Saturday, 13 October 2012

Manhunter (case study)

After watching Manhunter i thought it was a great film. Originality and dramatisation keeps the viewer gripped. The sound, the camera angles and the narrative make this film really effective in what it tries to achieve. 
The first scene gets straight into a crime scenario, where you are directly in the killers perspective as he is going to commit a crime on his victim, a family. The scene then switches to a beautiful place where theres an ocean, white sand, and a sense of ambience surrounded in nature. It shows two men discussing something of an issue as they sit on a log.

In this scene, Jack Crawford (top image) is asking Will Graham (bottom image) who is the protagonist, to take the case of the crime we just saw in the previous scene. The camera angles here keep switching views to look past either the back of the proposer or the chest of the protagonist. This style of recording shows theres resistance in the protagonist, whereas the proposer is trying to convince him to take the case. The camera angles throughout the film have a deeper definition, along with other factors. The camera itself is of huge importance when filming as it can convey what the characters are feeeling, it gives the viewer a sense of emotion which can only be seen through techniques of composition, camera angles or colour. 

Another two examples of the use of camera angles in this film are in the scenes where Will goes to visit Lecter and when Will has to relocate his family due to their safety.

When Will goes to visit Lecter, you can see there is a sense of confinement in Will, hence the shots which frame him within the prison. Framing within a shot usually gives the sense of restriction. In the prison scene, Will asks Lecter for any information but you can feel the hesitation in Will being dependent on Lecter, in doing so there is fear inside of Will, fear of his family's safety which causes him to run out of the prison cell before he leaks any more information which Lecter can use to his advantage. 
This same style of shooting appears later on, when Lecter finds out where his family live, so he has to relocate his family into a barren place, again this representing that his family are now confined due to safety issues. 

There is a constant reference to the architectural value of the city.
 The film has a contemporary and modern style to it especially during that era (1986). You can see this is in the scenes of the homes which exhibit modern furniture as well as the citys outlook.

As well as the urban references, there are also natural references...

The references to nature are something of precious moments. For example in the scene where the villain meets with the blind girl and he actually likes her, it seems as if he is a reformed person by the morning. You can feel the innocence in his being and at the same time the regret in his doings when he cried the night before. In the morning he wakes up to a peachy glow and finds the girl outside (top right shot). They both talk while the sun is rising and it seems as if he wants more of her affection by asking to see her again, the reference of nature suggests enlightenment and that there is an innocent side to him contrasted to his killer instinct.

Another notion of preciousness set by nature is the feeling of achievement. In the first scene Will Graham is living peacefully until someone asks him to take the case and this disrupts his way of life, away from his family, away from his home which is set in a natural surrounding. Once he accepts the case he is surrounded by the urban environment, and there is no getting away until he overcomes the problem/conflict. On numerous occasions he imagines the lifestyle he had before he took the case, it's almost like his home sick in the city. Then finally once he completes the case and kills the villain, he is rewarded with his old lifestyle back; the family, the house and the blissful environment. 

The use of colour in this film has more than just an appealing look, it's symbolism. One of the few colours which keep recurring is blue. Blue represents Will Graham and anything related to him, for example his wife or home. The blue used in many shots can represent calmness about him, as his character is quite collected and relaxed. Blue is a cool colour and you can see it exaggerated for emphasis in many scenes, such as the scene where he is in bed with his wife, the strength of the blue night fills the room with an eerie contrast, or the scene where he was handed bullets which have a blue cap, this was emphasized with a zoom on the bullets. Another recurring subject matter is the sky. There are many scenes shot with the sky in view perhaps this was a natural way to use the colour blue.

The other colour used frequently was green. Green represents the villain (Francis Dolarhyde) as well as any scenes relating to problems, which would also link back to the villain in a sense. The use of green represents sickness and alien, which is quite ironic as the villains house is endowered with images of space and the universe. It was mentioned Francis was influenced by the lunar patterns, so it tells the viewer that the villain has some form of passion for astronomy.

White was also used frequently throughout. All of the scenes in the mental hospital were purely white, this represents a state of purity and neutrality. The white has a sense of dementia in which one of the scenes Will runs away from, as if he is feeling claustrophobic mixed with fear. Another scene in which white is used is when Will visits the crime scene, the room is entirely white (pure) but covered in a red vibrant blood, the contrast here tells of a brutal relationship between the killer and the innocent family.

The use of purple and pink hues are in scenes of distress. For example in the scene where the idea of Wills wife is at the tether of being the killers next victim, in the blue haze of her house there is shot of the fish tank which is a pinky hue contrasted with the surrounded blue darkness. Or towards the end where Will finds the killer and kills him just in time to save the innocent blind woman, regardless of the burden which has been lifted there has been damage done and traumatisation of people, this is shown through the use of purple and pink hues on the clothing of the blind woman and the sky.

Other shots which i really liked:

I liked the first shot for the use of colours. The orange flame which burns a warm colour, filling up the set with a lava glow, this really appealed to my eye. With the evening shot i liked the composition and how the silhouette of the two speaking while the sun sets, it was effective in conveying something of a serious issue.

Another scene i really liked was when Francis took the sightless co-worker to see a tiger. As her only way of 'seeing' is to touch, she begins to caress the tiger, as this is happening Francis feels stimulated by this, almost as if he is being sexually aroused. This scene can represent the persona of Francis in the tiger. The tiger is sedated and can't bite as his aggressive nature usually is, at the same time this could reflect the feelings of Francis, the tiger being a reference to him and how he is not going to 'bite' the co-worker as he has fallen for her. We later discover he seems to like her and enjoys the affection, but all that is undone when he assumes she is cheating on him, to awake the killer again.

One of my favourite scenes are when he is in the plane and dreaming about whats its like to be with his wife again. Then it suddenly switches to shots of the crime scene's photographs, the use of juxtaposition is quite effective. From colourful pleasant shots, to a cut scene of images of dead bodies, with contrasted dark and dull tones.

Overall a great film and i really enjoyed it, the execution and style of recording was effective. Especially the use of colours to convey emotion and feeling.

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