My Favourite Films – The Original Star Wars Trilogy

StarWars

When I was a kid, I used to love watching films. I loved the aspect of watching a form of entertainment through visuals and sounds. But, I remember seeing the first Star Wars film for the first time when I was seven years old. It changed me forever.

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It changed me because that was the first time in my life I experienced true film escapism. I experienced a film that took me away from the real world and helped me enforce into the world of the force.

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I remember being excited when the lightsabre fights would appear and make them sounds. It felt like that I was transported into a completely different world. It was truly unique.

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Then of course Empire Strikes Back stood out. It still remains my favourite Star Wars film ever. Maybe The Force Awakens may change it, but I highly doubt it. Empire Strikes Back had everything you could possibly imagine for not just a perfect sci-fi film but for a perfect film.

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The film’s action is the best out of the three. With the imperial war battles after the opening and we see Yoda for the first time. It was truly breathtaking what Empire Strikes Back achieved after a terrific start of a beloved franchise.

It had terrific action set pieces, amazing character developments, and a shocking twist of an ending. The famous twist still remains shocking as of this day. It had this shocking sensation that someone as menacing as Darth Vader would be a major aspect for Luke Skywalker’s life.

Darth Vader is just awesome in its portrayal and its purpose. He had this plan in order to reconnect. The dark side doesn’t allow him, but deep down he wants to be someone else. He feels that he is forced to be this menacing and I personally see that more in Return Of The Jedi.

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Then went onto the Return Of The Jedi which I also love just the same as the first two. A lot of people intend to not prefer it as much, but I personally still adore it. It has the same qualities that the first two films had.

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To me it felt like the perfect finale of them all and it still remains one of my favourite trilogies of all time. Possibly my 2nd favourite trilogy behind The Dark Knight trilogy and that will be delved in soon in my next upcoming blogs.

Overall, Star Wars trilogy introduced me to film escapism and still remains a true unique film experience. I cannot wait for The Force Awakens. Let’s just hope it is a lot better than the poor prequels.

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Deconstruction of Delicatessen (1991)

In this essay, I will be deconstructing the film Delicatessen, 1991. I will briefly be deconstructing on the film’s cinematography, mise-en-scene and sound. But I will mainly be discussing and deconstructing the film’s themes and messages. And what do those represent with the film and they show demonstrate meaning. Further, how the themes and messages of the entirety of the film help create a symbolic illustration of each characters and settings involved.

When I was watching this film, I realised that it is a multi-stranded narrative. Add to narrative by opening up more space (F.Dick, 2005: 56). I noticed it, when I witnessed on screen that it follows more than one character and narrative. Many multiple-focus narratives involve multiple plots (Altman, 2008: 241). The film follows the narrative to the characters of The Butcher, Louison and The Butcher’s daughter Julie. The reason that this is effective is because each narrative serves its own purpose on how it will resolute in the end. The Butcher is the villain, Lousion is the hero and Julie is the hero’s lover. Narrative competence holds our significations in place to give them an order and a thrust (Dudley, 1984: 76). Also, this specifies that each character has its own purpose for the narrative and development of each character. This helps us as the audience while we see the film to understand what each of the character’s purpose is towards the film’s narrative. So, they can help make the characters relatable towards the audience through the development of each character.

While I was watching this film, I understood just how much the film completely subverted conventions with the use of cinematography. This being because the film is filled with canted or dutch camera angles. The original purpose of a canted angle is to help build the suspense. Whereas in this film, it is used in dialogue scenes. There are instances, however, where we want the visual tension of this off-level condition to work for us to create anxiety, paranoia, subjugation or mystery (Brown, 2011 :66). It subverts conventions because those scenes don’t even build suspense. They are natural conversation scenes which delves within a character or a scene. For example, the introduction of Lousion is presented in a canted angle. There are no suspense in the scene, just an introduction of this character. It is illustrated as a style rather than an actual purpose. This is interlinked with the mise-en-scene.

The mise-en-scene used throughout the film is actually strange. This is again similar to the cinematography, that the film subverts the genre conventions. For one thing, the film includes a comedic aspect despite including dark thematic plots involving cannibalism. The mis en scene connoted and denoted narratives of societal alienation and emotional isolation (De Valk, 2013: 11). This is signifying that The Butcher has knives as his main props to establish him as a dangerous man. And that he is a threat to others as the people who live in the same building as him are afraid of his existence. Whereas Lousion is wearing tremendously bright colours for his clothing. This proposes that he is a good and respectable person: he is a bright human being, because we see it through the colours he wears on his clothing. The colour and their clothing represent their personality successfully. This way we can witness who is good and who is bad. This also comes in how he is represented visually.

