Darker than Fiction

Overview

Stranger than Fiction (Marc Forster, 2006) is a romantic “dramady” discussing the moral obligation of one person to a stranger and the drastic impact that each decision can have on each other. There are many scenes portraying insanity, death, and tense conversation, so I decided to try my hand at making the love interest, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) appear as a psychotic crazy-woman who causes Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) to lose his mind.

Specific Links to Course Readings

In the book The Language of Film (2010) by Robert Edgar-Hunt, John Marland, and Steven Rawle, it is mentioned that “Anything the eye or ear picks up on, … is functioning as a sign,” (18-19). I carefully constructed the conversation between Harold and Ana Pascal to emphasize her attitude towards him, including her throwing the dough that she is kneading against a wall. Such an act displays her hostility towards Harold, beginning the idea that she uses psychological manipulation to affect Harold’s life and stand up for her rights to ignore taxes.

Bernard Dick discusses various film techniques in Film, Space, and Image (2002), and mentions that “Director Jean-Luc Godard was fond of saying that the close-up was invented for tragedy, the long shot for comedy,” (1). With this, I used close-ups on both Harold when he is announcing his thought that he is being followed and on Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) when she screams at her assistant. The close-up on Harold was used to focus on how serious he felt he was being, demonstrating his idea that he is not crazy. The close-up on Karen was towards the end, and it displays the anguish she is feeling just before she throws herself off of the building. This is a scene of intense emotion which the close-up helps capture.

In an excerpt from Marcel Danesi’s Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication (2004), he defines “A sign is anything-a color, a gesture, a wink, an object, a mathematical equation, etc.-that stands for something other than itself,” (4). In my trailer, I used this definition to illustrate various signs, such as Ana screaming at Harold, which I attempted to imply her insanity. Additionally, I used the sign of Karen Eiffel staring down from the building to imply her struggle with the world and her questioning of her being, leading to her suicide.

Karen Eiffel is “contemplating suicide” on the roof of her building.

Rationale for Creative Choices

I included music from the Inception trailer, a song by Hans Zimmer called “Mind Heist.” This song complemented my idea to create a psychological thriller because of its deep bass notes mixed with high whiny sounds. Additionally, I used sound from the Prometheus trailer which is notable for being spooky. I included many clips from Harold’s first encounter with Ana because of the actual setting it occurs in; Harold is auditing Ana and she is angry at him. This made it easy to make her sound crazy and him, simply a man in a bakery. My final sequence includes 4 clips of death or panic from the film set to the ominous Inception deep rumbles.

Frustrations, Difficulties, and Solutions

I didn’t have too many technical troubles, mostly due to an easily-accessed support line in Reece, but I did find myself spending much more of my time on my ending and neglecting my beginning. I also became frustrated at the background noise of the film, and because of this, I ended up not using many audio from the actual movie. However, this felt like a good decision primarily because very little of the audio complemented my idea for such a thriller. Another problem I had was connecting different audio tracks. The transfers between them ended up being choppy and sounded a little weird. I was able to fix this with fades and grows, but it’s still a bit awkward.

References

Robert Edgar-Hunt, John Marland, and Steven Rawle (2010) The language of film. Lausanne: AVA Academia.

Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.

Danesi, M. (2004). Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication. Studies in linguistic and cultural anthropology, v. 1. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

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