Friday, July 17, 2009

Approaching the essays

“The animation and photomontages mean that we learn about Nick and Meryl more than other characters in the film”

Do we learn more about Nick & Meryl than the other characters in the film due to the animations and photomontage? Many of you have raised the point that although Nick and Meryl are clearly the main protagonists we learn just as much about Andy. We also see his past, present and future without animation or montage.

Others argued that via silence/physical expression and song lyrics we also know a lot about Julia and the train driver.Others argued that it is not just because of animation and photomontage that we know a lot about Nick & Meryl. For example, the animations may tell us about Meryl's internal fears but we also learn a lot about her via mise en scene (eg. her vigorous painting in her chaotic sea-hued apartment) and dialogue (eg. phone conversation with her sister & all those Meryl classic lines such as "Maybe it was meant to be", "...unprotected sex, skiing...", "politeness hostage gene").

We learn a lot about Nick through his interactions with others (eg. Joan - "we should have helped him more") and his physical expression (eg. when he is examining his chest in the shower). Nick's flashbacks to his dying father also tell us a lot about his state of mind. Watt also establishes the isolation of her characters by crosscutting close-up shots of them.Whatever line of argument you choose to take, remember you must challenge the statement in some way. Also remember what type of question this is. It's a double-banger. It's asking you to show an understanding of both the characters in the film and how the director constructs meaning. Your responses should reflect this.

Sample 1 - Introduction
In Sarah Watt's melodramatic film Look Both Ways the photomontages and animations associated with Nick and Meryl respectively, provide only a small insight into their lives, personalities and state of mind. We do not learn more about them because of animation and montage alone. We know more about them than most characters because of the cumulative effect of these filmic devices accompanying other elements of film such as dialogue, physical expression, mise en scene, flashback sequences and carefully selected camera shots. It can also be argued that we know just as much about Andy without the use of photomontage or animation. Like Meryl and Nick, we also learn about his past, present and future.

Sample 2 - Body paragraph - Andy
Andy is an angry and bitter man, discontent with his personal life and career. There are no visual inserts to help us understand his character. Watt relies on more conventional film techniques. Story elements suggest his cynical personality as he turns Rob's fatal accident into a story on suicide and then believes Phil and Nick are trying to sabotage him by not accepting his "slant". With Andy, dialogue and physical expression are important as they combine together to emphasize the anger he feels in a range of situations. His often asks accusatory questions. He asks Anna, "Did you do this on purpose?" When she tells him he thinks everyone has an agenda he replies, "Don't they?" and when Nick asks him if there is a God he replies, "How can anyone believe in something so bloody ridiculous?" He is frustrated by his job, the lowly Arts Diary, his failed marriage and five cent increases to his morning paper. His physical expression when he pops open the packet of chips and marches aggressively down the street shouting at the church choir to "shut up" characterises the way he feels on a daily basis. It is also through physical expression that we witness change in Andy as he goes to Julia's house and retraces Rob's steps to the scene of the accident. The non-diagenetic background music shows his heightened sense of emotion. He finally realises that things do "just happen". As he stands below Anna's window, looking up in submissive fashion, we realise the change in Andy is going to have positive implications for his future.

Sample 3 - Body paragraph - Meryl
The repetitive use of animation gives us important insight into Meryl's state of mind. Through animation we learn that Meryl fears both dying and living. Animations such as when the train falls off the overpass and crushes her as she walks home from the station and when Rob playing with his dog becomes a threatening attacker and chokes her begin to make it clear that this inner life, based on unfounded fears, is obsessive and detrimental to living life to the full. These animations, centred on unexpected death, are always worse than what she has to face in real life. She appears to be coping well with both her father's death and witnessing Rob's accident. Her animations involving water point to an overall discontent with her life - literally drowning and being eaten alive. The animation of the young indigenous boys who Meryl tells "Maybe it was meant to be" return to mock her at the end of the film after her break-up with Nick and near death experience,"It's meant to be". These animations indicate that Meryl needs to move away from the notion of fate she exhibited earlier and take responsibility for her life. Up until this point she has been paralysed by fear. The final montage suggests that she is over her fear of death, as she is ironically in a relationship with a cancer sufferer, and also her fear of life. The concept of fate has been left behind and she has chosen to embrace life - a relationship, travel and an art exhibition.

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