Section A of exam…
Discuss the ways in which the extract constructs the representation of sexuality using: Mise En Scene; Camerawork; Sound Design; and Editing…
The television drama extract from ‘Fingersmith’ uses various techniques within: mise-en-scene; camerawork; sound design; and editing in order to represent the sexuality of the three different characters shown in the extract: Miss Maud; the servant, Sue Trinder; and the gentleman, Richard Rivers.
The extract began with a short scene in a dressing room. Miss Maud is shown to be dressing and helping her servant. The scene uses a two shot in order to show the two ladies looking at their reflections in the mirror. These two characters have been positioned into the centre of the shot; this displays to the viewers that these ladies are the main characters but also portrays the close relationship between the two, which later is revealed to be closer than anticipated. The scene begins with a piece of narration from Miss Maud describing the beauty of the other female shown in the scene. The fact that Miss Maud speaks these opinions in a narration, not out loud, displays that these are the hidden and secret homosexual thoughts in her head that she can not expose. In this scene Miss Maud is shown to be wearing a white dress. The colour white is often thought as as the colour of innocence and purity. At the time that this television drama is set, the Victorian era, homosexuality of any form was seen as hugely immoral and a sin. Homosexual people were looked down on in society and because of this people often hid their sexuality and pretended to be heterosexual, pretended to be someone else. By wearing the innocent and pure colour of white, Miss Maud is shown to be encaging, restricting and covering up her true homosexual emotions. During this scene, positioning within mise en scene has been used in order to display how Miss Maud thinks of herself and her priorities. When the two women are shown stood in the mirror, Miss Maud is standing behind her servant, Sue Trinder. This could be seen as unusual because surely she should be seen as more important due to the social hierarchy of the time; however this displays how important Sue really is to Miss Maud and how much she admires, cherishes and arguably loves Sue. The positioning could also display that Miss Maud is not true to herself and does not respect herself due to her true homosexual feelings. The mirror is fairly dusty; this dirt on the mirror could represent the negative views of homosexuality of the time but could also portray that Miss Maud’s dream of having and loving Sue is distorted, unlikely and negative. During this scene the non diegetic, composed score is fairly graceful and buoyant. The sound design is used in order to show the audience how Maud feels when being herself and how happy and at home she feels with her love. This graceful music is contrasted to the exaggerated diegetic sound of the heavy breathing. The heaviness of the breaths indicates that Miss Maud is somewhat nervous around her lover and displays that Maud is scared of her true feelings and the consequences to them. However, the heavy breaths could also indicate the heart beating faster around Sue’s presence due to Maud’s admiration of her; this is because when the heart beats faster it needs more oxygen… meaning heavier breaths are required.
The programme then fades into the next scene; this transition could have been edited in in order to show that Maud can not live her life displaying her true feelings. She must fade out of her dream world and fall back into reality. The scene faded into shows Miss Maud in some form of dark office. The dark lighting to the room could display how gloomy Maud’s life is when she is trapped in her feelings and forced to live life as a different woman. This shorter scene shows the contrasts between Maud’s life when she is being herself and when she is hiding her true feelings. The contrast of lightness and darkness displays her two forms and how they make her feel. The simple, elegant and spacious room from before compared to the busy, smaller and murky room of this scene also displays the simplicity and joy of her life, compared to the complicatedness to a life made up on a lie.
The next scene is located in a bedroom. In this bedroom the two characters are shown to be in bed. The wide shot is used in order to display the two women’s full bodies in the bed and the connection between the two. The fact that the two are shown to be in bed together immediately gives connotations to sexual connection between the two characters. In the same shot, Miss Maud is then shown to almost touch the other female character in areas of the body often related to lust and sexual activity. The two characters are shown to be wearing white, thus displaying the cover up of innocence once again. Miss Maud’s hovering hand over the intimate areas of the other female is override by a white glove. The glove could be acting as a barrier in order to stop Miss Maud from releasing her secret to the world. The whiteness of the glove once again shows that Maud is covering up her, then seen, embarrassing and dirty secret by using an image of innocence and purity. The romantic, composed score playing in the background of the scene further displays the sentimentality between the two characters.
