Final Paper

            Genres often help a viewer to identify with a film, deciding whether or not they are interested in seeing the feature.  Films grouped in the same genre share many of the same narrative aspects.  Two very famous films that belong to the Western genre are The Great Train Robbery and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Each of these films are defined as Western films because of their visual and narrative conventions.  So that films grouped into the same genre do not become cliché or repetitive, film genres are always in a state of continuous change. By comparing The Great Train Robbery and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, we can clearly see how a film made during the birth of the Western genre and a film made nearing the end of the Western genre have changed over a time period.  We can also point out the similarities that help to identify the films into being part of the same genre.  Critics often argue that in order for a genre to have successful films, the genre must evolve over time; The Great Train Robbery and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are perfect examples of two films both part of the Western genre that have exhibited evolution. 

            Western films came into relevance in the very beginning of the twentieth century, specifically in 1903 when The Great Train Robbery was released.  The impact of The Great Train Robbery is clearly seen through Peter Flynn’s interpretation of Silent Western’s:

But it was not until The Great Train Robbery that anything approximating the classical form of the genre emerged…the film is today regarded as a landmark in early film narrative. Running just over twelve minutes (approximately 750-800 feet, or one reel), it detailed the train-robbery, escape, and subsequent comeuppance of a gang of outlaws. A familiar motif that reoccurs with stunning frequency throughout the genre was here fresh and groundbreaking. (Flynn, The Silent Western as Mythmaker)

After The Great Train Robbery, many films followed in its path by possessing a lot of the same details.  As Western films began to evolve, in the 1920s, Western films focused heavily on action and less on plot, with the main goal of entertainment.  So that the audience did not get bored with these films, filmmakers had to make alterations to their stories.  In the 1930s, the Western became a way of telling stories with compelling messages, many dealing with ideologies.  The Old West took a turn in the 1950s when the plots of the films focused more on conformity and the main characters were inspired by their own morals to fight against wrong while everyone else sat back in fear.  It was not until the 60s that the antihero became the main character of the films.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is an accurate example of the time period when the antihero became the main focus.  It was nearly seventy years after The Great Train Robbery was released, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid came out (1969).  These two films represent the beginning and ending of the core of the Western film genre.  The end of the Western era clearly came about because the genre stopped evolving:

By the time that Wayne made his last film (The Shootist, 1976), the epic western was clearly suffering from exhaustion, as cinematic attempts to debunk the mythologies of the Old West had merely resulted in the destruction of the genre’s credibility and relevance altogether. These efforts did, however, produce some notably lighthearted westerns, including Cat Ballou (1965) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). (Encyclopedia Britannica, Western)

            Western films predominately utilize its visual conventions such as an American frontier setting (usually as an Old West town and wide-open deserts), props such as guns and horses, and costumes including cowboy hats, spurs, and dusty work-wear.  Westerns also share a common plot with the incentive of keeping justice on the frontier using a rapidly moving action story.  These action stories often include gunfights, show downs, train robberies, bank robberies, holdups, and chases on horse back.  These stories are commonly based off of classic conflicts such as good vs. evil, settlers vs. Indians, sheriff vs. gunslinger, etc.

            Each of the two movies, The Great Train Robbery and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid reach the criteria of being grouped in the genre of Western films.  Although The Great Train Robbery is a short film, being less than eleven minutes, it set the stage for the Western genre being that it was the first Old West movie ever made.  It focused on many of the visual conventions of the genre (being that it is a silent film).  Westerns focus on spacious, American frontier settings showing the environment of the Old West, which The Great Train Robbery does.  The setting of the train station and where the bandits force the passengers off of the train are very vast, desolate areas.  The main plot of this short film is a direct reflection of the title of it itself, being a ‘great train robbery.’  The theme of The Great Train Robbery is good vs. evil, later known as white hats vs. black hats.  The ‘bad guys’ are the ones seen running around like bandits, tying people up, shooting innocent passengers, and stealing money and various goods from the train.  The opposing team, the ‘good guys’ come into relevance when they hear about the robbery, they chase down the robbers on horseback shooting at them.  Different elements of Western films that are seen in this scene are the props and costumes such as guns, horses, cowboy hats, and bandanas (See Figure 1,2,3).  This scene also portrays a climactic chase, which is often a huge part of the action in a Western.

            Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid possesses much of the same characteristics.  Although The Great Train Robbery was made almost seventy years prior, the films share much of the same criteria for being a Western.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid revolves around two Wild West outlaws who rob banks and trains, being a very typical plot piece and story attribute of Westerns.  Butch and Kid share many of the stereotypical outlaw images such as dressing with hats and boots (See Figure 4), always having a gun on them, and riding around on horses.  The director, George Roy Hill, not only utilizes the props needed for a Western but the setting and plot meet the criteria almost perfectly.  The film takes place in predominately three places: an Old West town; a limitless desert; and Bolivia, which shares many of the same characteristics of the West.  The town serves the purpose of showing the viewers where these people came from and what kind of background they have.  When the setting changes to the open deserts (See Figure 7), Butch and Kid are being chased down for their robbery; many of the shots show the chase by utilizing the scenery.  By using widescreen shots and aerial views, it is very evident to the audience what kind of environment they are dealing with, giving off a very Western feel.  Although the setting then moves from the Old West to Bolivia, the town seems much the same, people dress differently but Butch and Kid continue with their robberies resulting in being chased down ending with a shootout, which is common among Westerns.

            With putting these movies side by side, one can see that they share many of the same qualities but have different alterations within them.  They each take place in very similar settings being that of the Old West sharing many similarities.  The characters in the films, including both the outlaws (robbers) and the passengers of the trains have mirroring appearances (costumes).  Even some of the scenes almost perfectly exemplify a scene from the other film.  An example of this is during the train robberies (See Figures 5 and 6), each of the robbers in both movies are holding the passengers at gunpoint in the same way.  After the robberies, each sets of outlaws flee on horses being followed by the opposing enemy, ultimately resulting in a shootout.  Each of these facets bring a Western feel to the audience while watching both The Great Train Robbery and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

            Even though these two films are very similar in their props, settings, and plot, they have many differences bringing the evolution of the Western genre to light.  The Great Train Robbery is a silent film where it is tough for the viewer to identify with characters, on the other hand, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid goes against the conceptual character persona and has the outlaws as very easygoing, average guys who often times crack jokes and are very likeable by the audience.  Another major difference between the films is that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid exhibits somewhat of a romance; Etta Place has a relationship with both Butch and Kid throughout the film.  The Great Train Robbery has no trace of a romance within the story.  The different twists and dissimilarities that George Roy Hill use are explained in the following quote, supporting why genres must evolve and progress over time:

Released at a time when the Western was considered a dead (or at least financially unsuccessful) art form he turns the genre upside down; what results is an easygoing film full of reversals, twists, and revisions of classic western clichés. (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969))

Because of the timing that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was released, Hill was forced to make his film more drastically different than many of the other films that are part of the Western genre in order for it to be successful.  In The Great Train Robbery, the bandits get caught pretty quickly, differing from the adventure of Butch and Kid in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Butch and Kid not only need to flee from the scene of the robbing but they continue to need to escape for the remainder of the movie bringing them to another country where they are still being hunted down. Without these slight differences between the two films, viewers would get bored with the same old story about a train getting robbed by outlaws and then them being chased down by the enemy. 

            If films of the same genre did not diverge between one another, genres would not evolve over time; without these contrasting aspects, a genre would not be formed, films would just seem to be remakes of one another.  The Great Train Robbery, being one of the first movies ever made, set ideal qualities that a Western film should possess.  Since The Great Train Robbery came out, various films sharing the same storylines have been created but each of these films had their own twist to them allowing for the film to be of interest to the audience.  By the end of the core Western era, films began to incorporate qualities of other genres such as romance, seen in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

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Figure 1 & 2: Climactic chase in The Great Train Robbery

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Figure 3: Western costumes in The Great Train Robbery

 

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Figure 4: Western costumes in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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Figure 5: Train passengers held at gunpoint in The Great Train Robbery

