Film: Persona (19668)
Dir. Ingmar Bergman
Proxemic patterns is the relationships of organisms within a given space—can be influenced by external considerations. Proxemic patterns are perfectly obvious to anyone who has bothered to observe the way people obey certain spatial conventions in actual life. But in movies, these patterns are also related to the shots and their distance ranges. Although shots are not always defined by the literal space between the camera and the object photographed, in terms of psychological effect, shots tend to suggest physical distances.
Each proxemicpattern has an approximate camera equivalent. The intimate distances, for example, can be likened to the close and extreme close shot ranges. The personal distance is approximately a medium close range. The social distances correspond to the medium and full shot ranges. And the public distances are roughly within the long and extreme long shot ranges. Because our eyes identify with the camera’s lens, in effect we are placed within these ranges vis-à-vis the subject matter. When we are offered a close-up of a character, for example, in a sense we feel that we’re in an intimate relationship with that character. In some instances, this technique can bind us to the character, forcing us to care about her and to identify with her problems.
Throughout this scene, which contains no dialogue, Bergman uses space to communicate his ideas—the space within the frame and the space implied between the camera (us) and the subject.
- The character is in a hospital room watching the news on television.
- Suddenly, she sees a horrifying scene of a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire to protest the war in Vietnam. She retreats to the corner of the room.
- Bergman then cuts to a closer shot, intensifying our emotional involvement.
- The full horror of her reaction is conveyed by the extreme close-up, forcing us into an intimate proximity with her.