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Look Deeper into the Abyss – and Watch It Look into You
Throughout the history of the world, there has always been the kind of power which could not be suppressed or overthrown. The people of the greatest influence, these beholders of the world’s power were merely the TV officials. Despite the fact that many people consider the TV as merely a means of entertainment, its role is of much more importance for the mankind. Seemingly only a means of entertainment, it shapes people’s ideas of the world and the politics even in a more impressive way tan any political campaign ever undertaken.
The Way the Movie Flows
In accordance with its name, Videocracy is completely devoted to the role of the mass media in people’s lives. A snapshot of the life path of the great, the miserable plebs and the cunning in-between specific social layer, journalists, the movie director has managed to show the amazing fusion of tragedy and mockery of the Italian TV. However, was it only the Italian television that the film director depicted? Applied to any other country, this situation would look quite the same.
Disclosing the vices of the modern people, their striving not for prosperity, but for money overdose, Eric Gandini created an unforgettable masterpiece which mirrored the lowest of the low which is hidden within people’s souls. It was extremely wise of the film director to choose the shape of a documentary to create the vision of one’s life grasped in the camera focus. It is obvious that there was only one genre which could embrace all the issues which the topic of the movie touches upon.
Episodes Merging into a Story
In spite of the fact that in the end, shown as a premiere, the movie looks like a complete, whole piece which cannot be separated and taken apart, it must be kept in mind that at the moment of creation the film was a sequence of short scenes and breakdowns. Thus, the original course of the operator’s thoughts can be traced even as the movie is shown to the public, eventually trimmed and with all the unnecessary elements cut. Thus, following the stream of ideas which the movie director sends the audience through, it can be observed that Videocracy has much more than the twists of the plot to expose to the loyal audience.
As W. W. Norton noticed,
A storyboard is a shot-by-shot (sometimes scene-by-scene) breakdown that combines sketches or photographs of how each shot is to look with written descriptions of the other elements that are to accompany each shot, including dialogue, sound, and music. (Norton 116)
Thus, it must be admitted that in Videocracy, the sequence of the breakdowns was linked into a fascinating cadence of the accidents and actions of the lead characters. Making a sequence of episodes, this chain of events was developed into an intrigue spinning around the issue which has always been and will always be on the agenda of the day – people’s concern for the life of celebrities.
A deep and insightful movie offers much more than merely entertainment. Taking a look at the way in which the pieces of the film have been organized, it becomes obvious that there is much more than meets the eye in the movie plot.
Although the film cannot be considered what could be called a mocumentary, the author of the film approached the border between the tragic and the comic in Videocracy with help of the expressive and effective mise-en-scenes. Structuring the movie, Gandini enclosed the most significant scenes as the parts which must hook the audience’s attention and increase the excitement. As Norton explained,
The visual elements of mise-en-scene are all so crucial to shaping out sympathy for, and understanding of, the characters shaped by them. (156)
It is peculiar that the scenes of the movie create a specific rhythm which is nard to conceive from the very beginning nut which one can feel as the film goes on. It can be traced that some of the scenes float into each other smoothly and softly like a river, yet some of them are roughly interrupted to show the unceasing motion of live going on both in the big world of the great celebrities and the feeble lives of those who follow the track of the celebrities’ lives.
One of the most dramatic film episodes, the one in which the lead character watches the life of the celebrities on TV, is the key to the entire movie. It is quite peculiar that with a single scene the film director has managed to open the audience’s eyes on the idea of the movie and on what is concealed behind the film plot. Fixing the audience’s eyes on the ordinary people’s passion for the snatches of the celebrities’ lives, Gandini crates a perfect illusion of an ersatz life with all its sad consequences.
Looking at a Different Angle
The complicacy of movie-making presupposes that the shits should be arranged into a composition which could draw people’s attention to what is happening on the screen in a blink of an eye. Putting people and events in their places is truly a great gift which is rather hard to acquire and completely impossible to master. With his wisdom and the feeling for the film rhythm, the movie director arranged the pieces of the story in a unique, the one and only correct way which made people gasp in awe. As Kawin said,
Film composition is dramatically affected by camera placement, not just in terms of camera-to-subject distance, but also in terms of angle. A horizontal line, seen from a certain angle, can become a diagonal or even a vertical. (171)
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Indeed, it is absolutely clear that with help of the camera placement the movie obtained the necessary depth and the specific accent on certain elements. Changing the angle of the camera shot, making the objects pop out into the focus of the camera, or, vice versa, hide in the dark of the perspective, the cameraman did an amazing job on the movie.
