City Girl Analysis

1566 Words7 Pages
F.W. Murnau’s City Girl is a masterclass in creating and contrasting different worlds within a film. The film is set both in the city and the country, and Murnau expertly weaves between the settings, teaching the audience about both places in relation to the other. Once Lem and Kate make it to his parent’s farm, City Girl also creates a world within the farm for the couple, distinct from farm life. Overall, F.W. Murnau uses a restrained yet expressionistic mise-en-scene and comparison-focused editing to create a lover’s paradise separate from the reality of the struggles of the farm. F.W. Murnau uses a restrained yet boundless mise-en-scene to create a romantic space within the wheat fields for Lem and Kate’s return to the farm. Upon leaving…show more content…
This goal is often achieved through the deliberate cutting from a country-life action with its city-life equivalent. Notably, Lem’s mother cuts freshly baked bread at the table for the family. The next shot is in Kate’s diner, where an automated bread slicer makes quick work of an entire loaf. Through juxtaposing these thematically similar shots, City Girl highlights the disconnect between city living and the production of goods. In addition, Murnau cuts back and forth between Lem’s father’s scrawled math of the optimal price to sell wheat and the impersonal and cruel truth of the stock exchange. Overall these sorts of cuts tend to happen towards the beginning of the movie, before Murnau muddies the waters of the more simplistic “city-life is cold, country-life is wholesome” thesis. Once this dynamic has been established, Murnau can use editing and cinematography to compare perspectives much more subtly and within a single location, one example being their romantic scene within the wheat. The two perspectives here are Lem and Kate laughing together behind the shack, and Lem looking towards the farmhouse from the other side. Both of these shots inform one another in the same way as the bread slicer scene. Through seeing Lem and Kate we understand how close they’ve grown, and the joy that they currently share. On the other side, we see Lem and understand both his excitement to see his family and his guilt at not getting the best price for the wheat. One perspective shows Lem’s obligations to his family, and the other shows his obligation to his wife, perfectly encapsulating a central theme of the film through editing. Editing in City Girl is used primarily to draw contrasts between places and ideas, both in more obvious ways across locations, and to demonstrate conflict within a single
Open Document