Eternal Sunshine

On my quest for the second scene to compare ‘The Wind Rises’ to in my essay, someone recommended I use a scene from ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. This now seems blindingly obvious considering it is primarily set in the mind of the protagonist.

The film overall does a fantastic job of creating the world of a memory or a dream as locations fracture into each other, my favorite one being when Joel tries to hide Clementine in a totally irrelevant memory and ends up traveling to his childhood.

Elements of his childhood memory start appearing in the current scene; The rain, the bike and the corrugated plastic roof he shelters under manifests itself as a table. A match cut is also used to create a connection with the two memories as Joel reaches out from under the roof in both. The entire film is rife with match cuts.

The scene that has potential for my particular essay is towards the beginning where Joel is telling the story about Clementine blanking him in the library. A spectacular transition takes us out of the memory and back to where the story is being told.

As he walks out of the memory, the lights start to turn off behind him and the audio becomes muffled. There’s also a blurry glow around him that builds through the shot. Depth of field and false blurs are part of the list of staple techniques used in this film.

 

 

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The Aviator

Could this be the film I’ve been looking for?

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TWR- Thinking Planes

I thought the symbolic similarities of ‘The Aviator’ and ‘The Wind Rises’ may lead me to find the scene I’ve been looking for to compare to the scene I’ve chosen for ‘The Wind Rises’.

Each film is a biography of an aviation legend, Howard Hughes and Jiro Horikoshi, with vibrant colour pallets but that is where the similarities end. The Aviator is actually an Epic film spanning almost 3 hours as apposed to ‘The Wind Rises’ being a 2 hour animated melodrama. It also sports an all-star cast featuring Leonardo DiCapiro, Kate Blanchet, Alec Baldwin and oddly Gwen Sefani.

One interesting fact I found about the cinematography is that the first 52 minutes of the film are graded to emulate the ‘Multicolour’ film process of the era that Howard Hughes actually owned.

There was only one scene I thought relevant to compare. At the very end of the film, Hughes has a terrible bout of OCD and has to be hidden in the toilets at an event. When he looks in the mirror, he sees himself back in the first scene as a nine year old.

Montage

I had a little look at montage this week, something that’s used quite prolifically in the film ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979), which I recently watched. The film actually opens with a montage that essentially works as exposition.

Another example of montage in this film is when Willard kills Col. Klutz. The act is inter-cut and preceded by the slaughter of a buffalo happening just outside.

I noticed this clip was listed as an ‘intellectual montage’ which I found is an example of Eisenstein’s 5 types of montage. Intellectual montage is when other clips with symbolic meaning are inter cut with the action of the plot.

The other 4 are:

Metric: Where shots are timed equally.

Rythmic: Where cuts are made according to continuity.

Tonal: Where shots that connote an emotion are used.

Overtonal: Where the previous 3 are mixed for a ‘more complex response’.

One of my favourite montages is the ‘Star Man’ montage in The Martian. It comes at the point in the plot where the Aries crew decide to save Watney from Mars and the Chinese pitch in with their rocket. There’s a very feel good montage of everyone pulling together to set up the mission. The soundtrack matches perfectly. Unfortunately I can only find a clip of it in Arabic:

Another one of my favourites and probably quite a famous example is at the end of Donnie Darko. It wraps up the story and gives everyone’s reaction to the climactic events of the film. This, like all the others in this video, has a great song to it.

 

La La Land

Today I strayed out of my comfort zone by watching a musical. La La Land piqued my interest when I first watched the trailer with the ‘City of Stars’ solo piano playing over it. At the time, I’m not sure if I even realized it was a musical but it finally appeared on Netflix so I gave it a go – Surely a dreamy film like this would have the transition I’m looking for?

Baring in mind I didn’t realize it was a musical, I was taken by surprise with the first scene on the highway ramp. This spectacular introduction, though totally irrelevant from the plot, sets you up for the film by demonstrating the films two most important devices; Vibrant colour and dreamy cinematography.

It takes everything it can from it’s own genre to create a modern take on a classic musical. Here’s a handy video to show that:

Colour is used to tell it’s own story throughout the film. Mia’s costumes move from extremely vibrant to less well pronounced throughout the film to indicate her maturity. Red is used to symbolize passion for both characters. Gold is used to symbolize money.

With each song and dance comes an equally well disciplined and choreographed piece of cinematography. The cameras move with such perfect precision to reflect this positively dreamy and magical musical world. The camera joins in the dance. All of these big show tune scenes were shot on a crane, even the intro on the ramp which must have been a logistical nightmare. Much like the musicals of old, all these dance routines are shot in one take or appear to. Despite being so technically advanced, all the dance routines were done practically, as if they were on stage.

It came to my attention while researching the film that the director, Damien Chazelle, uses a technique referred to as ‘whip panning’ in all of his films. Here’s an example.