The programme then transitions into a new scene, outside. The environment is displayed as sunny, bright and full of fresh green vegetation. Miss Maud is shown to be painting her lover whilst she sleeps against a boat. In this scene a new character is introduced, he is a male and is wearing dark and black clothes. These colours in contrast to the pure white colour of the women’s outfits display that he is in no way pure but rather dirty as the audience later learn. The mise en scene location of nature, which is displayed through the varying camera shots, alongside the nature related diegetic sounds, such as the chirping of the birds, suggests that Maud feels most comfortable, ‘normal’, and peaceful in her true feelings. The nature related noises also represent her mood as they increase in tempo when her fear increases but decrease in tempo as she becomes more calm and focused upon Sue. A close up shot of Miss Maud’s face displays her concentration upon the woman. Her eyes seem alive and located on the woman only; this in itself displays her romantic feelings towards the woman as she sleeps and is unaware alike everyone else. The camerawork then uses two close ups in a sequence of shot reverse shot in order to display to the audience the intentions and homosexual thoughts of Maud. The close up shots display the breast area of Sue and her hands in her lower region suggesting sexual tension. The close up shot of Maud’s reaction in-between the two displays her sexual intensions and what she wants. Maud is shown to be fixated by the body of the other woman, so much so that red paint falls from her paintbrush onto her skirt. The colour red symbolises love and lust; therefore representing the feelings Maud has towards her female associate. However, red can also be related to danger; this direct link to danger portrays how unsafe the sexuality of Maud is and how dangerous it could be for her secret to escape and her heterosexual act to fall just as the droplet of paint fell from the brush.The longer Maud stares at Sue with intimate intentions and admirations, the dynamics of the soundtrack increase. This could display that her feelings for Sue become stronger the more she attempts to suppress her true feelings. It could also indicate that she is scared of revealing her true self as the reaction of her loved one and others in society may be catastrophic. Towards the beginning of this scene the male character is positioned to be stood in the middle of Maud and Sue. This shows that he comes between the two, is what is keeping Maud away from her true love and displays a form of a love triangle. He is a physical barrier and is obtaining accepted social views by doing so. Miss Maud is shown to be sat in the shade, wearing a hat, under an umbrella. The shade represents the cover up of her secret… her life is dark when she is unable to be who she truly is and unable to be with the woman that she loves.It is then when the gentleman notices her intimate focus on Sue. At this point the tempo and dynamics of the composed non diegetic sound increases; this displays to the viewers Maud’s increasing fear as she realises that her secret has become exposed. As Maud notices that her secret has been revealed to the gentleman, the diegetic sound of deep breaths also increase as she is nervous of the upcoming reaction due to the taboo surrounding homosexuality in the Victorian era. Before Maud revealed her true feelings to gentleman Rivers, the length of shots was fairly long and slow paced; this reflected her comfort knowing that her feelings were a secret. However, from the moment where it is revealed until when gentleman Richard Rivers agrees to help cover up Maud’s secret, the length of shots become much shorter. There are also many more shots. This fast pace adds a sense of chaos and the contrast of editing displays Maud’s fear of her secret being out. As the male character approaches Maud with an aggressive trait, all sounds included in the scene are amplified in order to display her increasing fear. Maud is then pulled out of the shade by the gentleman and during this swift and aggressive action her hat falls off. This shows that as she is brought into the sunlight her and as her hat comes off her secret is now no longer a secret and so Maud is who she really is. The true Maud has stepped into the bright, real world. From here, the music stops. Silence can be very powerful and has been used within sound design to show that her secret is not now close to being revealed, it is revealed. The silence is also tense and so represents the atmosphere as no one knows how the upper class, Victorian gentleman will deal with a sinful lesbian. It is eery and produces a sense of discomfort. The two characters then share dialogue which displays the gentleman verbally attacking Maud for her feelings and referring to Sue as a “fingersmith”. A fingersmith is a thief or pick pocket. The use of this phrase to describe the love of Maud’s life shows the jealousy of the heterosexual gentleman who clearly is in love with Maud. It could be argued that he believes the fingersmith is stealing Maud away from him. The gentleman then drags Maud toward a tree, then holds her up against the trunk. The forcefulness could represent the strict rules, judgement and views of society in there Victorian era forcing women with theme emotions to