„Alignment‟ is the process of identification with something or some.As film students we must referto the way spectators areencouraged – through micro and macro features – torelate to characters‟ emotions as well as adopt theirpoints of view. The emotional impact of a filmfrequently depends on spectators alignment withcentral characters.Filmmakers can attempt to „Align‟ spectators withspecific characters through:Cinematography – A CU positions the spectator closerto the character. Alternatively, a wide shot or MLS willput distance between the character and the spectator.Sound – certain sounds/music are used to highlightand guide our responsesThemes/Content – depending on the subject matter ofthe film we can be easily manipulated if the issuesportrayed resonate within us on a personal level (e.g. Death of a loved one, orCultural/Social Issues)The question „How Do Individuals make sense of feature films?‟ has elicited manyanswers, many of which have determined the direction of film theory.Spectatorship theory falls under the category of „cognitivist‟“Film spectatorship, or at least most aspects of it, is a conscious activity” (Currie 1999);making sense of film is significantly the same as making sense of the real world. Thespectator uses perceptual and conceptual systems developed for interacting with athree-dimensional world to interact with and make sense of a two dimensional world.Alex from ‘A Clockwork Orange’is a sadisticrapist and abuser ofwomen, howeverwe end the filmfeeling sorry for him nothisvictims.This isachievedthrough‘alignment’ – wesee the worldthroughhiseyes and are deniedan alternative POV“Most films will attempt to „align‟ the spectator with a particular character orgroup of characters.”Why would a filmmaker do this?Think of an example from a film were the director attempts to „align‟ us with a particularcharacter.How does the director achieve this?
If a filmmaker can align us with a character (emotionally or culturally) we are more willingto adopt a „preferred reading‟ of the film – take on the meaning INTENDED by the director.If we are aligned our emotions can be easily manipulated and we are more likely toexperience as „AUDIENCE‟ response rather than an individual „SPECTATOR‟ response.Most films and filmmakers will encourage an audience response – a shared emotionalresponse that is initially intense but quickly fades.Filmmakers can do this by:Using existing genre conventionsThe „under dog‟ storySympathetic characters and situationsPlace characters in realistic scenarios – the more common the scenario the betterA mix of „mood‟ (through music, light etc.) and realistic emotionsPlay on audience fears and phobiasBuild expectation and eventually meet the expectationsWatch the opening „Normandy Beach Sequence‟ from Saving Private RyanNote down the different camera techniques used by SpielbergHow does Spielberg put us in the position of the Solders?How are we encouraged to „align‟ with Tom Hanks‟ character?
Films like Platoon offer us two possible readings of the film. We either „Get it‟ and acceptthe meaning and share a response with the audience, or, we „don‟t Get it‟ and have analternative, unintended response to the film.Full Metal Jacket does not suppose a single meaning for the fill, rather it relies on theindividual experience of each spectator to create meaning – this is what defines a spectatorexperience as opposed to an audience experience.In some occasions, filmmakers will purposefullyrestrict our ability to align with a character in anattempt to generate a particular meaning. In some cases the LACK OF ALIGNMENT with aspecific character can be used to stop SPECTATORS taking a specific response.Watch the endings for both „Full Metal Jacket‟& „Platoon‟?Make a list of the different ways in which the film provokes strong emotionalresponses from the audience.How does Platoon encourage an „audience reading‟ of the film?How does Full Metal Jacket encourage an „Individual reading‟ of the film?What are your opinions on this approach to filmmaking?Watch the opening „head shaving‟ sequence from Full Metal Jacket and makenotes on how Kubrick introduces the group.Focus on how Kubrick denies the spectator the opportunity to align with oneparticular characterMake a note of the different camera and storytelling techniques Kubrick usesto prevent alignment
The opening sequence of Full Metal Jacket introduces aseries of individual characters. The function of thissequence is to removed their individual identities andtransform them in to a „group‟.Shaving their heads gives the solders a „uniform look‟ andthey are essentially indistinguishable from one another.Each character is framed in a medium close up in thesame scenario – Kubrick does not give preference to anyone character, making it more difficult for spectators toalign with one character over another.The non-diegetic music reinforces the militaristic focus ofthe film and audience awareness of the Vietnam conflictmay dictate their emotional responses. The southernaccented twang of the vocalists sing of the individual inVietnam, not the gung ho all American image from otherfilms.The purpose of this sequence is to introduce and focus upon the regimented army life styleand loss of identify the characters will faceALIGNMENT = WE ARE ALIGNED WITH THE „GROUP‟, NOT AN INDIVIDUAL!The opening of „A Clockwork Orange‟ differs in almosteveryway possible from FMJ.The film begins with a blood red screen and non-diegetic,synthesised music. This combination introduces us to astrange unfamiliar world.The scene cuts to a Close Up of Alex‟s face, drawing outattention to his unusual use of make up – framing his cold blue eye. The close up of Alexserves several purposes:Introduce Alex as the protagonistHighlight Alex‟s make up – constructing him as a non-typical male and mysteriouscharacterHe maintains direct eye contact with the spectator and as individuals we feel he islooking at usHe is the only character making contact with the audience – encouraging us to align withhim at this early stage.As the camera tracks backwards to reveal the bar we immediately establish his disrespectof women – a major theme of the film.
