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Mt. Brilliant

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE – Mt. Brilliant illustrates the struggle of a slave during the year of 1828. The film I have created is an illustration of Abram, an innocent slave, who is a loyal worker; however, when a white man murders his owner, he escapes to Ohio in response to fear. This film is a fearful portrayal of the existence of a slave during the early nineteenth century that argues strongly against the inhuman treatment that slaves frequently faced. In 1828, according to the Northwest Ordinance and Missouri Compromise, Ohio and Indiana are “free states”.

FILM TECHNIQUES –Through the use of music, sound, lighting, and camera angles, the audience will sense a closeness or intimacy with the protagonist, Abram. The sounds of the film are very simplistic in order to portray a reality rather than a dramatic feature film. Also, there are no produced songs in the film. The light is mainly sunlight during the daytime scenes. Many of the fearful scenes are at night, which adds a sense of uncertainty for the audience. The camera angles during these night scenes often use closer camera angles, whereas the brighter scenes allow for larger angles.

This film is a high-budget film because of the various scenes during the approximate one hour and thirty minute time.

TIME DIVISION – The first thirty minutes consists of events prior to the murder. The next twenty minutes is of Abram and Jackson’s journey to Ohio. The following forty minutes is of their life in Ohio/ the resolution.

OVERVIEW – This film is a feature film that is meant to portray a slave’s fear of being innocently killed for the murder of his owner and the slave’s hope of escaping to freedom in the northern states, which in Abram’s situation is Ohio.

SETTING – 1828

  1. Beargrass Track
  2. Mt. Brilliant Farm – Louisville, Kentucky
  3. “Underground Railroad” – throughout Kentucky/Ohio
  4. Tabitha’s Residence of Ohio

CHARACTERS

  1. Abram – protagonist, Mr. Harris’s slave
  2. Jackson – Abram’s friend, Mr. Harris’s slave
  3. Mr. Harris – Abram and Jackson’s owner
  4. Annabelle Harris – Mr. Harris’s daughter
  5. Monroe – Abram’s elder brother
  6. Slave catchers – White Men
  7. Tabitha – Resides in Ohio

OPENING SCENE – mid-afternoon, sun is shining, and faded noise of the horses/ spectators.

FADE-IN: Wide view of racetrack. We see a portion of the bleachers and grass filled with spectators, all caucasian, next to the track in left side of shot. We see a portion of the racetrack with horses spread out and dust surrounding them as they gallop in the ring in the right side of shot.

CLOSE-UP:

I. The view turns to the track. The noise of the horses’ hooves increases as they race around the track (see photo):

CLOSE-UP:

I. The camera then zooms to the face of a rider, age 36. He is dressed in a red jockey uniform. The camera follows him, approximately ten seconds, as he continues to ride and eventually wins the race.

II. The camera turns to the bleachers, focusing on a group of twenty people standing close together, many of which are congratulating a middle-aged man. The spectators appear intoxicated and are very loud. The women have on elegant dresses and large hats. The men wear suits and bow ties.

III. The camera returns back to the view of the rider who has now slowed his horse to a steady trot and pumps his fist in the air while looking into the crowd.

PLOT SUMMARY – SELECTED SCENES

  1. In the opening scene that was just described, we meet the main character, ABRAM. He is a slave who is also a jockey for his owner’s horses.

The sound in this scene is of the men and women yelling which competes with the sound of the horses’ hooves. The light is natural sunlight. No dialogue in this scene.

  1. Abram, Mr. Harris, and Annabelle returning to their plantation home by walking. Abram leads the horse while holding onto his lead rope. Annabelle walks next to Abram and her father on the opposite side of the horse.

The sun has begun to set therefore the amount of light is decreased. Abram and Mr. Harris discuss the race. The audience can see the respect that Mr. Harris and Abram display for one another between their supportive dialogues. Mr. Harris is still in his suit. Annabelle has on a fancy dress. Abram is wearing a simple white shirt, brown pants, and boots.

