Separating your senses can give a new perspective

The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie I’ve seen quite a few times, for this reason I decided to choose a scene from it for this assignment. I wanted to see how I would interpret the movie after learning about all of these techniques and effects. I was curious to see if this time around I would notice something that I hadn’t noticed when watching it in the past. Here is the video of the scene I choose.

After separating my sense and watching this clip three times, this is what I gained…

First Time- No sound:

Watching this without sound was interesting. I realized that I wasn’t necessarily paying attention to the story but instead I was paying more attention to what was going on around the story. In the beginning of the clip they used many transitioning scenes where they transitioned from day light to night and back again. Each time the scene sort of faded into each other. I also notice that the lighting used throughout the rest of the clip was brighter, it seemed they were relying heavily on natural light. Camera angles also stood out to me. The point of view in which the scenes were shot varied. At times the camera brought you into the one-point perspective to bring you into the hectic environment of the scene. I also noticed the positive right technique from Ebert’s article. In the interview part all of the important roles were set to the right of the screen while Will Smiths character was set to the left with a more negative appearance. The camera seemed to tell the story from two perspectives, the perspective of Will Smiths character and also the perspective of an on looker looking in on the situation.

Second Time- Sound without picture:

I thought this part would be slightly harder because I thought that having already watched the clip would interfere with my interpretation. I’m glad to say that wasn’t the case. For this part I turned my volume all the way up and my screen brightness all the way down which essentially led me to look at a black screen. I was getting distracted by the refections on the screen so I even ended up closing my eyes and truly just listening. The beginning of the clip started off with slow paced audio leading up to some up-beat instrumental music. No words just a fast paced tune. It then led to the face pace tune accompanied with layering sounds of a noisy city. This layering sound effect gave me the sense of chaos. That sense of chaos continued once the music stopped. The sounds of many people talking all at once and multiple phones ringing became louder and louder. Skipping on to the actual interview part, I thought they did a great job at portraying the desperation he was feeling. The dialogue was spaced out with emphasis on specific words, like “parking tickets”. There were also several jokes in the dialogue I guess to keep the audiences attention. The dialogue also shifted back and forth between characters, painting a picture of what was going on and who was in charge. I think that the audio and the pauses in between conversations and words put together the story that was being told.

Third Time- All together:

Watching this all together was cool now that I broke it apart. The slow music in the beginning went  perfectly with the transitioning day and night scenes. The music picks up just as the scene picks up. Up-beat instrumentals to portray the feeling of chaos as he rushes to make it to his interview. The camera also follows this same chaotic pattern as he is running. The angle of the camera isn’t directly on him but instead films from the perspective of the other side of the street often having cars in between the character and the camera. This was something that I didn’t pay close attention to while watching it without sound. As the music stops the focus also shifts. Will Smiths character is framed in the center looking out of place while everyone in his surrounding looks calm and collective like they belong in that environment. I notice that when he goes into his interview and begins to speak the camera takes a low angle perspective. I think this angle was chosen to show the way that he took charge of the situation. Making him seem dominant although in the situation he isn’t. Another thing that I noticed was the lighting when the camera was in one-point view. The light towards what the camera was looking at was much brighter that the unclose image of the back of Will Smiths character. I think this effect was used to draw the audience in as if they too were in the room looking at what his character was looking at as oppose to paying attention to him.

I thought that all in all the techniques used, both audio and visual, came together in a good way in order to tell the story.

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