The first line of the film is:Through narration, Alex is speaking to us, the individual spectatorand establishes his role as our „guide‟ through this strangeworld.From the very beginning of the film Alex setshimself apart from his group and clearly seeshimself as the leader of „The Droogs‟.Identifying himself as the leader encourages us to align with Alex and reinforces the factthat Alex will be our guide through this strange, unfamiliar landscape.The environment is unusual and strange, as are the costumes. The spectator ispurposefully left disorientated and confused – we are given no points of reference and as aresults can only make sense of this strange world by adopting the Point of View of Alexand letting him act as our guide.Alex‟s narration forces the audience to adopt his perspective of the world and is inherentlybiasThe spectator is encourages become extremely intimating and engaging with Alex – Heeven refers to us as „My Brothers‟Kubrick purposefully restricts our view of the world and deprives us of other charactersperspectives – we are forced to adopt Alex‟s POV.ALIGNMENT = WE ALIGN WITH ALEX BECAUSE WE ARE DENIED AN ALTERNATIVEPOINT OF VIEW. THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS STRANGE, DISORIENTATINGWORLD IS BY ADOPTING ALEX‟S POV AND SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH HIS EYES!“There was me,that is Alex, andmy threeDroogs”Narration: - a technique used by filmmakers to give the audience an in-sight in to acharacters mind set and motivations.If we hear narration in a film however we must not automatically assume that we arebeing aligned with the character speaking.Watch the sequences from Full Metal Jacket were „Joker‟ narrates to the audience.How is the narration different from that of Alex?What is the function of this narration? – To Align, or simply provide information?
Both of our films begin with a short introduction to characters, before cutting to sequencesdesigned to show the characters in their environments. But each character respondsdifferently to their environments and we are encouraged to align with one, but not theother.After the introduction of Alex and his positioning as „the aligned‟(character we align with) is reinforced the film cuts to anunmotivated and savage attack on an unarmed, elderly tramp.During this sequence Alex narrates his feelings towards thetramp to the audience. The narration guides our personalresponse to the tramp and if we do not agree with Alex, we are atleast presented with his POV and motivation for the attack.Kubrick uses extreme close up‟s of Alex to position us close tohim and mid/long shots of the tramp to put distance between the spectator and him. Oncethe violence begins the camera cuts to an extreme wide shot and Alex and his Droogscasting them in shadow. WE ARE UNABLE TO DISTINGUISH ALEX FROM THE GANG ANDAS A RESULT ASSOCIATE THE VIOLENCE NOT WITH ALEX, BUT WITH THE GANG.THINK HOW YOUR RESPONSE TO THE FILM WOULD BE DIFFERENT IF ALEX DID NOTPROVIDE HIS MOTIVATION AND WE WERE POSITIONED CLOSED TO HIM AS HE BEATTHE TRAMP!Our alignment to Alex is then reinforced in the next scene as he appears to be attacking therival gang to protect the female rape victim – but we know all he wants is the girl forhimself!The boot camp sequences from FMJ are very different from thesecond scene in A Clockwork Orange.Watch the „Tramp Assault‟ sequence from ACWO and the „Boot Camp‟sequence from FMJ and make notes on the following:Does Kubrick attempt to Align us with a particular character?If, so how does he do this?If not, why not?& How does he stop us?How do you feel about Private Pyle and Alex after watching these sequences?
