I have posted below two sample answers from the midterm below. The first is an answer for The Musketeers of Pig Alley clip and the second is from the passage from Bazin’s “The Ontology of the Photographic Image.” Since there will be both film clips and article passages on the final exam as well, these sample answers should give you an idea of the types of observations and details that would have received a high number of points.
The Musketeers of Pig Alley, by DW Griffith
“This clip from Musketeers of Pig Alley includes a very carefully developed mise en scène. The clip showed two different locations in the film: the apartment where the Little Lady and her mother lives and the hallway just outside. The apartment is a sanctuary of shorts for the family, but is small and cramped. The apartment shows everything in frame: chair, desk, bed, even the front door. Through the large number of items in the frame at once and their placement close together, the scene appears very shallow and the apartment even more cramped than perhaps it was in reality. In contrast, the hallway just outside of the apartment has much greater depth and appears empty except for the other people in the frame. This contrast makes the hallway seem even more isolating and removes any and all warmth from the scene outside the apartment.
“The thematic elements of home being a sanctuary and a place for vulnerability compared to the outside world where the characters must put up walls and defend themselves is central to The Musketeers of Pig Alley, as the director indicates not only the human elements of vulnerability and the universal ideal of a safe home but also the ironical nature of isolation in urban environments. The apartment shows the same ideal of sanctuary that the films wealthier audience likely held in a more impoverished area—in this way, the mise en scène of the apartment humanizes “the other side.” The hallway by contrast shows more of what an middle class audience might expect of the “other side”: cold, lonely, and unforgiving. These features reflect the period of silent film where stylistic elements were essential and filmmakers were focusing on ways to tell the story visually instead of through extensive captions. The elements on set, how they were arranged, and the connection of different spaces to one another allowed for additional character development as the Little Lady had to behave differently in the cold hallway outside her apartment. It also created thematic ideas within the story of the film without having to explicitly tell the audience all the information.”
Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image”
“Ontology can be described as the “nature of being” of something. This is exactly what Bazin analyzes about photographic images. In the first sentence, he highlights that photography is the only art form that employs the advantage of man’s absence. In painting, the presence of man is necessary. While a painting attempts beauty as well as reality, it is still guided by a human hand and therefore cannot be truly realistic.
“This is where the photographic image excels. It is a reproduction of something and consequently displays absolute realism. In contrast to painting, it is an objective art form that is presented through an automated means: a camera. Furthermore, Bazin notes that photography still encompasses the beauty and creativity that painting employs. The photographer can choose what he wishes to capture just like a painter chooses what to draw.
“Besides realism and creativity, Bazin makes another point concerning its presentation. A photograph is a form of presentation much like the mummies and Louis XVI self-portrait accomplished. A photograph suspends an object in time and space and allows it to be preserved and reproduced forever.”
I hope this helps to clarify the midterm. Please let me know if you have any questions.