Fernando the close-up the zoom heightens the sense of

Fernando Meraz

Film 100

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7 December 2017

Compare & Contrast Essay

            Directed by Mike Nichols, The Graduate, and the film being
released on 1967, Nichols won the Academy Award for Best Director for that film
(IMDb). Using the zoom out as a perfect lead in to Ben’s home from college. The
opening shot is a close-up on Ben’s face, taking up the entire screen he looks
worried, thoughtful would be a good word for that scene. The zoom out then
shows that he’s just one of many sitting on a plane, but with the close-up he
is the center of attention, then with the zoom out he appears small in relation
to the world. The elements of the zoom technique, the zoom magnifies and
withdraws are a perfect parallel to Ben’s struggles. In combination with the
close-up the zoom heightens the sense of Ben in the beginning scenes. He
doesn’t move and neither does the camera it is only the zoom of the lens that
makes him appear larger and closer. Nichols conventional passing of time
techniques used in this films, blurring Ben’s summer activities from home to
hotel room, surprising audiences and also showing that the director knows what
he is doing. In his room
with the fish tank and by the swimming pool of his parent’s suburban home, we
see a “small world” of Ben’s experience in relationship to his parents and
home. The fish tank in Ben’s bedroom and the swimming pool in the next scenes
function in combination with the zoom. They compound the sense we have of Ben’s
emotional turmoil and his sense of helplessness, both exemplified by the water
and enclosures that give a sense of entrapment. A close up of Ben’s face
straight on with a fish tank clearly visible behind his head, has us face Ben’s
head on suggesting that he is like “a fish out of water.” He has no idea why he
has returned home and wants to hide in his room while his parents have a party.

The use of weather comes into play in pool scene, having a point of view shot
of which his parents are highly overexposed. When observing from Ben’s perspective
the sun is obstructing the shot this bright light makes the viewer not see the
scene perfectly. This sense of discomfort is effective because it helps the
audience feel the extreme discomfort that Ben is feeling at this moment and
once again justify Ben’s decision in the next scene to call Mrs. Robinson. The
film has an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a format of 35mm (IMDb). The pace of the
film would be sometimes rapid because Ben is out of sorts having come back from
college and he doesn’t really know what he should with is life. Yet Ben wishes
that the moments he were with Mrs. Robinson would be slowed down so he can take
in the moment. The whole entire film is a realization of what college graduates
come home to realize that it can take time to find a job and have to straggle
through the slow days to find that one opportunity.

            With the combination of rock
recording, The Graduate, takes away
the diegetic sounds from the soundtrack, making the silence surrounds the
recording. It also allows for diegetic sounds to overlap the filming, making
the audience’s perception of the song be interfered. Nichols leave moments of
silence around the film and at other moments the films diegetic sounds overlaps
each other. An example of this would be a woman at Ben’s graduation party
yells, “Quiet Please”, as she prepares to read out Ben’s college yearbook
accolades. No other voice besides hers was talking at the moment only the
whispering and small talk that were going around her. The viewer is brought up
against the idea that there are things; even the sounds going on in the film,
which she must of, imagined since they weren’t in the frame of the picture. When
“Sounds of Silence” is going on in the opening credits, male voices announce
the airport procedures, Nichols overlaps the first recording he uses with the
movie’s voice track in a way to describe the nature of the film. A complete
overlapping of diegetic sound by rock music occurs when Ben and Elaine go to a
drive in to talk. In that moment a existing song is playing in the background,
playing so loud that the characters have a hard time hearing each other and for
us to hear them talking. The couple solution is to put up the cars rooftop and
talk more in private, and sound out any other on going conversation going on at
the drive-in. The song “The Sounds of Silence” formed an explicit link between
music and alienation of Ben. It represents how Ben’s moods contrast a
conventional style that indicates the aggressively upbeat behavior of Ben’s
parents’ generation. Each time the song is played something follows by and then
a moment of silence. The opening scene of the film contains no music but only
the sound of the engine, followed by the slow beginning of the song. Another
example would be when Ben is sitting by the fish tank, were his own breathing
takes over the sound of the scene. Sound overlaps occur in the film the level
of actor’s voices, especially at moments when there is stress on Ben in his
assumption of a male role in his life. There are also several instances of
dialogue spoken at once.

