Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Realistic Scene: Tape

The first film that came to mind for this assignment, partly because it’s been brought up in class a couple of times, was Tape, directed by Richard Linklater. Tape takes place in a tiny hotel room, where two characters – old friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time – have a long, rambling conversation which turns into an argument and a confrontation. There are several elements which give the film a very authentic feeling: the whole thing is shot in real time, the lighting and set are exactly what one might find in a cheap hotel room, and the plot is driven entirely by the dialogue.

There is a scene that takes place about halfway through the film where the two characters are facing each other across a small table; at this point the conversation has turned into an argument, where one character is trying to wheedle a confession out of the other. Instead of using two cameras which cut back and forth to the characters as they speak, one camera is used to swivel back and forth between them. As the argument escalates and the line delivery becomes more rapid, the camera has to swivel back and forth faster and faster. It produces a feeling of dizziness and frustration, getting the viewer into the same mood as the characters as the fight becomes more intense.

I thought that this was a very effective method of involving the audience in the tension of the scene. The back-and-forth camera movement seems to drag the viewer into the discussion as a third party looking from one character to the other. Since the film is entirely dialogue-driven, these kinds of camera tricks can help to engage the audience in what is happening and subtly influence the viewer’s emotional state.

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