New film reviews are all spoiler free!
Oldies are a little more in depth!
If you want to suggest a film for me to review tweet or Facebook us!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Analysis of Long Takes in Children of Men (2006 Alfonso Cuarón)

Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men is a masterpiece in terms of both cinematography and long takes. Crafted in all ways around the wish for a documentary feeling, the long takes achieve that aesthetic as does the bland and dilapidated cinematography. Described by Cuarón as a kind of anti Blade Runner (1982 Ridley Scott) the futuristic aspects of the scenery have been allowed to decay and rot to add the sense of realism and grittiness celebrated in British cinema and seen in real life. 

When the film opens it sets the scene brilliantly, a future, decayed, with iconography easily recognisable but noticeably different technology. With London grey and grim no colour pervades, its ugly but real. The take is the first of many long ones following Theo out of a shop before an explosion in the background sets the tone fore the brutal destruction ahead. The president is set and the realism of the special effects, coming from where Theo just was, makes the audience feel like they just escaped the explosion along with Theo.

The lack of colour and lack of nature continues until the introduction of Jasper, Theo's salvation, the person with which he confides and can share his emotion. Jasper's relation to nature, gold and the colour green in general is clear and represents a bright change and a positive peaceful location.

The other point in the film in which art and nature unusually pervade is in the museum of arts that Theo visits. This time the colour represents the power held by the people inside the museum.
The emotion in the film often comes in the scenes steeped in nature and green, again we see an example of this after Julienne dies, our first real outburst of emotion, shrouded by green forests.

At the first fish checkpoint as Theo becomes a rebel, or at least becomes the surrogate father figure for Kee, an important change of clothes symbolises his move away from London and general aristocracy, out of his "suit" and into a new role, situation and mental state.
 Wonderfully set in a barn the cows and harvesting gear represent the production line mentality of not just farmers but society. Mixed in with the cows Kee is in danger of the same harvesting however she is not naive enough to believe she will be treated in any other way. Whilst Theo isnt as pessimistic he decides that standing by Kee's side is what is most important. Kee's clothing also represents her heritage, the sandy orange colour of her dress which flows just enough to show her bump works both narratively and symbolically. It is important to establish her heritage as racism and refugees are some of the strongest themes within the film.

After changing into "fish clothing" he immediately changes again when he is in control, not back to his suit though, to a more gentle navy blue top. This again represents the fatherly image developed as he becomes more and more of a father figure to Kee and possibly her child.

The film continues to get bleaker and bleaker, the Bexton Hill refugee camp realistically represents slums and shanty towns like that of Mexico with a bluer colder aesthetic to match the colder London climate.

Throughout the film the Long takes are extraordinary and fall into many types, one which stands out as much simpler is a gentle track forward on Theo. The stiller and simpler shot makeup gives the audience a chance to just watch Clive Owen's performance as Jasper tells Kee about Theo's dead son.

Alternatively one of the longest tracks of the film, towards the end of the film, in the Bexton Hill location, this jumps all over the scene, dancing around Theo through the street, through a wartorn battle and into a block of flats under siege. Lasting 6 minutes and covering a massive distance the shot almost continuously follows Theo in the hight of the documentary esque coverage of the film. Cuarón says in one of the special features that he wanted it to seem like you weren't watching a film as much as you are following the characters around in 2047 with a dv camera, this take is the perfect example of that. Theo is always well framed and the choreography of the shot is brilliant, it imbues an extreme sense of realism. 

One of the few unrealistically lit shots in the film is the following, the lighting is still believable however the goal of the lighting and sound is to add an angelic sense of miracle to the moment. This miracle stops all fighting around them as the baby stuns soldiers and rebels alike. The lighting audio and acting convinces the audience of the magnitude of the miracle and the importance of the baby.

Right towards the end of the film as Kee and Theo finally escape Bexhill two narrative lighting changes show that Kee and Theo are "out of the dark" safe again. Although still bleak and dim they are out of danger and the baby does have a chance.

The documentary feel of Children of Men is undeniable, the use of subtle lighting and symbolic colour in the mise en scene come together to fill the film with meaning beyond the political and dramatic narrative. Not only is the film well lit and coloured but realistically lit and coloured which, with the long takes, give the sense of realism that is the success of the film.

1. Children of Men (2006), Cuarón A., USA, UK, Universal Pictures, Strike Entertainment, Hit & Run Productions

2. Blade Runner (1982), Scott R., USA, Ladd Company, The, Shaw Brothers, Warner Bros

No comments:

Post a Comment