That the gaze is unreciprocated provides us the necessary distance to think for ourselves, unsentimentally.


This movie gets a major Cineholla from the ‘holla himself.

1 comment:

Maximum Sentence said...

You've made the film sound appealing-- I want to see it. If you haven't read In Cold Blood, it's worth its time. There, Capote works similiarly to how you've described him here. He uses the label of 'non-fiction novel' to fashion his crime story with unbelievable details. The novel is, of course, a construction, but Capote's methods and factual basis conceal his role as auteur and make him seem more like an unintrusive reporter. This is not so: He is an artist who has fenced his story so successfully that we can't see outside of it: We witness the world of In Cold Blood and believe it is our world.