(Photo illustrates the appearance of the front of the Harris’ home):

  1. Inside the living room of the Harris’ home, Abram and Annabelle are at the desk. Abram narrates a letter to his brother for Annabelle to write. Mr. Harris then puts Annabelle to bed.

The light of this scene is dim throughout the room. There is the noise of Mr. Harris cleaning dishes in the kitchen and dialogue. Annabelle is dressed in a nightgown. Mr. Harris is dressed casually as is Abram.

  1. The next morning, Abram walks Swale, the winning horse, to a pasture where he rides in the simply structured ring. Abram hears gunshots while riding and immediately dismounts Swale and leads him to the closest area of trees. They wait here for a few moments, and Abram runs inside the house after retuning Swale to the stables.

The sound of Swale’s hooves are heard in this scene. There is also the sound of gunshots and the loud breathing of both Swale and Abram. The light is normal sunlight.

CLIMACTIC SCENE

  1. During the climactic scene, Abram returns to the house and quietly sneaks throughout the eerily silent rooms. Jackson and Abram find one another, but not until Abram sees his owner and the owner’s daughter lying on the floor of the kitchen because they have been murdered. Jackson explains to Abram that they must escape before others come. Jackson also tells Abram that he saw a white man kill Mr. Harris but the man did not see Jackson. They begin to gather things throughout the house in preparation for their escape.

THE JOURNEY

  1. Abram and Jackson escape from their residence in Kentucky and hope to find Abram’s brother’s home in Ohio for safety.

During their journey, they have high suspicion of white men following them. In order to intensify this sense of fear, one of the scenes is in the night. The camera angles are close to their faces and the light is scarce because it’s made to appear as if moonlight is the only light source. The noises are composed of their feet hitting the leaves and ground, heavy breathing, a small number of gunshots, and dogs barking in the distance.

SUMMARY

  1. The events following the murder lead up to the second climactic scene. After Abram and Jackson escape Kentucky, the men search for the town in which Abram is told his brother resides. They ask people on the road and eventually find the home. A young white woman answers the door and invites them inside. While they are eating dinner, Abram learns that his brother was taken one night and sold to a man by the name of Monroe Walters from Mississippi. Tabitha invites Abram and Jackson to stay in her home. Tabitha and Abram begin to build a strong friendship. One night after dinner, Tabitha goes out to the barn to give the animals the extra food. Jackson offers to help her carry it. While Abram is in the kitchen cleaning the dishes, he hears loud screams coming from the barn. He immediately runs out to the barn and finds Tabitha on the ground and Jackson standing above her. Abram holds Tabitha who claims that she tripped and fell. Abram, Tabitha, and Jackson return to the home. When Tabitha and Abram lay in bed, Abram finds bruises on Tabitha’s body, but she dismisses them. The next day, Tabitha goes into town and returns with white men of the town. Tabitha explains to Abram that she is sorry but she had seen signs for their reward if found, and she had to turn them in. She didn’t want to be killed if they were discovered living in her home and Jackson had beaten her multiple times.

CLOSING SCENE

  1. Abram becomes very angry and shoots Jackson. Abram then breaks down and the white men force a rope around his neck. Tabitha becomes upset by the events and pleads them not to hang him, but she is unable to stop them.

In the closing scene, the characters are in the front yard of Tabitha’s house during natural daylight hours. The emotion on Tabitha’s face is highly recognizable because of the close camera angles. There is little sound except for the dialogue of the men, which is very racial, and the tears of Tabitha. The end shot is below Abram as he is being lynched.

 

 

 

Note: I cannot figure out how to set the time correctly for this post. Right now it is 2:28, but the blog says it’s 7:28??

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Police Lights

The dramatic lighting and contrasting shadows of a particular scene in Mississippi Burning contributes to the audience’s confusion regarding the police officer’s involvement. Agents Anderson and Ward are alert in their car as they watch the events unravel. Anderson and Ward are parked in a dark area. They’re able to see the police station where there are bright lights shining through the windows. Two police officers exit the building with a young black male who appears to have been released from custody. As the boy walks on, the police officers stand in the light.

