Explication of Scenes: Part III

How about the scene when Danny goes to see Gideon in his cell? The purpose of this scene was to mislead you. The way he treats the priest, you should think that Gideon has some issue with religion. This was a tricky scene because I needed to make it seem that Gideon was anti religious without having him say anything ridiculous like “I hate God.”

I really regret playing the part of “Older Gideon.” When Hitchcock did this kind of thing, it was always at a mundane moment.  When the shots of me occur, there are really critical pieces of information getting revealed. So instead of saying “Ohhhh that’s why!” people are saying “That’s Nate, that’s the director, yadda yadda.” Really, the casting decision was motivated by not having to think about one more actor. On the flip side, I think some people may find it interesting that the director is playing “The Evangelist” character. Does the title possibly refer to the director? Maybe…but I’ve decided to reserve that speculation for the criterion collection essay that will accompany the DVD.

What I like in this scene is the moment when the Priest walks toward Danny. The Priest is discouraged and Danny tries to provide encouraging words.

But the Priest maintains his path, ignoring Danny. The priest disappears behind Danny. But then Danny mentions “I was his father.”

The priest reappears from behind Danny. He is interested by this. The shot isn’t symbolic or anything, but the design of it was meant to communicate the thought process of the Priest through the blocking.
Then we go back to the execution room. Danny and the Priest discuss Gideon. The camera is positioned behind the backs of the characters. I think this creates a more intimate vibe when characters are discussing something very important. They face away from us, so it’s almost like we are eavesdropping.

Here’s something I learned. Flashback cuts need to be motivated by a line. The line doesn’t have to be “It was a dark and stormy night..” but there needs to be something. The flashback here was initially motivated by a pregnant pause. Some people found this jarring. So I freeze framed the shot and added a line of voice over to prompt the flashback. This was fine because we had voice over anyway. It’s amazing what you can fix in post sometimes!

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Criticize the Shot: The Evangelist and Edward Gorey

Criticize the Shot: The Evangelist and Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey was also a big influence on The Evangelist
Thoughts on this shot of Danny and Gideon compared to an Edward Gorey drawing with an adult and a kid?

Danny and Gideon

Adult and Child in an Edward Gorey Drawing

Criticize the Shot: The Evangelist and Caligari

German Expressionism was a major influence on The Evangelist:

How do you think this shot from the film compares with one from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari?

Danny suffering from a heart attack

From The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Criticize the Shot: You’re Such a Square

Here’s a frame from The Evangelist. We put in a black box to represent a Cereal Box, because we didn’t like having a Cheerios logo there and felt this gave the scene a more story-book feel. Many people told us to get rid of it so we did. Yet, is the artificial and literal quality of it so different from the square that Uma Thurman draws in Pulp Fiction?
What do you think? Leave comments!

Screen Capture from The Evangelist

You’re Such a Square shot from Pulp Fiction

Cape Cod Screening

Thanks to everyone who came to our Private Screening on Cape Cod!

Here are some photos from the Event: it was a packed house

Nate in Cape Cod

Check out this Video of Nate answering some questions at our private Cape Cod screening. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good camera to record it, so we got it off someone’s camera phone. But, that’s okay. The audio is the important part anyway!

What it’s about: 8 1/2

This  week I decided to tackle something a bit more challenging: 8 1/2. This Fellini masterpiece is an explosion of meanings and implications. You could say it’s about film, it’s about male chauvinism, it’s about longing for the innocence of childhood, but I think what supersedes everything is a complete metaphor for God and his relationship to the world.

Now I am going to try to explain my interpretation as clearly as possible and I apologize if I fail.

Guido is a film director. He has had some success but he is currently having an artistic crises. His next film is ambitious and he is unsure if it will make any sense. As you watch the film, you begin to realize that Guido’s character refers to Fellini. Fellini is a film director, with an artistic crises, and 8 1/2 is a potentially non nonsensical ambitious film. So Guido is the cinematic manifestation of Fellini.

I want to point out that in this post, 8 1/2 stands as a metaphor for a deterministic God. That is, a God who predestined everything to happen and controls every molecule. I think it’s possible to interpret 8 1/2 as a metaphor for a God who permits free will. But for the sake of focus and clarity, I’m not going to entertain that interpretation.

So, a deterministic God controls all the molecules in the universe right? This is comparable to a film director like Fellini who controls all the creative decisions for the movie. But what is unique about 8 1/2 is how  Fellini extends the metaphor with the Guido character. In the same way that God sent down his manifestation in human form to a human world, Fellini sends down his manifestation in cinematic form to a cinematic world. And Guido interacts with people and suffers…and fill in the blanks. If you have any arguments against this interpretation, think about how Guido shoots himself at the climax and the supporting characters carry him like a martyr. And then he resurrects.

I’m just going to stop here because I vowed to make these short. But I want you to know I’ve written about 10 other pages that I’m not including. I think I’ve exercised a divine amount of restraint, because I have a lot more to say. There is not another movie I’ve seen that is so complex with such fascinating implications. For example, given this metaphor “What is Fellini saying about the creative process?” “Does he see himself as God?” “If Guido has control over everything, why does he suffer so much?” “Isn’t it possible to interpret this as a metaphor for a God with a free will?” “Does Fellini actually believe in God?” “Does God like 8 1/2?” “Is God the true director of 8 1/2?” And on and on. Enjoy this one.