Part 1: Editing in The Martian
The Martian is a science fiction drama film directed by Ridley Scott with Matt Damon in the lead role. In many of his movies, Ridley Scott has created scenes, moments, and emotions through images that are generally not suitable for this purpose. The director adds his favorite expedient in all his works. In The Martian, it is the scene in which Mark Watney himself makes the surgery and pulls a splinter of antenna out of his stomach. Largely due to the combination of certain shots and scene fragments, this fragment has the same intense stress as surgery in Prometheus, in spite of different age rating of these films. In its core, editing is the most cinematic activity: a director uses images and sound, namely, he is telling a story by these means. There is syntax of shots, phrases, their movement, and rhythm. In The Martian, Scott has chosen special tricks, shots, and sound effects, which contribute to both the meaning of a film and the emotions of the audience.
This is a very specific scene. Many frames in this context are special because the director has to visually demonstrate real surgery on the human body. In the transition from close-ups of Mark Watney’s face and the surgery area to the wide image, the director had to maintain balance not only in compositional terms but also in size. The viewer watches a close-up of the damaged area of the astronaut and the process of the surgery. The director takes it specifically. Based on constant shifts of a close-up from the astronaut’s face to the area of surgery, claustrophobic and grotesque effect is reached. When working with the size of shots, many nuances were analyzed to make the material comfortable for the eyes. The shots are large with enlarged elements in focus. This method gives a detailed realistic image and impresses the viewer, to a great extent.
Within such an intensive scene, the eye takes a little more time to rest. Apparently, this factor affects the choices that Scott made, and how he places the shoots relatively to each other. In this scene, he makes the frequent cutting of shots as well as much lateral movement. These techniques intentionally cause discomfort in the viewer when they are used in the foreground. In addition, the director uses quick action. He tries to edit this scene in order to shorten the stage. Such organization of shooting with the constant shifting of emphasis from suffering face of the astronaut to his injury helps to bring together an audience with Mark Watney. Connecting various shots in this way sets a certain mood. These techniques altogether help to feel ownership. The viewer goes through everything the main character does and feels.
Another point is how Scott seeks naturalness and realism in this scene. Combining realism with an artistic play of the actor, his internal rhythm, and rhythm of the entire scene is a challenge. Matt Damon tried to give a certain rhythm to the actions of his character, and the director had to stress this issue during editing. This effect was made by rapid changing of two or three shots which are the face of the astronaut, his arms, and the area of injury. Then, the attention moved specifically to the face and surgery. Here, the shots became longer that created additional tension and engagement. Such editor’s choice of juxtaposing of shots was made in order to keep the audience in suspense and add emotion. Scott had to balance between all these elements. Undoubtedly, sufficient time was spent for the necessary calculations and customizing of the frames.
Additionally, in this scene, it was extremely important to endure a certain rhythm of the narrative, though not forgetting the tension factor. A variety of techniques for compressing and stretching the time were used. The viewer watches how time goes very rapidly at the beginning of the scene, and then gradually slows focusing the attention on the process of operations. Change in the speed of shift of shots leads the viewer throughout the story, adhering to a certain rhythm, but avoiding monotony. The viewer is not bored; in contrast, he captures the rhythm and empathizes the hero.
Emotional perception of viewer varies depending on how the shots are placed, as well as which sound effects are superimposed. When editing this scene, Scott considered the rhythm and patterns within the scene in order to create the mood of tension. He could make a clear choice, but it would be boring. Thus, the director did something unexpected. For example, when Watney makes a surgery, a fragment of a slow crescendo is used. It accompanies the juxtaposing of shots and contrasts with the speed of shots so that the audience could feel the tension and the pain of the protagonist.
On the contrary, at the end of the scene, it was necessary to extend the scene and add time. After Watney makes this mini-operation, he wakes up and says something like “OK, let’s count. That is how much food I have, that is what I need to do.” In this way, it looks like the main character regained consciousness and found a solution too quickly. It is needed to spend more time to describe his condition and convey his solitude. Thus, the editor added some long shots here. After the surgery was over and action has been played, there was a long calm shot of landscape moving up. After the intensive change of shots, which created extreme tension, this shot brings the feeling of calmness and silence.
Part 2: Quentin Tarantino’s Style of Filmmaking
I can describe Quentin Tarantino as a mad genius and eternal teenager. Such features of his style as bloody scenes and profanity can cause misunderstanding and even disgust. However, he has an army of fans, followers, and imitators all over the world. The secret lies in the fact that in Tarantino’s films, violence is interconnected with humor. At the same time, these features are so exaggerated that the result does not cause disgust or compassion. For example, when Black Mamba of the Kill Bill dissects first ten opponents into pieces, a viewer intuitively understands that, in Tarantino’s universe, a man contains in five times more blood than one actually has. The viewer feels that something unreal and funny occurs on the screen. In his films, violence is no more than a spectacular directorial reception.
Additionally, all his movies are quoting a variety of films of his great predecessors. Nevertheless, these citations are well-comprehended and deftly included into the main plot’s outline. Thus, the set of cultural allusions is one of the major features of his style of filmmaking. Tarantino does not invent anything new. The director combines already invented concepts and this approach works well and seems fresh simultaneously. This feature makes Tarantino’s style unique. Of course, it can be assumed that everyone will be able to collect a puzzle from the finished material. However, the highlight of his style lies not in the external secondariness of quotations. The uniqueness of Tarantino’s talent consists in the ability to represent these combinations in a completely unexpected way.
