Week 7 Blog Posting

 

This film is one of the most iconic of our time for a variety of different reasons, not least of which is the camerawork and elements of mise-en-scene, all of which are pulled together through editing.

                At the opening of this scene, what appears to be a long crane shot is used as we descend upon a tall glass building. This shot isn’t cut at any point, so it occurs in real time without any compression or expansion. At the end of this shot, one of the panes of glass is shot out from the inside. This unites the outside of the building with the inside of the building instead of allowing the audience to infer this connection. As the robbers prepare to jump out of the window frame, the shots are much shorter, building the suspense. Another crane shot is used as they ride the wire across the two buildings; we see straight down at one point, giving us a sense of dimension and creating space on the screen.

                Interspersed with the robbers gliding to the other building is a shot of another robber on a street corner with a mask in his hand. We later discover that this robber is the Joker himself, so the mask is an element of mise-en-scene that clues us into how important this character is. When the Joker is picked up by more of his thief friends, we see a shot of the interior of the vehicle. It is at this point that the axis of action is somewhat broken and disorients us. First, we get a shot from behind the Joker’s head, establishing the axis; next, we get a shot from the right of the passenger’s head, which confuses our sense of the space in the vehicle.

                Jumping off of the vehicle scenario once more, a sense of unity between cuts is created when one of the robbers in the car says to the other, ”I know why they call him the Joker.” In the next cut, two more masked men seemingly continue this conversation when one says “So why do they call him the Joker?” and the other answers the question. It creates a cohesiveness between two otherwise unrelated scenes.

 

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4 thoughts on “Week 7 Blog Posting

  1. Great movie.

    It is certainly a good indicator that this scene is brilliantly cut in terms of continuity, because at first watching, I didn’t even notice the editing. Each shot flows with the last, creating a seamless scene of action.

    Most of the editing takes place when the plot moves from one group of the robbers to the other. Other than that, many of the shots are long, sweeping takes which derive more suspense from the action onscreen and the dramatic music rather than the quickening pace of shots. This is interesting because a similar technique is used in the scene posted by another one of our classmates from Inception, another Nolan film. It is interesting to see his editing style portrayed in these two films and this definitely makes me want to re-watch and analyze his other movies. From this scene and the Inception scene, it seems to me that he places importance on mise-en-scene and music before editing, at least when it comes to creating dramatic effect.

  2. Who doesn’t love a bank robbery scene? Christopher Nolan definitely uses great camerawork to draw out the edge of your seat action that is portrayed in this scene. As you mentioned before, the crane shot at the beginning of the scene gives the viewer a lot of information as it also serves as an establishing shot of the metropolitan like city that is Gotham. I found the crane shot of the bank robbers zip lining also really cool as it gave the audience a new perspective and spatial relations to the shot. Another aspect of the scene that I noticed is Nolan’s use of extended shots to draw out significance throughout the robbery. As you mentioned before, without even knowing he is actually the joker, the audience knows that the robber on the street corner is of much more importance than the others through Nolan’s use of extending shots. Another shot like this comes when we are first introduced to the man with the shotgun. We expect his character to also have significance and although it is short lived, he served the purpose of acting as an opposite force against the robbers. Essentially, the scene alternates between quick and extended cuts, but it never loses intensity. This is a great scene and I love how the use of parallel montage really shows the whole process of the robbery. Thanks for posting it!

  3. I love the suspense that’s packed into every frame in this scene. The first shot is drawn out for 17 long seconds, creating and building up a certain sense of suspense within the audience that is immediately shattered by the next scene, just as the glass is shattered by one of the criminals.
    The following angle at 1:22 – the faceless man, turned towards the street – creates an ominous tone coupled with a sense of mysteriousness and foreboding,
    The silhouettes of the criminals are often portrayed as dark, emphasizing not only their namelessness/anonymousness as well as their irrelevancy in the face of the joker, who treats them all in pawns, exerting and maintaining a certain power over them throughout the scene despite even his masked identity. As mentioned before, the cross-cutting definitely heightens the sense of urgency and suspense in the situation, as does the perpetually-moving, rhythmic music characteristic of Hans Zimmer’s orchestrations.

  4. This scene to me is a really great opener for a film. It instantly starts off with a suspenseful situation hindered by the crane shots at the beginning, and the disorientation is continued with all the separate scenes tied together around the bank robbery. All the villains are in masks and are often silhouetted, adding to the confusion. I also agree when you talk about the unity in this scene. All the separate actions in this scene come together at the end as the joker escapes alone, and the audience is left spell-bounded, left with this brilliant impression of the antagonist after just the first scene.

    The rhythm and pace of this scene is well done, too. The quick shots and parallel montage between scenarios keeps the pace quick, and the suspenseful music builds up, creating an ever increasing rhythm which collapses at the end, when The Joker is able to escape.

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