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Figure 6: Train passengers held at gunpoint in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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Figure 7: Western scenery in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

 

Works Cited

Flynn, P. (n.d.). The Silent Western as Mythmaker. Retrieved December 12, 2013,

from Images Journal:

http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue06/infocus/silentwesterns2.htm

N/A. (n.d.). Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Retrieved December 12,

2013, from Twyman-Whitney: http://www.twyman-whitney.com/film/lecture/butch.html

N/A. (n.d.). Western. Retrieved December 12, 2013, from Encyclopedia Britannica:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/640481/western  

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Inception

2. Inception has a very different feel to it than most other films, somewhat representing future films.  Before coming out in theaters, Inception had a lot of focus on it, showing a lot of camerawork depicting new technology which advanced cinema as an industry.  Inception is a blockbuster because the use of this new technology attracted many viewers and then hype of it gave the movie a lot of attention that consumers were curious about. 

Chicago 10

            Documentaries primarily focus on events that have happened that the director wants to inform the audience about including voice-overs telling the events, and talking heads to back them up.  Chicago 10 is presented very differently than that of common traditional documentaries. Brett Morgen tells the stories of the Yippies vs. the ‘pigs’ during the Vietnam War through an animated trial.  The animation is seen to be unrealistic being that it uses cartoons to reenact a trial that happened in 1968. Brett Morgen switches from animation to real footage very often, it is usually hard for an audience to see the realism behind a story when it is animated but when it is incorporated with real footage, it is easy to pull away from the fiction and open up to being informed for the historical story it is telling.

            Documentaries serve the purpose of presenting contemporary or historical events rather than fictional stories.  Often times directors use voices of authority in their films when it comes to voice-over narration, which Brett Morgen does in Chicago 10.  For many of the characters, he uses the voices of recognizable, famous actors such as Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, and Nick Nolte.  Documentaries are known to have a very recognizable format including talking heads and voice-overs but Brett Morgen presents his historical story in a very different way.  To do this he uses animation, short film clips, clips of speeches, and many other techniques.  This allows him to inform the audience about the controversy between the Yippies and the police in the late 60s while keeping the audience’s attention in a unique way. 

            A major controversy over Chicago 10 is whether the use of animation is artistic and appropriate or if it mocks the 1968 Vietnam Protests, the use of animation enhanced the story and the audience’s experience.  Although Brett Morgen brings a humorous side to a very serious historical event, this represents the Yippies as a whole.  This group was very light-spirited and easygoing, which is shown through the various jokes made throughout the documentary.  A good example of this is the trials in general, trials are known to be a very serious but the fact that jokes were incorporated into them brought to light what the Yippies were really all about.  Rather than mocking the protests, the use of animation appropriately brought an artistic twist to the film.

 

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

            Feminism is a major theme in the film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. Karen Carpenter’s story shows the struggles people face when trying to meet feminine physical ideals.  Society creates an image that they feel that women should meet, when this idea is mixed with fame, Karen feels pressured to meet these expectations of feminism.  She takes this to the extreme by disregarding the nutrition that is necessary for her to stay healthy and taking drugs to make her lose weight even further.  Various times, the film shows Karen being horrified about eating and taking ex-lax pills to more readily get rid of the weight.  Throughout the entire film, Karen is facing this issue; the story takes you through her struggles with anorexia, which create struggle within her family, her ‘recovery,’ and eventually her death. 

            Avant-garde films are very different than anything the average person is accustomed to watching.  These films often evoke frustration to the viewer and rarely present straightforward stories or characters.  The three films that we watched this week each met this criteria but in different ways.  Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story exhibits both abstract film but using dolls as characters rather than humans and compilation of film clips from Nazi Death Camps.  An Andalusian Dog mocks narrative form and is fixated on the unconscious, which is typical of a surrealist film.  Meshes of the Afternoon is also a surrealist film; it focuses on the subconscious and feels as if it takes place in a dream state.  Each of these three films represents avant-garde films by the use of unlikely soundtracks, abstract light and shapes, and unclear storylines. 