The visual style of the film includes strong amounts of the colour yellow. Colour is a natural ingredient of visual reality (Lehman, 1990: 62). The yellow establishes the comedic value of the film since the genre of the film is comedy. The colour correction and grading is heavily yellow all throughout the film except for one scene at the end. That scene being the fight scene between The Butcher and Louison. The colour of the film seems to be looking green. This gives the isolation of the film. “Colour is an important expressive element for film-makers, and is often mobilised by means of costume, which has the advantage of a direct association with a particular character” (Gibbs: 2002, 8). The colour green gives the sinister look of the scene. It is successful because The Butcher is trying commit a sinister act by attempting to murder Louison. That is the idea of which the director is portraying on the film. The director has established many thematic and symbolic messages throughout the film even through the characters.

The characters in the film establish a symbolic representation. The film includes a protagonist and an antagonist. The protagonist being Lousion and the antagonist, The Butcher. The butcher is portrayed as a powerful figure than Lousion. This is because he is mostly portrayed at a low angle shot. A low angle shot makes the subject appear larger than it actually is (F. Dick, 2005: 53). He overthrows Lousion throughout by stating that he is no harm, where in fact The Butcher is a danger to everyone in the film.

The Butcher is illustrated as The Devil running the place. A monster derived from the horror genre (Austin, 1996: 137). Whereas Lousion is established as the angel who is here to save them. This is conforming to the idea of including visual metaphors. The ability of images to convey a meaning in addition to their straightforward reality (Brown, 2011 :68). Even when they do the establishing shot of the setting. When it is night time, the film’s colour gives this sepia look of it. Makes it appear like it is a metaphor of hell. Expressionist lighting, nocturnal effects and ubiquitous vapour clouds (Austin, 1996: 137).

This is where the theory by Laura Mulvey comes in. Laura Mulvey’s theory of “visual pleasure” for instance, is based on the assumption that the male protagonist of a film provides a vehicle for identification on the part of the male spectator (Mayne, 1993: 26). So, as a spectator watching the film, we get a brief understanding that Lousion is similar to any other male. The theory is stating that Lousion is heavily relatable to mature males. We know this as in the film, it requires him to perform a circus act. So, we know that he has a full time job and that he is caring and loving as well. We know that he is a caring person, when he tries to save those children from that evil postman with the gun. This giving the indication again that he is the angel sent from somewhere in order to save the people from the devil himself known as The Butcher. Louison is the typical good guy. As he is shown blowing big bubble towards children. An act of his day job which is a circus clown. The bubbles are symbolising he is an really soft person. And that he can be easily be broken.

After the butcher’s death, everything seems to be quiet and pleasant. The film’s ending textures close to heaven due to the fact that the devil known as the butcher has been killed. Ultimately, after a climax involving fire, flood and mayhem, the butcher is killed, and Julie and Stan are rescued by the underground, allowing them to start a new life together ( Austin, 1996: 137). This establishes that the water washes down the fire and creates peace for everyone. The water establishes angel washing down the devil and cleansing him from the people.

The sound is used extremely effective throughout the film. The score is blended from the diegetic sound that is used by the characters. Sequence of sound gags in which the bed springs squeaking under the butcher and his wife set off an orgasmic crescendo of noises throughout the building (Austin, 1996: 137). This demonstrates that the use of diegetic sound are a metaphor of something occurring on screen. One example being with the sound of the squeaking beds illustrating the sex scene. This scene gives the humorous effect of the film, because once it reaches the ending, it add this sound effect which is similar to a man reaching to the end.

The sound is effective especially in the diegetic sound. The use of diegetic sound effects such as a saw and help creating a music score is very unique. This is giving the poetic value and reminding us that the film is still a comedy. Environmental sounds recur throughout the film and, indeed, provide an introduction to the rural context in which the narrative begins, with insect sounds, water, frogs (etc.) preceding the visual track onto the screen (Coyle, 2010: 165). It provides some sort of a musical score by using props such as a saw. The characters help create a musical score that makes it instrumental and smooth. This suggests that the film is providing that it is the same stuff occurring for the characters on a different day. This could possibly mean that they are used to their daily habits, that each stuff they do becomes a musical score.

The theme of danger is visually portrayed on screen throughout the film. For example, with the old lady who has a red string ball that rolls all over the staircase. And as she is trying to wrap it all up, it leads to the butcher himself. Makes clear, renewal is difficult to sustain and can verge upon the grotesque (Hayward, 1993: 254). This illustrates that the colour red has given a warning that danger is coming and the danger of course being The Butcher. It is these enigmas that is presented in the film that helps create it very metaphoric as well. The colour red on the string is illustrating the colour of the danger and the warning of the presence of The Butcher.

