Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Trapped In My Own Body

The point of view that a story is being told from has a huge impact on how a story is told, what information is being conveyed, and the audience's orientation and sympathies (205). 

In his film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel takes a very creative approach at shooting the opening scene. Before we're even introduced to the characters, the song being played during the opening credits sounds like it's preparing the audience for an old fashioned, French love or light hearted story. However, when coupled with the images of X-rays of the human body, the music suddenly seems contradictory and the audience has a feeling that this movie isn't going to be all nice and dandy. It creates an unsettling atmosphere right from the start. 

As soon as the music fades away, we see the camera blur in and out, and hear muffled voices as well as the more prominent sounds of someone's heavy breathing. As you can see, after watching this clip, the entire opening scene has been shot from the point of view of Jean-Dominique who has just suffered from a stroke. We are literally looking through his eyes (or rather, one eye, since we later discover that he has lost sight in one of his eyes) and are experiencing first hand what he is going through and what he is thinking. This has such a powerful impact on the audience because most of us have never had a stroke, so Schnabel has made it possible for us to experience the closest we'll ever get to experiencing the after effects and recovery process of a stroke. Everything from the flesh colored blur in the left corner of the screen to signify his eyelid to the blurring in and out of his sight to the confusion he is experiencing to his flashbacks (which are made obvious due to the dramatic change in lighting) was represented beautifully. I also love how his thoughts are much louder than any of the doctors' or nurses' voices since they are in his head. For once, we the audience, are not placed on the same platform as the director where we can see the characters from all angles (often times impossible angles) and know what's going on at all times. From the very start of the film, we are just as confused as the main character and only know as much as him. We ARE Jean-Dominique. 

1 comment:

  1. P.S. To watch the video clip with subtitles, click the CC button (the one with the arrow) which is right next to the HD button that makes the screen bigger.