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Acting Demand in Making a Movie

In: Film and Music

Submitted By kinyanga
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Course: Acting Demands in the Making of a Movie

Film production is an art that tries to reveal the realities of a given society at present, in the past or the anticipated future occurrences in a society or the whole universe. Besides entertainment, movies are made with the object of perpetuating a given theme. Actors’ choices and circumstances are the major tools for enhancing a given theme in a film (Gong, 27). Moreover, films are produced with an insightful and educative view to bringing to light past occurrences in a given situation or a society with different themes embedded. To build these themes in a film of a given genre, the actors are faced with numerous and varying demands that requires them to feature in multiple scenarios and faces numerous circumstances. This paper seeks to analyze the acting demands faced by the main actors in the movies: Spartacus and The Year of Living Dangerously. Spartacus is an epic film produced in 1960 by Edward Lewis with Stanley Kubrick as the director. The film was inspired by the heroic struggles of Spartacus a slave leader who led a widespread rebellion against the Romans in the quest for freedom for the slaves (Olivier, 1960). The film was based on Howard Fast’s novel of the same name incorporating events of the third servile war and the life story of Spartacus. The film went on to win four Academy Awards and has been ranked among the most successful film of the 20th century. However, the success of the movie came from the successful fulfillment of the acting demands of Kirk Douglas (Olivier, 1960). Spartacus went against the normal order of the time by waging a rebellion of slaves against the Roman authorities and slaughtering thousands of them. Douglas aimed to create a strong character that was ready to die for what he believed in. From the onset, Spartacus knew very well that his intention to rebel against the Roman authority as a slave will ultimately result in his death and the death of his allies (Olivier, 1960). However, driven by a strong conviction that freedom was not a right only for the Romans but belonged to all mankind, he went ahead to stage a two-year slave rebellion against the Roman authorities. According to Lumet (1997), the process of making a movie is a well-crafted operation whereby the technology used in the movie production is geared toward making the film real and in line with the theme perpetuated. Lumbet claims that the ideas and the theme of the movies are created and reinforced by varying shot lengths, lighting, and camera angle to bring about the desired effect in the film (Lumet, 76). In Spartacus, Kirk Douglas went through alternating scenes where he was subjected to different shot lengths and camera angles to bring out the intensity of the situation at hand. According to Michael Caine (2010), acting in movies should reflect real life situation. He claimed that if two actors are rehearsing and a third party comes and notices their conversation is not real, then they are not acting (Caine, 43). All through the film, Kirk Douglass played real by adopting appropriate facial expressions and gestures to mimic the realities of slave lives in the Roman Empire. The great conviction Douglas had on the issue of freedom for all motivated his training as a gladiator in Batiatus School of gladiators enabling him to perform well in arena battles. The theme of slavery and oppression features predominantly in the film Spartacus. Lumet (1997) argued that; every movie has a storyline and a theme that it aims to leave in the minds of the viewers. However, remaining true to the theme propagated by the film is an expertise that the actors need to master. Consistency of action and behavior of the actor is critical in movies making to foster continuity of theme and avoidance of contradiction of the message passed across (Caine, 23). Movie acting involves mimicking actions that took place in the past in the effort of reconstructing reality so as to bring a better understanding of the current generation of the life in the past. Spartacus mimics the life of non-Romans in Italy and the entire Roman Empire. Slavery was a normal business practice where the rich and Roman nobilities bought slaves to use them as sex objects and for entertainment and amusement (Olivier, 1960). The gladiators were used to entertain Roman populations during significant events where they fought to death. Their blood was the source of amusements as they were not regarded as human by the Roman citizens. The female slaves were raped mercilessly and had no say in their future or choice on what to do. To project the theme of slavery, Douglas is captured and sent to the House of Batiatus to train and enrich Batiatus through success in the arena wars. His wife is further captured and sold. A contrast is drawn between the lives of the free Romans and the slaves where the Romans were treated with dignity and had rights, privileges, and freedom and the slaves’ lives belonged to their masters. To bring this theme well and ensure a lasting effect on the mind of the viewer, Douglas as the main actors has to comply with increased demand for playing real which