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  1. Style

  2. The ‘Cow’ as Symbol • Cow The ancients employed certain animals as symbols to convey specific aspects of philosophical and religious teachings to the multitude, and "the cow-symbol is one of the grandest and most philosophical among all others in its inner meaning" (SD 2:470). • Generally, the cow represents the fructifying power in nature -- the Divine Mother or feminine principle. Among the Scandinavians that which first appeared at the birth of the universe was the divine cosmic cow, Audhumla, from whom flowed four streams of milk, providing sustenance to all the beings that followed. • Among the Greeks the founding of a new race was associated with the cow -- as instances, Io and Europa. In Egypt the goddesses representing the aspect of the Universal Mother are associated with cow symbols, principally Hathor and Isis. In India the cow symbol is reverenced: Kamaduh or Surabhi (the cow of plenty) represents the nourishing and sustaining vital and productive principle in nature. The goddesses of lunar type are found to be connected in symbology with the cow. • "The cow was in every country the symbol of the passive generative power of nature, Isis, Vach, Venus -- the mother of the prolific god of love, Cupid, but, at the same time, that of the Logos whose symbol became with the Egyptians and the Indians -- the bull -- as testified to by Apis and the Hindu bulls in the most ancient temples. In esoteric philosophy the cow is the symbol of creative nature, and the Bull (her calf) the spirit which vivifies her, or 'the Holy Spirit' " (SD 2:418n).

  3. Outline • One of the key things that you need to have knowledge of is the overall ‘style’ of the text and how this ‘style’ affects the audience and helps us to understand Cuaron’s wider ideas. • It is important that you understand how Cuaron has attempted to ‘manipulate’ you as a viewer.

  4. Exam Areas • The five major areas that have come up in the past three years have been: • Character – major, minor, change, relationships • Theme – also purpose, message, idea, thoughts, helped you to understand • Scene – also section, segment, episode, beginning, ending • Setting – environment, atmosphere, situation • Audience response – made you feel, respond, think, react

  5. Patterns • In order to achieve at Level Two it is important that you understand how a technique has been used across the text, and not just one example. • I call this the idea of patterns. A marker wants to not only know about the one midshot from the first scene, but they want to know about how this particular shot is used throughout. • Some key indicators to whether you are discussing the pattern of a technique is the number of different examples you can give, whether you contrast examples, or talk about this example emphasising a previous one or foreshadowing the use of it somewhere else. • A solid essay will ‘discuss across’ the text. This is what you will need to do to achieve the high grades you are capable of.

  6. Overall Style • In order to talk about the patterns, you need to have an understanding of the overall style of a text. • What is the overall style of Children of Men that Cuaron used? Why did he choose to use this?

  7. Documentary • The overall style of the film has been described numerous times as a ‘realistic’ or ‘naturalistic’, and even as a kind of ‘fictional documentary’. • Cuaron and his creative team spent months working out how to make the film evoke feelings of our own world, how we can become involved, feel a part of this world and relate to it.

  8. Documentary • Some important quotes from the film clip that are worth discussing: • A little bit the way a documentary film maker would do it, would approach a subject like this Lubezki • Rather than being very manipulated shots going through all the elements and cutting backwards and forwards he is trying to get a very visceral feel…see the chaos, feel the chaos Owen • One of the rules to keep with natural light to make the movie realistic and naturalistic as possible and that’s also because we didn’t want to glamourise that moment in history, or humanity and we wanted to make it look as close to what’s happening right now and to make the people feel that something like that could happen Lubezki • This movie has to look raw, it has to look real Cuaron

  9. Documentary • The way that Lubezki and Cuaron discuss the film is an indication of how you will need to discuss it if you are aiming high in the exam – note that they talk about the overall style of the film, and not just of a singular technique. It is the lighting, with the special effects, with the colour, the sustained shots, the handheld camera and so on that create a feeling, an atmosphere and environment to the film. • So…why is it shot in this style? How does this style help to convey an idea?

  10. Documentary • The film shot in this manner creates a sense of realism. If we are to heed Cuaron’s warning do we not have to believe that it is a possibility? • Creates a stronger effect in the viewer. The documentary style, the realism, does not allow us to escape and just pretend that the film is an ungrounded fantasy. • The style places us in the film. Not only is it real by the documentary style means that we have to participate – in a way making us experience the world that we have created through our own acts. • The idea of a documentary gives the film a sense of momentousness, of a potential history being created. We only generally make documentaries about interesting, historical, important aspects of society. Therefore, this style gives the film a sense of importance, that this moment, this time when the idea of humanity and how we react to adversity is being played out, is crucial to us all as human beings. • The realism relates to our own world, we must link this future world to our own world so that we can see that this is the consequences of our current actions. • It is also a type of ‘war’ documentary. Gives the impression of an embedded war correspondent. This heightens the violence and conflict of the setting. We can link this to familiar images that we have seen in our current world.