act as ‘normal’, heterosexual. Shot reverse shot is used within camerawork in order to display the expressions of the two characters and to show the discomfort felt by Maud around Richard. This shot reverse shot also displays the two opposites of sexuality appearing in this scene. The heterosexual man is positioned to be higher up than the homosexual woman; thus displaying the views of the time as heterosexuals looked down upon homosexuals as vile and wrong. The silence is still present which adds further tension to the scene. This silence is then broken by an awoken Sue as she can not find Maud. The speech and diegetic sound of Maud suddenly becomes much more frantic as she is close to her lover finding out the truth. This is when the music begins again as the gentleman begins to smother Maud with his affection through sexually related acts. The composed score is eery, uncomfortable to listen to and fairly mysterious; this portrays how Maud is feeling through to the audience and allows them to feel sympathy towards her. Gentleman Richard Rivers is denied a kiss from Maud as her feelings for Sue are true and although she may be able to act heterosexual, this would be taking it too far. As he leans in for a kiss, the shadow of the gentleman covers Maud; this displays that she is once again retreating to her fake and dark life and keeping the secret hidden. The camera then changes to a mid shot revealing the males face infant of Maud’s middle section of body. This section reveals the areas of intimacy and the shot displays the face of the man focussed onto it; this displays the sexuality of the man as he forces himself upon Maud with determination to have her. An aspect of mine en scene that also displays the two sexualities is when Richard Rivers takes off the white glove from Maud’s fragile hands; this could show that he is now in control as he has removed her barrier and is able to control her sexuality of the real world as he wants her for himself. It also shows that he is taking away her innocence as he further carries out sexual related acts. He then licks the hand of Maud. Sound design uses an exaggerated diegetic sound in order to make this even more uncomfortable to watch; this represents the discomfort felt by Maud in the situation.
The extract then fades into the last scene which is located once again in a bedroom. It begins with the a mid shot displaying a topless woman with her back facing the camera. She is positioned in the centre of the shot therefore displaying that she is all that Maud thinks about and is also very important to her. Infront of her, but behind from the view of the shot, there is a burning fire. The fire is a producer of light and so this aspect of mine en scene could portray that being honest with this woman could lead her into the light, could lead her into having an improved life. On the other hand, fire is often related to danger and so this could once again be portraying that Maud’s feelings towards Sue are dangerous and would lead to unknown consequences. The scene has been edited so that it is in slow motion as Sue undresses. This shows how this is almost like a dream for Maud, it displays what she wants in her ideal world but what she can not have. How she can only have Sue in her dreams. On the other hand, the slight blur and slow motion of the scene shows the confusion of Maud surrounding her feelings but also how in the Victorian times homosexuality was seen as wrong and as a distortion that many could not understand. The final shot of the scene shows Maud laid in bed once again with Sue. However, this time she is positioned to have her back facing away from Sue. This could be due to her discomfort from her smothering of gentleman Richard Rivers or because she is trying to suppress her true feelings. On the other hand, a close up shot reveals the worried expression on Maud’s face as she holds the covers over her mouth; this could show that she feels ready to tell Sue about her true feelings but has the cover, representing society, acting as a barrier to stop her. The final part of the scene uses diegetic sound for a short piece of dialogue. The dialogue is muffled due to the cover being over her mouth; however it could be argued that Maud mutters the words “tell me”; this selection of words could display that Maud is wanting Sue to share her secret love which displays that in the Victorian era many woman had to lie and lived different lives to the lives that their hearts desired. On the other hand, the use of a muffled diegetic sound rather than a clear one could represent how the judgemental restrictions of society muffled the lives of these homosexual women and made them too nervous to speak the truth and act upon it.
The television drama extract from ‘Fingersmith’ uses varying techniques in order to represent sexuality. Two forms of sexuality are displayed alongside one another as the male is in love with Maud due to his heterosexual desires whereas Maud is in love with Sue due to her homosexual desires. Mise en scene, camerawork, sound design and editing are all used in order to represent these two sexualities and the taboo surrounding homosexuality during the Victorian era. Homosexuality was seen to be a sin, not morally correct and looked down upon by the heterosexual people who were confused as to why people would want to be different.
