Not only is the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho one of the most famous scenes in all of hollywood, but it also helped shape the modern genre of horror and suspense. Hitchcock was so ahead of his time in terms of suspense and tension, and his films greatly support that statement. This shower scene, in particular, is a prime example of the mastery Hitchcock has in crafting and editing horror scenes. Janet Leigh’s character is first seen in the shower, and several shots of decent length are strung together slowly to perhaps show the audience that not all is right. Then the silhouetted figure is revealed through the shower curtain. The scene still progresses slowly, but suddenly, the audience can feel the rising tension. When the shadowed figure draws the curtain, all the tension is relieved as the figure begins to stab away at Leigh with a knife, and the eerie music is cued. Instantly, the audience sees a contrast in the length of the shots; during the build up, they are long and drawn out, once the shower curtain is drawn, they alternate back and forth between the shrieking Leigh, and the shadowed figure. Hitchcock creates this sudden change of pace within this scene to freak the audience out, and to traumatize them. Almost similar to the baptism murder scenes in The Godfather, where the murders happen so quickly to instill a sense of trauma, Psycho also shows the death of Janet Leigh’s character in such sporadic speed, that the audience is left confused and bewildered, especially since it was the main protagonist that was killed less than halfway through the movie. Now imagine how this scene totally went against all of the Hollywood “code” of the time, and how it really inspired a break from the normal framework of plot in the horror and suspense genre.
I chose a scene from one of my all time favorite movies, “Undisputed 3.” Although this movie did not win any Academy Awards, it is decently directed and contain some interesting editing.
The scene I chose is when Uri Boyka and the other prison fighters from around the world travel to the prison fighter championship and are introduced to the Guards. They all line up and introduce themselves. The zoomed in camera angle on the fighters faces while they introduce themselves gives the viewer no connection to these people because they are meant to be seen as monsters. The only thing you see is their face, you get no background story and along with that, no sympathy. While the fighters are introducing themselves, the camera angle switches from the blank faces of the fighters, to the blank faces of the warden who shows even less sympathy for the fighters than the viewers do. Also, the extra diegetic music emphasizes the seriousness of the scene. It speaks to the fact that no one is there to make friends, but simply to kill each other in the ring.
There is also a high camera angle scene where the line of fighters is shown from the point of view of one of the guards up above. I think this short angle was inserted just to help identify that the setting is a high security prison. The prison is set up exactly as it is meant to be, full of heartless killers.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
This is one of my favorite films ever – cinematic art at its finest.
This particular scene begins by establishing the setting – the main character’s (Joel) friends’ living room. As he relates to them a story concerning his recent encounter with an ex-lover, Clementine, cross-cutting is used to transition back and forth between scenes of Joel’s unpleasant experience and the scene at present, all tied together through his consistent voice-over.
The camerawork is also shaky – but subtly and artfully – even around 00:30 when the action of the frame is completely oriented around him, serving to emphasize the uneasiness and restlessness he feels as well as the tension within the scene.
Beginning around 00:47, as Joel’s character suddenly becomes overcome with the realization that Clementine has found a new lover, his confusion is mirrored through an almost tangible curtain that draws itself between Joel and his surroundings. The movement of the camera grows slightly more hectic, making the background seem blurrier, and the white noise of the background (people talking, moving around, etc.) becomes increasingly indiscernible yet more pronounced in terms of volume. Joel’s breathing grows heavy as his disconnect with his surroundings grows – and here, the most profound piece of editing takes place as Joel simultaneously walks out of the bookstore and into his friends’ living room. While this occurs, the lighting of the bookstore changes, each level of the ceiling lights turning off following the movement of Joel out of the room: in my opinion, one of the most creative transitions I’ve ever seen in a film. This transcends the typical cross-cutting method, and the sudden shift between past and present also illuminates the dream-like quality of the film, distorting and warping the audience’s sense of time.
The scene as a whole maintains a certain stream of consciousness – emphasizing the intertwined threads of Joel’s reality and his confusion with it, punctured with images of the past: a dynamic that is used throughout the entirety of the film, giving it an undeniably dream-like vibe. The experimentation with the editing of color and lighting also magnifies this almost surrealistic essence of the film. Clementine’s vivid hair – which changes throughout the film – not only adds to the overall visual effect of the film but reflects the state of the relationship between Joel and Clementine. In this scene, her hair is blue, representing the opposite of passion and life.
This might be a little out there, but since we have been watching such weird movies, I would like to share my favorite Korean film. Antique Bakery describes a wealthy man who wants to start a bakery. The “Cake Paradise” scene is near the beginning where he makes up his mind to learn about cakes. There is a fast forwarding of time to show his improvement and hard work, even though he despises cake to the point where he has to throw it up when he tastes it. The story revolves around four male characters, in which the movie connects their past to their present.
The scene is very fast paced with so much flash framing and comic book framing. It goes with the very out there theme that this movie has. Each shot is very fast, but somehow it shows how tired he is by the speediness of the events that happen to him. The first time he cooks, he fails. He tries with a lot of tasting, which makes him puke. Then he reads a lot on cakes, which makes him tired. But suddenly, he gets better. He is able to name the cakes. The flash frames and edits show the elapsed time of him learning the cakes by name.
Another thing in this scene is a lot of camera movement involving different levels. We have to focus on each part of him as he is making cake or eating it or doing what ever he is doing in this crazy scene. We see a lot of waist shots, with him cutting cake. The camera goes from one level to another and almost never stops moving. It makes the whole scene look like a dream and somehow very “trippy”.