The Butcher’s clothing are always dirty and includes hints of blood as well. This is giving the metaphoric message that the butcher hands are dirty. Giving the impression that he is a sinister person who has a dark side within him. The menacing figure of the butcher in his bloody apron and the raspy echo of his cleaver being sharpened throughout the building (F.McGrath, 2012: 11). He represents himself to other people as this menacing boss. But, he is more than that, as we see him killing and eating human flesh.

There is also the use of pathetic fallacy involved throughout. Pathetic fallacy is portrayed effectively by using the weather to match the character’s emotions. Pathetic fallacy, elevated to a very system of response (Hart, 2013 :31). One being the thunder rumbling sound effect towards the end of the film. This gives the illustration that Louision is in danger as The Butcher tries to murder him. And the thunder rumbling is giving the indication that Lousion is afraid of The Butcher and the thunder is alerting him that danger is heading his way.

Another effective use of pathetic fallacy is the sewer leakage with the old man and his frogs towards the end of the film. The water leaking is clarifying that something bad is about to transpire. That ends up being the sewer exploding and water discharges all over the place. It is messages like these that creates this film a strong and unique category. This is due to the fact that the film includes frequent amounts of enigma codes that establish what the film’s message is for each scene.

For example, the scene where The Butcher dies from his own hands: this is giving the metaphoric message that crime doesn’t pay. Serve to act as metaphor to denote and convey a deeper narrative meaning (De Valk, 2013 : 10). For all the sins and crimes he commits throughout the film ends up revolving on him. This is because he attempts to throw a knife at Louision, but it wings back to him like a boomerang and follows to his instant death.

The film does establish the characters from the rich versus poor class. Every fictional film likewise relies on some substratum of spectator understanding of the type of world that becomes the subject of the film (Dudley, 1984: 45). For example, there is one scene where the postman is trying to deliver a package. Then the kids living at the building attempt to steal it, but the postman has a gun and advises to give the package back. This gives the suggestion that even the postman is more commanding than the people living in the building. Struggling or a poor character whose circumstances ultimately determine the outcome of the story (Lovell and Sergi, 2009: 14). He is classed as a right hand man to the Butcher. This is because we see him discussing about Julie and also revealing who Lousion really is. Revealing that Lousion works for the circus.

Religion has been represented in the film in a successful way. This is so we can get a realisation of the film’s messages that are shown on the screen. ‘Dominant or significant’ is determined with reference to aspects of film narrative (Wright, 2003: 19 and 20). The scene towards the end, where Louison floods the bathroom and it bursts out and flooding the place. The water is rapidly waving towards the villainous people. This is a metaphor on cleaning the sins of the place. Cleansing the inappropriate people from the world, so they can be punished for their sins. The punishment being that the massive amounts of water heading towards them.

Overall, Delicatessen, 1991, is the perfect example of depicting religion on film. We have the devil who is the butcher and the angel who is Louision. The use of dutch camera angle helping to illustrate the film’s desolated look; portraying that the people living in the people are slaves to the devil known as The Butcher. Furthermore, that Louision is the angel who was like the one who is supposed to save them. The use of ambient sounds help creating this unique type of score illustrates that they are used to their daily actions. The film is unique just how it subvert conventions with the usage of dutch camera angles on dialogue scenes rather than suspenseful scenes. The film’s overall message is that the evil should not control the power of the good, because the evil will in the end get what they deserved.

References

  1. Altman, R. (2008). Theory Of Narrative – Columbia Univeristy Press
  2. Austin, G. (1996). Contemporary French Cinema – Manchester University Press
  3. Brown, B. (2011). Cinematography: Theory And Practice- Focal Press
  4. Coyle, R. (2010). Genre, Music and Sound : Drawn to Sound : Animation Film Music and Sonicity – Equinox Publishing Ltd
  5. De Valk, M. (2013). The Film Handbook – Routledge Ltd
  6. Dudley, A. (1984). Concepts In Film Theory – Oxford University Press
  7. Ezra, E. (2008). Contemporary Film Directors : Jean-Pierre Jeunet – University Of Illinois Press
  8. Dick, B. (2005) Anatomy Of Film Fifth Edition – Palgrave Macmillan
  9. Gibbs, J. (2002) Mise-En-Scene Film Style And Interpretation – Wallflower Press, 5 Pond Street, Hampstead, London, NW3 2PN
  10. Hart, G. (2013). Inventing the Language to Tell It : Robinson Jeffers and the Biology of Consciousness – Fordham University Press
  11. Hayward, S. (1993). French National Cinema – Routledge
  12. Konigsberg, I. (1997). The Complete Film Dictionary (Second Edition): Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
  13. Lovell, A. and Sergi, G. (2009). Cinema Entertainment: Open Univeristy Press
  14. Mayne, J. (1993). Cinema And Spectatorship: Routledge
  15. McGrath, J.F. (2012). Religion And Science Fiction – Lutterworth Press
  16. O, Brien. C. (2004). Cinema’s Conversion to Sound : Technology and Film Style in France and the U. S. – Indiana University Press
  17. Wright, M, J. (2006). Religion And Film: An Introduction: I.B. Tauris