makes him to adopt the use of color effects to mimic blood in the arena wars (Olivier, 1960). Douglas manages to effectively bring out the role of relationship and unity in the society especially in the fight against oppression. United by the virtue of being slaves, Spartacus, and other slave rebels managed to terrorize Rome for two years. In his last moment on the cross, Spartacus is shown his son who will live as a free Roman as his wife escapes to freedom. Characters are the major tools of propagating themes in a film (Lumet, 76). However, some films have the story building the characters as seen in the film: The Year of Living Dangerously. The Year of Living Dangerously is an action/ adventure film produced in 1982 with Peter Weir as the director. The film was inspired by Christopher Koch’s novel with the theme of love and friendship shaping the film. Mel Gibson stars as Guy Hamilton and the film revolves around a love affair that Hamilton developed with an employee of the British embassy in Jakarta Indonesia amid political chaos as the resistance groups tried to overthrow the government of President Sukarno (Gibson, 1982). In making a movie, Sidney claims that, the art of making a movie is synonymous with building a mosaic and the actors are the main important tools to the perfection of this mosaic (Lumet, 76). Like in the Spartacus film, The Year of Living Dangerously heavily relies in the accomplishments of acting demands by the main actors to build a story line. Like the theme of slavery and oppression in the Spartacus film, this film was motivated by two major themes: love and friendship. Hamilton arrives in Jakarta in his first assignment as a journalist to cover the proceeds of the political turmoil in the country. However, contrary to his expectation, he is faced with a lot of challenges as finds himself in a foreign land with no links to facilitate his work as his predecessor left Indonesia without orienting him. Gibson strives to create the theme of love that is the cornerstone of the film where he falls in love with Jill, an employee of the British embassy (Gibson, 1982). Although Gibson did not labor to create a fierce character like Douglas did in the Spartacus film, he invested in the creation of relationship where the three main actors enjoyed a close union that transpired into a love affair between Hamilton and Jill. Bill Kwan, who was an Australian photographer of Chinese origin, developed a liking for Hamilton and offered to help him out by arranging meetings and interviews with the country political officials to enable Hamilton obtain news. Moreover, Kwan introduced Hamilton to Jill in the effort of according him more access and source of information to facilitate his news reporting job. Another similarity between the film The Day of Living Dangerously and Spartacus is to be found in the conviction of the main characters towards their course. Like Douglas, who was fully convinced to pursue freedom for the slaves at the expense of his life, Gibson was determined to build his reporting career, a conviction that brought to an end his relationship with Jill and Kwan and almost made him killed by the Indonesian authorities (Gibson, 1982). Conspicuous differences exist between the two films in regards to the acting demands exhibited and fulfilled by the main actors in the two films. Unlike in the Spartacus film where the main characters drove the story line of the film, The Year of Living Dangerously film relied on the story line to develop the contributions and relevance of the characters (Gibson, 1982). The camera shots and the color schemes adopted by the two movies differed significantly as the two movies propagated different themes. Equally, language and picture use differed significantly. Spartacus applied a wide use of adult content that is not suitable for all audience viewing while the film The Year of Living Dangerously used content that is appropriate for the general audience. The mood and the theme propagated by the two films is another point of deviation between the two movies. In the film: Spartacus a melancholy mood fills the atmosphere of the film as the slaves are constantly abused and mistreated by the Roman masters. The slaves are exhibited as full of mixed feeling ranging from hatred and depression as they are alienated from their families and treated as objects. The hatred and depressing feeling resulted in the devoted countrywide rebellion of slaves that lasted for two years and resulted in massive loss of lives on both sides. On the other hand, an atmosphere of mistrust surrounds the film The Days of Living Dangerously. As attempts at overthrowing President Sukarno heighten, the government sent spies to all corners of the country as mistrust heightens.

Works Cited
Caine, Michael. Acting in Film: An Actor's Take on Movie Making. Milwaukee: Applause Theatre Book Publishers, 1997.
Gong, Mark Young and James. "The business of Making Movies." Strategic Finance (2008): 26-32.
Lumet, Sidney. Making Movies. New Yolk: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010.
Spartacus. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier. 1960.
The Year of Living Dangerously. Dir. Peter Weir. Perf. Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson. 1982.

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