            Often times people look up to celebrities as role models but we often don’t see the issues that they face behind the scenes, many people argue that celebrities that do destroy themselves do it because of the person that they are but it is usually because of the fame itself.  Karen Carpenter’s story is a perfect representation of some of the struggles that celebrities face today.  Her struggles are clearly seen in Superstar especially in the scene of her death, even after seeking help for her anorexia, Karen Carpenter still turns to drugs eventually defeating herself.  Her story resembles many of the young celebrities of the 21st century such as Cory Monteith, Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan, and Amy Winehouse.  All of which who are dealing with drug related addiction or have died from drug overdose.  Each of these celebrities including Karen Carpenter got sucked into the life of fame by turning to drugs and the life of many other young celebrities. 

Zero Dark Thirty

            Torture is a very controversial theme in the film, Zero Dark Thirty.  This is the main approach that the CIA uses in order to get information that will help them get closer to Bin Laden.  This is a realistic representation of how they obtained their information because no one was going to speak unless it directly affected him or her; they had no other resources to use other than speaking directly to people who either knew or were associated with people who knew Bin Laden.  It is evident in this film that people tend not to open their mouths until pain is inflicted on them making torture a necessary part of the mission.  Kathryn Bigelow directly shows the audience different torture techniques including the force used on the victims verbally and physically.  She also shows the audience the way that the CIA agents were affected when they carried out these actions, often times they were under stress and somewhat disturbed.  Viewers and reviewers may have seen that this film portrayed torture to “work” but Kathryn Bigelow was just trying to show the reality of what went into the mission of capturing Osama Bin Laden. 

            Kathryn Bigelow is often seen as an auteur director.  Auteur directors possess three main components in their films; technical competence, distinguishing personality, and internal meaning.  Bigelow shows a lot of internal meaning in her film, Zero Dark Thirty.  She does not focus on any back-story of characters; rather she focuses all of the attention on the action of the film.  A viewer may get the feeling that at some point in the movie Maya forms a relationship with another one of the characters but Bigelow avoids this for a reason, she felt that a historical mission as controversial as this should be presented as efficiently as possible.  Part of the internal meaning in this film is the celebration of American militarism.  The capturing of Bin Laden was a huge step in the CIA, the military’s, and America’s history. 

            In no way did Kathryn Bigelow make Maya the central character out of feminism, Maya is based on a real life woman CIA agent who made major contributions to the mission of capturing Osama Bin Laden.  To the audience, it is often seen that Maya was a character created by Bigelow to show the strong-headed independence that a woman can possess.  What most people don’t know is that this character is based off of a single-mindedly devoted CIA woman devoted to finding Bin Laden.  In this task, just like Maya, she was known to be very aggressive.  A very representative part of the film that shows the CIA agent’s urgency and dedication for this mission is when Maya continually writes the days that have gone by on her co-worker’s office window.  After getting a lead on where Bin Laden may be, everyday she consistently counted the days where nothing was done to contribute to the mission.  By doing this, Bigelow was showing the audience how the CIA agent, a woman, took charge and never gave up in her quest which often made people have the outlook that Maya possessed qualities of a man. 

Weekend

            A big majority of Weekend exhibits violence; Godard utilizes a lot of fake violence done towards humans as well as real violence down to animals.  As an audience, we see a lot of fake blood and torn apart bodies lying on the side of the road, really pulling the film away from realism.  Some of the other forms of violence done to humans are at the end, where Roland and Corinne come across the group of hippies who are cannibals and when Corinne burns the body of a girl in the woods.  Aside from all of the fake violence done towards people, the film exhibits some actual violence done to animals.  In the end of the film, at the campground, the hippies slaughter both a pig and a chicken.  This is clearly animal abuse because they slit the animals’ throats on screen while they are still living, we can see the animals struggling and suffering.  I think that because Godard used such different approaches to the two techniques of portraying violence to the audience to bring an even weirder twist to the movie because not only is the audience thinking about the acts of violence they are now also questioning the realism of the incident. 