  11. Design • Of course one of the largest stylistic elements is the futuristic design of the film. • It is interesting that it is not so much the ‘futuristic’ design that stands out in 2027 London, but the lack of a ‘futuristic’ design. • The following clip examines the way in which the designers (costume, set, production etc) created the world for Cuaron’s film. As you watch think about the overall reasons WHY they made the decisions that they did.

  12. Documentary • So…if we can link the techniques to the overall style of the film the last thing we need to do is examine what this helps to show us about those five key elements that we looked at: • Theme • Setting • Character • Personal Response • Individual Episodes

  13. 23, 24 – Theme Overall

  14. Themes and Films • Nearly every question that you answer at Level Two requires you to have a clear idea about the themes and ideas of the text. • In this case you will need to have a clear idea about the themes and ideas of Children of Men. Task: Group Think • In your groups on a large sheet of paper write three key theme statements that you believe are central to the film. • Rework these so that they are well worded, make complete sense, and capture exactly what you mean.

  15. Social Commentary • One idea that has become quite prevalent is that the film is a reflection of our current situation. • Remember Cuaron noted that: We decided not to, in terms of what you see, not to see the future, we try to recognise the present. • A Social Commentary is a text that sets about reflecting the current world back on itself. In a way holding a mirror up to our own world and asking its viewers/readers to think about their current actions, their current lives and so on. The mirror, however, in a social commentary is generally slightly skewed to what the director/writer wants the viewer/reader to see.

  16. Social Commentary • If the text is a social commentary what is Cuaron saying about our current world and what is happening around us? • Is Cuaron warning us about something that is taking place right now in our world? • Does Cuaron suggest a solution to the current problems that we are facing, or a new way to look at these problems?

  17. Some Thoughts • Fragility of collective morality. • Examines the lengths that people will go to for self-preservation and how we are willing to lose humanity to do this. • Discusses the need for hope in the face of seeming futility. • Provides a warning about our current world (issue/purpose – perhaps not a ‘theme’ or ‘idea’ as much). • But there are so many more ideas than this that are brought up in the film…what is important is that the idea that you choose to write about can be justified. That you can clearly analyse how and why techniques were used in the way they were to show this.

  18. Some Thoughts Think about: • Are individual human rights more important than the right of the state to survive, protect itself (Gitmo etc) • If Kee’s baby could bring about peace and acceptance of ‘fugees’ should she be forced to give it up? If yes, why? If no, why not? • In 2027 London would not be able to handle all of the refugees that were entering the country, therefore do they not have the right to protect their own citizens and close the borders? Why is it the people of Britain’s fault that other countries infrastructure collapsed? Why should they have to carry the burden? • Surely a state that is about to end has to be oppressive. If there was not stricter, tougher law enforcement at a time when people were depressed, knew that there would not be a future generation, no longer cared about survival, there would be more crime? Harsher law enforcement is therefore necessary to ensure the safety of others.

  19. Wider Style

  20. Iconic Images • One of the key design aspects of this film is the way that Cuaron has used modern iconography to influence his overall design. Think: • What are iconic events that hinted at in the film? • Why would Cuaron reference or allude to these events?

  21. Take a Look

  22. Take a Look

  23. Take a Look

  24. Take a Look

  25. Take a Look

  26. Iconic Images • One of the key design aspects of this film is the way that Cuaron has used modern iconography to influence his overall design. Think: • What are iconic events that hinted at in the film? • Why would Cuaron reference or allude to these events?

  27. Biblical Allusions – From the ‘Big Man’ Psalm 90 Lord, you have been our dwelling place   in all generations.Before the mountains were brought forth,   or ever you had formed the earth and the world,   from everlasting to everlasting you are God.   You return man to dust   and say, "Return, O children of men!"For a thousand years in your sight   are but as yesterday when it is past,   or as a watch in the night.  You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,   like grass that is renewed in the morning:in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;   in the evening it fades and withers.  For we are brought to an end by your anger;   by your wrath we are dismayed.You have set our iniquities before you,   our secret sins in the light of your presence. You have been with us. For a very long time. Now you return us to dust (what we originally were) Your anger ends us. You can see our sins and they are in front of you. You can get rid of us quickly and renew us. We flourish and whither by you.