Discuss the ways in which the extract constructs the representation of ability/disability using the following:
- Camera Shots, Angle, Movement and Composition
- Sound Design
In order to answer the statement, we watched the first 2/3 minutes of the first episode (Study in Pink 01×01, 2010) of the BBC drama Sherlock.We were put into groups of 4 and we all shared our ideas with each other.
The extract that we were shown is of Dr. John Watson (pictured above on the left, played by Martin Freeman) dreaming about his past in the SAS. He is shown to be distressed by these flashbacks which suggest some sort of mental disability such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He then wakes up and is shown to have a walking stick; this displays the physical disability that he has gained from his experiences in the war. We then see Watson with a therapist who suggests to him to write a blog about what occurs to him in his everyday life. John Watson sees this as pointless because “nothing happens to [him]”. However, this is ironic as this then leads to the first episode where he meets Sherlock Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Camera Shots, Angle, Movement and Composition
There are various ways in which the extract uses camera shots, angle, movement and composition in order to portray ability/disability.
The extract begins with a dream/flashback of John Watson fighting in Afghanistan in the SAS. This dream is displayed by using point of view shots. By using this type of shot, the viewers can see and experience what John had previously experienced with his time at war. The shot also displays that this part of his life is still present in his mind and he is unable to disconnect himself from this part of his life. He is unable to leave the soldier part of himself behind and experiences PTSD firsthand as a result of this. For the duration of the dream, lens flare emphasises the hardships and reality of war that is constantly replaying in the mind of Watson. The flashback scenes are filmed using a handheld camera; the unstableness of the camera represents how unstable Watson is mentally… his mind is all over the place.
After the dream, the extract cuts to a birds eye view shot of Watson in bed. The shot enables the viewers to be looking down at Watson. The composition of the shot shows him in the centre, these two features put together display his vulnerability to the ‘real world’. The shot could also be viewed as fairly voyeuristic; this also backs up his vulnerability. The audience then see John Watson sat upright on his bed in his dull bedroom. The shot shows Watson isolated in the dull room, this displays his isolation and vulnerability from the outer world. It also displays that he is separated and unable to connect to anyone. The camera then dollies out in order to display the rest of the room. This is when viewers learn that Watson is not only disabled mentally, but also physically. As the camera dollies out, a walking stick is shown. The walking stick is positioned to be across the room to Watson; the fact that he has it placed away from him shows his reluctance to help and to accepting that his life in the SAS is over. Following this scene, the walking stick is somehow shown in each camera shot. This reoccurrence displays the importance of the walking aid to Watson’s life and so emphasises his disability which was presumably gained from an accident in Afghanistan.
Watson is then shown to make what is presumably his breakfast. He brings out an apple and a mug of coffee. The camera has a shallow focus on the mug; this brings the audiences attention to the army logo on the mug. It also links back to the dream of life in the army that was previously shown and tells the audience that his mind is trapped in that way of life and he cannot let go of that lifestyle.
The scene then changes, Watson is now in a therapist’s office getting help for his mental disability. In the shot showing Watson sat down in the therapist’s office he has been positioned in the rule of thirds so that he seems to be separated from the surroundings; this shows how detached he is from the ‘real world’ and how he can not snap back or adjust back into reality. The shot is also filmed from a higher angle meaning that as the audience, we are looking down at him slightly; this allows him to seem more vulnerable and weak due to his mental and physical disabilities. It also suggests that this is how people in society view others with disability, society looks down on, judges and pities the vulnerable. When the camera dollies into Watson towards the end of the scene the audience are drawn in to focus on him and his emotions. The audience feel a sense of sympathy towards him and focus on him as he is the main character in the shot and scene.
Here is the mind map that my group produced in order to come up with analysis for camerawork…
The scene begins with the dream of Watson at war. In order to display how hard, fast pace, energetic, chaotic and active this event was, fast pace editing has been used. The more frequent shots match how chaotic and frenzied the war was and could also represent the mind of Watson now because of it. Watson is meant to be sleeping, the fact that his dreams are this upbeat and active whilst he is meant to be calm and relaxed show how much the war has effected his mentality. In contrast to this, slower editing pace is used to show the life of Watson in present day. This could suggest the slow pace of him adapting back into the normal world but cold also represent how before he was always active, running and never standing still compared to present day where he can barely walk to his walking stick; this shows how the disabilities from war limit him in his everyday life.
