Kogonada’s video essay, Wes Anderson//Centered was one of the first video essays I ever watched and has stuck with me more than almost any other video essay I’ve seen. At first glance this video essay simply compiles shots from Wes Anderson movies that are symmetrical, but it is much more significant than that. The reason this video essay strikes me in particular, is that it accessible to anyone while still juxtaposing significant elements of Wes Anderson films. Both film buffs and casual movie watchers can enjoy watching and learn something from this video essay. The aspects of this video essay that particularly intrigue me are kogonada’s use of the dotted line, his match cuts, and his choice of music and other sounds to control the pace of the video.
The dotted line is a graphic element of the video that becomes its own character. The line draws itself, moves up and down with characters, curtains, and doors, and matches up to the music. Even if the title of the video wasn’t “Centered,” the dotted line would immediately inform the viewer the relationship between each shot being showed from the Wes Anderson movies. Also by including the dotted line, it seems more impressive the degree to which so many of Wes Anderson’s shots are symmetrical, because not only does each shot contain symmetry, but each shot has something lined up exactly along the dotted line in the very middle of the frame. Possibly most creative though, is the shot of a waterfall in Fantastic Mr. Fox when the dotted line follows the water in different parts of the frame before finally going back to the actual middle of the frame. This shot demonstrates Kogonada’s playful tone in the video and also gives the dotted line “personality.” The personality of the dotted line is an element of this video essay that I have yet to find anywhere else.
Kogonada’s order of shots in this video essay is another factor as to why this video has left such an impact on me. Kogonada matches tilt ups with tilt downs, shots of people praying with shots of people meditating, shots with fire to other fires, and shots of doors with curtains and gates. The match cuts on all of these actions keeps the pace of the video quick, forcing the viewer to have to “keep up” and continue watching the video until the end. All these match cuts also keep the video easy to follow and understand.
Thirdly, Kogonada’s use of sound and music is effective in this video essay, and demonstrates how music can influence the pace of a video, and make it more exciting to watch. The music Kogonada chose is quick and energetic. Kogonada’s video matches this music, cutting quickly to the beat of the song. Even the dotted line’s movement seems to be matched up to the rhythm of the song, making the piece feel like a coherent whole. What’s also important is that Kogonada changes pace occasionally, cutting into the music with dialogue from one of the films, or simply pausing for a moment to catch the viewer off guard. These interruptions make it so that the video doesn’t feel monotonous.
Finally, this video essay taught me that framing shots in symmetrical or other interesting ways is one method of making a film feel uniform and connected. I also think symmetrical shots add a feeling of structure to the visuals of a movie, while asymmetry can add more confusion. For example with all of these symmetrical shots (especially when a line is placed down the middle) it is easy for a viewer to know where to look in that shot.