Posts Tagged ‘VideoAssignments439’

Scene Essay

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Here’s a short video essay of a scene from Orson Welles’ “comeback” film Touch of Evil. This scene, the opening shot, is one of the most famous in cinema history. The reason because for nearly 3 minutes and 30 seconds there is only one take. Welles uses a tracking shot to take us from a car to the US/Mexican border. By using this specific technique Welles is able to set the environment for his film entirely in just a few minutes, the oping minutes at that. The conflict that the film surrounds is the radical differences between the two countries, the juxtaposition of American culture on o a downtrodden, meager border town. Through this forced influence this town experiences nothing but corruption and violence perpetuated by a once glorified American policeman who now is just as infested by the town he runs. This shot is able to capture all of that and more simply through the use of cinematographic techniques.

There are a couple of films that I reference. As a film auteur, or artist, Welles uses techniques and themes repeatedly throughout his work. His most glorified film, Citizen Kane is an easy example to pick from. This film influenced countless of films and continues to do so. It offers so many groundbreaking and creative camera angles and shots that one can spend an entire semester studying them. Welles recycled a couple of things that I mention in this shot. One is the tracking shot, which shows depth and tension. The other is audio layering, which is also another technique  that adds tension to a scene. Contact (1997) uses this technique to add a sense of depth to the beginning of the film.Robert Zemeckis utilizes both a long tacking shot and the audio layering, just as in Touch of Evil. The only difference really is his use of CGI. But, in essence, we have another example to suggest that everything is a remix. You can even see inspiration from Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001 in this particular take.

As movie goers I think we overlook far too many techniques and lose the impact a certain scene is supposed to exert. Nothing is taken for granted in making a film due to the strict budget (sometimes far too strict – as in Welles’ films). Therefore, neither should we. This opening tracking shot is a perfect example of how and why a director would spend so much time and effort into one shot, long or short, technical or simple.