Filmography

Jeunet, J P. and Caro, M. (1991). Delicatessen (DVD) FR: Contemporary Films and Miramax Films.

 

First Cut Of Short Film is Done

After five solid months of hard work, the first cut of my new science fiction short film is officially done. It currently runs at 12 mins and 24 secs.

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Doing a first cut of a film is a massive achievement for me as we can sort of relax and fix the specifics later. The hard part is done and now it is the easy steps to fix. Such as more sound dubbing and sound mixing. And cutting out some scenes as the film has to be maximum 10 mins. We are thinking of cutting 5 mins and make it into a 7 min film. We got a plot and narrative that is easy to follow now with ambitious filmmaking and storytelling. All we got to do is make sure the audience is on board with the film.

First time doing ADR (Sound Dubbing)

For our film, we required ADR which stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement. Or it is also known as sound dubbing. The reason we chose to do this as we wanted to get the best sound we could possibly require for our film.

When we did principal photography, we didn’t have a shotgun mic on set on purpose. The reason being is that the lead character manipulates with sound in the film and we couldn’t do that with a separate sound device on the days of filming.

So, when I wrote the script, I had in mind that we would do ADR, but it was a serious challenge.

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It was a challenge because this was the first time we all had ever done it. We did it as this is our final year of university and we wanted to build our skills while we are here. We never had the chance of doing it in the last two years. I found it shocking as we are film students and would have expected to get taught by this. We didn’t and we self-taught it ourselves.

I had seen a lot of behind the scenes, mainly Peter Jackson’s King Kong which use sound as a delicate matter for the film. I do agree that clear sound is more important than clear image. I personally can forgive a film which has bad picture such as 28 Days Later, but bad sound is beyond unforgivable and can ruin the film’s experience.

What Nathan had to do was the mimic every little dialogue he spoke when we filmed. This required watching the footage countless times and saying and recording the dialogue countless times. Once that was done, it was all about editing it and seeing if it worked.

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After two hours of hard work, it did pay off. It was worth every bit of it as the sound is crystal clear at a filmmaking level.

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People Who Have Inspired Me – Chris Stuckmann

Where to begin? I have been a huge, huge HUGE fan of Chris Stuckmann ever since when I was first introduced to him back in 2009. It occurred when I, unfortunately, say Dragonball Evolution and hating it. I went to YouTube straight after witnessing that atrocity of a film and wanted to see if someone did a review of it online. The first video that took my interest was Chris Stuckmann’s review of it back in 2009. I remember seeing it and laughing my butt off. Agreeing with him on ever point as we both are huge Dragonball Z fans. From then on, I became a fan of Mr Stuckmann.

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When he started, he was doing Quick Movie Reviews. They used to be like 3-4 minutes of him reviewing a film. I rewatched his Dragonball Evolution and also Inception review as they were in the Quick Movie Reviews days. It gave me such a nostalgic feeling as I realised just how brilliant he was then and how he is even more brilliant now.

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What I have noticed in his videos is how much heart and dedication he puts in every single video of his. He makes the effort for us as the audience of watching his videos. He has a terrific sense of humour on how to present a film review and just how smart he is as well. He is smart because he in my opinion understands what the definition of a true film experience is.

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He does many videos apart from movie reviews. He does in-depth review/analysis on a highly controversial film such as Drive. He puts so much effort on making these videos and makes them worth it.  He delves in on a film in the most professional manner and makes us appreciate of what a true film critic is.

He also does this hilarious segment called Hilariocity, for which a film is such an atrocity and it is also hilarious. He has reviewed film such as The Room and Batman and Robin. They are hilarious and make my day.

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I personally never really read or watched a film review until I saw Chris Stuckmann’s reviews. I watch his videos religiously as its a compulsion in my daily life. Whenever I am bored or feel down, I always watch his videos in order to cheer up. Like one time for example, I was down as I didn’t feel like watching a film. Then I saw his in-depth review of Drive and made me wanted to watch Drive again. That to me in inspiring.

