Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption directed by Frank Darabont is a remarkable film that not only has a brilliant acting cast but also had a well written screen write. The movie was nominated for 7 Oscars awards ranging from actor’s awards to what I consider the best award to be given at the Oscars; Best Picture. I enjoyed the film greatly and respect the way Darabont decided to go about creating this groundbreaking film. I see this film as a great example of a crime/drama story and works very well with the time period it is supposed to be set in. The set of the film definitely makes it seem like you are in the 1950’s decade.  

 

Cinematography

            Throughout the film many videography techniques were used to create such a great picture that the film was but there were also a few moments in the film that I felt as if things could’ve been shot differently. The first scene in the jail yard when actor Morgan Freeman was talking to one of the inmates the shot changed from one side of them talking to the complete other side. Darabont broke the 180 rule of film by jumping from one side to instead of using a cut away or simply panning around to follow the two actors walking. Another way this could have been changed is that another shot with both actors in the center would have allowed the camera to be moved to the other side that is shown in the film.

            Selective focus is used eleven minutes into the film to show actor William Sadler talking while actor Morgan Freeman was out of focus. Directors used this technique to focus on the main person talking at that point in time and make it easier for the audience to know who is speaking. I agree with the use of this technique at that time of the film to help show who is talking at the time.

            A lighting technique is used thirteen minutes into the film where a guard’s hat shades the top half of his face from the natural light. Whether this was done purposely or not this is the short lighting technique to only reveal part of the actor’s face which can help perceive how the actor will be in the film. The guard throughout the film is very shady and murders one of the inmates on the first night of new comers into the prison.

            Thirty-two minutes into the film a rolling centered shot of the guards walking down center of the prison is an amazing shot at a low point of view. The low angle shot used in this scene with an applied dolly back shows great fluidity and smoothness. Rolling shots like this combined with a great angle can really grab your audience’s attention to see things in a different perspective.

           

Music

            The melodious song If I Didn’t Care by The Ink Spots set the mood for the start of film making things cool, calm, and collected. I feel like the song played hand in hand with what was going on at the start of the film because the meaning of the song is a person have doubt about love and what it meant to them. Andy Defresne (Tim Robbins) was cheated on by his wife and decided to leave him which made Defresne very upset to the point that he looks as if he want to kill his wife and her lover.  The song itself perfectly sets the mood for the confusion of love and why things happen the way they do. The audio technique known by few as the Segway technique makes the music in a film go from the overall audio to a specific object in the scene such as a cassette tap or mp3 player. In this case the music begins to come from the car that actor Tim Robbins was sitting in at the beginning of the film.  

            Many voiceovers are used in this film, so the audience could feel as if they knew what was going on in the character’s mind and almost see things from the characters point of view. Morgan Freeman’s voice is used in the beginning and soon after actor Tim Robbins voice is also used.

 

Work of Director and Main Actors

            Director Frank Darabont is a well-known man for crime/drama films that range from the eighties to the early two thousands. The way he directs his films amaze me because he likes to keep it simple but also keep his audience interested in what is going on. Not all films have to have a bunch of fight scenes to get the audience attention and Darabont did a very good job of keeping the audience intrigued with simple dialog plus drama. As for the acting of Tim Robbins I believe he did a great job as the main actor and keeping his character all throughout the entire film. He truly seemed to be a free man with lots of knowledge and deserved to be let free from the prison. Morgan Freeman played an outstanding role as the head of all the other characters in the film. Freeman always seems to be able to play the old man with wise words in movies and I respect him a lot for it. Not many actors can do as well as he does between roles in many different films and still be able to come back to his actual self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

Psycho (1960)

