Monday, July 13, 2009

All about Nick

Below is what last year's dux had to say about Nick. He ended up with a lazy 48 for English so it might pay to have a read.
Although Watt does communicate a great deal about Nick's emotional and psychological journey through the technique of photomontage, it is only when this is coupled with a range of other techniques that the viewer can form an in-depth understanding of his character and situation.
Watt's photomontages reveal a number of key concepts about Nick: his high-stress nomadic lifestyle (the pre-prepared meals); his high risk approach to work and life (his exposure to dangerous, potentially carcinogenic substances and tendency to smoke); his deep fear and preoccupation with death (dividing cancer cells and articles on cancer); his eventual revelation that death is part of the human experience (religious images, tombstones and statues) and his shared future with Meryl (images of them together at the hospital and touring the globe).
However, for every photomontage sequence Watt has used a corresponding, more subtle technique to explore similar ideas and themes. From the mise en scene employed at Nick's home, the dimly lit interior sparsely furnished and decorated, it can be inferred that Nick has been alone for some time and has always been "on the go". This is further emphasized by dialogue "Poverty...back to the mini-bar" and the humorous discussion between Nick and Meryl concerning their once youthful approach to life. Fatalistic dialogue is used to allude to his eventual recovery from cancer "Do you see it happening when you look at me? Do you see death?" His understandable preoccupation with his cancer diagnosis is shown by use of close-up when he directs his attention to an envelope of what we assume are test results. His interpretation of the world as suddenly being full of death is shown when he walks down the street and focuses on the butcher shop window. This idea of life is further developed in the symbolism of the cricket match, a representation of the passage of time in life in which Nick's "innings" is cut short. His renewed determination for life is symbolically shown by his anger at the wasted life of the young drug user and finally by his return to Meryl.
Through the use of flashbacks, Nick's past experience of cancer, his father Jim's "war" is revealed to the viewer adding further insight into his psychological response to his diagnosis. Thus, although photomontage provide a useful window into Nick's mind it is by no means our only vehicle, or even the best one for understanding Nick.
What other pieces of evidence could of been used? Personally, I believe we learn most about Nick through dialogue and his interactions with others rather than photomontage. For example, the fact that Phil is the person he first tells about his cancer rather than ring a family member; his visit to Joan's (their discussion and the fact he chooses not to tell her of his diagnosis); the break-up scene with Meryl and his emotional trackside conversation with Andy where he finally verbalises his fear and frustration at having cancer. I would probably also place more emphasis on the value of the flashbacks - both on their content and the context in which they occur.
But then that is the great thing about English. We can all have different views and we can all be right. We just have to back up our statements with detailed textual evidence. I'm sure you will agree that that has occurred in the example above.

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