Candidate 6Choose a film which contains a sequence of great power, excitement or tension. Brieflyexplain the context of the sequence in the film as a whole and go on to show how the effect iscreated. You should refer in your answer to mise en scene and soundtrack.In the film Braveheart one of the most exciting scenes is that of the Battle of Stirling. This isan extremely long scene, this being because it is the first battle and there is a need to show theaudience the details here, so they won’t all need to be shown in the later battles. (Alsobecause it is famous and the turning point of Wallace’s fortunes).The Scottish army has arrived – assembled by the nobles – but the intention is not to fight,but to negotiate. The English army arrives, and the Scots are overwhelmed by the sheernumbers. They turn to go. While the nobles try to convince them to stay, Wallace arriveswith his men, rallies the army together. The nobles then go to discuss King Edward’s termswith the leaders of the English army. Wallace goes with them and proceeds to humiliate theEnglish until there are no options left but to fight. The battle is then fought and won by theScots.The different emotions that appear in this scene are mirrored by the soundtrack which is,therefore, a key element to the effect of the scene as a whole.When we first see the Scots army, there is no music. This has been done purposely, as thereis nothing happening. Also the lack of music is itself building tension, as music hints at whatwill happen, so here we have no idea what will happen. The music begins when the Englishbegin to appear, although we are still allowed to hear the marching feet and hooves and therattle of their mail. The music is ominous and as we see the Scots looks of concern. Themusic tells us also what they are feeling. The next significant moment when music is used iswhen Wallace arrives. This is the first time we hear this tune and it is proud music with theScottish influences dominating it. Suddenly we have a feeling that everything will be allright. As Wallace goes on to deliver his speech, the music rises and falls with the emotionshe is showing: anger, Passion, his love of his country. The music reaches its peak when theyall come together and in one unanimous voice decide to fight. There is a break in the musichere, until they prepare to fight. This is because when they are discussing the king’s termsthe dialogue is very important, so we must not be distracted by the music.The music resumes when Wallace joins his men and they mentally prepare to fight. At thispoint there is a single drumbeat. This shows the total silence and concentration of each manand represents one heartbeat which they all share. This goes on for some time and the tensionmounts, until the Scots let out a war cry and the Scottish bagpipes begin. Previously Irishbagpipes were used as their sound is less harsh than Scottish bagpipes, but for the battle scenethe Scottish are more appropriate, because they are harsh. The English fire their arrows,some Scots are killed, but the cry and music resumes. The English now send their horsemen(cavalry) in and this is where the real tension begins. As the horses get closer and closer, theshort sharp repeated tune on the violins begins. This is completely different to anything inthe whole film, because the scene is different. The battle begins and there is no music. Thisis so we can see and hear the fighting. The music resumes when the Scots realise they havewon and they let out a resounding cheer as the same music which was played when Wallace
first arrives is played. The use of the same piece of music links the two bits together.Wallace at first is the only believer and at the end they are all believers.The mise en scene also contributes massively to this scene and works with the music to createthe overall effect. The shots of the Scots soldiers, where the camera is running down thefront row helps to personalise the Scots. We see many different faces all wearing the sameexpression. In contrast when the English arrive, we are only given shots of the leaders’ faces.Their soldiers are also going to die, but it doesn’t matter. We don’t see them as individuals,but as a group who obey the villains.When Wallace arrives he comes over a hill, he is also on a horse which makes him appearbigger than everyone else. The close–ups of his face here show his confidence anddetermination. The fascinating thing about his speech is the horse’s movements. They seemto reflect his emotion. When Wallace’s speech rises the horse runs. This is also apparentwhen he goes with the nobles to talk with the English. He himself is agitated, as is his horseand he is menacing. When he returns to his men we again see lots of faces. All these menare prepared to give their lives, we feel their fear.Mel Gibson’s use of horses in this film is very interesting. When the cavalry approach wesee the horses’ hooves and heads in slow motion. They stay in slow motion until theybecome nearer to the Scots. Now they are moving at normal speed and there follows abarrage of different shot: behind the English, looking at the Scots and vice versa, Englishfaces, Scots faces, horses’ hooves, hand held shots as if the camera were attached to the horseand there is a shot reverse shot zoom between the English and Wallace’s face. When thefighting begins the camera moves quickly to show the confusion of the scene.When it is all over we see the shot of Wallace’s face against a pure blue sky. This has beenused earlier on and will be used again. This last look at Wallace against the sky is the lastshot in the scene and shows the contrast of the music – proud and good – to the mise en scene– savage, but these work together to give us the overall image of Wallace, and is a goodexample of how music and mise en scene work together in film.
