Analyzing With Ebert: 10 Cloverfield Lane
Hey, folks! This week I learned a lot about looking deeper into the visual aspects of films. I took a film studies class last semester and loved it so I was ready to roll with it. First off, I watched a video that drew me in with its scandalous title: Hitchcock Loves Bikinis. What I took away from that video was the importance of shot/reverse shot patterns. If you show a person smiling then flip to a shot of what they’re smiling at, it can change what you think about them entirely. That’s the beauty of film! Just one single shot can make or break a moment.
The second video I watched was the one-point perspective montage of Stanley Kubrick’s work. I’ve seen a few videos of this favored shot of his, as well as mixed in with Wes Anderson footage, as he’s a huge fan of it as well. One-point perspectives can make shots pleasing to the eye with their symmetry but also wildly unsettling. In 10 Cloverfield Lane, it seemed to lean towards the latter, just as it does in The Shining.
The third video I watched was the 20 Cinematic Techniques montage. This one was really interesting because it pulled from a large variety of movies and showed a wide array of techniques that can be used to portray different feelings and effects. This went will with the Ebert article, which I’ll get more into in a minute. A big focus of this video was camera movement and how that can change how the viewer ‘feels’ in a scene. Tracking and panning, as well as handicam footage can make the viewer feel like they’re “inside” the action and is a prime choice with filmmakers nowadays for that very reason.
The final video I watched was another Kubrick video, the one on zooms in The Shining. This video was overwhelming to look at and I wish it was shown in a more digestible way but I understood what they were going for with it. From what I could tell, the zooms Kubrick used mostly brought focus to specific moments, as well as making certain people feel “smaller” or “larger”. When the camera zoomed outwards, the person in the shot seemed smaller and like they were left behind. When zooming in, they seemed larger and more in control. That was my understanding from watching the video but I’d be interested to see how others felt about it.
Finally, I read the Roger Ebert article. It reminded me a lot of exercises before, I suppose because the “Cinema Interruptus” is a necessary part in learning how to dissect movie scenes. It helps me a lot to just turn off the sound completely and focus on camera movement, framing and lighting to really catch on to what’s happening. Otherwise it all flies by while I’m into the music! What I learned from the article that was really notable to me was something I’ve noticed a lot of other DS106ers have focused on: the Rule of Thirds and axis of characters/figures on screen. I can figure out what techniques were used in shots after a while but I didn’t realize there were inherent meanings and feelings that came with the composition on scenes. Now I know more than ever that each technique and design in films are consciously chosen. This “composition theory” that Ebert described is something I mentioned in regards to 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Also in the video, I talked about visual storytelling in regards to the opening scene. It doesn’t completely mesh with Ebert’s article but the idea of stopping each shot and analysing what it says fits right in with what I thought about the scene. Without any sound and with just a few shots, you learn all necessary info about Michelle before you hear her speak even once. I thought that was amazing and had to dissect the scene a little!
This assignment was cool and gave me a chance to watch the movie a little deeper. It was hard to fit all I wanted to say in while I watched the scenes so that was the main struggle. The rest was just a matter of downloading video with the 4K downloader and meshing it together in iMovie. Watch it below and let me know what you think!