Exercise – repeating the Mosjukhin experiment

Find yourself an actor who can keep a straight face. Record them starting motionlessly ahead.

Record some images that can represent the thoughts of your character.

Cut the images over your actor in different combinations. Attempt to create an impression of what they’re thinking. Upload the best sequences to your blog.

Ask students to comment on what they perceive the sequences to mean.

Which sequences work best of other students and your own. Is there anything about the composition or the content of the images that makes them work especially well.

It’s also possible to create meaning by re-ordering elements from within the scene. As used in Hitchcock’s Psycho when the audience thought they’d scene the stabbing when actually they had just scene flashes of water, curtains, shadows of the knife.

Final result

Repeating the Mosjukhin Experiment (with a cat) from ChloeClik on Vimeo.

I’ve come across the Mosjukhin experiment before when doing the earlier parts of the photography degree, it always fascinated me that a viewer could perceive the same clip in so many different ways. It shows the power of the mind and how a director can use it to influence emotions and thoughts in the movie. Leaving things to a viewers imagination is a very influential cinematic tool and one which many directors have used to good effect such as Hitchcock in Psycho

After reading this exercise I’ve ordered the book ‘The Power of Movies – How screen and mind Interact‘ It looks very interesting and I’m excited to read it. The more I study photography and cinematography the more interested I become in psychology and the way it can perceive a movie to be something completely different.


At first I was going to include the same image of Skye and then the extra footage but it didn’t quite work in that the viewer needed to see his reaction after they themselves had seen the footage. I could also have positioned the footage before the image of Skye but the viewer would already have their opinion in their mind. It worked best when the viewer saw Skye looking then it flicks to what he is looking at and back to his reaction as in this video below

For this exercise none of my models were available, I could have used myself but decided to try something a little different and used my cat Skye. I took some footage of him staring calmly at the camera then went about recording some footage I felt Skye would react to. Of course though it wasn’t how Skye reacted but how the viewer felt he did despite the clips being exactly the same. I showed several members of the family who all thought he reacted to several of the clips. I was pleased to see it worked with an animal and not just a person.

Course mates comments. 

Course mates videos

Mozjukhin from Richard Down on Vimeo.

I don’t feel that the structure of this video works as well as the others. We see the actor for a fraction of a second before being shown what they are looking at. The viewer doesn’t have long enough to form an opinion, it would have helped if we’d seen the same footage after seeing the trees. And if the actor was shown for a few more seconds. That said you get a feeling of tranquility and the feeling of watching nature and the changing seasons.

Repeating the Mosjukhin Experiment from Helen Rosemier on Vimeo.

I felt this one was very strong, the fact we have a chance to look at the actor and perceive their emotions. I also like that the actor is looking down and we are shown the elements from above, the naked woman, the glass of wine, the cat. The image at the end of the dead man is shocking and the use of the heartbeat slows things down. It’s especially powerful when the man looks right at the camera.


One thought on “Exercise – repeating the Mosjukhin experiment

  1. Ashley says:

    Using Skye was a great idea – it’s incredible how, as the viewer, you can believe that he (?) is reacting to the image that follows. The mouse was the best 🙂 but the arm coming from behind the blinds was most effective. Adding sound seemed to add another layer of meaning, which I found interesting. I never thought I’d consider a cat to be thoughtful!

    Liked by 1 person

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