When dreaming of his lifestyle back in the war, cross cutting is used to show how distressing Watson finds these flashbacks and memories of his past. The scene displays footage from the war and then cuts to Watson breathing very heavily. This shows that even in his new life, flashbacks often trigger a sense of panic, horror and trauma showing that he is not coping with the terrorising images in his mind.
When Watson is shown to be on his laptop trying to think of something to blog, the audience can see his face in the screen. However, this then fades out into the next scene in the therapist’s office. Not only does the fade display the slow passing of time in his life now that he is disabled and alone, but it shows his lack of enthusiasm into attending the session. This reluctance displays his shame of his own disability and how he feels as though he needs to cover it up. The fade also shows his isolation from the outer world.
When Watson is shown to be in the therapist’s office, shot reverse shot is commonly used; this allows the audience to see the reactions of both the therapist and John Watson. The facial expressions of Watson display his discomfort and lack of social skill when trying to adjust back into civilised life. Even though both characters are shown through shot reverse shot, the therapist seems to have much more screen time then Watson. This shows viewers that she is comfortable in this situation whereas Watson is not as he is embarrassed by his disability and his mental disability is stopping him from opening up and becoming comfortable in the situation.
Here is the mind map that my group produced in order to come up with analysis for editing…
During the war dream there are many exaggerated sounds such as gunfire, shouting and screaming. These sounds display the chaos in Watson’s mind and the loudness could represent how much he wants his old life back. These sounds can be classed as diegetic sounds because even though they are being presented in a dream, they are meant to be purporting from the world of the film. Also in the dream there are a stream of echoes at the beginning; this displays the distortion and trauma of war and also show the echoes in his mind on a daily basis. Eery echoes are also often associated with being haunted and so it could be argued that Watson is being haunted by the echoes of his past. When the stress of the dream becomes too much for John Watson he suddenly awakes. As soon as he does this the extract goes silent. This noticeable juxtaposition displays the mundaneness of his life that his mental and physical disability has brought upon him. The clear difference also shows the contrast between his old and new life. When waking up from the dream, Watson is shown to be in a state of shock and relief. This is shown through the diegetic, exaggerated sound of his heavy breathing. The heavy breaths show the stress and horror of Watson’s past creeping up on him. This is the first moment in the extract where the audience sense a form of PTSD within Watson. On the other hand, the heavy breathing could be displaying how scared he is of adapting and adjusting to his new life. As soon as Watson awakes there is a slight, high pitched ringing sound, non diegetic, being played. This adds discomfort to the scene which shows the audience how he feels in his new life and within his own mind.
When carrying out actions such as getting the mug and apple in the scene, the sounds are exaggerated hugely; this shows that these are the most exciting things happening to Watson now that his life has been limited due to his mental and physical disability. They also emphasise how lonely he is and contrast to the previously exaggerated sounds in the war zone in order to show how his life has changed so dramatically. Whilst sitting on his laptop with the mug and apple, there is a distant car horn. This shows how isolated he now is and how disconnected he is from the ‘real world’. He then opens his laptop onto an empty blog page. In this same shot we hear the therapist speaking for the first time;this is a sound bridge and connects this scene into the next whilst showing that the two are connected and the blog will be vital to Watson’s recovery.
When in his therapy session there is no music in the background, there are also many pauses and silences. The silence gives the scene a very awkward and uncomfortable tone; this represents how Watson feels when talking about his mental and physical disability as he feels embarrassed and ashamed by them. The silence also adds to the reality of his disability. The therapist is shown to be starting conversation, asking questions and trying to prevent the silence. Dr John Watson seems reluctant to talk which further proves his shame of his disability and how uncomfortable he feels connecting to others as he has felt isolated for so long.