  28. Biblical Allusions • "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men." • Of course the key allusion that is made throughout the film could be to religion itself: • Theo as Jesus? • Kee as modern day Virgin Mary? • World as corrupt individuals who have moved away from the true meaning of God and religion. • Water = Baptism/Rebirth • Barn • Martyrdom (self-sacrifice for a better cause – Miriam, Jasper, Theo, Julian) • If this is the case then what is Cuaron saying about the world that we live in now – did we bring disaster on ourselves because of our unrestrained hedonism and individualism? Is this a consequence of our own actions? Is it only divine intervention that can save us now? • Place to find out more:

  29. Lighting, Colour and Camera Work

  30. Terms • It is really important that when you are discussing the film that you are accurately using terms. What follows are some terms that you may not have heard of before, or that we can revise quickly so that you can use these with fluency. • One of the key criteria that the markers are looking for is strong knowledge of the film process and how a director makes choices and how these choices are carried out. Think of film terms in the same way that you think about poetry terms (you need to know what a metaphor is!).

  31. Lighting Terms • Chiaroscuro: Light and shade effect. The way in which objects can be emphasized by patches of light, or obscured by shadow. • Low-Key: Lighting that produces less illumination than high-key lighting, and therefore a darker atmosphere and tone. • High-Key: Illumination that creates comparatively little contrast between the light and dark areas of the shot. Shadows are fairly transparent and brightened by fill light. • Accent Lighting: Lighting that is used to accent or highlight a particular object such as a work of art. To be effective accent lighting should be approximately four or five times the level of ambient light in the area. House plants can be accented by aiming an uplight at the wall behind the plant, creating a dramatic silhouette of the plant against the wall. • Ambient Lighting: Refers to the illumination surrounding a subject or scene, specifically any and all light not provided by the photographer • Source Lighting: Lighting that originates from a lamp visible in the scene.

  32. Camera Terms Terms you SHOULD know: • Shots: ECU, CU, MCU, MS, LS, MLS, ELS, Establishing. • Camera Movement: Pan, Track, Zoom, Tilt, Handheld • General: High Angle, Low Angle, Shallow Focus.

  33. Camera Terms Some new ones- • Composition:The process of adjusting framing, camera position and/or focal length to make the subject a visually pleasing photograph. • Focal length: An indication of how wide or narrow a section of the scene is included in a picture (angle of view), and/or how big or small it makes the subject (magnification). • Rack Focus: When a director inentionally shifts the focus from one object to another. • POV Shot: A shot at eye level that represents a viewer’s eyes watching the action.

  34. Chiaroscuro • Chiaroscuro (contrast between high key and low key). • High key more frequent at beginning. • Low key seems to win out and it more dominant at the end (think Bexhill and the entrance to it). • Contrast symbolic. • Humanities decline? Hope lost? • Low key contrasted with accentuated lighting (usually source) that show a figure, or figures capable of redeeming society.

  35. The ‘Light’

  36. The ‘Dark’

  37. Dark and Dingy • Generally Low Key throughout • Hopelessness? • Engulfing the whole city. Few specks of light. • Humanity lost. Have we lost the light also? • Light often associated with goodness, purity, religious redemption. Why gone? • Anywhere particularly dark? • Overall mood created by this…

  38. General Atmosphere

  39. The End

  40. God-Rays • God-rays are used throughout the film. These can be noticed in many scenes. • What could these represent? • Symbolic – lead the way to a better tomorrow. God’s presence throughout? Keep hold of hope? • Placed throughout, but generally interrupted, or attempting to escape – never fully realised. • Associated with Theo. • Realism – unfiltered view of the world. • Represent natural world as well??? Contrast to the general clouds. Create halo effect at times.

  41. God-rays

  42. Use of Source Lighting • Unsupported lighting – mainly focused on the source lighting. • Many shots just source (lamps overhead, torches, lanterns etc). • Realism – lighting not added ‘off-camera’ – doco news thing. • Light often artificial – not natural (‘man-made’). Sun prevented from shining.

  43. Source Lighting

  44. Source Lighting

  45. White Light • Glaring white light is used throughout. • Link to interrogation. • Nothing hidden – all exposed. • Cuaron exposed the world that we see? • No warmth – white light is harsh and unforgiving. • Creates shadows that fall frequently over faces – either glaring or in darkness. • Think when it is used.

  46. White Light

  47. Accentuated Lighting • Key people, symbols lit throughout: • Kee’s baby, face and belly are lit in halo like light – repeated throughout. • Theo often lit. Overhead. • Jasper. • Why are these characters lit??? What do they represent? • Light often linked to ‘goodness’ and ‘purity’.

  48. Accentuating Lighting

  49. General Colour • Look at the colour palette used for the different settings and how through the use of the colour it represents something else – colour generally represents a mood, character psychology, feel of an environment. • Look at contrasts and comparisons (analysis words). • Change of colour.

  50. City – Grey/Blue • The whole city engulfed in grey/blue – • Cold and clinical. Lacks warmth. • Society that lacks warmth kindness?? • Everything seems artificial, created? Lacking in natural colour light. • Drained of colour. Remnants of what was once a colourful place. • Represents hope lost, and humanity that has disappeared?