Term 1 - Week 4 - Film Language

October 15, 2018

Trekking on into the world of film language, this session, We watched a couple short clips, first just to take in what it was about, and gain an understanding of the narrative, then again, focusing on the visual details. We focused on movement, line, colour, and camera angle when breaking down each film.



The first clip we watched was 'World of Motion', which effectively used a few simple methods of pulling the video along. Watching it again now where I can properly see the screen and take in all of the detail, a lot of what was stated in class makes more sense. The first most prominent thing about the clip to me is the score (I find the music a tad annoying). The music is weaved into the video, not simply playing over it, and that is to say there are visual reactions to notes when they're played. The most obvious example of this are the the circles that appear near the beginning, which react to the staccato string instrument, playing in quick notes. this happens at the top middle of the opening logo, then again at the top of the tower of the following city, as well as the metro tracks and car wheels. I'm not sure entirely what purpose these serve other than to create some visual satisfaction when we hear the notes in the music, they certainly make the scenes more dynamic, making the viewer move their eyes to look at them. This reaction to sound is also seen again after the "camera" moves left through a forest, the staccato notes take a break, and in come some legato notes (I'm not sure if these are entirely correct terms, but I mean by these phrases short notes and long notes respectively). The forest ends as these notes are introduced, and long sweeping hills appear with each new note, I think this technique works very well in this case, where the environment is reacting to music, instead of magic circles popping, not to say magic popping circles are bad, but the hills I think are a subtle, yet effective way of conveying the sound, the viewer probably unaware this is even happening, yet being pulled into the video by the effect. there is also a straightforward colour palette in play, starting blue with the title/logo, and gradually becoming a deep orange/red. The smooth change in colour is facilitated by sneaky transitions that make the video seem as one long shot. The transitions take the form of things like the forest, which cover the screen in a dark colour, obscuring the change in colour and scenery. This again pulls along the video, signifying the passage of time, creating a narrative for us to follow. The clean transitions make the video seem continuous; It doesn't jump, it flows, and creates a graceful viewing experience.


There is also a clear line of motion travelling to the left of the screen, fitting with the flowing nature of the video. This is sandwiched by a zoom into the city from the title, and a very minor left pan signifying the end of the video during the shot of the rocket.




The next video we watched 'Load', was a stark contrast to the previous. The story followed what we assumed to be an overburdened employee of an innominate company, covered with postitnotes that illustrate his many responsibilities. Whether or not this is due to his own dawdling, or his being overworked by his employer, we don't necessarily know, but the second is implied by the employer's attitude towards our protagonist. I don't quite understand the intro in relation to the rest of the film, which entails the protagonist being enveloped by a huge wave, and losing his postit burden, but seemingly drowning in the process. Perhaps it foreshadows the later scene where he falls into a stream similarly loses his burden, but does not drown, and instead realises a newfound freedom. After the intro, it cuts to a close up of the protagonist's face, which is staring directly at the viewer. The camera then cuts to a medium closeup, behind an abacus , still facing our hero. The bars of the abacus insinuate a prison like atmosphere, I feel this is technique to be quite popular and consequently generic nowadays, but on an individual basis it is effective within this film at recreating the hero's feelings within the viewer. We cut then to a high angle shot of the "office" the main character resides in, depicting narrow corridors, and a high ceilings (which we assume because of the height of the camera). The shot is composed in such a way that the lines of the corridors are at an angle, converging on the main character. The almost aggressive angle contributes to the uncomfortable feeling of the claustrophobic environment and lighting. This feeling persists into the next shot which has our character walking towards an elevator in a similarly tall, but wider corridor. Long, dark, bony arms reach out from thinner corridors that converge at this larger one, similar to the one our protagonist emerged from. The arms stick more postitnotes to the plethora already donned by our man, and he pays them little heed, telling us even further the norm of his situation, indicating perhaps his dedication, or severe abandon for anything more. Burdened man reaches what we assume is his boss' office. The boss has a tall dragging body, and arms similar to those in the previous corridor, with seemingly multiple joints. A low angle, tilting up shot from the perspective of our character displays the imperious bearing of this boss, both shots demonstrating the power dynamic at play between the two. This is reinforced by the boss placing two more postitnotes over the eyes of the hero, who is, I suppose, blinded by the shear weight of the work he carries on his shoulders. I do not fully understand the next shot either, where from his perspective he glides out of the room, by the power of another mysterious force, and dumped outside the building, under a claw we see a couple shots earlier that is used for picking up and dumping some kind of garbage. I assume this means he has finally outlived his use, and is being discarded, the final postitnotes that cover his eyes symbolising the last straw, that he isn't completing work at a satisfactory rate (whether or not he is physically capable of doing so is still ambiguous, but we assume this is not the case). The title is introduced at this point, over a kind of junk yard. We cut to our hero laying in a kind of basin, on a mound of junk. Our hero is awoken by strange beaked insects (which I think are meant to resemble sea gulls, who like to visit junk yards) stealing the postitnotes covering his eyes. He chases the insects through a narrow tunnel of strange, creepy junk flora. Eventually he must climb a branch of this flora in order to reach them. He is unable to catch them in time, but pauses briefly to admire a twilight lit view of his job's building. The tunnel provided a similar feeling of imprisonment to the corridors and abacus used in previous shots, but this time around he breaks from the prison, and experiences a true juxtaposition of feeling, freedom. The branch snaps, and he falls down a hill that the branch extended over. He stares back up the hill, having recovered from the fall, to find many of the notes he adorned stuck to branches higher up, and we hear him grunt quietly in displeasure, having lost the ability to carry out his responsibilities without the instructions the notes carried. He attempts to put a note back over one of his eyes, only to find that it has a huge hole through it, to which he has a fit, before storming off into the distance. We cut to him wandering a barren wasteland, encompassed by a dark, starry sky, which changes quickly in the next shot to blue and lighter upon the horizon; we can assume that he walked through the night after the twilight orange before this shot, having gone from light, to dark, back to light again. He finds a small, creepy, yet oddly cute spider like create similarly wandering about. Which he kneels down to to get a closer look at, shot from a low angle, tilting down shot, which then cuts to a high angle view above the character's head; another stark contrast of shots, similar to earlier when he stood before his boss. The character places increasingly larger rocks on top of the spider, which inevitably collapses under their weight, and seemingly dies, crushed by the rocks. He seems surprised for a short moment, before getting up and walking away. The whole interaction seemed to imitate his own with his boss, where he was given more and more work, which would eventually lead to his undoing should he do nothing about it. While he observed the spider, the crane from before travelled past on its rail, casting sparks down below, which have ignited the notes upon our protagonists back. He does not notice initially, but upon realising, makes a mad dash forward, coming to another descent, which he must chose to follow, or risk burning at the peak of. He dives down, and lands in a body of water. The fire is extinguished, and this scenario hearkens back to the introduction scene, where our character was enveloped by a huge wave. This time around, he survives, after a brief moment of doubt where we see him sink off screen, and resurfaces, to find all of his notes washed away. He reaches for a note just out of his reach, but stops when he sees his own arm, naked and free of any burden. He soon realises his whole body is in a similar state, and feels around in complete awe. We see his face slowly come to a realisation of some kind, before the camera pans up and left to bring his place of work's building into view, which he has landed apparently very close to. He follows the cameras direction, and appears at a high angle atop a small crest above the water. He pulls the final note from his back, and lets it drift into the wind, before looking back at the building. The ending is indeed cryptic, in my opinion. We do not know if he plans to start anew, and take on once again the responsibilities of his abhorrent job, or perhaps leave, to find something else to pursue. 


