Monday, November 24, 2014

Movement and Editing

There are a lot of movies about love and a lot of movies about time. But rarely do such movies have a variety of film techniques to make these themes well integrated throughout the movie. However, they are usually diverse in nature. Amelie, Across the Universe, and Vanilla Sky are not films that usually go together. Neither are Snatch, Memento, and Donnie Darko. But both sets of films have common themes within them. The first set all tell stories of love, and the second set revolves around time. All six films are very well made, and use a variety  techniques. However, in the first three films, movement is largely used to convey their message of love, and in the second three, editing is used to great effect to show time. Both techniques are used in all of the films, but movement is more prevalent in some, just as editing is in the others. Through the use of movement and editing respectively, similar themes of love and time were presented in six very different films.

Love is frequently shown in movies with lots of kissing and holding hands and being mushy. In Amelie, it's a little different. Amelie is all about love, but she doesn't show it physically until she meets the man she's been leading on a chase for the entire movie. No, Amelie is clever, and actually for most of the movie is alone except for her friends. But she loves them too.
There is a very nice scene where Amelie uses old letters from her landlady's husband to make a new letter to bring some sort of closure. In that scene, it goes into fast motion when she is cutting the letters and rearranging the words. This movement shows how hard she is working to make everyone around her happy and that she works very fast to do so. By going into fast motion to bring someone joy, Amelie is showing her love for everyone around her. Across the Universe uses the opposite technique to tell a different love story. In the middle of a song, there is a scene where everyone is underwater and naked. The important part, though, is that everybody is moving in slow motion.
It shows everyone's feelings and relationships at the time. In the forefront for most of the time is the main character Jude and his girlfriend Lucy. As they are together in the water, their heads make a heart. Their lack of any real movement shows how in love they are. They don't want to move and disrupt anything. They are very happy to just stay there together. It is a peaceful scene, and it gives the viewer a nice feeling. Jude and Lucy's love makes the scene feel calm, even though the rest of the movie is more chaotic. In Vanilla Sky, the entire movie is chaos as David messes up his dream world. But throughout is the love story he never got to live. David is in a car with his ex-girlfriend. She drives off the road to commit suicide while David is in the car. He is heavily scarred on his face, but still tries to go back to a different girl he met and is falling in love with. He finds Sofia while she is dancing and asks her out.
That scene has a lot of kinetic symbolism because she is dancing and he is limping. Sofia can remain loosely framed to show how free she is, how much she can move, but David stays tightly framed and walks stiffly, because he is trapped within his own body. The fact that she agrees to go out with him shows how powerful their love is, for it can overcome the obstacle of David being scarred and unable to move. Sofia knows that she won't be able to thrive if she is with him, but she is willing to give up that chance for him. Not only in Vanilla Sky but also in Amelie and Across the Universe - everyone finds their someone special. Everyone finds love somewhere. 

Time is a very important part of the world. Everything works on a schedule and everything has a time limit. Snatch is all about time and how little of it they have. Throughout the entire movie, they are worried about how they're going to find a new fighter in time, or if they'll be able to get somewhere fast enough, or being able to steal something and get away successfully. At the very end of the movie, when Bricktop's goons are about to shoot the main characters, there are a lot of things happening simultaneously, shown to the viewer with flashbacks and narrative segmentation.

Mickey's fellow gypsies have taken down the men lying in wait to attack them while Mickey was drawing out his fight to give them more time to fight theirs. This is also an example of parallel editing, how Mickey's fighting matches with the fighting the other gypsies are doing. All of these things give the impression that time has slowed down, when in actuality nothing has changed except everyone getting caught up to speed with everything going on. This feeling of just finding something out that makes the whole movie fall into place is essentially all of Memento. Leonard can't remember further back into the past than about five minutes, so all of Memento is told backwards. With this style of narrative comes some challenges, but the editor of this movie was well up to the task. The opening scene really sets the stage for the rest of the movie.
Someone gets shot in the head and someone else takes a Polaroid snapshot of it. But the key thing here is that the entire scene runs in reverse. This shows how the rest of the movie will be told in small increments and how Leonard sees things. Like the opening shot of the Polaroid developing in reverse, his memories fade after a few moments. This makes time impossible for him to perceive, and through editing, the movie shows this in just a few shots. Donnie Darko has a similar skewed version of time. The entire movie takes place in a tangent universe, a universe that Donnie has to bring to an end in order to save the rest of the universe. The last few seconds of the movie are the same as what happens after the first few minutes. Any piece of this movie can be used to show time because it is a movie about time travel. The biggest proof of the time travel, however, is Frank the giant bunny.
At the end of the movie he is shot in the eye, but for the rest of the movie he is wandering around and guiding Donnie through the tangent universe. The way Frank is edited in the film is interesting because he could be a figment of Donnie's imagination. The viewer doesn't know for sure that Frank is real until the very end, when he appears as a regular dude and not the mysterious guide he has been for the entire film. Frank is the best way to show time throughout the film because he is an important part of time for the whole thing. He tells Donnie when the world is going to end and he is one of the most helpful characters in the movie when it comes to the time travelling. Though Donnie Darko presented the most complicated time, all three of the films used the concept of time well through their editing.

