Thursday, March 5, 2015


The other day in my Lit class, as we were trudging through Hamlet, I encountered a passage that was so profoundly beautiful it seized me by the heart and wouldn't let go the entire rest of the day.
It was the drowning death of Ophelia, rendered in Shakespeare's most beautiful plume. At once I was stricken by how serene the setting was, and how ambiguous the nature of her death seemed to be - was it a tragic accident, or a suicide by a woman driven mad by grief?
This breath-taking pre-Raphaelite painting in my Literature textbook was especially intriguing to me.
To me, this helps resolve one of the central struggles I encountered with our film, which was how best to tastefully, sensitively, but also artistically capture the suicide of a character in the opening seconds of a film (all discussed in my previous post). We had considered a death with pills, but I had qualms that capturing that would be too heavy-handed or lengthy, as the effects of an overdose are not immediate.
I also am compelled to pursue this route because it provides an opportunity to express two visual metaphors. Floating in a blue pool, with the tendrils of her hair flowing around her and her white clothes billowing in the water, the appearance of the character would seem like an angel floating in the blue ether of heaven. This would help confirm to the viewer the nature of a character's death, but place the image to the viewer's interpretation:  did she find the solace in the afterlife that she couldn't find in the terrestrial plane?

The other metaphor lies with the fact that LGBT youth are "drowning" in a climate of prejudice and persecution, suffocating under the pressure to repress their identity. The drowning presented in the opening seconds is a visual representation of the inundation of emotions that LGBT youth often have to experience.
While doing research for my project, I recalled a movie I had watched a couple of years ago: Harold and Maude. Though the film was a dark comedy - completely different from the genre we are tackling - it deftly addressed the issue of suicide. It's opening sequence, which implies the death of a character, Harold, through hanging, has an understated elegance which was appreciated by me and Elanna, after I showed it to her.

Though in retrospect the sequence runs an overly long, the effective use of a long shot, the shadowy, dim lighting, the obstruction of the character's face, and the juxtaposition of Cat Steven's jovial soundtrack with the melancholic, morbid nature of the scene all make for an interesting take on the taboo topic of suicide.
Another clip I shared with Elanna was a short film I stumbled upon a couple years ago while googling my name (yes, how narcissistic, I know). Titled "my name is lisa," the production is visibly amateur, though the acting is phenomenal. What compelled me to revisit this piece was not only its very delicate, sensitive tread on an issue as painful as Alzheimer's (something we want to emulate with our own production's serious subject matter), but its creative use of film techniques such as long shots. Elanna suggested we use a webcam for some parts of our production to simulate a video diary as our protagonist launches her online movement, and I find that this production very creatively established scenes, dialogues, interactions, and insights into a character's mind within that very limited scope.
Elanna, however, was unimpressed.
And, finally, all though this might be a tad bit premature as we haven't even started filming our AS level component, I started doing research on our A level component, which will be two trailer for our film. Since our trailers will be dramatic and feature the rise of a social movement, I thought NO, a 2012 Chilean movie about an ad company's attempt to usurp the dictator Augusto Pinochet, captured the revolutionary mood, call to action, and yet dramatic tone that our own production could model itself after.

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