Assessment commentary on candidate 6UnderstandingThis candidate is not concerned with the discourses of the text, as they have not been askedfor in the question. Rather she has got to grips with the language of the sound as it hasconstructed the battle at Stirling. Her understanding of how the film aurally has beenconstructed is quite clear. She has then gone on to deal with the meaning of the camera shots.AnalysisShe has explained how the techniques have worked, and supported them with evidence fromthe text. She does for example explain how the ominous music builds the atmosphere atStirling, and then how it changes to prepare for Mel Gibson’s pre battle speech. She alsounderstand how the music combines with the mise en scene, and says so specifically ‘Themise en scene also contributes massively to his scene and works well with the music’ tocreate the overall effect. ‘The use of the close–ups personalise the Scots, unlike the shots ofthe English’. There is sufficient detail here to meet the requirement of an indicator ofexcellence.EvaluationAn enjoyment of the film is clear underneath the prose. She has not stated her pleasurespecifically, but rather implied it in ‘suddenly we have a feeling that everything will be allright’ as well as in the raciness of her writing. She does not go beyond this to evaluate theskill of the film making.ExpressionHer line of thinking is clear, and the connection between the two strands of thinking is alsoclear. She has an understanding of the language of the film, but is thin on the nomenclatureor the detail of the actual types of shots. There is more could be said about the use of the pan,the zoom etc in this scene. HOWEVER, THE QUESTION HAS NOT ASKED FOR THIS.Furthermore there is no conclusion to round off the essay.The analysis and awareness of techniques rise above pass level.Higher – Grade B.
Candidate 5Choose a text which represents a group in society in a way which affected your views. Byclosely referring to the text, explain how these representations were constructed and why theychanged your views.Having known very little about the history of Scotland the film Braveheart was anopportunity to learn something. There are many groups within this film but it is therepresentation of both the English and the Scottish which I find most interesting.The opening shots of Scotland are very stereotypical: rolling hills, mist, clear waters. Thefact that a pan shot is used here indicates the land is seen from a bird’s view – this representsfreedom. The music is spiritual which then moves into a proud theme which is used atcertain points throughout the film so right away we feel quite emotionally involved withScotland. In the next scene this theme is developed. The music becomes ominous andBruce’s voice is heard (although we do not know it is his voice at this point). We are toldthat English historians will deny what their Scottish counterparts say, but ‘history is writtenby those who have hanged heroes’. This make us dislike the English immediately.When we first see the Scottish people it is apparent that they belong to Scotland, the earth,where they are. Their clothing is coloured very naturally. They are not well groomed,although they are still attractive. The montage of Wallace leaving Scotland as a boy and thewedding of the English prince and French princess helps to build this contrast of the way theyeach look. The English are dressed in very colourful clothes, are clean – too clean – theyhave many manicured haircuts and are very stiff. The music used for their first appearance isa mass which is very long winded: not at all light hearted.This wedding is held in contrast with the two Scottish weddings that follow which are full ofemotion. This is just one of the situations which is paralleled during the film. The funeral ofWallace’s father and Murrin is also a parallel. They are used as contrast or as areinforcement of a point, always however making the Scots look good and the English bad.The plot itself gives the biggest representation of the Scots and English. From the beginningwe feel sorry for Wallace (because of the death of his father) so we are more likely to bedrawn to him when he returns. We learn of his simple intentions and watch in horror as theyfall apart, beginning with the death of Murrin. Her death is the fault of an English soldierwho is physically repulsive to reflect his nasty character. He is yet another reason to dislikethe English.The first stand is made – and won – by the Scots, and although Wallace is extremely brutal,we can understand why because his relationship with Murrin was so intense.The actionstaken by the English king are equally as brutal, although we cannot excuse him, as we see nosorrow in his life. The order of prima nocte, the intimidation towards his son, the suggestionsmade towards the princess and the death of Philip the prince’s ‘friend’ all make him athoroughly dislikeable character, and as he is leader of the English, they become the enemy.So by using all of these techniques the representation of the Scots versus the English is madeclear. In the time setting of the film, I came away disliking all the English and liking most ofthe Scots. This is what the film set out to do and it successfully achieved it.
Assessment commentary on candidate 5UnderstandingThis candidate has a grasp that the drift of this film is setting up the Scots as good, and theEnglish as bad. It is rather too simplistic however. She has not come to grips with the role ofyoung Bruce, which is vital to an understanding of the deeper levels of this film. There areplenty of textual references to support her simplistic stance but there is no real depth.Furthermore much of it is content only.AnalysisThere is very little serious analysis in this script. There are some reference to how meaning ismade by the music, the mise en scene, and the camera work. However the analysis of howthe meaning is made is almost non–existent: (she does explain the pan shot of the Highlands,but does not go beyond that).EvaluationThere is little evidence of a personal stance or critical approach beyond the openingparagraph, nor is there any evaluation of the film techniques.ExpressionThere is a line of thinking, but it is very thin. The use of critical terminology is likewise thin.She has explained how mise en scene works, but has failed to use this term.The essay is technically fair, but the writing lacks style.Intermediate 2 – Fail