Archive for the ‘wilsonks’ Category

“I Love Mississippi”

“I love Mississippi!” Clayton Townley, the Klan leader proclaims to a massive crowd of supporters. “They! They hate Mississippi! They hate us because we present a shining example of successful segregation… this week, these federal policemen you see around here prying into our lives, violating our civil liberties have learned that they are powerless against us if every single Anglo-Saxon Christian one of us stands together!” This is a powerful scene in the film Mississippi Burning. In the film, where racism and bigotry are running rampant in the Deep South, this character of Townley is to blame. During this scene FBI agents roam through the lines of cars parked outside the meeting, taking down license plate numbers, showing their dedication and ruthlessness. However in this scene there is a glimpse of  something that is much more important to the feel of the movie rather than the gerneral plot. And that is the brief moment when the camera pans across the huge crowd of Klan members and supporters and quickly captures a woman shedding a single, pristine tear. For that instant, this scene which is not one of the most memorable ones from the film, seems more like reality than a feature film.

The woman is relatively plain looking as she stands among other women, all with babies perched on their hips, looking earnestly up at Townley as he preaches. It is interesting that just an extra is responsible for this snapshot that is so powerful. Throughout the film there are memorable and striking scenes which show the passion behind the actors, however this scene with the woman crying at the demonstration shows the true dedication of the members of the Klan, and how steadfast they are in their ways.


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The “dueling banjos” theme is infamous in film history. In the film Deliverance, the banjo sounds are both an indicator of plot, and also a way to add layers of sound to a scene.

The banjo is first used early on in the movie. The character Drew has brought along his guitar and plays the Deliverance theme with a young hillbillie boy. The song begins quietly and very subdued, and then becomes faster and faster, more frantic by each measure. This also models the way the men’s canoeing trip will go; a fun long weekend at first, then something none of them could ever imagine. The theme is next heard when Drew plays quietly and to himself, almost nostalgically. Very soon after this, the theme starts playing agin. The next day, the men see the boy from the dueling banjos scene standing up on a bridge across the river. The boy is stoic and does not seem to register who the men are. However Drew immediately recognizes the boy and starts motioning to him. This shows how naive the men are about the dangers of the area, and that they do not fully realize that the “hillbillies” are not necessarily their friends. The theme here seems eerie and acts as a sort of warning as to what is to come.

Next, the banjo is used when the men are floating down stream as a sort of melody. It sounds peaceful and soothing. This theme is obviously very versatile because the next time it is heard is when Ed falls from the cliff. In this scene, the banjo theme is used as a track that is covered by other instruments that make it sound like a horror film soundtrack, but the theme still can be heard through all of the chaotic noise. Also, when Drew’s body is found, the theme is played once again. It is as if it is being used as a refrain since Drew was the person who originally played the piece. The dueling banjos theme is used throughout the movie Deliverance, whether it be to add music to the background of a scene or show how the scene is progressing.

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To create the film In the Heat of the Night, many technical decisions were made . In the film, camera angles do not appear to be very significant, probably because the film’s camera movements seem modern to viewers and just like any other standard full length feature film. However in one scene in particular, the camera angles are vastly different from the normal frames which were used. In the scene in which the police officer Sam Wood is cruising in the cop car and discovers the dead body, the camera angles are noticeably different. In the scene prior to Sam driving, he is in the diner, and the camera stays on the him and the diner employee with a sizable amount of the setting of the diner shown. The camera is static and only changes when cuts are made. This scene’s camera angles are normal for the movie. In this scene the camera shows both Wood sipping his coke and the diner employee working in one single view with the camera not moving. In the next frame when the employee is doing the actions, the camera cuts to him and still does not move. This was the standard choice of camera angles that the director made with of course other techniques liking panning the setting.

However in the scene when the body is found, the camera does something much different. Sam Wood is shown driving down an alleyway in a normal looking shot. But then the camera is placed very near to the ground and in front of the car. This causes the car to look extremely wide and distorted, almost comical. For a frame or two, this view of the patrol car is seen until suddenly the camera cuts to directly behind the car. The tail lights go on quickly and the car lurches towards the camera so that is is obvious to viewers that Sam has quickly stopped so as not to hit something in the road. This camera choice is uncharacteristic compared to the rest of the movie and seems out of place. Then, when Sam exits the car and goes to look at the body, the camera is set across the street with a wide view angle. This shows the vastness and desertedness of the street this late at night. In the middle of the street stands Sam looking down at the body, hunched over in the middle of the shot, framed by the two walls that make up the alleyway and the car placed directly behind both figures. This emphasizes how little the body looks as it lays in the street, and also how little Sam looks as he stands there in shock. These camera angles seem uncharacteristic of the rest of the movie, however this whole sequence of shots makes the scene dramatic and shocking and the camera choices are what help to achieve this. Nowhere else in this movie is there anything like these choices, which makes them stick out and could even make them appear to be disjointed. However they also draw attention to this important scene because they stand out and are so eye-catching.

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First Memo Feedback

For my first memo, my focus was way to broad. Professor Ingram told me that I had good ideas, however I needed to just use one of those points in detail in order to make my memo better. In my memo I described the scene in which Scarlett was working in the hospital. Instead of picking one specific aspect of this scene, I talked about a couple of moments. To make that memo better, I should have just picked a single part and talked about it in great detail and depth.

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A Devastated South

The South is on the verge of total destruction during the Civil War. In the film Gone With the Wind, the city of Atlanta is shown in ruins as explosions go off left and right. In this scene, a priest is shown giving a sermon. As he speaks a bomb goes off, destroying the stained glass window behind him. Yet, to the priest, this astonishing destruction seems almost expected and he does not appear to be phased in the least by it. Here in the church a hospital has been set up. Because of the war, Scarlett is now working as a nurse. Her face looks pained as she tries to help dying soldiers. A man pleads “Give me something for the pain,” but he is told that there is nothing they can give him to ease the excruciating pain he is in. Scarlett looks on in dumbfounded horror as hundreds of fellow Southerners lay waiting to die in the makeshift hospital. It is obvious that Scarlett is having a hard time dealing with the deathly images around her, but her breaking point is when a man is told that his leg must be amputated without anesthetic. The man shrieks in terror and begs to the doctors, “Don’t cut!” After this event, Scarlett cannot bare any more, and rushes out of the hospital.

This scene shows how much Scarlett has changed as a person. In the beginning of the film, she is a flirty girl who is only seen as the life of the party. But when she becomes a nurse, she is suddenly forced to stop being the foolish girl she once was, and become a leader. This scene is pivotal because the war is what changes Scarlett into the strog willed woman that she is known for being.

Another part of this scene which shows the changes the South is going through, is near the end of it. As the doctor leaves the hospital to go take a break, he notices a man who has died, lying on a stretcher. He looks at him then bluntly states to a nurse, “Good. You can free this bed.” This short clip from the scene perfectly shows the way in which the mindset of Southerners has changed because of the war. Now they are much more cynical and also more frugal with both there time and space. This one line is able to accurately depict the effects of the Civil War in only a few simple words.

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