I believe that Naruse’s “Every Night Dreams” is one of the first motion pictures to introduce and successfully use a number of cinematic techniques that now make up most of the modern Hollywood movies. Some examples include tracking shots, tilt, zoom in and zoom out (Brown, 2016). Zoom in is used in many scenes to show tension; for instance, in the scene when Omitsu meets her ex-husband. In contrast to the majority of modern Hollywood movies, there are not any long shots in “Every Night Dreams”; it mostly consists of short takes. One example is the fragment of the scene where the doctor, Omitsu, her husband, and their neighbors all gather around Omitsu’s son to discuss his health condition. There are five main actors in this scene, positioned in a circle, and the director uses the 180 degree rule to show them united in their grief and sorrow, worrying about the boy. Like the rest of the scenes, this one uses close-ups and over-the-shoulder shots to establish connection to the speakers and their emotions.
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In terms of editing, there are many techniques in this film that are currently used quite often in Hollywood movies. Apart from standard cuts, I liked how Naruse used cross dissolving in the scene where Omitsu looks at her reflection. The shot of her face in the mirror slowly turns into the same reflection but with her wearing different clothes and hairstyle. She looks much sadder in the second shot, which shows how desperate she feels about her work.
I did notice that close-ups and over-the-shoulder scenes are often used in the movie, which does make it different from most Hollywood films. I think what makes these shots even more dramatic is the way the camera zooms in on the actors’ faces. One example is the scene where Omitsu says she will “settle the problem with the captain herself”, and the camera zooms in on her face as she looks away (Naruse, 1933, 42:55). This made me feel how desperate and lonely, but at the same time determined she must be.
Brown, B. (2016). Cinematography: Theory and practice: Image making for cinematographers and directors. CRC Press.
Naruse, M. (Director) (1933) Every Night Dreams [Motion picture]. Japan: Snochiku.