Catherine Grant’s video The Senses of an Ending focuses on the final scene of the film La Niña Santa. Even before analyzing the video’s content, the title itself foreshadows the video’s central theme: the ending of the film heightens its use of sound to suggest its relationship to the girls. Grant focuses on graphic elements and onscreen text to guide the viewer. Grant does not use any sort of voiceover. In this regard, by minimizing the use of voiceover, she wants the viewer to pay full attention to the sounds of the film. Having more sound to the video would distract the viewer from understanding the sound’s importance to the ending. Even more, Grant uses two scholarly quotes, one from Deborah Martin and another from Sophie Mayer, yet she does not use her own words to explain these quotes. Her motivation to do gives insight on her desire to control how and what the viewer experiences.
Grant is keen on immersing the viewer into the film’s ending. Therefore, she uses graphic elements that will bring the viewer closer not just into her video but into the film as well. In this sense, she uses a similar color design of the film to match the ones found in her video. For instance, the film uses orange and blue as its main color designs, those which can be found in the film’s end credits. She continues this color design when she adds orange-colored subtitles to the film. Evermore, she adds a blue layer to the frame of the screen. In doing so, she wants her video to appear closer to the film. This way the viewer cannot discern if the video essay is a part of the film. This awareness to the details of the graphic elements, the video plays with various levels of sensory experiences. Here, the video uses its graphics to explore how it can further absorb the viewer into the video.
Furthermore, the lack of voiceover creates the appropriate space for the film’s sound to fill. This then further underscores the way the ending heightens sound. For instance, Grant’s first quote by Deborah Martin touches on this idea of the sensory experience provided by the film’s ending. The scene depicts two girls swimming in a pool. Here, the film relies on the sounds of the pool which become contiguous throughout the scene. This contrast between the girls’ body movement and the noise of the water further employ sound as a way to give meaning to the scene. Martin writes that this scene “simultaneously gives visual form to the aesthetic play with surface and depth” where the surface refers to girls’ movement, and the depth refers to the sound. The surface acts as a way in which the viewer visualizes the girls’ movement; the depth of the scene develops a spatial configuration of the environment. The swashes of the water hitting the edges of the pool, then, define the pool’s limits—this will be important in understanding how confinement further veils the scene.
In a sense, the crane shot of the pool shows the viewer its ability to create a confined space. Even more, this confined space reflects cinematic qualities. Grant takes advantage of these qualities by creating a blue frame in the background of the film. This blue frame acts as an extension of the graphic designs. In a similar way, the pool in the scene acts as an extension of the film screen. Mayer emphasizes this point explaining that “the pool remains opaque, impenetrable, and polyvalent.” Its opaqueness refers to how the viewer recognizes the limits of the pool only after the first minute; however, its opaqueness is resolved through the use of sound. Throughout the scene, the sound of water draws attention to the fact that the girls are in a pool, a public sphere. Thus, the pool’s opaqueness, its evasiveness, makes it impenetrable. The viewer cannot enter into the water the way the girls do in the scene. There is a distance that prevents this from happening. This limitation of the pool’s surface can be treated as a cinematic screen. The viewer can neither enter the film nor the pool.
Even though this may be the case of the pool’s surface limitations, the film calls forth the use of the sound of the pool itself and the girls’ movement as a way to allow the viewer to enter this opaque world. In a sense, the ending acts as an extension to the cinematic experience. There will always be certain elements that prevent the viewer from spatially sharing what the subjects in the film experience. In this instance, the viewer cannot experience the water’s depth, but they can listen to its sonorous embodiment of such subjects.