We are looking at how emotion can be conveyed in a single frame and the emotions and feelings you respond with. Also how the frame causes this.
I took the following screenshots of Jurassic Park. This is one of my favourite movies of all time and the plot, the characters and the action are all created to perfection. I know that there are more accomplished dinosaur movies where they may look more realistic and special effects are more explosive but this movie never fails to impress not the first time I watched it or now. It could have been filmed round now the effects are so good. You can’t look at the creatures in it and think ‘Well that’s clearly fake,’ it’s all real and infused with the childhood fears from when I first watched it this is an unforgettable movie.
I remember the first time I watched Jurassic Park. I think I was about six or seven, I’d heard of it but I’d never seen it. My friend invited me round and after locking me in his garage and being rescued by his Mum he ate a whole piece of paper in front of me and then switched on Jurassic Park. I don’t remember much of it apart from the kitchen scene. And for some reason I thought that was set in an old shop after they’d run across a field of pylons “my friend told me how his cousin had climbed a pylon so that’s probably why”
Several years later we watched it again and needless to say I was terrified. The T-Rex, The Velociraptors, the electric fence, the kitchen scene (not shop) and the fight at the end. My sister and I were riveted, terrified and enthralled all in one. I don’t know how many times me and my sister have watched it but it never fails to disappoint, never seems monotonous even though I can recite a lot of it.
Lex and Tim, they look terrified as the velociraptor has entered the kitchen. The close up allows the viewer to see their fear and emotion, wide eyed, Lex staring straight ahead Tim with his hands jammed over his ears frozen with terror. It’s filmed on the children’s eye level to make the raptor seem even more of a threat large and oposing. The framing ensures that one half is the children hiding, terrified, whilst the rest of the frame occupies the velociraptor. It’s like a ‘it’s behind you’ clip and there’s nothing they can do. It gives information showing the viewer everything they need, the position of the children, the creature, the fact that there is nothing on the left hand side makes it feel like they are cornered. The low key lighting adds to the mood creating a feeling of fear and darkness. The viewer is on the edge of their seat fearful for the children and what is going to happen. Even though I’ve watched it so many times, this part still scares me even thought I know what’s going to happen.
This frame is fantastic, the low angle gives the velociraptors an extreme height and prominence in the frame, they fill half of the frame and Tim looks so small and terrified backed against the kitchen. The light behind them touches the creatures head so the eye is drawn there straight away. The tense moment as the raptor sniffs the ladle that Tim has knocked increases the tension and fear. Is he going to be caught?
These two frames are also very powerful, the camera moves to floor level so you are dragged into the chase. Tim is framed between the raptors legs, showing the terrifying size difference but also it feels to the viewer like Tim is going to be caught.
Finally, Tim is gasping for breath after having escaped the second raptor. His sister grabs him and his look of terror and fear that another raptor has got him make the viewer jump too. It also reminds the viewer that whilst they are safe for the moment other raptors are out there!
Series of Unfortunate Events
Another of my favourite movies and book series as well. We follow Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire as they find themselves orphaned and in the care of their crazy, murderous Uncle, Count Olaf. The children find themselves in situations that get more dire as it goes on from being deliberately stuck on a level crossing with a train coming to having to escape a house perched on the edge of a cliff as it literally is torn apart.
This is the action sequence I am focusing on here and have chosen this frame below.
Netflix wouldn’t allow me to take a screenshot so I had to take a photo of my laptop screen hence the bad quality and reflections.
Nethertheless you can still see the powerful frame. As above the low angle view point heightens the feeling of fear and show how the three children are so defenceless compared to what’s happening above them. There’s a sense of trepidation as they look down into the jagged abyss watching the burning oven falling to the sea below. Violet clutches baby Sonny to her, a maternal instinct protecting her, showing she won’t let any harm come to her. The diagonal composition makes everything seem unnatural and violent. It’s like a cubism composition representing chaos and unnatural moments.
This scene in Italian job is a very memorable and striking scene as the bank robbers cower in the van which is jutting out over a cliff. The man is crawling towards the back of the van struggling to reach the gold so it doesn’t pull them over the edge and in the background his comrades back against the wall watching in terrified fascination. The shot I’ve chosen however is the one as the camera draws back from the stranded robbers, it’s a feeling of helplessness, they’ve just been left there, on the edge of everything and can’t do anything. The smaller it gets the more vulnerable it appears until it’s just a tiny little dinky toy and the viewer has no idea what happens next, the diagonal of the cliff edge representing danger and uncertainty. Leaving the viewer with a feeling of ambiguity has a very powerful effect though it has to be created carefully, no one wants to leave a mystery film not knowing any more than they did when it started.