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Term paper

  1. 1. Daniel CiarloRTVF 181Sublett11/2/10Term PaperFor this paper, I chose to watch Quentin Tarantino’sReservoir Dogs and Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. These twomovies are widely acclaimed, and are two of my personalfavorites. After watching both of these movies without sound Iwas able to really notice the visual style and techniques thatboth directors were trying to accomplish. Not only was I able tolearn more about what the directors were trying to say throughtheir shots, but going back and watching the films with soundagain was much more enjoyable for me with a better understandingof the films.One of the first things I noticed when I started watchingReservoir Dogs without sound was the way that Tarantino placedthe characters in each scene. The very first scene establishesthe relationship of the characters quite well. It opens withthem all sitting at a small coffee shop table. They’re huddledfairly close together, deeply engaged in conversation, and areall dressed exactly the same. This shot acts as a metaphor for
  2. 2. how close together these criminals have to work. Also,throughout the film you can see the relationships betweenspecific characters. Mr. White and Mr. Orange are almost alwaysstanding close to one another, while Mr. Blonde is almost alwaysfarther away from the rest of the group. Their physicalplacement in each scene is a clear indication of how thesecharacters feel about one another.Another thing that I noticed was the contrasting use oflighting throughout out the film. It seems that Tarantino wantedto make a clear distinction between the outside world, and theworld that the criminals are living in. In the criminals’environments, such as the warehouse and the headquarters, thelighting is very dark and well hidden from the outside world.The outside world on the other hand is very bright and acts as asymbol for a place where bad things happen, considering out inthe daylight is where all of the robbery’s mishaps take place.Also, when Mr. Blonde is torturing the cop in the warehouse, youget the sense that the cop is alone and there is no one aroundto save him. However, when Mr. Blonde leaves momentarily to graba can of gasoline out of his car, he steps outside and itbecomes much brighter. You suddenly realize how the warehouse isactually right in the middle of town and help is most likely
  3. 3. very close by for the cop, but he would unfortunately neverknow.The use of camera placement in this film is also somethingthat I noticed while watching without sound. Many of the shotsin this film make the viewer feel like they’re part of theaction. For example, when the film opens with them at the coffeeshop the camera slowly rotates around the table at eye-levelwith the characters to make you see what it’s like to be sittingthere with them. Also, when Mr. White is driving the wounded andscreaming Mr. Orange back to the warehouse, the camera is placedin the front seat of the car, giving the impression that you’resitting in the car with them and are actually trying to escapethe scene of the crime with them.Throughout the film, there is never a single shot of thebank robbery taking place. This is a crucial element in givingthe viewer the opportunity to use his/her imagination in regardsto how horrific the robbery must have been. In one scene, Mr.Pink is shown running with a sack of money down the street andstealing a car while being chased by the police. While watchingwithout sound, I noticed that the shot never showed him startrunning and never showed him ending his drive after stealing thecar. This lets the viewer imagine just how far Mr. Pink had torun to avoid the police. All other flashbacks to the robbery are
  4. 4. also far away from the bank and show the criminals trying totravel a distance that is not shown to the viewer.Watching Reservoir Dogs without sounds really showed me alot of things that I would have never noticed otherwise. Camerausage, lighting, and character placement were all very importantelements of the film. Along with Reservoir Dogs, The Wrestlerbrought many new things to my attention.The Wrestler is the story of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, anold and washed up wrestler from the 1980’s. He continues towrestle into his old age because he has nothing else better inhis life. After watching the film without sound, I was able topick up on a lot more things that clearly define the amount ofpain and emotion that Randy has been going through for manyyears.The film features many shots of Randy from behind, to givethe impression that the viewer is following him through all thehorrible things in his life. When the film first opens, there isan elaborate title sequence showing how great Randy used to bein his prime. However, when the first scene begins, it is a wideshot of Randy, beat up and covered in blood, sitting in somesort of elementary school room, with his back to the camera. Youdon’t need sound to see that this is the path that his life hastaken him too. For a while after this scene, all you see is his
  5. 5. back as the camera follows him through various places, includinghis old trailer he’s locked out of, and the dark van that he hasto sleep in.While watching this, the viewer sees that he’s physicallysimilar to his old self. He appears to be fairly young andmuscular, and still has his long blonde hair. However, when thecamera finally comes around to reveal Randy’s face, his painbecomes a shocking reality. His face is clearly beaten up,molded, swollen, and full of depression.Also, much like Reservoir Dogs, the use of lighting in thisfilm is very important. However, it’s the exact opposite. In TheWrestler, it is the bright places where good things happen andthe dark places where his depressing reality awaits. The onlything that brings Randy happiness is being under the brightlights of the ring and wrestling for his fans. When he’s in thering, the lighting is very bright and often glares into thecamera. Also, when he’s at home it is very dark and sometimesyou can’t even make out Randy’s face.In the middle of the film, Randy decides to quit wrestlingand work full time at the local grocery store’s deli counter. Onthe first day of the job, there is a long shot(from behind)thatfollows him as he makes his way through the stock rooms and outto the deli. When he gets to the deli entrance, he stands there
  6. 6. and looks in almost as if he’s about to enter a ring. The delilooks very bright compared to the stock room. This tells theviewer that this is Randy’s new place for good things to happen,and is replacing the old days of wrestling. In the end of thefilm, Randy decides he wants to go back to wrestling. He entersthe ring, which is once again the bright place of the film.While it doesn’t actually show it, it is implied that Randy diesin the ring. It can also be implied that he most likely diedhappy, surrounded by the people he loved.While many shots in this film are of Randy’s back, when hedeals with the broken relationship between him and his daughter,almost all the shots are of his front. It is pretty clear thatthis was done in order to show the amount of emotion in Randy’sface, as well as his daughter’s. Throughout the course of theirrelationship, the camera shows their faces in extreme emotionsof depression, content, happiness, anger and failure. It alsoseems to compare the broken down face of Randy to the young andclean face of his daughter, although it seems to imply that dueto her emotional issues, she could end up like her father.Watching Reservoir Dogs and The Wrestler was a very eye-opening experience for me in terms of film analysis. There was asurprising amount of elements in the films that I would havenever noticed otherwise.