In my humanities class this week we got to review something from a performing arts field and identify the different aspects of it. I picked movies and eventually picked Scott Pilgrim. Take a look at the prompt and then the post:
Throughout history, the performing arts have transferred the yearnings of the human spirit from stage to audience. For this week’s conversation, tell why you prefer a particular performing art form (perhaps film, music of the concert hall, or Ukrainian folk dance). Give an example (from this module or from your own experience or outside research) and explain what it is about this work that moves, inspires, or informs you.
A little preface before the actual post. I logged on Sunday morning and saw this prompt and was beside myself. I’m a writer. That’s what I consider myself. That’s what I’m going to do for a living. What made me so excited about this thread revolves around the fact that my interest in writing didn’t originate in prose, poetry or plays; I’m a writer because of movies. I’m going to have to be careful because I could probably give you a thousand words on the inspiring and informative qualities of film in general, but that’s not what I want to do. I want (wanted, rather) to pick a specific movie and just dissect it.
And that’s why I am writing this post on Monday (because I went upstairs, stared at my collection and had nooooooooooooooooooo clue what I wanted to write about). Eventually I figured out what my movie selection would be. Tonight’s presentation will be “The moving, inspirational and Informative qualities of ‘Scott Pilgrim versus the Universe.'”
Scott Pilgrim wasn’t my first choice (all of my pseudo-indie dramedies are missing or damaged, evidently) but, in terms of this assignment, I think it might be the best choice. My initial choice was to do something distinctively post modern like Pulp Fiction (I did it for 202 last term for a similar prompt), but SP is a very interesting blend of a somewhat traditional plot structure intermixed with a heavy blend of distinctively modern (which, in terms of film criticism, would be post-modern) shot choices and overall concepts.
Let’s break it down by the areas outlined in the module:
- Point of View
- Sound and Music
The really cool thing that happens in Scott Pilgrim versus the World is how they use Computer-generated imagery (CGI). When most people hear “CGI” they think big Micheal Bay productions like Transformers or the upcoming TMNT movie (that hopefully won’t suck). How SP uses CGI is in more of a early 90’s arcade fashion combined with a 1960s superhero/comic book sensibility. For instance:
Let’s look at this clip in regards to shots and editing because they really work together well in this series. The first thing you’ll note is when Todd the Vegan punches Scott into the air, Scott leaves the shot followed by a trail of artificially produced “Ahhhs”. While Scott is in the air the camera moves to follow the action resulting in a series of different shots (close, high arching, straight on, to name a few). Once Scott reenters the almost master shot (It’s still a one-shot at that point because the camera didn’t cut) Ramona rushes over and tells him the back story of Todd (which results in a flashback sequence comprised of comic book drawings).
Now, in contrast, there are five shots in the first eight seconds of this next clip:
While the action is somewhat fast in these first eight seconds, one thing worth noting is the over the shoulder shot sequence between Scott and Ramona in the beginning. After the variety of tight action shots (all from differing angles) comes one of the really cool aspects of this movie: the fight scene. The interesting aspect of this movie is how the (for lack of better words) old school CGI works with the action sequences making it feel a lot like the arcade games they played at the beginning of the movie. Had they given Ramona a big stick from behind the bar to fight a regular whip-wielding Roxie then it wouldn’t have been this movie. One more aspect to look at is how light and the flying objects play into the shots. It enhances the suspense of the fight scene (which answers the “what moves you” component to this question).
Sound and Music is also really big in this movie (as you have most likely seen through these first two clips), but I think to understand the music in this movie (and how it can inspire you in different fashions) you need to watch two clips: (turn your music up)
Let’s address the Katayanagi Twins first. The music in this section mimics how the filmmakers want us to feel. We are Sex Bo Bomb and we are Battling the Katayanagi Twins. When Scott and the Talent get blown over by the music, we are supposed to be blown over by the music (especially if you are watching it with the sound bar all the way up while writing this assignment). The music is over-powering and adrenaline-injecting. That, combined with the context of the plot, inserts us into the movie.
The Black Sheep music video does a couple of things well: It sets up the context of the next battle and adds a mix of sensuality paired with an underlying tension between multiple people. Plus, it’s catchy. How do you feel after listening to these two songs and does it invest you further in the film (it did for me).
The last aspect of note is point of view. There is nothing outrageously different about point of view in this movie, we stay in third-person limited throughout the majority (maybe even the entirety) of the film. We watch Scott battle ex after evil ex. There is an insert in which knives is the lead character, but for 95 percent of the film we are watching Scott and the things that are happening around him. An argument might be able to be made that the film is both third person omniscient and third person-limited (which I get), but in my opinion this is third person limited. We see things happen to Scott as they are being revealed to him.
Different arguments can be posed for what the informative nature of this film may be. It could be based in the exposition and natural arc of the story or it could be grounded somewhere into the insights of the culture and the shockingly unique film making process (which people love and hate
, as illustrated by the TIME round table). I find it to be rooted in just entertainment, there are not many life lessons in the flick (aside from don’t cheat on people or be a prick to people you are in a relationship with or don’t hit girls – which I wouldn’t really classify as a life lesson per se, but it is important nonetheless). The bottom line is it is fun, visually and audibly engaging (or assaulting) cinema.
For me, my appreciation of the film can be found somewhere in the love story trope. I think I will buy that whenever some one is selling it. I think it inspires (or fabricates) purpose in our lives. While normal, healthy people who haven’t spend the majority of their twenties reading 19th century Gothic romanticism (thanks English major!) will argue that purpose should come from self (and that is definitely IN this movie – the second ending), I dig the cliche nature of the genre. But that’s me.
Do you all have any thoughts about this movie?