Freeze Frame


400 Blows

A freeze frame shot is used when one shot is printed in a single frame several times, in order to make an interesting illusion of a still photograph.

‘Freeze frame’ is also a drama medium term used in which, during a live performance, the actors/actresses will freeze at a particular, pre-meditated time, to enhance a particular scene, or to show an important moment in the play/production like a celebration. The image can then be further enhanced by spoken word, in which each character tells their personal thoughts regarding the situation, giving the audience further insight into the meaning, plot or hidden story of the play/production/scene. This is known as ‘thought tracking,’ another Drama Medium (e.g. costumes).

A very memorable freeze frame is the end of François Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows,’ a New Wave film from 1959 about a misunderstood adolescent in Paris who is thought by his parents and teachers to be a troublemaker. Director George Roy Hill frequently made use of the technique when depicting the death of a character, as in ‘The World According to Garp’ (1982) and in the memorable ending to the classic western ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (1969), with Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Hong Kong director John Woo also makes extensive use of freeze frames shots, usually to gain a better focus on to a character’s facial expression or emotion at a critical scene. An early use of the freeze frame in classic Hollywood cinema was Frank Capra’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Life,’ where the first appearance of the adult George Bailey (played by James Stewart) on-screen is shown as a freeze frame. This technique is used heavily in the film ‘Pieces of April.’ The director, Peter Hedges, uses the technique to capture special moments that are very significant to the story.

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