Sunday, 5 December 2010

Meet Me in St Louis (1944)

Meet Me in St Louis (1944) is in many ways a fantastic film. It's perfectly structured, wonderfully acted, has excellent music numbers, and, above all, the cinematography and the compositions are breathtaking and exhilarating. It's an early Vincente Minnelli, and the cinematographer is George Folsey, and even though it isn't Minnelli's best, it's still a prime example of what he does so brilliantly. Pitched emotions, lush mise-en-scène, elaborate and complex camera movements, and a touch of hidden darkness behind the merriments. I will soon write a longer blog post on Minnelli, who is one of my favourite filmmakers, but today, due to lack of time, I'll just provide some clips from Meet Me in St Louis. My favourite is a long take of Esther (Judy Garland) walking through her house, turning of all the lights, together with the object of her affections (Tom Drake). It's an astonishing sequence, from a technical point, and so very sweet and moving on top of that. But I couldn't find it, so you'll have to settle for this one instead. It hasn't the magnificent camera movements I love, but I like that it's reflexive, and acknowledges the fact that singing out loud might be annoying for some people, even if it happens to be a musical:

Here's another scene, which I can only link to, not embed. Here you get both the mise-en-scène and the camera movements. It begins with a long take, starting outside in the snow, moving in through the window, sweeping through the entire ball room, until it finds the main characters, Rose and Esther, after a minute or so. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsYazm2jzCw

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