Film Study: Minority Report

The system is perfect until it comes after you.

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INDIVIDUAL ANALYSIS – GUIDANCE

CHARACTERS:

Study the major characters appearing in the scene. Also look for extras (supporting actors who don’t speak) and bit players (supporting actors who have a few lines of dialog).

  • Note which characters are in the scene at the start, who arrives later and who leaves before the scene ends.
  • Ask yourself what each character wants and whether the character gets what he or she wants.
  • Watch for status changes. In most scenes, the statuses of some of the characters will change. For instance in a scene where “John” asks for a favor from “Larry” and is refused, “John” has low status and “Larry” has high status. If “John” then pulls out a gun and forces “Larry” to perform the favor, “John” becomes the character with high status.
  • Identify how the casting of particular actors influence how you see the characters.
  • Study the characters’ costumes and ask yourself what the costumes tell you about the characters.

SETTING:

Take note of where the scene takes place, both in terms of the place and the time. In particular, note when the scene occurs within the timeline of the movie and whether the scene depicts events out of order.

  • Many movies have scenes that occur out of order, such as when the character is remembering or relaying events that happened at another time (a flashback) or because the director has made the creative choice to show events out of order. Usually, even though the events are out of order, the story itself is told in a straightforward manner from the first scene to the last scene.
  • As it relates to the story, ask yourself why the scene is taking place where it is and whether it helps to tell the story or distracts from it.
  • The setting may have been chosen by the director for reasons other than telling the story. Try to determine if the setting is important to the story or just interesting to the director.

MIS-EN-SCENE:

Pay careful attention to how what you see in the scene helps to tell the story. This is called the mise-en-scene, a French term that roughly translates to visual storytelling.

  • Keeping in mind that what you see in the scene is not the entire location but only what the director has decided to show, ask yourself why the director chose to show this part of the location and not another. This works equally well for scenes shot on a sound stage rather than on location, because the set will only comprise a part of the location it represents.
  • Note which characters and objects are in the center of the scene and which are in the background or periphery.
  • Study which parts of the scene are out of focus and whether this changes during the scene.
  • Pay attention to how the scene is lit. Note whether it is brightly lit or in shadow and whether the light has a particular hue. Think about how the scene might play if the lighting is changed.

CAMERA WORK:

Make a list of every camera shot. A typical scene can include dozens of shots, from close-ups on a character’s face to extreme long shots showing the entire scene from a great distance. There are also shots during which the camera moves, tracking the movements of a character or zooming in on an object. Each is meant to serve a purpose in telling the story.

  • Note whether the camera is acting as the eyes of a character or is simply watching the scene being shot.
  • Try to determine why the director choose each shot, and what the effect of each shot is.
  • Pay particular attention to unusual camera shots, such as slow motion, tilted shots or shots where the camera is allowed to shake. For example, a tilted camera shot is often used to suggest that the character represented by the camera is drugged.
  • Think about how the camera shots affect the pace of the scene.

SOUND AND MUSIC:

Close your eyes and concentrate on what you hear during the scene. Many scenes have several “layers” of sounds and music, from ambient sounds that might actually be heard at that location, such as traffic or birds, to sounds that are inserted to help create a mood. Many scenes also include music that helps to tell the story.

  • Keep in mind that the director may have deliberately taken out any true ambient sounds and inserted others. Imagine what you might actually hear at the scene’s location and whether the director made a good choice in the sounds he or she included.
  • Take note if the director inserted sounds to evoke a particular emotion from the audience. For instance, a beat or ticking clock creates a sense of urgency or dread.
  • Listen to the music and ask yourself what it represents and whether it tells you what to expect. For example, a composer might create a particular melody that you will hear whenever a character is thinking about his lost love.
  • Determine whether the movie contains original music or music the director has licensed from another artist. Ask yourself why the director chose one or the other (or both).
  • Close your eyes and listen to music. Try to guess what is happening by what you hear.

 

Mr Waugh’s Notes:

Features of Dystopia

TECHNOLOGY

  • Eye scanners
  • Location Tracking
  • Automation
  • Sick Sticks
  • Antibiotics
  • Individualised advertising
  • Virtual Reality pods

CONTROL OF INDIVIDUAL BY STATE

“THOUGHTCRIME”

PARADOX

POLICE AS INSTRUMENTS OF STATE

PHYSICAL SETTING/VISUAL AND AURAL FEATURES

  • use of the bleach bypass process – limited colour palette
  • over-exposure
  • glass, mirrors, reflected images, fractured glass
  • Translucent fabrics
  • Ramps and spirals
  • heavy-handed non-diegetic sound
  • Eyes and identification
  • Darkness and Rain
  • Running.
  • The “temple”
  • Organ player in “Prison”
  • Costume elements
  • School children all dressed in white
  • Bird’s Eye View

CORRUPTION

  • Lamar’s opulent residence.
  • The “surgery”

RELIGION

  • The temple (Containment)
  • The Halo

SCENE FOR CLOSE ANALYSIS

“Spider Scene”

MAIN, FLAWED, ANTI-HERO CHARACTER

John Anderton
– Drug dependent
– Grief
– Obsessive

NEOLOGISMS

  • Pre-Crime
  • Pre-Cog
  • Sick Stick
  • Halo

USEFUL QUOTATIONS

“Victims are pronounced here, killers here”
“Crimes of passion, there is no premeditation”
“I didn’t do anything”
“That which would keep us safe, will also keep us free”
“Pre-crime, it works”
“I just want a little Clarity”
“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”
“Got to keep running”
“Fundamental Paradox”
“Why did you catch that? Because it was going to fall.”
“It’s better if you don’t think of them as human”
“The oracle isn’t where the power is, the power is with the priests, even if they have to invent the oracle”
“If there’s a flaw, its human. It always is”
“Can you see?”
“You finally crawl your way out of one hole just to fall into another”
“The sprawl” – A William Gibson reference.
“Remember the eyes, John. The eyes of the nation are on us”
“Everybody Runs”
“If the unintended consequences of a series of mistakes… can be called inventions”
“I’m not going to commit murder”
“And yet a chain of events has started..”
“Occasionally, the pre-cogs disagree” (Minority Reports – are deleted instantly – “no-one wants to base a justice system on uncertainty”)
“It really is wonderful to be a pre-cog” (propaganda taught to school children)
Agatha: “Can you see?”
“Where’s my Minority Report?”
“You have a choice, you can walk away”
“There is no Minority Report, I am going to mills this guy”
“You still have a choice, you know your future”
“Orgy of Evidence”, “This was all arranged”
“Shhhh. Do you know what I hear?” “Nothing”
“What are you going to do now?”
“You know your own future, which means you can change it if you want to”

Posted by Christopher Waugh

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” (Katherine Mansfield)

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