Discuss the way that sexuality is presented, in the TV drama programme Fingersmith.
Fingersmith represents the sexuality of Maud, the lady of the programme, via the exaggerated sounds from the dress scene. The bristling of the dress, and the heavy breathing/panting, shows Maud is enticed by the look of the servant, and the closeness of them. The dress, which obviously belongs to Maud, the lady, contrasts the two characters’ roles within society. This is contrasted by where Maud placed the dress over the servant, as to show that she does not wish for them to be segregated and separate. This is further solidified via the narration from Maud, which is put forward in a soliloquy-styled piece, which shows her true thoughts and feelings towards her.
The narration continues through another scene, which showed Maud reading books, which were fixed by the servant, showing how the relationship between the two characters is very much appreciated by Maud. The scene is lit by a warm fire, which shows the warm love which Maud experiences when she is reminded of or is with her servant. The camera slides across the room, which immerses the viewer into the scene, so that they feel the appreciation and love which Maud also feels.
The scene in the bed, of the servant sleeping and Maud brushing her hand over the servant shows their mental separation – in the 19th Century, same-sex relationships were illegal. This is only shown further as she wears her gloves, which represents a physical barrier – Maud and her servant’s sexual similarities.
Outside along the riverbank, Maud is seen painting the sleeping servant. Usually, in the 19th Century, the roles would be reversed, and the servant would not be sleeping whilst her master paints her. This shows Maud’s feelings for her, as she lets this happen. Maud is placed underneath a black sunshade/umbrella. Black usually represents badness, which fits the sense that Maud is in love with another woman, which was illegal at this time. In this scene, a gentlemen is present, and makes comments to Maud such as “She must believe we truly are in love”, which suggests that Maud is hiding her love from the servant. Her feelings for the servant are further presented when she asks the gentleman to “wake her else she’ll burn”, showing that Maud does not wish for physical harm to come to her. The quickly-cut shots between Maud and her servant’s body shows Maud’s desire for her servant.
The scene following, next to the tree, show’s how Maud is uncomfortable being put in that situation with the male, presumable of same status to her. The male, is easily seen as a heterosexual, is different to Maud, who presumably is homosexual. The contrast here helps to enforce the uncomfortable situation that Maud is being put to.
In the final scene, one where Maud is seen watching her servant undress in the firelight, is edited into a way where the shot is slowed down. This shows Maud’s desire for her servant. Furthermore, the warm colours (such as red and orange), from the firelight, shows the danger which her sexuality poses, but also shows the lust which Maud feels for her servant.
Discuss the ways in which the extract constructs the representation of disability/ability, using the following:
-Camera shots, angle, movement and composition.
– Sound design
The clip starts with a fast paced action scene set in a hot country. The clip is fully shot as a point of view shot, which shows that the scene is a flashback of the soldier. The cuts between the shots are very quick, which reflects on the dangerous situation. The shot is very shaky, which immerses the viewer further. Furthermore, the shot is accompanied with the diegetic sound of gunshots. These are exaggerated to show the ongoing trauma which the soldier is suffering from. There are also echoing screams, in a non-diegetic manner, which also work in this purpose. These screams continue into the top-down shot of the soldier in bed, via a sound bridge, which links the two scenes together.
The top-down shot of the soldier in bed shows his vulnerability to the world. Within this shot, the actor is seen to act in a frustrated manner, showing his suffering has been going on for an extended period of time. This scene is made of many close-ups of the soldier, which some are not fully focused. This shows how the soldier is still half way through his dream, and that he has not fully recognised that he is no longer in the warzone. The panting of the character is enhanced to stand out from the silence. This shows that the character had been suddenly waken, and believed he was in danger.
The dissolve of the two shots, from night time to day time, shows time passing. This is emphasized even more when Watson is dissolved into the shot, as he is mid-walking across the room. The time passing demonstrates the military discipline of Watson, and provides an insight into the routine, yet boring life of Watson. The silence of Watson’s house can be heard by the viewer, which emphasizes the boringness of Watson’s transition into civilian life.
When Watson sits down at his desk, closeups are shown of his walking stick and of his mug. The mug confirms to the viewer that he is a retired serving member of the armed forces. When Watson pulls out his laptop, he uses only his right hand. This pulling out of the laptop is shown with his difficulty, which also refines his disability. Underneath his laptop is a handgun. This is hidden by quick editing, which enforces that the he is very protective and that the weapon is contraband. The draw of the desk is the only sound, showing that the soldier’s discipline is still in operation, and the soldier is still trying to settle to a regular civilian life. When Watson opens his computer, his personal blog is shown, and a voice-over is in effect.
