Explication of Scenes

This segment of the posting is where I explain my intent behind the various scenes in the movies. It’s similar to a director’s commentary, except that I don’t have to offer my explanation while the film plays. This way, I can explain it fully. I’m dissatisfied with most commentaries. Usually the director will speak about anecdotes that happened on set or other adversities they had to overcome. I would much rather hear a director’s insight. I may not have a lot of useful insight right now, but I should practice communicating it now so when God does give me something very profound to say, I’ll communicate it very effectively.

So, let’s start at the top of the movie:

Scene 1: The credits sequence. I always wanted to start the story out on a note of “doom.” That was the key word for the composer. I thought this was very important because the movie feels very gloomy at the end. The general emotional arc of the movie is that it starts off innocuous and carefree and becomes progressively more gloomy and vicious. I thought it was possible that the audience would feel jarred by this transition, so a way to remedy that problem is to start the movie off in a dark place, let it get carefree and innocent, and then return to a dark place. We foreground the doom so it’s not so unexpected at the end. I think part of the inspiration was the theme from the Shining. But also the song sounds like some cold, gothic church theme, which is appropriate for the subject, no? To some extent this is “Gideon’s Theme.”

The title cards were done in the style of an illustrated book. Specifically, Edward Gorey’s books. His combination of children in macabre scenarios, savage irony, and black and white flat compositions were all major influences on the story. I’ll explain purposes for these things as they arise.

I wanted to include footage of the piss christ because I thought it was possible that some audience members wouldn’t know that piece of art. We move around it slowly because that feels kind of meditative. So as Danny’s talking about the piss christ, the audience can meditate on it by actually looking at it.

Danny’s monologue is supposed to be a microcosm for one of the driving meanings of the film. Danny talks about how he can’t tell whether or not the work of art is reverent. Danny is talking about this because he feels the same way about Gideon. Danny doesn’t know whether Gideon’s actions are reverent by his or anyone else’s standards. By the way, I do not feel the same way about Gideon. I admire Gideon by the very end. I think he acts in an inspiring way and is a Christ figure. So I don’t agree with Danny necessarily. But the director doesn’t have to either. Actually, I’d say it’s pretty amateurish to try to siphon your message through the thoughts of the lead character. The character will almost always feel fabricated that way. An example of this would probably be “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” (I love this movie, but the ending monologue feels contrived, as if the director has suddenly possessed the actors and forced them to express his ideas instead of their own)

The opening shot is the car approaching the prison. I didn’t use an actual prison, so I had a sign made that said “Prison.” My alternatives would have been starting him on a cellphone and saying something like “Yeah, I’m at the prison now, I gotta go, okay.” But I always prefer communicating information visually instead of sonically.

That’s what I did for the next piece of information too. The car backs up toward the camera and we see that there’s a rainbow flag on the bumper. This was to communicate that the driver (Danny) was gay. You can imagine visual alternatives to communicating that he was gay. And communicating that in dialogue would have sounded really forced too.

The overall vibe of this shot was supposed to feel desolate and stark. I think the inspiration was partly from “In Cold Blood.” I wanted to communicate a cape cod that I had experienced. Most people know it for it’s sunny beaches and fried clams. But my experience had a lot of gray and isolation. Emotionally, that fit with my desire to start the movie on a “doom note.”

So at this point what you know is that the character is going to a prison. The question you hopefully were wondering is “Why is he here?” That’s what the next sequence begins to divulge.

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