Blue & Green colours dominate the environment – these colours make the images onscreen feel cold and off-putting. The entire sequence is given a sterile atmosphere whereeverything is in order. The dialogue is even said without normal inflection or emotion.THE BOOT CAMP SEQUENCES ARE INCLUDED TO CREATE ASENSE OF ORDER AND REFLECT THE LOSS OF INDIVIDUALITYTHE CHARACTERS ARE EXPERIENCING – THIS ALSOCONTRIBUTES TO OUR „DISANCING‟ FROM THE CHARACTERSThe sequence begins with a foul-mouthed tirade by GunnerySargent Hartmann as he initiates the gruelling Marine Coretraining. After the opening sequence in which the characters arepresented as a GROUP lacking individuals. Hartmann seems torelish the abuse and does not seem to discriminate, unless therecruits give him a reason too.Joker is the first person to provoke him followed by Pyle, but we must not assume theseare the protagonists we should align with.The purpose of the ‟boot camp‟ is the dehumanisation ofthe recruits so they can be rebranded as killingmachines.Through his use of abusive language, physical abuseand strict living conditions, Hartmann drives thehumanity out of the characters and MOULDS THEIRVIEWS TO ALIGN WITH THE MILITARIE‟SDESIRES.In doing this Kubrick also aligns the audiences POV withmilitaries and ultimately, the groups.This point is best reflected in Hartmann‟s quote to thegroup:“You are the lowest form of life on earth. You arenot even human f**king beings. You are nothingbut unorganisedgrabastic pieces of amphibiansh*t”
Duringtheopening sequence of the film women are introduced as adornment; decoration rather thatfunctioning characters. This is a direct result of „The Male Gaze‟. Women have beenreduced to objects to be looked at and used – the first real woman we see is being used asa sex object by Alex‟s rival gang.In 1975 Laura Mulvey (pictured) published „Visual Pleasure andNarrative Cinema‟ – a study not only focusing on the representation ofwomen, but also their role in the narrative of filmMulvey sees…“The representation of women in film and literature (& thereforesociety in general) as being dominated by a male point of view. Herbelief is that the world is a patriarchy and that men have the „active‟roles and women „passive‟”Mulvey believes that all audiences must view film from the perspective of a heterosexualmale – or„THE MALE GAZE‟Mulvey goes to say that the roles of female characters in a narrative serve two purposes:1. As an erotic object for the characters with the film2. As en erotic object for the spectator with the audienceAs a result, women that are seen in film are not signifying real women but rather the idea ofwomen, which is often fetishized, in the male unconscious.
The older male / young wife is an immediate reference to themale gaze. The male character looks for a wife who isphysically attractive and „passive‟. The female‟s position as„PASSIVE‟ is reinforced as she initially refuses to open thedoor, until told to do so by her ACTIVE husband.The attack that follows is presented from the point of view ofseveral men, but THE FEMALE CHARACTER IS DENIED APOINT OF VIEW.The spectator is implicated in the attack through the repeated POV shots as we „GAZE‟ atthe scene.As a spectator, you are given the option of watching the attack, or removing yourself fromthe situation by turning the film off or walking out of the cinema. If you DO watch the scene,you, as a spectator are implicit as you „allowed‟ it too happen.We GAZE at the screen which depicts the nude female form and male dominance.AS A SPECTATOR, KUBRICK NEVER PRESENTS US WITH A FEMALE POV – WE AREDENIED THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE HOW IT FEELS TO BE SEXUALLY ASSATULED.INSTEAD HE PROVIDES US THE CHANCE TO SEE WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO COMMIT THEASSAULT.During this sequence the active male characters dominate the female characters and useher. The male gaze is present and reflects the patriarchal society of 1960/70‟s Britain.By this point in the film,the spectator is already aligned with Alex.We are forced to see the attack through his POV and are given aninsight in to his motivations. He wears a mask covering his face and he appears to be oneof the group, rather than an individual. Also, the scene cuts away before he sexuallyassaults the wife – we are not given the chance to see Alex commit the attack and damageour overall perception of him – Alex is distanced from the attack.Watch the „Home Invasion‟ scene from A Clockwork Orange and answer thefollowing questions:How does the scene reflect „The Male Gaze‟?How is the spectator encouraged to „ALIGN‟ with Alex?You must consider:Camera, editing, sound, mise-en-scene & Performance