'LOAD' tells story, for all intents and purposes, entirely through movement and cinema language, and accomplishes this fairly successfully from what I can tell, at least from a fine art perspective, it was able to make me feel and think a certain thing was happening, perhaps not what was intended, but something, and it felt definite, even if some shots were a little enigmatic.




'Fishing with Spinoza', my favourite of the bunch, for the wrong reasons. I wouldn't watch this short any more than I had to, so hopefully I'll never have to watch it again after this project. It takes the concept of being so bad that it's good, and keeps going for a few more cycles. It tries to create substance through the conversations of the two main characters: Jude and Ruby, and that's about it. The amount of time the characters converse takes up roughly 5 minutes and 30 seconds of the 6 minute 22 second short, which is roughly 87.2% of the entire thing. The conversations aren't precisely interesting (I suppose this is highly subjective), and the voices of the characters slightly ear gnawing. We see a total of roughly 27 shots (after counting very quickly scrubbing through the video), not all of which are necessarily unique, and that isn't counting reverse shots between the characters, which isn't a particularly large number for film of this length, considering something like 'LOAD' had roughly 55 unique shots, at 5 minutes long. The shots for 'Fishing with Spinoza' instead linger for long moments on the characters, utilising zooms to create different framing at different levels of intensity of the conversation being had. It's one redeeming aspect is how we get to see a view of the fish, before it drags Jude into the water, which has the camera move slowly move in closer at a high angle view towards the characters' feet. We see the characters' feet move as they talk, which makes the shots more visually interesting and dynamic than if they weren't, and helps emphasise what the two are saying, and who is currently speaking, if you're listening to them, of course. It becomes more visually dynamic, again, when Jude is dragged into the water, which also has some comedic value. I was genuinely unaware if Jude was alive or dead at this point, unaware what size of fish had taken him, and I had mixed emotions, slightly humoured that he was dragged away, especially as this prevented him from saying the name 'Spinoza' any further, but also worried for his friend Ruby, who may have just lost his friend. Quickly this was amended when Jude breaks the surface of the water, squirming in the grasp of the fish. Ruby jumps in to help him,and the camera makes weird zooms and cuts whenever the two resurface. They eventually make it back to land, we see the fish attached to Jude's foot, which again, had some comedic value to it, in my opinion. We see his uncles toe fly out of the fish after a short feud where Ruby hits Jude with the fish, and that is virtually the end of the short. All shots lacked sound; all we heard for the majority of the short were the voices of the two characters, no background noises or Foley was utilised, save for the splashes when the two are in the water, and a watery background noise when we see the bottom of the boat from the fish's perspective. I do not condone all the words used by the two character's, and find their voices fairly annoying, which coupled with a lack of anything else happening other than their voices, and predominantly static shots, makes for a fairly uninteresting short. It was this bad quality that entertained me the first time I watched it. Meaningless, overly long shots, containing absolutely no sound, followed by the two character's crude dialogue, barely saved by a brief moments of comedy, made for a different viewing experience. It was enjoyable to see something the other end of the creative stick, but this would also prevent me from wanting to watch it any more. 
















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