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Bath tub split screen creates temporal contiguity

by Critical Commons Manager

The romance between Rock Hudson and Doris Day in Pillow Talk takes place almost entirely via the telephone, including this highly eroticized but still code-safe scene with the two lead characters reclining in their respective bath tubs, linked via the split screen.

Split-screen in the opening of Requiem for a Dream

by Michael Frierson

In the opening to Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream (2000), Sara Goldfarb’s son Harry is a drug addict and comes to steal his mother’s television set. As Sara (Ellen Burstyn) hides in the closet, Harry (Jared Leto) becomes increasingly angry with her, and Aranofsvky uses a split screen to simultaneously present both the interior of the living room closet (and occasionally Sara’s subjective point of view of the living room through a hole in the closet door) and Harry’s rampage in the living room as he works to steal the television set she has chained to the radiator to keep him from stealing. Part of Aronofsky’s strategy here is to replace traditional ‘objective’ camera placements with ones that are more subjective, rendering the isolation and alienation of the main characters who suffer from addiction, particularly Sara’s descent into psychosis brought on by the prescription amphetamines that she takes for weight loss. By simultaneously presenting the mother’s fear – a dark, confined entrapment shown in close up and claustrophobic subjective shots through the keyhole -- and the son’s rage – a maniacal pacing back and forth as he berates his mother for the key and unchains the television -- the split screen in Requiem makes concrete their estrangement and isolation as heroin takes over Harry’s life. In addition, the split screen simultaneously presents both “cause” – the depth of Harry’s addiction as he steals the television (steals again, or why would she have chained it?) and “effect” -- a mother’s fear of her own son, enabling his addiction when she slides the key under the closet door for Harry to unlock the television. We see on screen two contrasting states of being that is starkly opposite our traditional image of mother and child.

Bathtub split screen scene from Pillow Talk

A quintessential example of code-era implied eroticism via the cinematic technology of splitscreen

from Pillow Talk (1959)
Creator: Michael Gordon
Distributor: Universal Home Entertainment
Posted by Critical Commons Manager
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