The work of creating a dramatic character by a professional or amateur performer. The term acting is most often used in relation to narrative cinema, where the construction of character is central (see performance). Actors construct characters through their bodies (posture, gesture, and movement augmented by costume, makeup, hairstyle) and voices (tone, accent, delivery). During the making of Sunrise (1927), for example, F.W. Murnau is said to have asked actor George O’Brien to act with his back, indicating the importance of physical typing, posture, and movement to the construction of character. Action, reaction, and interaction between actors are also fundamental elements of any performance (see blocking). The work of the actor tends to be amplified by the close, almost forensic, scrutiny of the film camera, and screen acting is a specific skill that often involves understatement and restraint (see closeup). It is also important to remember that film acting is as much a product of blocking, camera angle, camera movement, costume, lighting, sound design, and special effects, as it is of the work undertaken by the actor’s voice and body; indeed, a key early debate in film studies was whether screen performance or editing are more determinate of a film’s meaning. Acting is considered as central to a film’s mise-en-scene and a major preoccupation for film studies has been the attempt to establish a suitable vocabulary for describing the work of acting as a sign system (see semiotics). ...
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