Saturday, February 19, 2011

Strange Days's Opening Scene: Cinematic Violence

The opening scene to Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days is exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and terrifying at the same time. We follow one member of a group of robbers as they rob a restaurant and subsequently chased by the cops. Instead of shooting it using very fast cuts and closeups which would put us squarely in the perspective of those being robbed, Kathryn Bigelow chooses to film it using just one shot from the perspective of one of the robbers. We as the audience really feel like we are really a part of the robbery as it happens in real-time. It's quite a jarring effect.

I think this shot perfectly demonstrates why film is such a powerful and popular medium, especially for depicting violence. There is nothing like actually seeing things happen before your eyes compared to just reading about it or hearing about it. Movies give us the ability to see things through the eyes of others and this scene highlights this unique ability. In this scene, not only do we witness the violence as it happens first hand, but we feel like we are a participant in it in a very visceral way which is impossible in any other medium except perhaps for video games, a medium whose artistic merit is still being questioned (see Roger Ebert's controversial article "Video Games Can Never Be Art

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