Week 7; Blue Valentine

This scene from Blue Valentine, a movie that I’ve seen at least 20 times (and continue to watch because it’s incredible), always stands out in my mind when I think of the movie. Every time I watch it I notice something different about it or another thoughtful detail. Most shots in this film are very long, but in this scene they are much shorter and make the fighting much more intense and fast-paced.

A very interesting detail in the shots is how when you can see Ryan Gosling’s face, you can see the other character’s faces in the reflection of the glass. This provides an interesting spatial relation between the characters and sometimes what seems to be spatial manipulation, since you can still see the other characters but they aren’t actually in the shot.

The temporal and rhythmic relations between shots is also very important in this scene because it makes the fighting part a lot more interesting than if it were just one long shot like the rest of the film typically is. The short shots accelerate time and condense the actual time to make it feel more chaotic and dramatic.

Something else that this scene does with editing that really adds to the feeling and situation is the use of the axis of action. You can notice this when Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are arguing and the consistent eyelines are used to create a better image for the viewer of what the scene looks like. These constant shot reverse shots with changing perspectives really accentuate all the action going on in such a small space. The way the shots are filmed is very interesting and does a great job of capturing the situation and the role that each character plays in the action. The quick shots and cuts really bring out the emotion and important drama going on in the scene.

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2 thoughts on “Week 7; Blue Valentine

  1. Interesting tidbit about this movie: it was filmed in my hometown in Pennsylvania. The crew actually used my high school Spanish teacher’s house for their equipment, and she met Ryan Gosling! So cool!

    I noticed that the camera is almost always looking through glass as we watch the fight go on. This gives an interesting feel of distance; whether this is supposed to create distance between the audience and the characters, or to show that the characters feel this distance from one another is up for interpretation. I sort of like the latter explanation, personally.
    I’ve never seen this movie, but the impact of the filmmaking in this scene really makes the point quite clear. It is not what they’re arguing about that’s important, but the fact that they’re so emotionally exhausted with each other; their words have little meaning. I don’t know what they’re fighting about, but I can sense the tension, the distance and the contempt Ryan Gosling’s and Michelle William’s characters feel for one another.
    Between the quick cuts/movements and the fact that we see everything from an awkward position, either through glass or between the straight lines of the walls, (which sort of serve to frame the conflict) the atmosphere of an argument is conveyed. Without using words, this director instilled in the audience the uncomfortable, chaotic feeling of a stressful fight in a way that’s difficult to describe but not at all difficult to understand and feel.

  2. I agree that the quick shots and rather abrupt cuts create a sense of heightened tension throughout the scene; and through them, the anger and dissension between Gosling’s and Williams’ characters, as well as Williams’ contempt towards Gosling, becomes almost tangible. I also find that the glass that stands between the audience/camera and the dialogue/action serves several cinematic purposes, not only creating a sense of distance between the two entities but serving as a means for the audience to relate to the situation and everything it entails – the chaos, the psychological unrest. The glass gives us placement as onlookers or eavesdroppers on the situation, creating an almost mockumentary-esque vibe; the camera focuses and zooms in on certain characters’ faces and bits of the action just as a normal person would if they were in that same situation. Furthermore, the distance that we feel with the characters also mirrors the emotional distance between the two once-lovers, as Michelle Williams’ character states firmly that she has fallen out of love with him, irrevocably.

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