Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Path Differences

The difference between knowing the pass and walking the pass.
A weeklycreate about analysing movies.

It is always so annoying to me to analyse artwork, especially when being given a set of rules. I thought about skipping this, but then my "Facebook Oracle" told me to learn the rules to know the path, while you can always forget them later to go the path without knowing it.
("Facebook Oracle" means I look at the newest facebook posts and maybe take them as advice. This time there has been a post about learning the rules and forgetting them again. Picasso said so.)

This way I got my pencil and took notes about a scene from "The Matrix".

First, like advised, I turned down the sound and scanned camera work and cuts. Because this is an action scene the cuts are fast and numerous, about 70 in 3.29 minutes. The scene displays flying, hanging on ropes and falling, so that the camera angles are mostly very dynamic like looking down into the streets of a city from high above  or looking up to the helicopter or following people hanging on a rope which again is fixed on the helicopter. You can imagine the uncertain way a camera has to go here.
The cuts are often following the point of view of the protagonists: The female pilot looks down, cut, her two friends hanging on the rope one holding the hand of the other, cut, the man holding the friends hand looking down onto his friend, lets go and sees him falling, cut back to a view an imagined audience might have (man landing on the roof). This pattern repeats later when the pilot has to leave the helicopter.
Later there are cuts according to the dialogue, showing the person who talks.

Following the second step of the assignment, I switched off my monitor and just was attentive to the sound. This starts with loud music, which suggests action. The music plus the sound of the helicopter are dominant for a while. You also can hear noises which I presumed the action from, like boots on a roof and shattering glass. In addition there are a kind of synthetic "energy sounds". I mean sounds which  evoke that lots of energy is going around, hear yourself.
Later you can hear dialogue while the music becomes barely noticeable or is off at all.

I did watch the clip a third time to see if I've missed something or to see how audio and video are working together. Most of the interplay of video and sound I have already understood when listening to the clip's sound, for I already knew the pictures. Still, there was a piece of action I did not understand earlier: I asked myself, why the man does not let go of the rope when the helicopter is dragging him by this to the edge of the roof. The answer was, that his pilot friend saves herself with the rope from the diving helicopter. If he would have let go of the rope, she had fallen down into the streets.

Then I applied some of Ebert's rules and I've found out that the main character (and hero of the movie) in dialogue scenes appears always on the right. I also detect that whenever one of the men fall they have a smaller or greater drift to the right, which Ebert interprets as falling into their future or at least making a positive moving, because right means mostly positive. The woman on the other hand appears mostly in the centre of the screen. Ebert did not say anything about this, but I consider this as one of the projections to a female being and here means feminine and maybe glorification of femininity, which here includes helplessness and vulnerability. Strangely enough she survives the fall, any crash and the explosion of the helicopter.
Earlier, when she was in charge as a pilot she often appears in the left upper corner. She manages to save her friends in this position and like this I don't think this means something negative, which Ebert suggest for left. Still the picture gives the audience a feeling of being under high pressure in a situation with few chances to save the situation.

I am aware that the above is just a rough description of what is going on in the clip concerning camera, cut and position of film elements on the screen. In addition it is possible to analyse many more design issues like color and light. Both have not been dominant in this clip. The colors were mostly skin/ dark clothes against a light, white city. People living in a virtual, sterile world.

Imagine 3,29 minutes of film and a not really a short blog post about this and it is just a summary of what happens in the clip. How much can be written about the whole movie?

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