There are various forms of acting an actor can choose to use in a given scene. Representational acting is when the actor decides to show a thought or emotion in terms of what it would look like using representative gestures. William H. Macy employs this style of acting in the movie Fargo. Macy’s character, Jerry Lundegaard, is furious that his father-in-law is unwilling to contribute to a real estate deal his character is unable to afford. Instead of displaying the anger solely in an internal fashion, the directors and Macy elected to also use big, physical movements. Macy rapidly scrapes the ice off his windshield in a manic manner and screams in the parking lot to express his anger (22:10). This form of acting is very visual and ensures that the audience understands the emotion a character is experiencing.
Presentational acting is a direct opposite of representational acting. Presentational acting is when the actor personalizes what is going on inside the character and presents the emotion as the real thing. There are not any extravagant movements to display the emotion. Humphrey Bogart elected to use this other style of acting in the film Casablanca. To exhibit his sadness, Bogart makes several minute movements. He looks down at the table and stares off into space for an e...
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...he parking complex. His face does not wince in pain as he yells at the parking attendant to open the gate (1:09:10). Buscemi displays the significance of the objective of his character in this scene to the audience through his intense focus on getting out despite undergoing extreme physical conditions.
The audience’s perception of a character’s personality and thoughts in Fargo and Casablanca are influenced by the actor’s method of playing a character two-dimensionally, choice in the style of acting (representational or presentational acting), portrayal of a discovery in the moment, resolution of a conflict (objective/obstacle/action), and overcoming of an extreme physical condition. Through their performances using various acting tools, the actors are able to ensure that the audience perceives the characters in the way the screenwriters and directors have in mind.
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