All six of the movies - Amelie, Across the Universe, Vanilla Sky, Snatch, Memento, and Donnie Darko - used a variety of film techniques with regard to movement or editing to show the message of either love or time. A well-made film with a message like love or time can connect all sorts of movies. Most people would never consider grouping these six movies into these two groups, but it is possible because of how they were made. With common techniques and common themes, these movies are more alike than at first glance. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Vanilla Sky

In Vanilla Sky, the ending is a little frustrating. It has a good message, sure - sometimes the best thing to do is to start over - but learning that the entire movie was a dream is a sure way to annoy most of the audience. The point where everything became a dream is interesting, though. It starts out pretty
boring, washed-out colors, basic dialogue shots and two shots most of the time. But then there's this shot of the mask lying on the ground because that's where David passed out. The transition from this to the morning is subtle, but what happens is all of the colors get brighter, the skies go to their permanent state of Monet-like perfection, and, of course, Sofia has returned to him and is telling him to open his eyes. This moment has a lot of deeper meaning within the film, showing the point where David chose to splice the Lucid Dream with his real life. He chose this moment because this was the moment when he could tell that he'd just let a real chance at love walk out of his life. It was the kind of moment he could only really notice as a turning point upon looking back at his whole life. But in the
film, it is abundantly clear that a change has happened. Even without knowing that this is where the dream begins, it is clear that something has happened. The colors are brighter, the scenes are more exciting, the plot begins to move along faster. Now that David and Sofia have found each other, nothing else can happen. Of course, there are still the flash-forwards to David in the mask in prison after everything has gone wrong, but for the most part after passing out in the street everything gets better. The editing is what gives the film that feeling of excitement and wonder that is found in a dream, where everything is perfect. The editing also brought the incredible transition between the last of David's real life and the beginning of his new, dream life.

Another thing that was edited very well into the movie was David's scars disappearing and reappearing. He didn't reconnect with Sofia until after he got the scars, and until then he also didn't
want to have them. But she accepted him regardless of the scars, and he was happy despite his disfigurement. His choice to have his scars removed and his face fixed has a deeper meaning as well, but first and foremost he chose to fix his face so that Sofia would be happier because she wouldn't have to put up with stares and judgments from other people. He also wanted to go back to looking like and acting like the person she had first met. The deeper meaning behind the scars being removed from his face is that he is trying to leave his old life with Julie behind. Everything that she did to him, he is trying to remove so that he can love Sofia more fully. This scene was well-edited, as it used a variety of techniques like deep focus to keep the audience from seeing his face as Sofia peels the mask away. It creates a moment of suspense, the same one that David is feeling in that moment. The editing shows how much Sofia and David mean to each other, and how they are willing to do anything for the other. At one point, however, David has a nightmare that the scars have returned, and it surprises everyone when he turns on the light and
there is a scarred face in the mirror instead of a smooth one. Then he wakes up. There is parallel editing as he makes his way over to the sink and mirror again, just like in the dream. This creates a feeling of tension, because the audience knows what happened before when this happened. They know what should be coming, what has been set up to come. Of course, the dream he had was just a nightmare, but after this is when everything else starts to go wrong. The return of his scars signifies the guilt he has over being so happy with Sofia after Julie worked her way into his life. The dream environment was controlled by his mind, and his mind wouldn't let go of Julie. So she was back into his life. This was all preluded by the suspenseful nightmare about the return of his scars, and without the way it was edited, there might not have been a tension on which to build the falling apart of the dream world.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Across the Universe

In Across the Universe, movement played a big part in helping the story progress and making it better. Lucy was one of the main characters and she had some of the most movement involved with her. Around the middle of the film, her brother gets drafted into the war. Strawberry Fields Forever was a continuation of that storyline, showing everybody's conflicts in the form of war. In that song, Lucy has images projected onto her face. Lucy lets the projection become her expression, leaving her face as a blank canvas. It's an interesting example of movement because the character is so still. It shows how in shock she is, just letting the emotions wash over her. She doesn't really have any sort of emotion because she is too scared to let herself feel. It adds to the gravity of the moment and makes the audience feel the same way she does, even though she isn't moving. The projections on her face move, and that is the movement, but she doesn't, and that's what makes the difference to the audience.
There is another place in the film where Lucy's slight movements convey all of her emotion to the audience. Jude has just finished his song to her and she has made her way up to the roof next to his so she can see him. They are both crying, and then Lucy pushes her hair back and there is a freeze-frame. The tears running down her face created movement and feeling enough, but then she pushes her hair back and everything stops. It shows how she and Jude felt for each other. When she pushes her hair out of the way, pushing away their argument and anything else that was separating them, the movie freezes. It ends with a happy moment of forgiveness, a frozen picture, to remind everyone to forgive and push things away in the name of love. Lucy's small movement was enough to convey so much feeling to the audience. Movement was used to great effect in this film.

Jude, being the other main character, also had a lot of movement involved with his part in the film. When he first realizes that he is falling in love with Lucy, he sings I've Just Seen a Face and slides all around at a bowling alley. He goes down the lane like he's the bowling ball, and then everything get more brightly colored and hectic. Everyone's sliding down the lanes like they're surfing, people are running around and jumping over the ball returns, having a very good time. It is a lot of chaotic movement to show how it feels to fall in love. Wild, out of control, but still a really great time. All of the craziness of I've Just Seen a Face perfectly describes how Jude is feeling, with the help of song lyrics to push it just a little further. Jude went through a lot in the film - he fell in love, his friend went off to war, his lover left,
and he got deported. It did all work out in the end, but it took him singing on a rooftop to find Lucy and her love again. They both are crying, which is very moving. Then Jude bites his lip. This small movement shows how deeply he feels for Lucy. She has already left once, but he's gotten her back and he feels so happy. He bites his lip as a quick, sharp shock, almost as if to wake up from a dream if it isn't real. He thinks that seeing her again is too good to be true, but there she is, on the closest roof she could be. Their relationship, as far as the audience is concerned, hit that happy note and stayed there, because the film ends. All of the roller-coaster feelings that Jude felt he conveyed to the audience using movements both big and small, and it worked very well.