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If there is one film critic out there who deserves the recognition, it is Chris Stuckmann. Please watch his videos on YouTuvbe and you will become obsessed. My little cousin watches his videos because of me and he now tells me his next video is online.

Another reason why I am a fan of Mr Stuckmann is that no matter if a film is good or bad, he will still respect the film no matter what. This is as he is also an aspiring filmmaker and understands just how hard filmmaking is. If you are reading this, I respect you for that, sir. As I am also an aspiring filmmaker and film lover.

I couldn’t thank this man enough for what he has shown in the YouTube community. He has shown that hard work pays off. He shows that movies still mean everything to us all film buffs. He has also shown that he looks just like Tom Cruise haha.

Overall, Chris Stuckmann has inspired me because he has shown me that movies are important and that film criticism filmmaking is a highly respectable job to commit.

Fifth and Final of filming of the major project

Filming has been officially completed on my new upcoming science fiction short film. It has been a huge challenge to get to the final day, but overall it has been fantastic. Here’s why?

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For the final day of filming, it required filming an action scene. But there was an issue as Rob who was the cinematographer had to be one of the actors as we were in tight deadlines and couldn’t find anyone else. Also, what Rob interpreted into the character was exactly what I had in my mind. As did his friend who was also acting as well. So, that meant that I was also the cinematographer and director as well for this day only.

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We filmed in a bowling club as the film revolved around personal human memories combined with computer data. So, Nathan’s character remembered this place,  in particular, combining computer data for which Rob and Stan’s character are computer glitches. Hence why they act unusual and start trying to go after Nathan’s character.

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We had booked the place thanks to our location manager Brad Ayres. We needed an interior setting and we got this which was great and suited it well for the scene. It gave the film a realism look as it is a not too far distant future. And another reason we needed an interior setting because we didn’t want to bring out prop guns outside. Then it would have caused chaos and ended up being complained. Luckily that didn’t happen and we were fine.

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We were ahead of schedule as everything was planned so well. We managed to film a one-minute long take which was breathtaking for us all. We did two takes of that scene to get the best one possible. We had four hours of the location booked, but we ended up filming it in under 2 hours.

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The important thing for the final day that it had to go well. It went more than well for us all and we honestly couldn’t be happier with the filming. It was a challenge, but we are filmmakers and we need to challenge ourselves in order to make an ambitious film.

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I have to also want to say that how much fun I had to film this project. It was due to the fact that I had the best cast and crew ever. Nathan has impressed me over the years and he has even more with this one. When you see his performance in this film, you will be incredibly amazed.

I also want to thank Rob for helping me make this film a possibility. And also Brad Ayres who has been a life saver with the locations. These people have been incredible throughout the shoot. We filmed in 8 different locations in 5 days and we have been grateful for it because of Brad.

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I am going to miss filming this project, but now it is time to start the editing. Hope you can follow my project as we go along editing and also premiering.

My first ever cinema experience

Since I am a huge film buff, I think it is time to talk and delve within my first film at the cinema experience.

I grew up watching and loving films. I loved the idea of being transported into another world with the viewing of a film. I loved the idea that we can escape the real world and enter into the world of the movie. Just like The Matrix. You get what I mean? 😉

Anyway, even though I grew up watching so many movies from the age of 3, I didn’t really went to the cinema. I went to the cinema for the first time when I was seven years old. It was the year 2000 and it was my religious Muslim holiday Eid. In my family tradition, we would go to the cinema and watch a film to celebrate. It was my first time doing this by going to the cinema. Around the time, I remembered it was the Tom Hanks film Cast Away that was showing. We went in and I got scared as it was too dark, so we went home.

Then the following year, I decided that it was time to man up and watch a film at the cinema. So, we did. My first ever film to see at the cinema was Jurrasic Park 3.

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Now, it is understandable that this film is hated by many people and that is completely understandable. But, for me, it will always have a special moment in my life. It was the first time where I properly experience a film at the cinema. I never forgot it being an 8 years old kid loving the experience. I loved the fact that it was a sequel to one of my favourite film of all time Jurrasic Park.  From then on, I went to the cinema pretty much every week.

Then more films came out and I went to the cinema pretty much every weekend. I remember 2001, in particular because there were films such as Rush Hour 2 which is another sequel to one of my favourite films. Still a terrific experience.

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The year was 2001 when Jurrasic Park 3 came out. I can still remember seeing that poster and getting excited. It honestly did feel like yesterday seeing it for the first time. It wasn’t the best film, but to me it was an incredible cinema experience. I will never forget that and will cherish the moment for the rest of my life.