Even in the limited amount of lighting provided during this scene, we are able to recognize the fact that the men who exit the building are police officers of Jessup County because of their uniforms and the distinct bulky belts that are noticeable in the light. Agent Anderson and Ward remain in a well-hidden, shadowed area, which obscures their view due to the distance from the police station. The police officers are the focal point in the light; however, we are unable to clearly see their faces, which builds suspense and illustrates that the law enforcement performs unlawful actions while under a limited amount of concealment. We begin to speculate the police officers’ motivation for remaining outside their station. Their silhouettes in the light are visible as they lean in a casual manner against the railing which illustrates their lack of alertness and concern during the following actions of the boy being grabbed and forced into the speeding vehicle.

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Men With Guns

Men With Guns

Joe Kenehan is an advocate for the unionists and warns them to not rely on their guns to win the battle of establishing a union. Throughout the film Matewan, guns were used as a significant and influential prop. There is a distinct presence and closeness that guns have to the people of Matewan. From the very first scene, we see a man from the mining company posted at his station with a gun as miners exit the shafts. Another example is when the machine gun is steps away from the union workers as they throw down their shovels. Guns are also close when gunshots ring throughout the camp during the nighttime. The use of guns in the film portrays the people that have guns as powerful and the ones without guns as powerless. When the representatives of the mining company begin to remove belongings from a miner’s home, the deputy advises the men of the town to return quickly with their guns, which allows for the unionists to gain power during the scene. The guns also create a powerless tension for Danny when he is held at gunpoint by one of the company men at the dinner table. Guns create a terrifying sense of fear for those that do and do not own a gun. When Joe Kenehan arrives in Matewan, union men quiz him about his credentials as they hold him at an unpredictable gunpoint. Also, the morning after the gunshots are heard at the camp, men from the company demand that all supplies purchased at the company store must be retuned; however, they quickly leave out of fear of the “hill people” who complain of noise while they hold the company men at gunpoint. After Joe Kenehan has fought for the union, the guns create irony because he is shot down and murdered as he yells for the men to hold their fire.

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A Silent Protest

The loud noise of the cotton machines heard throughout the textile mill symbolizes the power of the mill supervisors whereas the silence in the climactic scene represents the mill workers’ silent protests. This empowering silence heard in the mill parallels the growing control of the workers and the support of the mill workers for unionization. The collective action of the workers to quiet their individually operated machines is evidence that Norma Rae’s campaign for the union has been effective. The stillness that envelops the mill during the noiseless scene is a deafening silence because the workers seem firm in their decision to support the union and Norma Rae as she stands before them; however, it creates uneasiness because of the strong power of the law enforcement that surrounds Norma Rae.

The scene in the film that clearly illustrates the contrast of sound occurs when Norma Rae stands on the table to protest and holds up a cardboard sign with the word “UNION” written in large letters for all the employees to view. She is unable to yell above the drone of the machines, so she uses the sign to overpower the noise. She looks to the workers as they decide to force the levers to the off position. The workers slowly shut off their machines and the sounds gradually soften, creating the deafening silence. This demonstrates that change doesn’t occur immediately and that the workers had to make individual decisions in order for the entire section of the mill to become silent.