I like the very simple tap on the cinematographer’s shoulder to indicate the timings of the pans. I feel that had this been a musical performed on stage, this is where alternate spotlights would flash on and off, but the whip pan creates a similar effect but with all the added urgency of such a fast camera move.

The one scene I thought could work for my essay was the dance in the observatory where Mia and Sebastian go from a fairly naturalistic scene to suddenly taking flight and dancing in the sky… But it’s not the one.

Beauty and the Beast Cameras

This week I decided to watch ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as it’s my given fairy tale for the motion graphics unit but I thought it a good opportunity to shoot two birds with one stone and analyse some camera moves while I was here.

I initially started out watching this year’s live action re-release as I thought there’d be more to think about cinematography wise, but 20 mins in I got pretty tired of auto tuned Emma Watson and so reverted to the 1991 animation.

Little did I know, this would actually be a beneficial decision and be a fairly interesting bit of research as this was the first traditional Disney animation to use computer compositing, colouring and CGI backgrounds. This gave the animators the opportunity to create what must have been a pretty groundbreaking sequence in the ballroom. We get for the first time a genuinely 3D camera move which is used to great dramatic effect in contrast of very basic pans and zooms throughout the rest of the film.

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At the point in the film the technique is used, Belle and the Beast are getting intimate for the fist time, pulling each other close in an epic dance and the camera reflects this. In a particularly floaty manor, we track around the couple in a circular motion, moving in and out of close ups. We share a feeling of wonder with the characters as the world around us suddenly gains a great amount of depth. There’s even a false depth of field effect as the characters get close to the camera.

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The Wind Rises Scene Analysis

‘The Wind Rises’ is one of my favourite films. It’s a fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Japanese Zero fighter. Turned into a period melodrama, the story is brought alive by the dreams of Jiro the protagonist where he is joined by an Italian aircraft designer who mentors him into his career.

One particular scene really stuck with me from the first time I saw it; Jiro’s first task at the Mitsubishi company designing a part of the wing. It’s the first time he puts his imagination to work, actually designing air planes.┬áBeing introduced by his nagging boss to the team as ‘This genius we’ve been hearing all about’ we then see that demonstrated.

The Composition & Editing

The scene starts slowly with Jiro getting himself set up for work at his desk. The shots are long and uneventful, setting a very naturalistic atmosphere. The boss, Kurokawa is keeping a keen eye on the new employee from underneath his rolled up work.

As the scene begins to speed up and as he gets into his work, we go through a stunning transition from the office to Jiro’s imagination with a close up of his forehead with the plane he’s working on overlayed.

TWR- Thinking Planes

All of a sudden, we’re flying along side the plane, inspecting the wing, but something isn’t right. One of the struts breaks and the plane turns to a plummeting ball of wreckage. The most beautiful part of this sequence is the transition back to the office.

The idea of the desk falling with the air plane while Jiro makes notes is terrific and is so well completed by the sky fading back to the office and the papers settling down from the wind.

The Score

The score in the scene creates the impression of all Jiro’s thoughts coming together. It starts off fractured, only a few out of time strings to begin with, stopping and starting. But as the pace picks up, more instruments come into the mix, then the piece finally becomes complete as we enter Jiro’s head. It’s a very uplifting and wonderful piece that reflects the passion and enthusiasm Jiro has as he works.

The Mise-En-Scene

The scene starts with the calm view of ships from the window by Jiro’s desk, transitioning us from the previous scene. But once Jiro’s thought process has begun and the pace of the scene has picked up we return to this view and the wind has picked up; White horses appear on the waves and the sails are now full. This mirrors what’s going on in Jiro’s head, a storm of ideas and calculations.

The work space is very lovingly designed, desks set up with authentic design tools, littered with pencil shavings and ash trays. The bins are full and the boss is struggling to work on a rolled up piece of paper. It’s all just so believable and tactile.

TWR - At Work

Film Love, Film Hate, Film Unknown

The Wind Rises

This may be the least fantastic of Miyazaki’s films, but it really strikes a chord in me. It’s fictionalized biographical film about the Zero fighter designer, Jiro Horikoshi. Much like Miyazaki, I love and grew up around old planes and he portrays them in his films in such a tender and romanticized way that I really click with. I love the plot revolving round Jiro’s career and dealing with his cursed passion. I love the score to bits. I watch it time and time again and am continually inspired by it.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

I was taken to see this film and am glad to say I didn’t have to pay for it. I’m a big advocate for the ninety minute film and this one was half an hour too long. I hated the characters, the gags were lame and it frankly dragged. There were too many chases that I didn’t care about, let alone characters.

The Untamed

This was a very unlikely film I ended up seeing this summer. It’s a Mexican film about a tentacled sex monster… FROM OUTER SPACE. It sounds like a whacky B-Movie but it really wasn’t. It’s a rather interesting picture about how people would deal with being able to obtain total sexual pleasure. It uses very symbolic cinematography and went about presenting the monster in a way that maintained the suspense – We barely saw a glimpse until the end of the film!