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One Sense at a Time

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For the Week 10 Look, Listen, Analyze assignment, I chose to use the clip from Scent of a Woman – Women.  I chose this mostly because I have never seen nor heard of this movie.  I really wanted to see what kinds of things I would notice within the clip in the absence of any prior conclusions I’ve drawn about a scene based on my personal experience with the movie.  The clip linked within the assignment had been removed by Universal, so I just searched YouTube for the same name and found this:

For the first viewing, I was instructed to turn off my sound.  Here’s my notes (a little cleaned up) from this section:

The camera angles are only the point of view of each actor.
Cuts – the camera cuts to the listener and back to the speaker 5 times – confused face, then face of interest, then exasperation, then pondering (speaker finally switches from helpless bewilderment/explanation, to happiness, peace), back to amused listener, back to speaker who becomes more enthralled, back to fully amused listener
The quality of light matches that which you would imagine to have in an airplane cabin.
Ways the camera tells, guides the story – it chronicles the characters’ involvement in the conversation and the building of a connection between the two characters as the scene progresses, by switching between the two and showing a gradual bond as the two reach a point where they share a mutual emotion, apparently from similar experiences.

For the second viewing, I was instructed to listen to the audio of the clip, without watching the video.  Here’s my edited notes from this go-around:

Pacing of the dialogue and use of spaces – slow in the beginning, lots of spaces, pauses, confusion…gradually picks up.  Less pauses, then a long one before the final point, followed by a short pause and then a loud short laugh.
the use of music or sound effects – pretty much only the sound of ice in his glass after he says he needs a drink, and the whir of the plane in the background – no music at all

Finally, I was instructed to view the entire clip together, as a combination of audio and video effects.  Here’s the notes from that:

Something I may have missed, audio + video, how the elements from the first two steps worked together
Frustration, alcohol tinkling in the glass.  Pacino getting lost in a moment, silence, and nothing but the speech.  Isolating the listener.  Listener not too sure, but chuckles nonetheless.  Interesting how what seemed to be a unifying conversation via the video alone initially, became an isolating and awkward conversation once the audio was added.  The listener is stuck listening to the drunk ramblings of the guy he’s stuck on a plane next to, and while he seems to relate, he doesn’t seem ready to admit it.

Based on Ebert’s ‘How to Read a Movie’, there is also a bit of right and left division here.  The camera is seemingly placed between the two characters, but I don’t feel that this is to portray positive versus negative in this instance.  I feel that this is more of a portrayal of past versus future.  I think that this is a scene where perhaps the speaker is shaping the future perspective of the listener.  The resistance showed by the listener shows the past perspective he held, theoretically gradually being worn away by the perspective being shared by the speaker.  Something I also found interesting, was that the camera is at eye level with the two characters, to me showing that the two are equal, even though one may be propelling the other forward in his thinking.

I have to say, I was not anticipating what was going to be said in the clip.  At all.  But at the same time, it was interesting to analyze what seemed to be a flat clip, and to find so many aspects of cinematography in it anyway.
ETA:  Just found out that Al Pacino’s character is blind.  Wow.  Adds a whole new level to this entire thing.  Crap. Now I want to watch the whole movie.  I wasn’t quite so interested before. ;)

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