Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Deep Focus

I've been thinking––mostly idly––about the 70s ever since Marz started watching Starsky & Hutch (1975–1979) last year. 
The show is in shades of brown, sometimes orange, including its mood: funky, depressed, anxious, energetic.
 
Last night I rewatched All the President's Men (1976) to remind myself of the era.
When I was a teenager in 1975, I happened to see the movie being filmed across the street from the White House. I watched Dustin Hoffman (Bernstein) sit on a park bench for about an hour, waiting for his take, before I got bored and went away.
I learned something about film making:
being on set is like standing around while a plumber works.

All the President's Men is the political backdrop to Starsky & Hutch, and there are some similarities.
The Guardian's review from 2006 said, 
"Redford and Hoffman, [as] Woodward and Bernstein, blond and brown-haired, [WASP] and Jew: 
it was almost as if Nixon and his minions had been brought low by Starsky and Hutch."

The relationships between the pairs are different: 
Woodward and Bernstein worked together, but they didn't love (or even particularly like) each other, unlike Starsky and Hutch.
The reporters wear a lot of browns, but the Washington Post newsroom looks more like Star Trek: brightly lit with primary colored office furniture.
  
The furniture is too low to see in this shot, but you can see the movie's deep focus, which makes an asset of the room's open flatness, like a prairie, to show layers of complexity:
to either side of the pillar to the right of Nixon on TV, Woodward and Bernstein are typing at their desks–– 

––on manual typewriters. 
Politics, color schemes, and personalities aside, what's fascinating in both shows is seeing people work without computers or cellphones--or even answering machines. 

At one point, as Bernstein leaves his desk, he turns to the reporter at the next desk and says, "Pick up my phone."
Cops and reporters are always writing in little notebooks.
W & B go to the library to check records and this is what the librarian gives them to sort:
And they do. We see them going through them all. 
They find nothing, which is, of course, the story––two reporters doing the work to find out what's been removed, erased, covered up, and who did it. 

It feels less shocking now that the president did it than that the reporters did their work without computers.

2 comments:

deanna said...

How cool that you watched Dustin Hoffman making the movie. And that you recognized an unglamorous aspect of being in a film. What interesting overlaps between the movie and Starsky & Hutch. That picture - the deep focus - says a lot; but, yes, it's not really as interesting now as changes in the history of research and reporting work.

I've been way too busy to keep up daily with your blog, but I thought recently how reading l'astronave is like watching a good series. The episodes capture snippets of past and present; even hairstyles! (Mine - hairstyle - has become an odd work in progress; not quite crunchy yet, though.)

Fresca said...

DEANNA: Hi! How nice to hear that my blog is like a good series---blogs do allow deep focus---lots of different perspectives and varying depths.

At the time I saw Dustin Hoffman, I was mostly disappointed at how boring it was----now I'm amazed to have this tiny snippet of real-life '70s culture in my memory bank.

Talking to Marz about the 70s, I've been able to see that part of my life (my teens) in historical context. I like having that perspective, though it's weird, too, isn't it, to be so old your life is set in History.