Psycho (1960), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is a phenomenal thriller explaining the life of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) as a psychopathic serial murderer. Right from the beginning of the film Hitchcock chose to use very loud thrilling music to catch the audiences full attention. I do agree with this choose to create the perfect hook for his audience and start the film off in such a chilling way. The beginning of the film is very simple with the use of sequencing of long shots and medium shots to show everything going on with all the actors. One thing I do tend to see with a lot of films prior to 1970 are that most scenes the camera follows the actor wherever they go depending on who is speaking. The development of using proper sequencing was not yet there in the 1960’s in my opinion. Any great film today has proper sequencing and the actor is not followed unless the directors intends for this to happen for a reason. A good use of sequencing during this film was when actress Janet Leigh arrived at the car dealership and was looking at license plate numbers. As she walked along cut aways of three license plates were used so the audience could see what she was seeing and trying to decide on what she was going to do so she could get away without using the same vehicle she arrived with. During this film many fades are also used to go from one setting place to the next which is exactly what fades are meant for. Fading from one scene to the next is mainly used to go from one town to the next in a film or to go from one day to the next. Hitchcock used this wisely to from day to day in the film and to show the traveling from city to city with actress Janet Leigh. Another great use of fading was the fade from black to reveal the bates motel sign in the film after Leigh had been driving in the rain storm for some time. The windshield wipers continued to go back and forth with the rain and she couldn’t see anything because of how dark it was until the sign appeared out of the darkness. Many directors will use a fade from black to reveal many different things in films whether they are simply signs or even to create jump scares in horror films. There were a few scenes in the film that stood out to me the most and really made the film what it was to fully show how much of a thriller the film was. The scene where Janet Leigh is murdered by Anthony Perkins was very vivid and was filmed perfectly for a 1960’s thriller. The way this scene is made by the director is by jump cuts from the actor’s eyes widening to her lips screaming and then to Perkins stabbing her. An amazing transition is used after the murder of actress Janet Leigh. The drain in the tub in zoomed in on and then transitioned to her eye in a spinner motion as if the water is still circling the drain to soon reveal her face on the floor dead with 2 tears running down her cheek. No light is shown upon Perkins because Hitchcock did not want his audience to know who the main killer in the film was yet. He decided to use the backlight lighting technique to take away the actor’s identity which helped keep his audience at the edge of their seats frightened to know who exactly the person was conducting the murder. Many lighting techniques are used in thriller films to scare the audience by making them want to lean just a little closer to the screen to possibly see the person could be. I believe Hitchcock used this technique in his film in a great way and wouldn’t change it at all. The death of the detective during the film seemed very odd to me and the scene could have been filmed differently. After being stabbed he falls down the stairs and it was shot in front of him as he fell and seemed as if he was floating and not stumbling down. It really could’ve been shot better with a wide shot showing the entire staircase and him tumbling all the down to his death. The scene then could have been closed simply with a fade to black to create a good continuation of the film. Matching action is very key in a movie and its only noticed mainly by film critics and film makers. When it comes to matching action a film maker may forget to make sure a set is the same it was just before starting the next scene or continuing with shooting the film. As actress Vera Miles enters the home near the end of the film she never closes the door when she entered, but when Anthony Perkins comes back up after knocking out actor John Gavin the front door is closed suddenly. This is poor matching action by the director to make sure the door was still open in the next scene of Anthony Perkins coming back up to the house. As far as the audio throughout the film Hitchcock used it greatly to his advantaged during the film with loud thriller themed music. Examples of this during the film are; When Janet realizes that her boss has walked by her while she still has the 40,000 dollars from the customer and suspense/panic music begins to play to get the audience on the edge of their seat to see what happens next. Also, when Janet is woken up by a cop she is terrified and wants to drive away immediately but can’t without him asking for her license and registration. After he finally lets her go it seems as if he is trying to follow her and the music picks back up again. The audio is reasonably very blaring in this film. The main reason I believe that Hitchcock used such loud and blaring suspenseful music was to get his audience to jump and be very afraid of the murdering going on throughout the film and to be scared in certain small points in the film.

The actors in this film did a very good job for a thriller film like Psycho. Actor Anthony Perkins hid his identity as the killer during the film in a great way by changing his moods easily but also showing that there was something odd about him throughout. Janet Leigh also played a great role in this film trying not to be suspected as the thief of the money. The scene where she is killed she truly does look dead hanging off the edge of the bathtub in such a stationary form so the director to get the full shot of zooming out from just her eye to reveal her death. All supporting actors did their jobs well and I didn’t think they lost character at any point during the film. As for director Alfred Hitchcock I applaud him greatly for such an amazing film. There are remakes and even a television show, Bates Motel, which is based on the film he directed which means that he did a good enough job to catch the eye of film makers today and make a show out of his great film. Although the show doesn’t really bring in the scenes from the originally film until season five it still really goes in depth of what really was going on in fictional character Norman’s head and explained why he was killing people. With the film being considered a thriller I would give it four out of five stars for telling a well written story and it is a well-known thriller that is still talked about to this day in the film industry.