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Reading Faces

Directors often use cues throughout films that allow their audiences to expect what may take place next. Throughout the film, Deliverance, the use of close camera shots foreshadows frightening scenes for the audience. A major scene that incorporates this cue is the scene in which Drew falls from his canoe seat into the raging waters. Prior to Drew tumbling into the water, the camera angle is fixed on Drew’s blank expression and the panicked look of his friend who pleads him to wear his lifejacket. The camera angle focuses directly on the men’s faces which builds suspense for the audience. These angles foreshadow the terrifying ride without canoes down the rapids. Once Bobby, Lewis, and Ed reach calmer water, Bobby is helplessly yelling for Drew. Bobby’s face is the only thing that is seen by the audience which foreshadows the hopelessness of the men’s situation. Due to this close camera position on Bobby’s face, the audience builds anticipation and is able to easily feel the hurt revealed in Bobby’s eyes and to see his exhausted expression. By focusing on Bobby’s face, the director allows the audience to initially feel Bobby’s level of emotions before revealing the vast space of rapids, high cliffs, and a potentially challenging escape when the camera zooms out. When the camera angle draws away from Bobby’s face, this also exposes the unlikelihood of finding Drew. The close camera angles, which focus on Drew’s unemotional expression and Bobby’s helpless appearance in this scene, cue the audience which foreshadows dangerous situations.

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I just realized that my memo never uploaded : ( so I’m going to try this again…

The 1967 film, The Heat of the Night, is a brilliant example of racial discrimination that was prevalent in the south. The use of dialogue throughout the film reveals how African Americans had grown accustom to the racial discrimination. Prior to the knowledge of Virgil Tibbs’ admirable role in Philadelphia as a police officer, the white men treat him more like an animal than a human being who lacks knowledge and civility.

Sam Wood’s arrest of Virgil Tibbs, who is innocently waiting for a train, is one of the first examples of racial discrimination that the audience views. Without any questioning, Tibbs is forced to the police station. Sam Woods says to him, “C’mon, boy,” in order for him to exit the car. Upon entering the police station, Virgil is asked, “You got a name, boy?” When he responds, “Virgil,” there is laughter from the Chief of Police, Gillespie. However, after Tibbs reveals his police rank, as well as being a number one homicide expert, Gillespie treats Tibbs with the respect of a human being. Gillespie lets down his pride and asks for the help of Tibbs, admitting, “I am not an expert.” To further elaborate, another example is when Virgil is taken to a jail cell, he does not automatically respond to Harvey’s questioning, “You deaf or something?” as if Virgil is ignorant.

Even after Tibbs has somewhat gained respect from Gillespie, he is asked while looking to the cotton fields of Endicott’s estate, “None of that for you, huh, Virgil?” Another example of extremely degrading dialogue towards Virgil is when Mr. Endicott says to him, “There was a time when I could have had you shot.” Virgil’s skin color allows the white citizens to automatically treat him with less importance and respect. The transformation of people’s dialogue and manners towards Virgil before and after hearing of his police officer position is amazingly different.

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A Wealthy Woman’s Role

In Victor Fleming’s Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara represents the upper class women of the South. She is depicted as a rich, white bachelorette who enjoys parties and amusing men while lacking any responsibilities or understanding of work.

In the opening scene, Scarlett refuses to discuss war, a major issue at the time, and threatens to run inside as if discussing this topic will spoil her mood. From the beginning of the film, Scarlett and the other women are dressed in extravagant garments including tight corsets, petticoats, hats, and often gloves which indicated their wealth and beauty and kept themselves flawlessly unsoiled. The women were flirtatious and pleasing to the men; therefore, they constantly were concerned with their appearance to impress a possible fiancé. During the Wilke’s barbecue, the women honored a time reserved for afternoon naps while slave children fanned them and the men discussed business over liquor. This behavior imitates young children, an image often perceived from the women’s manners. Another character example of the woman’s role is demonstrated with Scarlett’s aunt, Miss “Pittypat” Hamilton. Scarlett’s presence at the ball distresses Aunt Pittypat which eventually causes her to faint, a representation of weakness in women and dependence on others, particularly men.

Even though a working woman was customarily unheard of, Scarlett is forced to perform typically masculine labor later in the film; she murders a Yankee intruder, picks cotton in the fields, and co-owns a lumber mill in Atlanta to financially survive. Despite the laborious days following the war, Scarlett regains her feminine charm and quickly re-establishes herself as a “Southern Bell”.

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