Allegiance is the second stage of „Spectatorship Theory‟. Once we have aligned with acharacter in a film and accepted their point of view out loyalty towards them grows andleads to ALLEGIANCE.Now that we (spectators) are aligned with Alex our loyalty towards him grows and we maygive him our ALLEGIANCE.At this point it is hard for the spectator to reject Alex and we are more likely to give him(over the other characters) our ALLEGIANCE.During the interrogation of Alex, we are positioned to adopt hispoint of view through the use of cinematography.Alex is outnumbered and bullied by the Police officers and hisHeadmaster (Symbols of authority).He has been stripped of his mask and cod-piece – visualsignifiers of his masculinity.The authority figures are consistently framed from LOW ANGLEPOV‟s shot connoting their dominance and control over Alex.The use of camera in this sequence actively encourages us totake the view that the Police officers and Headmaster anddominant, aggressive and to be viewed as a threat. We share Alex‟s view of them (literallyand ideologically) and we feel empathy towards Alex – deepening our allegiance to him!ALLEGIANCE – loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior or of an individualto a group of a cause.Allegiance may be formed by our understanding or a characters motivation or a positiveevaluation of their anti-social and anarchic moral positionsWatch the sequence were Alex is arrested and questioned by the police andanswer the following questionsHow does the director appeal to our alignment with Alex and encourage us togive him ALLEGIANE?You must consider:Camera, editing, sound, mise-en-scene & Performance
As a result of our ALIGNMENT, and eventual ALLEGIANCE with Alex we are implicated inthe brutal violence and murder as we experience it through his Point Of View.As a result of our implication in the act of violence committed by Alex and ourALLEGIANCE to him, we are forced to endure his punishment with him. We, asSPECTATORS are subjected to punishment as the scenes of Alex being „trained‟ areunpleasant to watch. We may even feel repulsion to what we see – just as Alex feelsrepulsion at what he sees.Film theoristand author of „Isthe gaze male?‟E. Ann Kaplanstates:The most impressive aspect of the film is the way in which itreverses the gaze back on the spectator, and punishes the malespectator for his voyeurism. As we are implicated in the acts ofviolence we are „caught‟ when Alex is caught, and „punished‟along with Alex, for the deeds committed under our watch...The spectator has been partaking in Alex‟s domination of thefemaleWatch the „Ludivigo Technique‟ scenes and answer the following questions:How is Alex being punished?How is this punishment transferred to the spectator?(What is punishing about this sequence for the spectator?)You must consider:Camera, editing, sound, mise-en-scene & Performance
Throughout this sequence we are GAZING at close up‟s of Alex as he is being punished.The spectator is forced to view Alex‟s face in pain – and this makes us feel uncomfortable.– The spectator is being „punished‟ for their participation in the acts of violence againstwomen.The treatment of Alex is uncomfortable for the spectator, as we have to endure hispunishment.Both the spectator and Alex are denied the pleasure of the images for themselves. The onlyother spectators, the male doctors, are able to enjoy the images with out the expectation ofpunishment.The ending of A Clockwork Orange resulted in a lot of negative backlash towards the filmand its director. During final scene of the film Alex states that he been „cured‟ – Cured ofhis treatment by the Government. He then visualised himself having sex with a women aspeople watch – the male gaze returns to Alex and his cure is the ability to view women asobjects and commits acts of violence without the feelings of nausea caused by theLudivigo Technique.If we (the spectator) are aligned with Alex, implicit in his violence and punished with him,we must share his feelings when he is cured.At the end of the film, Alex‟s treatment is reversed and he is returned to his old Ultra-Violent self.The up-lifting music and depiction of violence as enjoyable returns both Alex and thespectator to the MALE GAZE as a REWARD FOR OUR ALLEGIANCE!
