Film Analysis

1343 words - 6 pages

Newspaper headlines and stories are used throughout the film as transitional devices that drive the plot while relating directly to Peter’s role as reporter. POV shots of characters reading along are used frequently to provide the audience with story information found in these newspaper headlines. Peter first recognizes Ellie from her photo on the front page, setting the story in motion. When the newspaper reads “Daughter of Banker Still Missing!: $10,000 Reward Offered”, Oscar Shapeley threatens to call the police and return Ellie to her father. In direct cause and effect, Peter and Ellie are forced to leave the bus and take off on foot. As the story progresses, the newspaper headlines ...view middle of the document...

As one actor speaks, a complete view of their face is available to the audience over the shoulder of another. The use of long-shots are most often reserved for Ellie as the female lead. The position of the camera is level throughout the film, shot straight on and at eye-level. The height of the camera frequently adjusts as the action requires. While sitting at the breakfast table, the camera shifts from Peter’s eye-line to Ellie’s as she becomes the focus. When speaking to a young boy, the camera is at his eye-level rather than from a high-angle. High-angle and low-angle shots are used sparingly, often practically to enhance realism. A sailor is shot at a high-angle as Mr. Andrews speaks to him from above. Peter is shot from a low-angle as he speaks to a seated clerk. These angles also change as the two engage in a shot-reverse shot dialogue. However, the use of these shots establishes a power dynamic between the two actors on screen. Soft or shallow focus is frequently employed, blurring the background setting and giving priority to the main characters in focus. A staple in classical cinema, the main actress is cast in soft focus and soft lighting. This technique is often employed to soften the woman’s features and enhance femininity. In It Happened One Night, however, Clark Gable is often filmed in the same way. As Ellie and Peter bicker and disagree, moments of softness, intimacy and understanding are emphasised through this technique.
The film conforms to fidelity of sound. Demonstrated in It Happened One Night is classical cinema’s preference for dialogue above all other sound. Dialogue is heard above everything else, the majority of the film absent of background, non-diegetic sound entirely. Sound is predominantly diegetic, as the source of the sound is always confirmed onscreen, ensuring a realistic relationship between sound and setting. We hear the sound of wind and wave, and we can see the water through an open window. Music is heard while Peter and Ellie ride the bus, and the camera immediately shifts to show the musicians singing and playing instruments. A sound bridge is used as a transitional device to link two simultaneous plots of Ellie/Peter and Mr. Andrews. After showing Mr. Andrews in an airplane, the sound continues into the next shot of Ellie hearing the plane through her window. The sound of the plane suggests that Ellie and Peter are in danger of being caught, foreshadowing the arrival of the detectives. Non-diegetic music is reserved for the opening and closing credit sequences. As the film ends, the same song from the opening is played at the end, a mirror that establishes unity and closure.
In classical cinema, the mise-en-scène “depicts an external world that adheres to the norms of ‘realism’ determined by the conditions of the story.” Lighting is directly tied with setting, employed to mimic nature. The films’ settings are both studio constructions and pre-existing outdoor locations. These sets are backdrops to the...

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