Friday, 28 October 2011

Case Study: Father and Daughter

Last Monday, our group seminar did a case study of Michael Dudok de Wit's Father and Daughter (2000) looking at visual narrative and his construction of shots to tell his simple but powerful story.

Coincidentally, Father and Daughter is one of the inspirations for my film; its' use of non-dialogue driven narrative, emotive plot and visual poetry is exactly the kind of ideals I'm striving for.

So I will outline the use of composition and visual storytelling that Dudok de Wit uses to tell his story in order to benefit my own.

Father and Daughter Case Study

  • An impression of 3D space through simple line drawings and textured backgrounds - despite inherent 'flatness' of design and a linear 'back and forth' narrative, a whole world is opened up to us in the space of 8 minutes. This is partly achieved by the sense of depth and through numerous cutaways (even seemingly unnecessary) that display great expanses of land, sky or the local bird wildlife that help believability of this world

  • High contrast style creates deep, dark shadows and bright open spaces - calm, light, open shots give way to intense, dark, closed compositions and vice versa. This increases the emptiness and loneliness of the Daughter until friends and family fill up her life again. Often new abstract shapes can be seen through the nearly black/white image
  • Balanced vs imbalanced: early shots are symmetrical or mirrored to show balance. Later, diagonal perspective, shadows and tilted camera angle shows imbalance
  • Monochrome colour (warm sepia browns and oranges) suggests a nostalgic story from years ago

  • A lack of close-ups concentrate focus on the action and scope of the world, but does not detract from emotion of characters, instead it creates a poetic type of viewing and allows you to put yourself in the shoes of the characters. For much of the film, characters are mere silhouettes, almost a blank canvas to place yourself
  • Many shots are repeated (girl revisiting waterside throughout her life) and yet it does not feel repetitive because changes in characters and shot angles indicate the passage of time as well as weather (wind/rain affecting the Daughter) and the change of seasons

  • Eventually the bicycle that was initially a method of transport, becomes a metaphor for the passage of time and growing old: one shot shows the young Daughter struggling with it up a hillside, and later as an old woman, she tries to stand the bike, only to have it fall over several times. The most obvious instance is the bicycle wheel appearing over the old woman at the end of the film, as it resembles a clock. In addition, the first person the girl meets by herself is an old woman--practically a prediction for the end of the film

  • Visual mirroring: at the end before Father and Daughter embrace, they step towards each other and pause for a moment. Their lengthy shadows suddenly directly resemble the two long, elegant trees by the riverside. When they embrace, the shadows becomes one

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