Saturday, October 18, 2014

Setting in The Queen

One major theme I noticed throughout "The Queen" was the opposing forces of tradition and new ideas. The art director in this film did a wonderful job of portraying this through set design and color palette. Specifically, two settings that contrasted the most to me were the Prime Ministers' home compared to the interior of Buckingham Palace. Not only did it reflect these opposing forces of tradition and modernization, but it exhibited the characters overall. 
In Buckingham Palace, everything felt very neat and proper. The furniture was perfectly aligned and geometrically pleasing. The color palette consisted of muted yellows, greens and browns. This also coincided with the Queen's wardrobe for most of the film, which made her fit in very well with her surroundings. This represented Queen's firm beliefs of the traditional monarchy which she has been supporting since her childhood. 
On the other hand, the Prime Minister's house was almost the complete opposite. It was very messy and there was a lot of clutter in the background from his kids and family. The color palette consisted of reds, blues, whites and other colors that contrasted against the yellow of Buckingham Palace. This is a perfect visual the modernization that he believes in. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Set Design in Dogville

Arrogance. Throughout “Dogville", I noticed this to be one of the major ideas expressed throughout the film. This town is isolated from anything else happening outside of their minuscule community. They are blind to what is morally right and wrong, which is why they treat the outsider Grace so inhumanely. The set design in “Dogville” is one of the many ways that Lars Von Trier portrays this arrogance. 

The very first shot of the movie shows the entire town from bird’s eye view, revealing chalk lines drawn out like a map to represent where houses and roads would be. This gives the audience a very God-like and objective point of view, easily accessing everything and anything that happens in the town. This choice of set design makes the audience hyper-aware to the entire town. One example of this payoff would be the moment Grace is being raped for the first time, and the camera then moves far back to reveal the rest of the town going along with their business. Although the audience can see everything in that moment, what makes it so uncomfortable is the oblivious townspeople. 

The borders of the set are completely blank white or black nothingness, depending on whether it’s day or night. This aspect made it very clear that the town only sees what is in their own little world and nothing else. They are all trapped in their own blindness, unaware of anything but their own personal needs. I thought that one of the most powerful moments of the film was when the blind man finally opened the curtains, and for the only time in the film, real sky was shown. The set design gave us no access to the world that we are used to at all, which is what made that payoff so effective. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life Lessons

While watching "Life Lessons", I noticed the particular way that Scorsese introduced the women throughout the film. Lionell Dobie's warped and obsessed view of Paulette put her up on a pedestal, romanticizing her as an unattainable ideal. I specifically noticed the way the iris effect was used to evoke this feeling throughout the film. I think these choices worked really well to express Lionell's mindset and unhealthy attachment to someone who doesn't love him back. 

The first time Paulette appears on screen, the iris effect is used as a way to single her out from everyone else. The iris grows bigger and shrinks, giving a kind of warped point of view. Everything is in slow motion, creating a very dreamy and surreal atmosphere. It then cuts to very close up shots of Lionell smoking a cigarette, giving us access to him in that moment of obsession. 

Another time the iris effect is used is when he is admiring her ankle after telling her she wanted to kiss it. This shot is cut back to 2 times, and a third time very quickly (maybe a millisecond) when she pulls the cover over it. It's obviously something that was not going to happen, but the iris effect lets us peek into a fantasy world that Lionell imagines for himself.

When he meets  the new girl at the end of the film, it's another perfect example of a romanticized point of view. It quickly cuts to close-ups of her lips, neck, ear and fidgeting hands. Then it cuts to a wide shot of the entire room where everyone else disappears, and the iris effect closes in on just the two of them.