Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All About Eve: The Adaption

     The film All About Eve (directed by Joseph Mankiewicz) is an adaption of Mary Orr's short story "The Wisdom of Eve." Although there are differences among the two version, the general thrust and plot of the story remains the same: a young, aspiring actress named Eve cleverly deceives and tricks countless people in the hopes of reaching her dream of stardom.
    Within the short story, we begin with a short monologue-esque introduction that sets up the tone of the story, clearly stating that: no, "Eve Harrington" is not a good person.  Within the movie, however, we start off with the opening scene of an awards ceremony, where we cut back among the reactions of the key players in the film.  We see that they all look quite perturbed with the situation- thus giving us a similar feeling to the introduction of the short story, the one difference being that in the film we are given less background information, thus many questions form in our head.

    In the short story, the author does a nice and simple job of skimming over and reflecting the events that occur to cause Margo to become suspicious of Eve.  In the film, we get a better look at this.  Rather than just seeing Eve watching Margo, the film presents to us little things, like: Eve sending Margo's husband a letter without Margo knowing, Eve dancing around with Margo's dress, and Eve being overly on top of things.
    The short story simply suggests that Eve Harrington tried to steal both the lover of Margo and the husband of Karen Richards.  In the film, this is taken a step further.  There is a full on, intense scene, where we see the true nature of Eve as she tries to capture the heart of Margo's lover.  Upon his rejection, she quickly decides to start going after Karen's husband.  Many scenes showcase Eve's determination for her goal.

    All in all, the film expands upon concepts that the short story simply suggests. Additionally, the film gives us a better understanding of the little things that make up each of the main characters.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Exorcist: Use of Sound Design to Create Fear

     The 1973 film "The Exorcist," directed by William Friedkin, is about a mother who is trying to save her daughter who has been possessed by the devil.  There are many cinematic techniques used to create a feeling of creepiness, but one of the main ones that I will address is the film's use of sound design, because throughout the film there are many instances where the sound design is being used to strike up fear.

     A method used within the film is the implementation of a reoccurring sound to cause us to unknowingly feel a sense of fear from recognition of this very sound.  This is used earlier on in the film when the explorer first holds onto an ancient demon relic.  There is this atmospheric, other-worldly, 'hum'-like sound that occurs which is paired with eerie visuals of the man being seemingly entranced.  When this sound later reoccurs, there is this involuntary reaction of fear that builds up within us due to our previous connection of bad things happening when this sound is heard.

     Another method used within the film was allowing us to hear a noise, but not see the source.  A great example of this is when we constantly hear "rats" (or so the mother thinks) in the attic space.  Because the audience never gets a chance to see these very rats, we can not help but begin to become skeptical about this, thus fearful of what could possibly be in the attic.  Later on, when the mother goes up into the attic space, we have built up a fear for her that is based solely on the sketchiness of the noise coming from the attic- and not on any visuals of what is actually producing the noise in the attic.

     Another method used within the film was implementing a voiceover to be placed within something outside of it's source- in this case the possessed girl.  As we follow along side the mother trying to figure out the source of the daughter's newfound "insanity," the one thing that makes it quite evident and obvious that the daughter is not mentally deranged, but rather possessed, is the use of various voices to be implement and synced up to the girl.  It is quite odd and jarring to hear such a low and sadistic voice coming from the girl, thus furthering our very own fear of the situation at hand.

     All in all, this film uses many sound design methods to bring forth a sense of fear.  The film is able to pull off using sound as a tool of recognition, a tool of suspense, and a tool of furthering the odd feelings that make the film as scary as it is.  We would have to assume that a film that has 38 people in the sound design department must have intricate and effective sound design (yes, IMBD says that). Occasionally the sounds and sound design is paired with creepy visuals, but for the most part, the sound design in this film is strong enough to stand alone.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sweeny Todd: Stephen Sondheim's Compositions

   Generally we see Tim Burton pair up with the just as dark movie scorer Danny Elfman, but in the film adaption of Sweeny Todd, Tim Burton couples his dark and twisted visuals to the witty and classy songs of composer Stephen Sondheim to create a heightened feeling and extension of the protagonist, Sweeny Todd's, newly found crazed mindset.

     Here are a few examples of the implementation of various songs within the film to reflect the crazed mindset of Sweeny.

"The Worst Pies In London"

     This song practically sets up the premises of this film.  Mrs. Lovett outright tells Sweeny that her pies are the worst in London, but alas, he should still eat them.  This gears the audience towards a mindset of: weird/off things are the norm in this world. Therefore, this is a clear parallel to how although Sweeny was once a normal man and thus is able to determine that killing people is wrong, he still goes ahead with it later on in the film.

"Pretty Woman"

     This song is first performed when Sweeny first gets to give Judge Turpin a shave.  We know that Sweeny intends to kill this man, and yet we hear them singing an almost peaceful and thoughtful sort of song (which further accentuates the insanity of Sweeny.)  Sweeny does not kill the Judge until the second time he gets a chance to give him a shave.  With the visuals of Sweeny slitting the Judge's throat paired with this music, it is quite obvious that Sweeny has lost touch with his old normal self.


     This song is quite climatic for it is the only composition that truly embodies the insanity of Sweeny.  The other more peaceful songs clash with the gory visuals, thus making us feel a sense of skewed perspective.  This song just throws his mindset right in our faces as we hear Sweeny preach on about how everyone deserves to die and we see him killing off many people.

     All in all, Tim Burton does a beautiful job pairing off his dark visuals to the brilliant compositions of Stephen Sondheim.