FILM . . . a study of elements LIGHTING During the trial of O.J. Simpson, TIME magazine received widespread criticism for manipulating a cover photograph of O.J. Simpson's police mug shot -intentionally altered to make Simpson look darker and more menacing. Not only were there concerns regarding Simpson's right to a fair trial, but these images also fed public debate about racial stereotyping. TIME darkened the handout photo creating a five o'clock shadow and a more sinister look. They darkened the top of the photo and made the police line-up numbers smaller. They decided Simpson was guilty so they made him look guilty. In an editorial the next week, TIME's managing editor wrote, "The harshness of the mug shot - the merciless bright light, the stubble on Simpson's face, the cold specificity of the picture - had been subtly smoothed and shaped into an icon of tragedy." In other words, they changed the photo from what it was (a document) into what they wanted it to be. TIME was making an editorial statement, not reporting the news. They presented what looked like a real photograph and it turned out not to be real; the public felt deceived, and rightly so. By doing this, TIME damaged their credibility and the credibility of all journalists. Questions to ask about lighting when viewing a film… • Are the scenes brightly lit? • Is there much shadow and darkness? • What is the purpose of such lighting? • Does lighting focus on a character or object? Why? • Is the source of the lighting realistic, symbolic, designed to draw the audience's attention to detail, or used to augment a character or the personality of the star? • Are shadows used to conceal, to dramatize or to symbolize aspects of character, action and theme? COLOUR Steven Spielberg elected to film Schindler’s List in black-and-white. Effective use of shadow and light has been used, meticulously limiting the application of colour. The opening scene is in colour, as is the closing sequence (which features the surviving "Schindler Jews", each accompanied by the actor who played their character, placing a stone on their saviour's grave). There are also two instances when color is allowed to bleed into the blacks, whites, and grays. One little girl's jacket appears red so that she stands out from the masses, and a pair of candles burn with orange flames. When color is used, it makes a point and an impression. Sam Raimi elected to film Spider-Man in bright colours, aiming to stay true to the story’s comic book origins. Gus Van Sant elected to film Finding Forrester in colour. Consider some of the choices made – their purposes and effects. Questions to ask about colour when viewing a film… • How is colour applied to the overall "look" of the film, to character, to costuming and to props? • Is there a symbolic and/or atmospheric purpose? • What colour contrasts are present from one scene to another, and what is the purpose? MUSIC Music -- particularly without lyrics – plays on human emotion. The brain processes sound. The sound of music is even more concentrated than the film experience itself. And the music of a single short song can be viewed as an even greater concentration of emotion. When lyrics area added to the music, viewers are given a direction for the emotion of the music. If there is a sense of story, it comes from those lyrics. The purpose of music and lyrics is to give a defined emotional state to the atmosphere that is created. The music connects the viewer to the story. Questions to ask about music when viewing a film… • How does the music define the atmosphere, mood and tone of a scene? • Does music comment on a character? • Does music define or identify characters? • How does music unify disparate shots? • Does music assist the transition of time? • Is the music a marketing tool? . . . writing an essay . . . After having viewed Finding Forrester for the second time and taking notes while watching, you will now present your findings in an essay of at least five paragraphs. Your essay will discuss the use of lighting, music, and/or colour in Finding Forrester. You may consider one, two or three of these elements. It is NOT necessary to write your essay on all three - choose the element(s) with which you are the most comfortable. Using the preceding questions and your notes as a guide, discuss the intended purpose and effect of one or more of these elements.