Most war films focus their narratives on the war itself and attempt to align us with aspecific character.ends with Taylor (Sheen) leaving Vietnam in a helicopter.There are several POV shots (from Taylor) showing dead bodies beingdumped, and the facial expressions of the clearly traumatised soldiers.The non-diegetic music adds a sense of melancholy to the scene, reflecting Taylor‟semotions and encouraging us to take the intended/preferred reading of the film.Taylors narration talks of “The enemies within us” & theimpact of war on the individual. He also mentions thatsurvivors have an obligation to “build again”.Through his narration the character is not only presentinghis inner thoughts, but also speaking directly to theaudience.Through the use of POV‟s and narration Oliver Stone is presenting a singular and specificre-presentation of Vietnam and is encouraging us to „ALIGN‟ with and give „ALLEGIANCE‟to Taylor and accept the POV he presents.Re-Watch the endings for both „Full Metal Jacket‟& „Platoon‟?What do you think is the „intended meaning‟ of the films?How did the character and the techniques used (camera, narration, music etc)help you in „decoding‟ the meaning of the film?What „motivation‟ is given (if any) for the actions of the main characters?How does the ending of Full Metal Jacket differ from the ending of Platoon?Are we encouraged to take a specific POV or adopt a specific meaning?
Most WAR FILMS will provide the audience with reasons, or motivation for the actions thecharacters take. For example, characters in WAR FILMS often fight for:MoneyPowerHonourFreedomWomenReputation etcWAR FILMS USUALLY GIVE A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF EACH CHARACTERSMOTIVES. THEY ARE PRESENTED TO THE AUDIENCE, CREATING A „FRAMEWORK‟ FOROUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE FILM.If spectators are given a reason/motivation for the actions of characters we are given anunderstanding of WHY they do what they do. We may not agree with what they do, but wecan at least understand WHY they do them.In the sequence the camera, from a low angle, pans round andallows each character an equal amount of screen time to declaretheir motivations for their actions in the war.Each character conveys an individual message to the cameraidentifying their characters and roles as Marines – they aredistinguished as individuals with individual motivations.Some are disturbed, some talk of „going home‟, some with the deadsoldiers a place in Heaven and Animal Mother says:If a character is fighting forfreedom, we view the film with thisin mind and it motivates everyaction of the character. We areencouraged to see war as thecharacter see’s it an adopt theirPOVWatch the sequence from Vietnam when each member of Joker‟s squad givetheir motivations for fighting and answer:Does Kurbick provide one clear motivation for the soldiers‟ actions?Why does Kubrick present a number of POV‟s?What is the „meaning‟ we are supposed to take from this scene?“Rather you than me!”
The answer to “WHY ARE WE HERE?” will usually be answered with one of the motivationsgiven on the previous page. However, Full Metal Jacket is not so clear.Raptor Man states:The scene offers viewers an insight in to the characters and their ideas, but it still offers noconcrete ideas as to what they are really in Vietnam for.The theme of UNCLEAR MOTIVATIONS is seen throughout Full Metal Jacket.Joker himself embodies this theme by wearing a „Peace‟ symbol on his jacket, but „Born toKill‟ written on his helmet.When asked why he joined the Marine Core,Joker states:Yet, when he graduates he chooses a position of Newsreporter, away from the infantry.Later in the film he does shoot a wounded enemy from pointblank range.“At least they died for a good cause...”“What cause is that?”“You think we are fighting for freedom?...If I’m going to die for a word... It‘d bepoon-tang!”“Freedom”TO KILL SIR!