            Weekend is a foreign film that came out during the French New Wave. These films went against traditional Hollywood films by ignoring plot clarity, goal-oriented characters, closure, and cause and effect continuity.  In this film the story is often interrupted by jump cuts and plot changes.  Contrary to Hollywood films, where the audience forms a relationship with the characters, French New Wave films like Weekend distance the viewer.  It does so with the use of music and acting.  There are often loud noises that undermine realism and the viewers’ enjoyment and there is music where it is inappropriate to the action of the film.  Acting is either excessive and exaggerated or underplayed and monotonous.  This prevents the viewer from fully understanding the characters of the film.  As a viewer of this French New Wave film I found it very hard to identify with the characters and follow along with the plot.

            Traditional Hollywood films never force the audience to be critical of a film, but Weekend does this in the use of longeurs.  Because there are multiple extended scenes where not much happens, the audience can often times become confused or bored with the film.  When a viewer realizes that a scene has been going on for too long and not much has occurred it forces the viewer to think more in depth about the film.  A specific scene that exhibits a longeur is when Corinne and Roland are stuck in traffic going on their road trip.  This scene consists of the married couple driving for what feels like forever, the audience is shown angry people stuck in traffic and multiple car crashes.  There are a ton of very violent accidents exhibiting torn apart bodies and wrecked cars.  Rather than alienating the audience, Godard is making them question the significance and why this traffic jam is given so much attention for so long when nothing of too much importance happened that had to do with the development of the story.

Far From Heaven

            White supremacy is a major theme in Far from Heaven.  During the time period of the film, in the 1950s, most people valued whites over blacks simply because they saw them as people of more power.  This is seen from the first scene of the movie, the Whitaker family was a wealthy white family who had a black maid, Cybil.  In today’s society you would very rarely see this, and if you did, it would be frowned upon.  Later in the movie, Cathy becomes acquainted with Raymond, her gardener.  When Cathy is seen talking to Raymond at an art show, she gets many dirty looks from her friends and they wonder why she would be talking to an African American man like that.  During this time period, people frowned upon interracial relationships, Cathy obviously looked at things differently and never saw a problem with speaking to Raymond.  More evidence that Cathy had a different outlook on African Americans than most of society is that she is very kind to Cybil and never asked too much of her.

            The main topic of the week, ‘Film and Ideology’ is seen in many ways in Far From Heaven.  Ideologies are systems of beliefs, values and opinions.  Many of the more obvious ideologies when watching films are racial, gender, sexuality, and disability.  Three out of the four of these topics are present in the film.  Racial ideology is seen through white supremacy, this mindset of supremacy is seen through the way Cybil and Raymond are treated.  Gender equality is seen through the way that the families functioned, all of the women played the same role as a housewife while the men worked and made a living for the family.  Sexuality is a huge ideology in the film, Frank is caught having an affair with another man and one of the questions that Cathy asks him is if he has seen a doctor.  This question represents how society looked at gays as being abnormal or sick. 

            Movies often have clashing ideologies to bring more than one belief to light, gender and sexual orientation inter-relate in the film specifically in Frank’s relationship with Cathy.  In the scene when Frank gets home right after Cathy discovers his affair, they try to talk to situation over.  It seems as if Cathy doesn’t want to believe that Frank is gay and that she tries to talk him back into being her husband and her husband only.  She says, “You’re all man to me” degrading Frank and his masculinity.  Because Frank feels less of a man, he hits Cathy to present somewhat of a more masculine thing to show power and control.  The way that Cathy is responding to his sexuality emphasizes on the views of society, it wasn’t ‘right’ in that time period.  This specific scene relates these two ideologies by taking a husband and wife’s reaction to the same situation and clashing them. 

