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Analysis Of The Film Narrative "Wendy And Lucy"

1100 words - 4 pages

The film Wendy and Lucy, directed by Kelly Reichardt, presents a sparse narrative. The film has been criticised for its lack of background story, and as a short film, much of the story is left to the viewer to infer from what is presented in the plot. However, Wendy and Lucy is able to depict the intimate relationship between Wendy and her dog as well as reflecting more broadly on the everyday, and commenting on the current economic state of the film’s setting in America. This essay will examine how film form contributes to the viewer’s awareness of the story in Wendy and Lucy and allows a deeper understanding of the themes presented. The aspects of mise-en-scene, shot and editing and sound in the film will be explored.
Elements of mise-en-scene in Wendy and Lucy help to convey aspects of the story that are never explicitly expressed in the narrative of the film. Wendy and Lucy does not present a large amount of background story information, for instance, the scene where Wendy calls her brother may cause some viewers to wonder about their strained relationship and his role in Wendy’s current financial situation. Moreover, Wendy’s financial situation is never truly discussed in the film, only implied, yet the viewer is still aware of it. Facets of mise-en-scene helps to convey the information that fills the gaps left in the story. Kolker defines the concept of mise-en-scene as a way to “explain how images, through composition, camera movement, lighting, focus and colour, generate narrative event and guide our perception through a film” (Kolker 1998, p.17). An essential element of mise-en-scene is setting and sets. Wendy and Lucy is presented in an entirely naturalistic setting. The small town Wendy is passing through gives the film a stark realism and a sense of the everyday. Costume further conveys this message and allows the viewer to infer Wendy’s economic state, particularly upon the examination of her entirely practical clothes. Similarly, Michelle Williams’ performs Wendy in a quiet, pared down manner that allows her to be believable and enhances the sense of realism in the film. Much of Wendy’s emotion is depicted through facial expression and body language rather than vocalised, which gives the impression of unconstructed dialogue, again adding the realism in the film. Lighting is used as a way to contrast elements of nature with the harshness of society. In the opening sequence, the viewer is presented with Wendy playing with her dog at sunset; natural, golden light sweeps across the image. Later in the film, when Wendy is taken to prison, her prison cell is lit with a harsh, artificial light, which is similarly used in the scene at the dog pound. Mise-en-scene helps to convey a sense of realism in Wendy and Lucy and allows the viewer to make judgements about Wendy’s economic and social state that are not explicitly stated in the narrative.
Shot and editing are other elements used to convey the overarching themes of the film....

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