I enjoyed this movie because it was so weird. It is definitely a film with very artistic elements. I recommend it for those with open minds. 🙂
For this week’s assignment, I chose the rotating hallway/floating elevator scene in Inception. This scene utilizes editing and cuts in a very unique way. Through Nolan’s direction, we are able to see what is happening on both levels of the dream world.
The cuts emphasize the movie time, which is unique from pretty much any movie time portrayed in any other film. Every time something happens in the raining city, it affects the reality in the hotel. The editing is done in such a way that we see everything happening in montage form. There isn’t too much mis-en-scene used because that wouldn’t be efficient use of screen time. If mis-en-scene were used exclusively at this point of the movie, it would be almost impossible to follow the relationship between the two dream layers.
Some more spectacular editing is evident in the actual rotating hallway scene. Christopher Nolan is famous for not using greenscreen technology to capture the effects in this movie, and this scene is no exception. This scene has less cuts and creates suspense in the mis-en-scene.
For this week’s assignment I chose the opening scene from Les Miserables. It begins with a shot of the vast expanse of the shipyard, and the camera quickly zooms in on the prisoners who are pulling the ropes and then to Javert standing on the wall, and the shots go back and forth. This creates a spacial continuity because of the axis of rotation of the different shots. First we see the prisoners facing towards us at a straight angle of 180 degrees, then the shot moves up to 90 degrees when we see Javert on the platform. This creates a sense of power and authority that Javert has because from the shots it seems like he is very high up above the prisoners.
From the beginning of the scene we establish a relationship between prisoner 24601 and Javert. When the prisoners are singing “look down” prisoner 24601 looks up at Javert, who motions for him to keep working. This part of the scene distorts our perception of height because we get a shot of Javert looking toward the ground at the prisoners below (1:32) but the prisoners look so small that you can barely see them, like ants. We wonder then how Javert could have noticed one out of the hundreds of prisoner’s heads tilt up. This relationship builds until the end of the scene when Javert picks him out to retrieve the flag.
Near the middle of the scene (1:56) we see the establishing shot of the prisoners. They are all in straight lines and pulling the ropes in a perfect, rhythmic synchronization to the beat of the music. This continuous movement shows that the prisoners move as one, and that they are much like robots, moving in a sort of mechanical motion. The water also creates a sense of rhythm, as the waves are crashing to the beat of the music as well.
At the end of the scene we see the connection between Javert and prisoner 24601 unfold. Javert makes 24601 pick up the flag which is extremely heavy, but as he is doing so the camera tilts upward, following his lifting of the flag. From this camera angle we can tell how heavy the flag is, because of slowness of the tilt.
The scene begins with a long focal length establishing shot showing a crowd of people in a church surrounding a baptism. Extra-diegetic organ music overlays the scene.
Michael and his sister (holding her baby) walk up to the priest as he begins to speak. A close-up of Michael is shown followed by a close-up of the baby. These shots are short to condense time.
The next shot is not in the church–it is in a separate location, perhaps a motel room; it shows an assassin loading his AK47. This parallel montage is used throughout the scene to show that while the baptism is taking place, Michael’s men are assassinating the leaders of the “five families.”
Shots of five assassins (and their victims) in four separate locations are spliced with shots of the baptism.
The priest performing the baptism speaks in Latin whilst in the church, and his words are overlayed when the shot switches to the murders. His diegetic words become extra-diegetic via editing.
Another edit I would like to mention occurs for a split second at 4:10 and then again from 4:15-:16. The camera shows a man lock another man inside a revolving door. The man outside the revolving door holds a gun and begins shooting at the trapped man. As this happens, white bullet-hole cracks appear on the glass of the revolving door. At 4:10 and 4:15 the camera switches from the point of view of the shooter to the point of view of the victim; the shots alternate between being outside the revolving door and being inside the revolving door. This really caught my eye because when the camera switches to the view from inside the revolving door, it almost creates the effect that the viewer is being shot at, which is very disturbing.
Interestingly, no slow-mo or anything similar is used to expand the time of the gunshots. They happen rapidly and naturally. I think this lack of editing removes the viewer from the action; the viewer feels little to no emotional connection to the people being shot, which I think makes the shooting that much more disturbing because many human lives are taken away in such a short amount of time, and they are not even given much screen time. To be given such little screen time makes the shootings seem mundane or ordinary, which is quite disturbing indeed.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The boulder scene from Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my all time favorite scenes from any of the movies I’ve watched. Dressing up as Indiana Jones twice for Halloween, this scene hits close to my heart. I was very intrigued to analyze the scene’s editing and discover new subtle nuances within the film.
The establishing shot of the scene begins with Indy trying to carefully remove the artifact from an ancient temple’s stand. He takes his time and rightfully presumes that the tomb is booby-trapped. In terms of editing, the shots in this part of the scene are extended in order to prolong the suspense of what will happen next. The scene also cuts to Indy’s partner to add even more suspense as he vicariously awaits the artifact with seemingly no concern for Indy’s well being. What makes this scene really suspenseful, however, is its music. The music perfectly syncs with the actions of the scene and once Indy finally retrieves the artifact, the music comes to a climatic halt that leaves the viewer with relief and despair all at once.
By removing the artifact, Indy now finds himself in one of the most terrifying obstacle courses ever. As the temple’s traps come alive with anger, the editing comes alive as well. For the rest of this exhilarating scene, the editing moves into fast cuts. It seems as if each shot is never more than a couple of seconds. By doing so, the editor not only succeeds in heightening suspense but also succeeds in construct editing by showing the special relations of the temple.
From beginning to end, the scene is a cinematic roller coaster of exhilaration. In my opinion, this real life version of temple run is one of the best openings I’ve ever seen to a film. After further examination, I’ve come to also value and admire its masterful editing as well.
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.
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.