Looking, Listening, and Analyzing

So, for this assignment, I’ll be examining This Scene from the movie Good Will Hunting, which I have never seen before. Let’s start!

Look:

The clip begins with Robin Williams in the center of the shot, and spends a long time just focused on him as he speaks. Then it very subtly begins panning/turning to the left, so that Williams is just to the right of the center, in that area which I believe Ebert calls “the strong axis”. After spending sometime in that position, it begins zooming out and panning/turning left further, to have Matt Damon’s profile in the foreground (though the focus is still set on Williams).

Then the scene cuts to the other side of Williams, focusing now on Damon (though he doesn’t speak, and Williams continues to), before switching back to the previous position. Back again (Damon still not speaking, Williams continuing to). And back again. Again (it appears as if no one speaks now), and then back to Williams, who gets up and leaves. The camera pans to show more of Damon’s face and moves focus onto him.

The background is blurred extensively, with a sort of bokeh effect, which I’ve always considered to be ethereal or calming in a way. The lighting is not harsh, but well-lit, portraying what is possibly an emotional or enlightening scene.

Listen:

Williams is speaking to Damon (who is saying things quietly in response, one-word responses mostly). There is background noise of cars, wind, birds. Williams is basically monologuing, with pauses for Damon to respond, but he doesn’t. There are dogs barking and voices far off, indicating a park. Williams is speaking AT Damon, who does not speak back, even when questioned. His tone is accusatory, angered, but he is not yelling.

Music kicks in, instrumental music. I can’t quite make out the tone. It feels enlightening? Or saddening.

I wonder if perhaps listening before looking would be better (at least for me), as I can picture in my mind what is happening, and so it is not a purely separate experience for analyzing the audio.

Analyze:

When I watched the video alone, I assumed Williams was giving a very motivational or touching speech, and so I assumed the clip would be completely cheerful, or at least have a positive tone to it. Listening to the audio alone, I became aware of how harsh Williams’ words were, and how negative his feelings were towards Damon. But putting the two things together, the clip is not overwhelmingly negative, and it has an edge to it that cannot be felt in just observing the scene without audio. It balances out to create a scene that is both pleasant and sad.

It also allowed for a better understanding of those silent moments, which occur with Matt Damon, who does not say anything at most points. With the video alone, we can only see his expressions, but cannot understand his reasons for looking such. With the audio, we cannot imagine how he is appearing, as he is simply silent. When put together, Damon’s character is fuller, even if he is completely silent in the scene.

I could also get a better understanding of why Williams’ character is moved to the left of the screen, after moving to the strong axis, as he is suddenly taking on these completely negative feelings and ideas. It’s an extremely cohesive scene when it is put together, though it cannot be fully understood with just single elements.

3 thoughts on “Looking, Listening, and Analyzing

  1. Pretty good analysis of the scene; I still have to do mine and you give me a good idea where to focus. I think the audio and video compliment each other. There is a saying A picture is worth more than a 1000 words however, a picture can be misunderstood and I think it may be the case in this scene. I like your post and the background is pretty nice.

  2. I have never seen this movie either, but I have heard from multiple people that it is a classic. I am telling myself to watch it sometime soon, whether or not I do watch it remains to be seen. Your camera analysis is accurate, the camera is centered on Robin Williams because he is the primary character in the scene and entire movie. The audio is relatively quiet in the background because the director wants the viewers to listen to the dialogue between the characters, that is what is important. #talkingpolack106

  3. Same here with not watching the movie. I think part of the somberness that comes from the scene is the fact that Williams is almost always looking down. There is a brief point where he looks up, but for the most part he is looking at the ground, which without audio, is often the actions of a man whose words echo towards himself.

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