The picture, or single shot, is the most basic expression unit in film. The practice of imbuing images with magical characteristics has a long history. This connection has been widely documented among many prehistoric peoples, and it is reflected in the word “magic lantern” as a synonym for “film projector.” Any image captured from the real world and displayed onto a screen looks to be magically transmuted to some extent. This mystical nature helps to explain why early films like La Sortie des usines Lumière (1895; “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory”) were just photographic recordings of everyday occurrences in France in the 1890s by French cinema pioneers the Lumière brothers, had such a warm reaction.

Intensity, closeness, and accessibility

The key properties of the motion-picture image have been identified as intensity, intimacy, and ubiquity. Its capacity to hold the spectator’s full attention on whatever slice of reality is portrayed gives it its power. Except for irregular concentration intervals on what is picked for closer examination outside the theatre, a person’s attention is normally dispersed in the unending surrounding world. In the movie, one is pushed to gaze at something that the director, not the audience, has chosen for not always obvious reasons. This intensity is particularly obvious when the camera is fixated on something for a longer period than appears appropriate, and viewers become intensely aware of their lack of control over their attention. This strategy isn’t employed very frequently, but it’s quite successful when it is.

The camera’s capacity to observe objects in greater detail than the eye allows for the intimacy of the film picture. This capacity is displayed in long-distance and close-up photos using a telephoto lens. A recurring subject in the Japanese film Suna no onna (1964; Woman in the Dunes), for example, is emphasised by scenes of grains of sand that have been magnified numerous times.


Other aspects of the cinema picture that are equally essential might be highlighted. One of these is its uniqueness. The language of words is conducive to abstraction and generalisation. Terms like a man or home don’t refer to a specific man or house but rather to men and houses in general. At the same time, more abstract notions like love or dishonesty have even fuzzier connotations with specific entities.
On the other hand, Motion films depict only particular items, such as a certain guy or a specific house. In this manner, a film picture may be less confusing than words, but it is also less vibrant less likely to be enhanced by imagination, connection, or remembrance. The motion-picture image, despite its uniqueness, may also be misleading in that it reveals but does not explain. It doesn’t tell you what it signifies by itself, yet humans are wired to look for meaning in visuals. This is why the commentary is crucial in locking down a specific purpose in instructional films. Many evocative films, ranging from Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1922) to Errol Morris’s Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (1997), forego narration, forcing the viewer to focus on the extraordinary and untranslatable individual sights and sounds they capture. The viewer’s obsessive quest for the rationale behind a particular sequence of pictures also explains why montage juxtapositions are so effective—the spectator hunts for the reason behind a specific series of images.