The scene cuts to Watson sat in a chair. The voice from the previous scene is still playing, but pro porting from to come from this scene. Watson is placed in the lower right hand corner of the scene, which displays his mental power. The shot then changed to the psychologist, who is placed in the upper left hand of the shot. This shows that the psychologist has a higher power. The psychologist’s office is more decorated and coloured in comparison to Watson’s room. This reflects on how Watson is still in a military lifestyle, with only the basic necessities and colours being utilized. The psychologist’s side of the room is more colourful and decorated, juxtaposing her civilian lifestyle with that of Watson’s military lifestyle.
The reaction shots used in the psychologist’s office were used to demonstrate how Watson does not want to be in that situation, but also feels as if he has not been affected by the traumatic experiences he has been put through. At the end of the psychologist scene, a dolly-in shot to Watson is used. This shot shows the realization of Watson, which shows that he is starting to believe he is being affected. This shot also helps to enforce, along with the line “There’s nothing wrong with me”, that he is in denial, and does not want to be present in that situation.
To introduce textual analysis, we have watched and dissected episode one of the dark-comedy TV show, Flowers.
How is mood created?
The different types of shot used by the film crew allows for the intentions of the characters to be easily determined, which leads to the viewer being easily triggered sensing the mood, as wanted by the script writers.
A good example of how the camerawork assists the mood’s creation would be the beginning of the episode. As Maurice takes his chair and rope towards the tree, multiple close-up shots are used of Maurice and of insects in the local area, such as slugs. The close-up shots of Maurice’s possessions allows the viewer to realise the reason he is carrying them, and the insects darken the mood.
The mood is further darkened, and a sense of fear brought towards the user, as close up shots show Maurice’s struggles reflected upon the hanging rope. This is then reversed, when a wide-angled shot of the branch falling, and his suicide attempt failing, creates a sense of humour (especially when combined with the sound design).
The crew of Flowers have utilized diegetic and non-diegetic sounds to create different effects upon the viewers. Diegetic sound proports to come from the world of where the film is being made, for example a telephone ringing, whereas non-diegetic sound proports to come from the creation world – an easy example could be music playing throughout a scene.
The opening scene of the programme, where Maurice Flowers attempts to hang himself, is has the narrator’s narrations over the scene as non-digetic sound, and is left of only necessities for the diegetic portion of the sound. This method of presentation creates a dark mood upon the viewer – when combined with the other portions of the scene’s design.
The narration’s content tells the scene’s moments, as if the scene was from a book. The narrations are placed into a beat which sounds like a children’s book. Although this is displayed by the beat of the narration, the words that are being said are not those which you’d expect to hear in a children’s story. Instead, they are depicting the scene in a dark and unhappy mood. This helps the viewer to connect and understand Maurice’s feelings, but also displays the amount of unhappiness which Maurice is feeling.
The programme, throughout, is filled with mixed happy sounding non-diegetic music. This music is used, and played, in the presence of a funny event. This creates humour with the viewer being able to easily detect the mood by the music’s theme.
The contrasting music and unhappy narrations between the opening scene and the character introduction scene displays how the rest of the family do not understand Maurice’s sadness, or that he is hiding it from them.
In the opening scene, of Maurice attempting to kill himself, the viewer is never shown the full scenario until the branch snaps. This increases the tension for the viewer, but also forces them to piece the multiple build-up shots together, in order to work out what Maurice is doing.
The reaction shots of Maurice receiving his anniversary present allow the viewers to see the sadness which Maurice is feeling. A sense of humour is injected by these shots, as the camera switches between Maurice’s sad and insulted face, and his newly received book “How to be happy”.
A lot of continuity editing has been used throughout this episode, to great effect. The chronological scenes are presented in a manner that each comes after the other, with no confusion between time. This allows the viewers to integrate with the characters, as the show feels like normal life. This also allows the viewers to quickly learn at the same stage the other characters do, which involves them further.
The environment for which the characters are placed presents a dark mood, combined with isolation. A typical countryside in the UK is used for the filming, which allows viewers in the UK to easily grasp the different ideas which are being spread – especially viewers from more rural regions. The Weather in the episode is dark, gloomy and overcast, which darkens the mood but also reflects upon the family’s lives.
The clothing for each character is stereotypical of them – Deborah, the wife of Maurice, wears a set of clothes typical to the appearance of a housewife (which Deborah seems to play). Donald, the brother and more ‘nerdy’ sibling is presented to the viewer in that stereotypical way. During the character introduction scene,his room is cluttered with electronics, which suits the stereotype from his hobby, engineering.
Amy, the ‘musician’ of the family, is presented in a completely different manner to her parents and sibling. She is shown with a pale face, and dark brown hair. The hair is of a length which it acts as a frame to her face. Her clothing is rather unusual, but fits with the stereotype. She portrays the stereotypical emo or goth, although this is shown more throughout her actions, then her appearance.
Shun, Maurice’s illustrator, is Japanese. He is shown in a stereotypical manner, by being very polite to Maurice, and by his illustrations. His art depicts anime characters and odd ideas (which would not stand out in japan). This creates the familiarity between the viewer and their stereotypical Japanese.