For example, one of the most popular Tarantino’s films, Pulp Fiction, is a great quotation from the entire history of cinema. For example, the scene where Butch (Bruce Willis’ character) selects a weapon for the murder refers to the sensational thriller The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. On the other hand, the episode where Butch hits Marsellus Wallace by a car and he rolls on its roof came from the second part of the gangster saga The Godfather. Tarantino adds unexpected details to his works, and as a result, the unique meaning appears. It becomes very funny when in the film of the XIX century in the scene when the slaves are coming from an auction to the plantation with the sweet name Candyland a song in the rap style is playing suddenly. Nonetheless, the soundtrack fits perfectly in the described situation. Therefore, the audience likes it.
Moreover, Tarantino is a master of funny shock. Although he is a cruel prankster, his jokes are excellent. They are witty and made up of rudeness with a little vulgarity and bloodiness. They are wonderful in their absurdity. Absurd on the screen in most cases causes laughter. Tarantino abuses racist expressions. At the same time, he scoffs at certain historical facts, such as a parody on members of the Ku Klux Klan, forcing those complaining about the inconvenience of the famous white hoods in which they do not see anything. The director combines all possible stereotypes to the absurd and makes them ridicules.
Tarantino makes the viewer laugh at the issues that go beyond moral attitudes. Perhaps, it is this certain slap in the face of public taste in the form of an explicit disregard to tolerance. However, this fact increases the audience of his fans. People like rebels. Quentin Tarantino is interesting to the attentive and erudite audience that will notice that this technique of modern pop culture, witty dialogue, and black humor creates an unusual and fresh cinema as a result.
Tarantino impresses me mostly with his ability to create fabulous dialogs. The master writes dialogues in his own manner, using the favorite technique of hypertrophic simplicity. For example, the notorious Reservoir Dogs starts with an amusing scene in the cafe. For two minutes, the heroes are arguing about whether to leave the tips to the waitress. These two minutes are more than enough to get an idea of the characters’ personalities. Similarly, listening to the arguments of one of the heroes of Pulp Fiction about the European culture using the example of the names of burgers from fast food, the viewer learns about the character much more than if he has told the story of his life.
Tarantino shows that in the movie, the main goal is just to make a good film. If in the process I will come up with a certain idea, it would be excellent. However, it should not be a great idea; it should be a little idea of where each viewer will find something special. Thus, it we are making a movie about that the war is bad, then, a question may rise why we need to bother in order to make such a movie. If that is all to say, we can just say it. Thus, within my own project, I will try to make the story as simple as Tarantino does. At the same time, the movie has not to be banal since the main message will be hidden between the lines or inside the dialogues. His style strongly impresses me and will contribute to my future project.
The Coen Brothers’ Style of Filmmaking
The Coen brothers have excelled in the genre of intellectual comedy with the black humor of unsurpassed quality. Directorial style of the Coens can be characterized as respect for the traditions and standards of the genre, unexpected plot twists that occur around a relatively simple story, and black humor, of course. Their style involves developing the plot so that noir can become a screwball comedy.
Their films are trivial, bizarre and evil. The bloody, violent scenes, tension, and intrigue are easily combined with a peculiar irony, lightness, and impeccable styling. They are not repeated, each time presenting unexpected shift of the plot, thereby, creating a great impression the viewer. When watching the Coen brothers’ films, it is impossible to predict their moves. In all the works, there is a duality, pleasant innuendo, along with cheerful and terrible absurdity. At the same time, the penetrating line of the film is clear and simple. A distinctive characteristic of many Coens’ movies, especially comedies, is a certain feature of one of the characters. For instance, it is hair pomade for Clooney’s hero in O Brother where Art Thou; the hero obsessed with his teeth in Intolerable Cruelty; attention to the coverage of the floor of Clooney’s hero in Burn after Reading; a gangster Tom Regan who is constantly mindful of his hat in Miller’s Crossing; or endless worries of Dude from The Big Lebowski about the carpet. Often, it appears that this senseless, comedy-obsessive feature of the films’ characters is a key to the philosophy and profound artistic content, which is present in the majority of the directors’ works.
The creativity of the Coen brothers is paradoxical and distinct from the works of other directors. However, the broad dialogues approximating the film to real life and originality of showing the crime stories partly reminds the style of Quentin Tarantino, to a certain extent. They artfully develop the situation arising from human stupidity to a monstrous absurdity so that at the end, no viewer doubts what the morality exactly was. Finally, sometimes, they give a little morality. Nevertheless, the viewer does not think that it was done in a rude way because it is one of the organic components of the individual style of the filmmakers.
Films by the Coen brothers are the greatest asset not only for the cinema but also culture in general. Despite the presence of black humor in their works, the Coens are true humanists and teachers of morals. Negative characters are always defeated. They show how the weakness for money can result in trouble for the hero and another person. The value of the brothers’ work of consists in that they educate the audience. Their films are not just for eyes, though they are inexpressibly pleasing. They are the movies for the mind and the heart. Even their comedies, which are light at first glance, always carry a powerful message to the conscience of man. This feature impresses me the most.
In addition, many films contain common for the Coen brothers technique. Seemingly random events find common ground as the story develops, while independent situations are gathered into one. Such an approach resolves the plot patterns. Another stylistic feature of the Coen brothers is unclear or unexpected ending of many movies that attract the audience’s attention to the very end of the film.
I like the manner of shooting they use that can be called visionary because much attention is paid to the beauty of the frame, as well as the play of light and shadow. I will use such an approach for shooting and sufficiently focus on the beauty of the image for my own project. Furthermore, many films technically are solved in the style of noir or using techniques of noir film and it makes the image beautiful. It can be traced in the scene with the conference table in The Hudsucker Proxy and the scene with Wheezy Joe in Intolerable Cruelty among others. I believe that the Coen brothers are geniuses. They just cannot make bad films. They cannot even make average films, but only the masterpieces. I hope that I will be able to make my project similar to their style.