Casablanca

            In the film, Casablanca, a major theme through multiple characters is sacrifice.  Each of the three main characters, Rick, Ilsa, and Laszlo, made sacrifices in different ways.  Throughout the majority of the movie, Rick’s main goal was to stay neutral; he never wanted to “stick his neck out for anyone.”   This shows that Rick is the type of person to never make any type of sacrifice for anyone but by the end of the movie this changes.  He makes one of the biggest personal sacrifices he could make.  When the love of his life, Ilsa, is willing to stay behind in Casablanca with him while her husband leaves for America, Rick tells her no, and he sends her off with him.  Rick never had to give the visas to Ilsa and Laszlo but he knew in his heart that it was going to be the right decision to let her go.  Ilsa had to make sacrifices of her own earlier on, when Rick was leaving Paris and she got word that Laszlo was alive and okay, she made the sacrifice to let Rick go in order to be with her husband.  Laszlo makes a different type of sacrifice; he sacrifices his freedom in order to fight for what he believes in in the war, he fights against Nazism by putting the needs of the war before his own needs.

            Casablanca is a film made up of multiple genres.  Throughout the film, we see different approaches to genre such as documentary, romance, war, drama, film noir, and many others.  This film is known as a hybrid, which is when films combine the conventions of two or more genres into one.  The film opens up as what seems to be a documentary, there is a narration setting the premise of the movie.  The genre of war is obviously seen through the plot, the setting of Casablanca is a place that people go to wait to evacuate the war, specifically to get to America.  Romance is seen through the relationship between both Ilsa and Rick, and Ilsa and Laszlo.  Film noir, a type of American thriller, is seen in multiple scenes such as when Ilsa unexpectedly pulled a gun on Rick, then again when Rick shoots Major Strasser.  Drama is apparent in this film through the relationships both built and torn and the events that play out in the lives of the characters.  All in all, Casablanca uses its many genres to become the successful film that it is. 

            Contrary to the average structural, formula films, Casablanca is the complete opposite by using a hybrid of genres to create a more artistic film.  The film is still conventional in the fact that it follows a structure for genre but it certainly does not take away from the art of the film.  A scene that pulls away from the convention of the film is when Ilsa pulls a gun on Rick.  Up to this point, the film has mostly followed the structure to a drama/romance with a storyline including war, but when Ilsa pulls a gun it gives a whole new twist to Casablanca.  By pulling film noir into the filmmaking, it creates a very artistic aspect.  The audience experiences a thrill when Ilsa makes this unexpected movement and a flash of lightning strikes.  Because Casablanca is a mash-up of different genres into a hybrid, it takes away from a more conventional film into a more artistic film. 

Apocalypse Now

            Because Apocalypse Now is a war movie, death is a major theme.  The plot of the movie is mainly focused on death being that Willard’s mission is to assassinate Kurtz.  The reasoning that this mission is put in place is because of Kurtz’s acts, which also have to do with death.  Kurtz is a man who owns a private army in Cambodia, here there are many corpses and decapitated heads lying around like its nothing.  Two different scenes that stood out to me were when the Chief and Mr. Clean died.  When Mr. Clean died, the recording of his mother played, emphasizing on his life and how war affects both a soldier and their family.  It was very different when Chief died, he is stabbed with a spear and tried to pull Willard onto the spearhead before dying.  Once Chief does die, there is silence, which is very different than the death of Mr. Clean.  The most important death scene in the film is when Willard assassinates Kurtz.  During this scene, both the death of a bull and the death of Kurtz are shown, this is significant because it shows how Kurtz’s people kill bulls so violently and ironically, Kurtz is being murdered at the same time.  As melancholy as it is, war would not be war without death. 

            In Apocalypse Now, sound design is crucial in portraying the reality of war and parts of what the soldiers experience.  The three main components of film sound are dialogue, sound effects, and music.  Each of these three things are utilized in the making of Apocalypse Now.  The use of dialogue that stood out to me was the use in showing authority and ethnic background.  I found that soldiers with higher rank often had deeper voices showing that they were in charge.  Many of the soldiers had different accents showing the diversity of the army, and in Vietnam, they had Vietnamese accents, which aided in portraying the setting to the audience.  Sound effects are used in almost every scene; they helped in keeping the action and storyline alive.  All throughout the film, helicopter propellers were heard, this keeps the war atmosphere going constantly, when the soldiers were actually in war, explosions, gunshots, and machinery grabbed the audience’s attention into the reality of the war.  In this film, there was an excess of music, this music was present to set the mood of the scenes while portraying the feelings of the soldiers.  When they were in flight going to war, music with a build up of intensity, excitement, and anxiousness all wrapped into one were played.  These songs were a reflection of all of the emotions that the soldiers were feeling.