A perfect example of the way the shift of the camera focus made the audience pay specific attention on certain details were the episodes with the lead character watching the celebrities. Exposed to the audience’s gazes, the face of the lead showed the whole palette of the fan’s emotions, while the celebrities in the rear created an impression of pathetic nothingness.
Another piece to analyze is the sounding of the movie. Such is the nature of sound that it can either turn the movie into a complete masterpiece, or ruin it completely. In the case of Vidoecracy, the sounding was quite different from the ones in the range of other Italian movies.
One of the typical sore spots of the Italian movies, the lack of sound effects, was turned in a movie peculiarity of Videocracy. As LoBrutto marked, “Italian movies are very sparse. They have dialogue, then music, and then very few sound effects.” (258)
It is obvious that Videocracy is no exception; however, taking into consideration the specifics of the movie, one can understand that the abundance of sounds would have spoiled the film. For the movie to look like a snatch of the real life, the true vision of a fan’s existence, his/her thoughts and course of actions, it was absolutely necessary to employ the most precise system of sounding.
What must be especially marked about the movie sound system is the background for the dialogues of the lead characters. Considered as the accidental noises, the creak of a door, the water rustling in the bathroom or the sound of someone’s breath was designed to emphasize the atmosphere of the movie, so tense and thought-provoking, making the audience think what is going to happen in the next couple of minutes.
The Way People See It
Although Videocracy was the only work of Eric Gandini which gained the worldwide recognition, the film director had a number of other works. However, taking a retrospective on Gandini’s works, it can be supposed that the previous films were the steps which slowly but surely led the film director to Videocracy. The peak of his creativity, Videocracy could be traced in every work of Gandini.
Although none of the previous works of Gandini touches upon the issue of political life, there is certain breeze of rebellion in the other works of his. For instance, in Sacrfiicio: Who Betrayed Che Guevara Eric Gandini also considers the issue of fame and notoriety, emphasizing that there is actually very little difference between the two.
Another Gandini’s work where the premises of Videocracy could be traced is Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers, is interconnected with Videocracy even more closely. Considering fanaticism and loyalty to certain famous personalities in Videocracy, Gandini actually develops the idea which he expressed in Surplus. Taking into consideration these movies, one must admit that the idea of Videocracy as the continuation of these topics and their further development into another set of ideas is quite plausible.
In spite of the fact that the depth of the movie allows several interpretations, it seems that there is the one which fits the movie best. Making people see the life of the famous personalities as it is, without the specks of glamour caught in the focus of the camera, Gandini makes it clear that the impact of the TV on people’s course of thoughts has become increasingly shocking and even frightening.
Helping the audience understand the absurdity of believing in what is pouring out of the TV-set right into people’s minds, Gandini suggests a “pill” which will heal the TV-addicts from their weird mania.
With help of the specific means of sounding and arranging the scenes of the movie into a sequence which made a double sense and made the plot more complicated, Eric Gandini created a movie which explored the popular topic in an unorthodox method.
Although the topic which Gandini chose as the key idea of his movie was rather beaten track for the modern cinema, the way in which he mirrored the life of celebrities’ and their fans was more than merely creating another vision of the popular problem – it was in fact the revelation for the audience.
Employing special techniques of sounding system which added a specific air to the movie, Gandini made the movie stand out of the range of Italian movies. In spite of the fact that the means which the movie director used were rather conventional and time-tested, he broke a new ground in the movie-making with help of the original way in which he conveyed his ideas to the public. Considering the idea of TV-addiction and the plausibility of the information which TV suggests, Gandini raised quite a topical issue.
Barsam, Richard. Looking at the Movies. W. W. Norton EBook Reader. N.D.
Kawin, Bruce F. How Movies Work. Thousand Oaks, CA: University of California Press, 1992. Print.
LOBrutto, Vincent. Sound-on-Film: Interviews with Creators of Film Sound. Westport, CN: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994. Print.