Joker claims his items (Peace Symbol/Born to Kill Helmet) representthe „DUALITY OF MAN‟ – and it is often used to reflect the innerconfusion of the soldiers throughout the film.FULL METAL JACKET PRESENTS JOKER AS A SYMBOL OF MAN‟SDUALITY – WANTED TO DO GOOD BUT OFTEN SUBMITTING TO OURCARNAL/ANIMALISTIC DESIRES TO DO SOThroughout these sequences Joker is the character we most identify with, through hispresense on screen and his narration.However in the soap beating scene he yields to pressure from the „group‟ and the need forunity, and beats Pyle.In this way we are never truly aligned with Joker. We may, at some points, see him as asympathetic character whose rebelliousness endears him to us. But at other times he isarrogant, brutal and unsympathetic.JOKER‟S DUALITY IS THEY KEY THEE OF THE FILM AND THE MAIN REAONS WHY WEARE UNABLE TO FULLY ALIGN WITH HIMJoker is at first reluctant to join in on the beating. But he ultimately yields and aligns withthe „group‟.When he does attack Pyle he strikes with more force and anger that the other marines. Hethen holds his ears, portraying his regret at beating Pyle.WHEN HE BEATS PYLE JOKER ALIGNS WITH THE GROUP. AS A RESULT OF HISBRUTALITY, THE SPECTATORS‟ RESPONSE TO JOKER CHANGES AND WE ALSO ALIGNWITH THE GROUP, RATHER THAN HIM AS AN INDIVIDUAL.THIS SCENE DEMONSTRATES THE DUALITY IN JOKER – THE DUALITY THAT MAKES ITVERY HARD FOR SPECTATORS TO ALIGN WITH HIM.Watch the „Soap Beating‟ scene from Full Metal Jacket and answer thefollowing:Why do you think Joker participated in the beating?What were his motivations for doing so?How does the scene affect your personal response or feelings towards bothPyle & Joker?
The Duality of Man theme is every present throughout Full Metal Jacket and it is one of themain reasons we are unable to ALIGN or give ALLEGIANCE to one particular character.Joker wants to commit an act of mercy and end the pain of the injuredSniper. However, to do this he must give in to his primitive desires andmurder the Sniper.The non-diegetic music adds an oppressive feel the scene and reflectsthe tensions felt by Joker and his comrades.This scene also reinforces the themes of Duality through Joker himselfand the opinions of the other soldiers.Once again, no over riding motivations are given!WE ARE PRESENTED WITH A NUMBER OF RESPONSES FROM THE SOLDIERS AND ANUMBER OF DIFFERENT MOTIVATIONS.AT THE END OF THIS SCENE AND THE FILM WE ARE STILL NO CLOSER TOUNDERSTANDING WHY THE SOLIDERS ARE IN VEITNAM.THE ABILITY TO ALIGN WITH AN INDIVIDUAL IS DENIED FROM US BY KURBRICK.INSTEAD WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO ALIGN AND GIVE ALLEGIANCE TO THE GROUP,JUST LIKE JOKER AND THE OTHER SURVIVING MARINES.Watch the Sniper Scene from the end of the film and makes notes on thefollowing:How is the „Duality of Man‟ shown through this scene?How do you feel about Joker after he kills the Sniper?Do you feel closer to him, or do you remain un-aligned?
The „Duality of man‟ theme is also reflected in the narrative structure of the film itself.The film is split in to two distinct halves, each dealing with character, locations, andnarrative in different ways.BOOT CAMPBlue & Green dominate the environments. The entire sequence is given a sterileatmosphere where everything is in order. The dialogue itself is even said without normalinflection or emotion.The sequences provide the audience with a blend of uneasy laughter and steriledetachment.The BOOT CAMP sequences are included to create a sense of order andreflect the loss of individuality the characters are experiencing – this alsocontributes to our „distancing‟ from the characters.The second half of the film is in stark contrast to the look of the first half.In Vietnam the colour palette is dominated by reds and oranges – representing the chaosand frantic nature of the war.The dialogue is layered and more natural.The use of colour and mise-en-scene in both halves of the film reinforce the „DUALITY‟theme that runs throughout the film.
Previous exam questions:Summer 201215. „Narrative is often assumed to be the most important factor in triggering emotionalresponse whereas style is often overlooked.‟ How far do you agree with this? Or,16. „Some spectators can laugh, others cry at the same sequence.‟ Explore why spectatorsmay react very differently to the same sequences in the films you have studied for thistopic. Winter 201215. How far do spectators respond to the emotional content of films in the way that thefilmmakers intended? Or,16. How important is the soundtrack in influencing the spectator‟s emotional response to afilm?Summer 201215. How important is performance in understanding the spectator‟s emotional response topopular films? Refer to the films you have studied for this topic. Or,16. With reference to the films you have studied for this topic, explore some of the filmtechniques that are particularly powerful in triggering an emotional response in thespectator. Winter 201215. How far is the emotional response to popular films influenced by different viewingcontexts?Referto the films you have studied forthistopic. Or,16. It is sometimes said that films generating a strong emotional response disarm thespectator‟scritical faculties. Discuss how far this has been true of the films you havestudied for thistopic.