Sunday, March 3, 2013

Project: Emotive frames

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012 dir Benh Zeitlin)

This frame is very powerful for me because it is the moment when Hushpuppy turns to face the beasts which up until then have not really been seen properly.  The aurochs are supposed to be harbingers of death and represent her fears. The framing is perfect for this: simple, classic profile with a clear indication of the scale - the beast is even spilling out of the frame. It is wide enough to give us a sense of the landscape and the context which keeps consistency with the rest of the movie (this is important as it is a surreal interlude) but there are no other distractions. Hushpuppy, whilst tiny, is strong and has summoned all her courage for this moment.  The image arouses a primal fear and an instinct to want to protect the child but there is also the emotion from the powerful interaction between the two creatures.  I think I may actually have stopped breathing at this moment when I saw it on the big screen.  Very emotional.

Down by Law (1986 dir Jim Jarmusch)

This is one of those butt-clenchingly excruciating moments in the film where Benigni's character Bob is put in the cell.  Zack and Jack have just had a fight and are not speaking to each other and Bob has to deal with the awkwardness of being silently stared at and then ignored.  My feelings are of claustrophobia and tension but also of good-hearted humour - Bob seems like a harmless, friendly guy.  The framing exacerbates the intensity of the situation by really conveying the sense of the small cell and the close proximity of the three men as well as the boredom of prison life.  The fixed viewpoint also reinforces this sense of their imprisonment.  We are only shown the bare minimum of what we need to see.

Tyrannosaur (2011 dir Paddy Considine)

This is one of many very shocking moments in the film.  The scene starts with this close-up of Joseph (played superbly by Peter Mullan). He is uncharacteristically calm and seems sober, clearly sitting out in broad daylight but splattered with blood which all creates great suspense. We know that something has happened but we don't know what until the camera pans further out. This is a heart-breaking moment in the film as Joseph has crossed a line but he is portrayed as now being in control and with dignity.  This close up shot lingers on his face, urging us to really look at the man and try to understand how he got to this point and what he must be feeling.  

Warrior (2011 dir Gavin O'Connor)

Easily the most powerful part of this movie for me,  Nick Nolte plays the rather pathetic father of the two fighters who has been sober for several years but then suffers a relapse. Hardy's character has shown nothing but contempt for his Dad through the whole film so it is very poignant that he comforts him now.  This frame makes me want to cry because Nolte is so convincingly going through desperate agony - he is trying to resist the hug from his son because he does not feel worthy.  I feel very close to the scene from the framing - this gives empathy with both characters.  The whole scene is presented in a slightly jerky, documentary style which makes it feel very natural and real - intensifying the emotional response.

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