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The tableau in Hollywood films

by Kate Fortmueller

In CTCS 200 we have discussed how film in the early 1900s adopted many staging techniques from theater, including the tableau. Georges Méliès often used tableaus in his films. Tableaus (which froze the action in order to emphasize dramatic points) were one of the many aesthetic "tools" filmmakers used to develop narrative. However, this visual technique did not disappear from film language. This sequence from Gigi (which is set around the time that tableaus were popular in filmmaking) uses the tableau to emphasize Gigi's (Leslie Caron) striking beauty and grace in the chaotic setting of Maxim's. Rather than emphasizing a particular point of dramatic tension, these brief tableaus emphasize Gigi's dramatic transformation.

Gigi (1958) - Gigi dines at Maxim's

In this sequence Gigi arrives at Maxim's and makes an impression.

from Gigi (1958)
Creator: Vincente Minnelli
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Posted by Kate Fortmueller
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