Thursday, 9 July 2015

Film Content Development - Linking my Film to 'Fierrot Le Pou' (Kassovitz, 1990)


This post gathers all I have found from analysing 'Fierrot Le Pou' and explains how the short will serve the final production of my film.

This film is only six minutes long (excluding titles and credits), which is approximately the length I intend my video to last for. In this amount of time, Kassovitz does not waste a single shot. He tells the story with every single camera shot he uses, in developing the two characters especially. It is fascinating to review his films, and I believe that his is one of his best quality productions for the amount of filmic techniques he manages to fit into such a short amount of time.

The title for this film does not have a direct translation into English. Despite this, it is quite easy to understand the plot as there is no dialogue and Kassovitz's use of camera techniques immediately allows the audience to make sense of the genre and scenario. A rough treatment for the piece would be; a man in a gym who is not very talented at basketball attempts to impress a woman who is much better than him. During the time they are both practicing in the gym, the male protagonist psyches himself up before shooting and scoring. He appears proud before he messes up the next shot.

Kassovitz introduces the male protagonist (himself) in this shot. In this one frame alone, there are many cinematic devices present. There is rule of thirds in the composition of the windows and the hoop horizontally as well as the windows and Kassovitz vertically. Mise-en-scene in the form of non-verbal body language and costume portrays the protagonist as shy but confident in his ability as he is dressed in sportswear. I would certainly like to use rule of thirds in my film; I believe it is a simple yet effective element of cinematography in creating a professional-looking production.

This tracking shot introduces the second character in the film; a female basketball player. As I have mentioned before, Kassovitz does not waste a shot. Here, he introduces the new character - who is portrayed in a way that conforms to Todorov's theory of narrative equilibrium because she acts as an obstacle in the protagonist's line of action. She appears more prepared than Kassovitz is and therefore he must try harder to impress her. This is all connoted in a small number of CUs of her and her appearance.

The use of an interior location obviously serves a number of purposes. It is a lot easier to manage factors affecting filming, such as lighting and natural sound. But here, the setting is very simple and Kassovitz left himself the task of making this work effectively and entertaining too. The large area connotes the large gap between the two characters' ability at basketball. They are the only two individuals in a large open space which presents them as open to each other's judgement and competition.

I really admire this shot. The framing used enables Kassovitz to include two lines of action; himself in the background attempting and failing, along with just repetitive shots by the female constantly succeeding. This shot is simple to set-up, however it is Kassovitz's creativity that made it possible. It is not an obvious shot to create, yet he thought it would fit suitably to the narrative. Once again, I would like to recreate a shot similar to this. The composition of it is simple again, with rule of thirds present once more.

With this POV shot, we are introduced to something new by Kassovitz. His previous shots were all rather objectifying of the characters; the audience watched them from a distance. This shot represents the viewer as part of the narrative - from the protagonist's viewpoint. From a higher angle above the female character here, we are almost observing her actions and contemplating as Kassovitz's character would in the actual situation. It is simple yet powerful filming from the director once again.

Kassovitz does not often make use of close-ups in his films, he is somehow able to develop a character without the frequent use of CUs on characters' faces. However, this big close-up is very effective in portraying a number of feelings and developing the audience's attitudes towards the protagonist. His face fills the screen, with his non-verbal language connoting multiple feelings. It is a powerful shot and I would like to recreate it in the character development stage of my film.

This shot is great. A 180 degrees panning shot takes the audience all the way around Kassovitz, from him watching the female character to him eyeing-up the hoop. This camera movement allows the audience to look at the protagonist from every angle in one swift shot. It is a shot that builds up suspense in the audience as to what will happen next. I believe that it would be too difficult to reimagine for me.

A classic dolly zoom towards the hoop is used by Kassovitz here. It is nothing different to other dolly zooms from films elsewhere but it illustrates again how efficient Kassovitz is as a director; he does not waste a single shot. The shot keeps the hoop and backboard all in frame throughout which is quite tricky to do. Unfortunately, I do not think I will be able to create a dolly zoom in my film. They are certainly one of my favourite camera shots but I simply do not know how to use the camera and track this way yet.

This is a tracking shot tracks backwards, away from Kassovitz. It is very effective mainly because of the previous shot. The dolly zoom tracked towards the focal point whereas the very next shot tracks away from it. This movement maintains the fluid movements Kassovitz uses in his films.
Another BCU here, this time focusing on the female character's expression. As Kassovitz uses a reaction shot here, we are introduced to the nature of the second character for the first time really. It is unclear who Kassovitz wants the audience to sympathise with in the film, although the indicators do suggest it is him, the male protagonist. This is because he occupies the most screen time as well as motivating cuts.

This shot is really impressive. A combination of movement, post production, lighting and action here creates a very dramatic shot. As the enthused Kassovitz leaps to take his shot, the camera follows him - in slow motion - in the air and lighting coming from outside flashes behind the figure. It is a very different shot to what is previously used in the sequence. It is quite difficult to make sense of exactly how he filmed the shot; was it with track?

Upon landing, cheers can be heard. During Kassovitz's leap in the previous shot, extra-diegetic sfx were audible for the first time in the sequence. In this shoot - after he lands - applause is introduced as an extra-diegetic element. This is quite a surprise for the audience, who have become accustom to virtually silence in the previous five and a half minutes. I think sound could be quite an effective device if I managed to shoot a sequence and only introduce sound towards the end.

Kassovitz ends with him looking back gleefully at the female character. Despite him looking very close to the actual camera, the fourth wall is never broken in this short film. This shot portrays the success of the adventure his character undertook through this film. The shot is designed to encourage the audience to smile and admire his pride. Subtly, Kassovitz tells the moral story that if one strives hard enough, one will attain the reward they hoped for. Albeit not for very long in this case, as Kassovitz then misses his next shot and the credits roll.

This film was very enjoyable to watch, for me. The plot as much as anything is simple but ingenious. The cinematography that Mathieu Kassovitz employs in the space of just over six minutes is inspirational. Certainly, it has inspired me - I hope a lot of similarities between my film and Fierrot Le Pou can be identified in the final product.

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