            Do the Right Thing, produced,
written, and directed by Spike Lee is a day in the life of a Brooklyn
neighborhood with racial tensions contained within in year 1989 (IMDb). This
film highlights the dynamics of a modern urban neighborhood through a cast
of distinct personalities within the film. The Graduate is a 1967
American comedy and drama film directed by Mike Nichols. Ben has
recently graduated from college, with his parents now expecting great things
from him. Two similarities between the films are the use of songs throughout
the film to pace the rhythm and have a symbolic meaning of each film. In Do the Right Thing, the opening scene
with the women dancing aggressively using unique outfits while “Fight the
Power” is playing sets a violent and intense tone. As for The Graduate, meeting Ben to the song of,
“The Sounds of Silence,” and then throughout much of the film
Benjamin remains unclear and isolated from the world. Many scenes in the
movie especially in the first half hour or so Ben’s feelings of withdrawal and
solitude are shown. Benjamin feels cut off from the world, unable to
communicate or talk about what is wrong. Radio Raheem directly contrasts the
personality of Mister Senor Love Daddy with his never-ending stream of
“Fight the Power” out of his boom box. His boss presence is
clearly felt and even the camera angles make him appear larger. Raheem
tells a story with his brass knuckles love and hate in which the conflict
between the two is intense but in the end love comes out victorious. Differences
in both films are the use of montage, in film is often used to depict the
setting of a particular scene. In one scene, to display the heat of the summer
that the Brooklyn residents were enduring, Spike Lee uses a montage of the
different methods residents used to try and cool off. This montage also portrays
the heat as harsh and weak in the regard that people are having a hard time
going through their daily routines. We can see a shot of one person taking cold
showers cutting to another person sticking their face in ice-cold water-filled
sinks to another person sticking their head in their freezer, men downing beer
in an attempt to cool off, a person sticks their face directly in front of a
fan, and lastly we see the camera cut to newspaper headlines entitled, “A
Scorcher”, “Record Heat Wave Hits City”,  “2 Hot 4 U?” and “Oh Boy,
Baked Apple.” Nichols use of mysterious tone during the film with his use of
lighting, camera angles, and some shadows. Ben’s unsure feelings can be seen from
the start as he stands on the moving sidewalk at the airport, positioning him
at the right hand side of the screen moving forward. I think the director choose
this technique for the opening credits to symbolize how this graduate is
arriving at a new destination having much uncertainty. As for the use of dark
rooms; the director shows Ben’s room as dark and shadowy to parallel his
personality, which throughout the film he grows more confidence in expressing
his emotions to Elaine (IMDb). Throughout the film, Lee uses tilted frames, dolly
shots, tight close ups, high and low angles, parallelism (Moose). The
mis-en-scene that Lee uses something as simple as a character’s choice in a
shirt to signify the racial difference, the white character who stepped on Buggin’
Out’s sneaker is wearing a Larry Bird jersey, who was a well-known white
basketball player at the time. Buggin Out’s friend has on a Magic Johnson
jersey, a well-known African American basketball player. The tension between
Mother Sister and the Mayor was shown through a tilted frame. While the shot
went back and forth between the two, the frame was tilted. Mother Sister is mad
with Mayor’s daily use of alcohol. The tilted frame shows how Mother Sister
thinks she is above Mayor while the camera shoots her from a lower angle while
she sits on her porch. Some symbolism that Nichols introduces us to the pattern
of black-and-white stripes, they first appear as the vertically striped
wallpaper in Ben’s room, resembling jail bars of his parents’ black and white
existence. Next, we see that the Robinsons have a black and white striped awning.

Then, we see that Ben’s own parents have a black and white striped overhang; this
is all in contrast to Ben’s colorful, diagonally striped tie. Nichols used the
camera in an innovative way with this film, and told the story in visually and
narratively creative ways. Nichols’ camera work revealed the emotional
substance of the story and its characters, so that the viewer always feels aligned
with the story. Tightly close ups align us with the characters and clue us in
to the emotional delicacy of their states of mind. Claustrophobic and tight
shots illustrate the claustrophobia and confinement that Ben feels in his
situation. Another notable element of Nichols’ direction is his freedom with
tone, switching rapidly between dramatic and comedic. The Graduate cemented
his place at the table and the beginnings of an incredible career as an artist
and storyteller. Do The Right Thing
is a visually and politically expressive African-American film, which retains
the power to entertain, shock and provoke thought in equal measure (Moose). It
is also shows how costume design can dramatically influence the look and feel
of a film, and serve to bring us closer to its characters like if we were
seeing a film from our on neighborhood.

Works Cited

“Do the Right Thing
(1989).” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt0097216/?ref_=nv_sr_1.


“The Graduate
(1967).” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt0061722/?ref_=ttspec_spec_tt.


“The Graduate
(1967).” The Film Spectrum, thefilmspectrum.com/?p=4713.


Moose. “Film
Analysis.” Do the Right Thing, 1 Jan. 1970,