4 Elements - Film Seminar


In his Semiotics of Cinema (1973), Yuri Mikhailovich Lotman writes: “In the non-artistic world, the world of object, the statement: ‘The ground is Down and the skies are Above” is trivial and does not contain any significant information (when seen from the ground, not from a pilot’s perspective), since it has no non-absurd alternative. However, a certain scene in Grigori Chukhrai’s Clear Skies shows Aleksei, the main protagonist, trying to escape a tank operated by the Fascists. Amidst the run for his life, the screen starts to rotate: the tank is now crawling on its upper side, while the sky is now stretching over the lower part of the screen. When the image is restored back into its original position, the sky is Up and the ground Down again. The statement is now far from trivial. The audience heaves a sigh of relief, since the original position of the sky and the ground is not an automatic reflection of the photographed object, but the matter of the creator’s intent. While the statement has no significance outside of the screen, it is of utmost importance in the film. It shows that the character was able to survive.” (free translation)

The oppositions continue: Vertical vs. horizontal. A paradigm vs. a syntagm. Sacral vs. profane. Wealth vs. poverty. Bird migration vs. the microcosm. Airplanes vs. submarines. Sunrise and sunset. A guard going down the Potemkin Stairs. Up and Down seen as a theoretical, structural, spatial, moral and social demarcation. Continuously repeated formal structures; evergreen cinema themes. Up and down as a binary opposition, a stable, universal concept of film, and one of the possible tools for its analysis at the same time.

Martin Ciel

Films: The Deadly Invention, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Fear and Trembling, The Red Squirrel, the first, second and third surprise from the archive, The Sea That Thinks, Little Vera, The Pied Piper, Canal, Icarus XB 1, Ga, Ga - Glory to the Heroes, Delicatessen, Greed, The Red Snowball Tree, short films form the Áčko Festival, short films from the Azyl Festival