The music played in the background throughout is very mellow and minor; this mirrors the mind of John Watson and helps to portray to the audience how his disabilities make him feel. However, the mellow music is then hugely juxtaposed by the upbeat, forte, composed theme tune. This juxtaposition displays how John Watson’s life was before he managed to get over his sense of isolation and dis communication and before he became an associate to Sherlock Holmes.
Here is the mind map that my group produced in order to come up with analysis for sound design…
At the beginning, in the dream of Watson fighting back in Afghanistan there are many props to set the scene including: guns; army, camouflage uniforms; helmets; tanks; run down houses; camouflage netting; plus much more. The lighting is bright and all characters are shown to be active. All of this allows the flashback to seem not only chaotic, but exciting and adventurous. This is then juxtaposed as the audience see John Watson’s apartment for the first time. The room that Watson is shown to be in is dim coloured, plain, dimly lit and very simple. The contrast shows how his disabilities have taken the excitement and purpose out of his life and how he is so drained of energy that he does not bother to brighten up where he lives and decides to lead the most simple lifestyle that he can. When the scene shows the whole room, two bottles of pills are shown to be in the front centre of the rooms. This shows that these pills dictate his new life, just like his disability controls what he does, who he sees and how he sees life. The colour palette of the room is simple and somewhat depressing; this shows how the disabilities that he obtained from the war have made him feel.
When sitting in bed, Watson is displayed with a plain black background behind him. The background is representing how his life has turned upside down and is now dark and plain everyday. The bed that he is shown to be sat on has been neatly made; this is a common trait of army personnel and shows that there are some parts of his past life that will never leave him. The army and his disability will always be a part of him, he just has to learn to find a way to adapt and adjust back into normal life. The scene then pans to reveal the walking stick on the opposite side of the room. By using the rule of thirds, the audience are drawn to see it and the eyeliner between Watson and the walking aid shows how much he relies on it in his new life. The walking stick is from then shown in almost every shot. This constant appearance shows his dependence on the stick and how this is now a part of him that he will have to learn to live with.
When Watson takes an apple and a mug with the SAS crest on it, there are various ways of reading the items and how they present the disability of him. The two items contradict one another, the army mug is a souvenir of his past, exciting and adventurous life, whereas the apple is showing his new simplistic life he must lead due to his disability. The two together show that both sides of his life are constantly playing in his mind. Another way to view it is that the apple is used in order to relate to Biblical terms.The apple could be perceived as the fruit of life showing that Watson wants his old, fuller life back. Also, the dreams,flashbacks of war in Afghan and PTSD could represent the devil tempting him just like the devil tempted Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden with the apple.
Watson then goes into his draw in order to get out his laptop to try and blog due to the advice of his therapist. When taking the laptop out, a gun is revealed below it. These two objects show the two sides to his life. The laptop represents his new life as it directly links to his therapy sessions due to his disabilities, whereas the gun links back to his old life in the army and shows how he can not let go of his dreams and enter reality. They juxtapose the two lives that he is replaying.
Here is the mind map that my group produced in order to come up with analysis for mise-en-scene…
Here is the trailer for the episode displaying much of the scenes that I have mentioned in this post…
AS Media Studies consists of 50% coursework and 50% exam. The summer results vary from an A to an E. The exam board we are studying is OCR. On this blog I will publish everything including: research; planning; organisation; evaluation and my independent interests in media. I will set these out in a multi-media form, exploring different ways to display my studies and discoveries. The final post will be my final piece that all of my planning is leading up to.
For the exam half of the course there are two sections. Section A is about ‘Textual Analysis and Representation’. In this half of the exam we will be shown a 4/5 minute extract from a TV Drama 4 times. From these viewings we have to analyse: representation; categories; ability/disability; class/status; sexuality; power; and regional identity. From now until Christmas we will be learning about this and how to use the correct terminology. Section B is to do with ‘Institutions and Audiences’. This section gives one question about the film industry from which we have to interpret marketing, exhibition, distribution and production. For this half of the exam we will research our own case studies.
Our coursework is a foundation portfolio in Media. This blog will display the multimedia portfolio. It will also display in detail my research and planning, main exercise and evaluation. In the evaluation there will be 7 questions to answer. I shall do a post per each question and attempt to display them in 7 different ways. We shall be doing this from Christmas to Easter.