The argument of who’s plan in war is more insane than the other’s can often be made, according the Apocalypse Now, Colonel Kurtz’s plan for winning the Vietnam War was far more inhumane and irrational than the U.S. military’s.  Kurtz’s plan for winning the Vietnam War is truly uncovered to the audience after his death.  Leading up to and including the scene of his death builds up for what is later shown to the audience.  The suspense develops with different uses of sound design, lightning is used to set the mood of the scene and the music played follows the intensity of the story.  The music intensifies as Willard gets closer and closer to assassinating Kurtz.  During the montage of the killing of the bull and the killing of Kurtz, the music is very loud and fast, reflecting what was currently happening.  When the murder is over, the music slows down and eventually it becomes silent.  There is a very dramatic quietness about the next few shots, Willard is walking around Kurtz’s home and finds his ‘plan’ for winning the war.  As he flips through pages, he finds in red writing “Drop the bomb, exterminate them all.”  While the audience is shown this, there is slow, eerie music playing, this music shows the eeriness of the reality in Kurtz’s plan to win the war. 

Psycho

            At the end of the film, a police psychologist gives a full psychological profile of Norman.  He reveals to us Norman’s childhood and the reasoning for his actions as well as identifying his disorder.  We learn that about ten years earlier, Norman’s father died, making Norman and his mother inseparable, they lived as if they were the only two people in the world.  Then one day, Norman’s mother met a man and Norman felt deserted and left for, this is what set Norman over the edge, forcing him to kill both his mother and the man.  Because Norman could not cope with what he had done to his mother, he wanted to ‘undo’ this making him become his mother.  A theory of Sigmund Freud’s that comes into play is his theory is about the id, ego, and superego; each being a part of a different level of awareness.  Norman’s behavior can be best explained by his unconscious mind (id).  All of the things that have happened in Norman’s life which have caused him pain that he has attempted to block out of his memory come into light through his actions.  The id is responsible for our drives, what makes us do the things we do, Norman is driven to kill these people and commit the actions that he carries out.

            Editing plays a major role in making a film.  In Psycho, many different techniques of editing were utilized to bring important ideas to the audience’s attention.  One technique used was an eyeline match.  Eyeline match uses a character’s line of sight to motivate the importance of an object or person in a film.  Hitchcock uses eyeline match on many different occasions.  Multiple times that the money was shown, Hitchcock would remind the audience that Marion was aware of and thinking about the money by showing that she sees it.  This leads the audience to believe that the money is going to play a major role in the movie but later we learn that we were mislead and that the money was more for a Macguffin that allowed us to see Marion’s initiatives for her actions.  Another critical object that an eyeline match is used for are the stuffed birds in Norman’s office.  The editing shows that Marion sees these birds and shows her curiosity about them in her expression, Norman then tells us that he is a taxidermist and enjoys stuffing dead things.  Norman’s hobby becomes quite ironic when the audience learns that he’s kept his mother’s dead body and has been taking care of her for years acting as if she has been alive.

            Shower scenes such as the one in Psycho have become very cliché but the one in this particular film is still one of the most powerful and respected shower scenes in filmmaking.  Many contemporary horror films contain a murder or suspenseful scene in a shower but none of them compare to the one in Psycho.  When Marion is killed in the shower it takes over thirty shots to complete the scene. The number of shots was necessary for this scene because it added to the suspense and thrill.  Many other films’ shower scenes only last about a minute whereas Hitchcock took his time with the murder showing every aspect of the act.  When Marion does die, Hitchcock uses graphic match to relate the drain to Marion’s eye.  This metaphorically shows the blood and water draining in the shower and the life draining out of Marion.  Because Hitchcock does this scene so artistically, it really brings a dramatic and suspenseful feel to the film that has not been recreated in such a way by any other filmmaker.