Thursday, February 12, 2009

Storyboard exercise 4: Leon - The Proffesional

Here's an anaysis of a scene from Leon - the proffesional.

33:53 mins into the film.

Every time I watch this scene it brings me to tears (or pretty close.) Matilda has such a strong sense of who she is. I admire people who can open up to someone, especially if it’s a kid. It’s a definite sign of maturity. I also love how the two get along so well, despite their difference in age and backgrounds. You can really feel the bond between the two.

Just before this scene begins there is a huge action sequence where Matilda’s family, including her little brother, get shot up by the cops. Matilda narrowly escapes this ordeal because she is down at the milk bar getting milk. Leon, who lives at the end of the hallway, reluctantly lets her in to his home, saving her from being killed. Now she is telling him why she is crying.

The camera before this, for the most part, has been quite tense. There have been a lot of truck ins, wide angle lenses, forced perspectives, and panning with the action. So this is the first scene that has really stayed up close and is steady. The camera, for the most part, is set up in the same position at a medium-close-up/close-up. This is a bold move because it means the story relies heavily on the actors.

Looking at the first and second shot, we can see that the positioning of the characters, their clothes, and the background all draw our eye towards their face. This is where we find out who the characters really are, so the attention has to be on their expressions.

Even though the shots are divided up into three, where the characters takes up the middle and the silhouettes and empty space fall to the side, Leon is positioned on the left side of the screen while Matilda is on the right. This is to be clear of who is talking, avoiding the ‘pop cut’. It is only until frame 19 (page 3) where Leon actually walks away that Matilda takes up the other side. Then, only when he returns, do they go back to their original sides.

Moving back to frame 4 (page 1). The camera has cut in slightly closer. This is as Matilda reveals more about what has happened. It also cuts in equally close to Leon, who is more interested in what she has to say. As she starts crying in frame 7 the camera does a slight truck in, putting a bit more emphasis on what is happening. The camera only ever trucks in slightly, so not to bring attention to the movement. It moves like this right until the end of the scene, where everything has been revealed. Here it trucks into an extreme close up to make it obvious of what the characters are thinking.

Looking at frame 10 and 11 (page 2), I have made a note about the light and dark. This is another method the director has used to make the characters stand out. It also gives the shots a sense of balance.

Going to frame 19 (page 3), when we cut to a wide as Leon gets up, the lighting on the back wall creates an bridge from the doorway where Leon has gone to chair where Matilda is sitting.

Two frames along, where the pig comes into screen, the shadows on the top right and bottom left balance the shot. This shot also uses a deeper perspective, shot from below, than the previous to bring attention to the puppet pig. Only until frame 25, when Leon is shown holding the puppet that the camera returns to an eye level perspective.

Moving to frame 35 (page 4), the camera jumps to an extreme close-up, shooting up at Matilda, as she says, “Cute name.” to Leon, openly showing her attraction to him. This is makes her feelings obvious to us, letting us connect with her more.

In summery, the camera in this scene is quite subtle in its movements allowing the actors to give their performance. It’s a stark contrast from the previous scenes which have been very action driven. I responded to this moment so well because the actors are so convincing. They are real people and they have a real bond between each other. Luc Besson is a very action driven director so I am glad he included a scene like this to break up the pace.

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