Muybridge's Strings

Muybridge's Strings is a short film by Koji Yamamura telling parallel stories of Eadweard Muybridge’s life and a Mother’s life with her daughter. The connecting theme is time. Muybridge’s sequential photography captures moments in time and in a way the Mother desires to do similarly with her time with her daughter.


The first noticeable visual element is Eadweard Muybridge’s story was animated in black and white while the Mother’s story was in warm color. The primary purpose is to separate the past from modern day. The secondary purpose is to create a mood that befits their situation. The black and white palette fits Muybridge’s dark and tumultuous life. The warm color reinforces the feeling of love and affection between mother and daughter.

Towards the end, a portion of the Mother’s story was animated in black and white. Just like how black and white is identified with Muybridge’s struggles it is similarly used for the Mother’s struggle against time. After her daughter grew up and moved on, her strong desire to slow down time culminated in a surreal black and white sequence that demonstratively expresses her struggle with moving on and letting go.

This short provided good examples of motivated dynamic camera movement. In the pivotal parts of Muybridge’s and the Mother’s life the camera revolves around and moves into them. For Muybridge this occurs in two scenes. First was during his realization of a method to capture motion. Second was when he was overcome with paranoia and anger stemming from the suspicion of his wife’s infidelity. For the Mother it occurs when she gave birth to her daughter. Reserving dynamic camera movement for these moments helped to further communicate their importance.

This is a beautiful and seamless sequence documenting the early years of Muybridge’s life. It documents his move (with a really nice graphic match), meeting his wife, his wedding and the seeds of jealousy being planted. This quick sequence of life events also serves as an antithesis to the Mother’s desire to slow down time.

Movement was a visual element used to represent the theme of time; specifically the movement of animals photographed by Muybridge. In the sequence above, each shot of the Mother and daughter are complemented with a moving animal. The first pair was that of the Mother and an elephant moving backwards, which is the first expression of her desire to reverse or pause time. In the next pair of shots, the mother is picking up the doll her daughter has outgrown. This was a sign of passage of time aptly represented by a horse moving forward. The rest of the sequence is consisted of forward movement, a series of imagery capturing the inevitability of passage of time, which the Mother would eventually struggle with.  


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