I chose Mad Max: Fury Road as it is a film that only features around 40 lines of dialogue. The film utilises the show not tell method of film composition and editing and due to this I found a lot to analyse about colour usage, framing and shot type.
The film often frames the hero Furiosa in ways that highlight her separation and lack of a solid place to belong.
In her introduction she is seen entering the war rig on her own, facing away from the viewer and being the only person in the scene not showing their face.
Her status and isolation are very quickly established. When sharing a frame with someone there is either a physical barrier like a car or the characters positioning separating them-
Which can be seen clearer in the later scenes when she is more comfortable around the characters and the same poses are shot from the opposite angle:
Or the shot is filmed in such a way that the characters’ faces are never in the same frame even when they’re right next to each other.
By keeping Furiosa alone in all her shots the film establishes her as a main character whilst also implying her moral ambiguity by not featuring her in a scene that establishes a mutual emotional bond with someone.
Even when Furiosa is reunited with the people from her past, the film still frames her as being “alone in a crowd”. These two shots are from when she has been reunited with her childhood family:
In the above two scenes Furiosa’s reactions are the main focus. However even with a happy scene such as the lower image where she is being reunited with a family member, Furiosa is framed in the centre of two huge parts of her life- her old family on the left and what she’s done since then and how she’s changed are represented by the war rig on the right. This very easily establishes to the audience that she is still split between her lives and foreshadows the continuing influence and threat of the War Party.
The film also uses a similar framing style to show status, this time both shots are high but each place the subject at different extremes.
The character of Immortan Joe has his biggest establishing moment when he is controlling the water. In this shot he is framing the people and water and clearly has a lot of status and power. Filming him also from the back helps establish his emotional distance from his subjects.
In the final shot of his character he is seen from the same angle as his subjects were at the start. He’s nearly indistinct and blends into the car as much as the people blended into the desert, showing that his power and influence has been lost.
Every shot in Mad Max is shot via centre framing, meaning all the action is easy to read and editing cuts can be made quicker.
This can be seen particularly well in the lower two scenes:
The framing style means that the action can very quickly change without the audience losing focus of what’s happening. I particularly like how the aim of the scene changes from grabbing the weapon to accelerating with hardly any camera movement necessary. Objects in the background can very easily be brought into focus and more action can be shown in one cut.
The editing style also allows character actions to mirror each other, like in the scene below that merges two shots of the heroes with injured hands. This allows characterisation by editing and not character interaction.
The framing also allows the audience to be as surprised by events as the characters, like how the centre frame switches to Furiosa running at the same time Max notices her.
The editing also bends time to emphasise key plot points, like how in the below scene the head motorcyclist is killed. This is a traumatising event for the wives so it’s repeated with their reactions shown during the second time.
And second shot with the wives reactions. The whole event is repeated.
This shot also uses the same isolation techniques as were used on Furiosa, as Zoe Saldana’s character Toast moves in a different position to the others to reference her outsider status.
The film has a mostly limited colour palette of yellow/brown/orange, but it does have moments when colour is used sparingly and effectively.
In film blue represents loyalty, depression and cleanliness. In the film it’s mostly used as a physical representation of Immortan Joe’s influence-
The streaming lights represent the cruelty of his regime for Nux, as he’s receiving blood from an unwilling donor, and also for the child in the background how he is slowly being corrupted by the regime.
In the lower scene the heroes’ actions are being completely influenced by the villains, and it shows in how the whole scene is over-saturated in blue.
The use of white light in the blue scenes is used to show which characters are “good” and are either healing or haven’t been ruined by Immortan Joe’s influence:
White light is also used for innocence and to disguise future plot points. Such as when the character Angharad’s pregnant stomach is hidden by over-saturating the light. The baby represents hope for a lot of characters, but it’s only when the character is properly introduced later does the audience realise what the editor was hiding. I think that’s a really interesting technique as it means the director is prepared to trust the audience and not explain everything.
Green represents pride, healing and perseverance. In the scene where the war rig finally works again Furiosa’s eyes are edited to be a brighter green to represent perseverance as well as movement or achievement.
This is also shown in the one green book, demonstrating the wives have finally managed to escape:
This place also uses red around the beds which represents desire, passion and anger. All emotions that represent the wives suffering under Immortan Joe.
The colours in these scenes all help make them “key scenes”. The blue saturation splits the film and create tension, the green shows aims being achieved, and the white represents hope and separates the characters.
In conclusion I find this film really interesting. It has a unique editing and script style. The film was originally storyboarded instead of scripted and I think that shows in how unique some of the transitions are and how visualy engaging the entire film is.
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