Author: Rafael Hernandez Cruz

First and Final Frames

The video First and Final Frames by Jacob T. Swinney juxtapose, as the title implies, the first and final frames of a film. In the myriad of films presented in the video, some of the pairs of shots create an, even more, sense of completion. This sense of wholeness gives the film even more newfound meaning. Analyzing this juxtaposition further suggests the need to focus on the spatial relationship that is created between the first and final shots. This spatiality removes the information between the beginning and end of the film. In doing so, a question arises pertaining to the information’s absence in between these two shots: how does this absence affect the film’s overall meaning? It would only make sense to talk about the films that I recognized in the video; otherwise, my own conclusions would not make sense if I did not see the entire film. This does leave room for a poetic sense of not watching the entire film and relying rather on the two given shots. This creates a poetic style that gives a different meaning to such films presented in the video.

An initial response to one of the pair of frames centers around how connected—if even—the two frames are with each other. For instance, the juxtaposition between the initial shot of No Country For Old Men centers around the idea of the Western, the genre’s ability to capture story-telling through the use of landscape shots. Here, the first shot demonstrates this. The dim landscape of the desert suggests a  sense of isolation, an in-betweenness of day and night. Adding to this, the second shot of Sheriff Ed bell presents him during his final conversation with his wife. Here, he is reflecting on several dreams he had, almost giving an insight into the past. Thus, when juxtaposed together, the shots suggest a sense of yearning for the past yet knowing the inevitable ending of a certain feeling. This certain feeling centers itself around the Sheriff’s inability to capture the criminal-at-large, Anton Chigurh. But a closer look at the Sheriff’s relationship with the shot of landscape also suggests the desire to keep the mysteries of his life concealed. It would have made more sense if his final dialogue consisted of a reflection towards his mistakes; however, this would have revealed far too much information. To an extent, the landscape shot explains this sentiment: some things in life are better left unexplored.

Continuing this idea of concealing and revealing information acts as a way in which the juxtaposition of the shots can function. In Birdman, the initial shot shows the imagined superhero of Birman as it flies through the sky. In the second shot, Sam, Birdman’s daughter, looks up at the sky. Situated next to each other, these two shots act in this way: the initial shot reveals what the final shot decides to conceal. In this function, the juxtaposition suggests that Sam is finally seeing what the audience has been seeing all along. By the end, one collects enough information to understand Birdman’s mental suffering; however, once Sam looks up at the sky in the final shot, the viewer begins to doubt these facts: have we the viewer been tricked as well into not believing that which we have been watching all along. Perhaps, this juxtaposition further evokes a sense of understanding about the film.

Another great example of this wholeness can be seen in the juxtaposition of Black Swan. In the first shot, Nina Sayers, the protagonist, dances on the stage. In the second shot, Nina has finally achieved what she has been longed for achieving throughout the entire film. Here, she lays down after having fallen down. When paired together, Nina’s own achievement presents her in the overly lit stage. In contrast, the first shot shows her performing in a dark stage. This could be read as her success hiding in the darkness of the stage. This then suggests that in order for her to achieve her success, her success must exist in the public eye—the stage. The stage then acts as a duality of her success: on one hand, the stage offers her the dream of landing the top role in the ballet show; on the other hand, she achieves this success through self-destruction. Thus, the stage mediates her success, even if it means that she will not live long enough to experience it.

The juxtaposition of these various pairs of shots, then, offers new insight into understanding these films. It is interesting to note that in not watching some of these films, one can take these pairs of shots as juxtaposing in a poetic way. In this sense, the clear lack of information allows the reader to create an even more open-ended meaning to such pairings. This, I believe, creates another layer of meaning that one may not think about if one knows too much about the film.

Sounds of Ethnographic Experience

The video Sounds of Ethnographic Experience by Sandra Teixeira focuses on the juxtaposition between animals, machines, and humans. A sonic contrast between animals and that of machines and humans underscores this ethnographic experience that the video explains using the appropriate images of each group. Though the video evinces of this unsettling contrast, the video argues that each of the ethnographic of the two films presented further exemplify an ontological equality. The images and sound of both films suggest this equality. Teixeira structures the video by presenting her argument in the beginning. Here she uses onscreen text. Following this, she shows various images that juxtapose with each other. The presentation of these two videographic elements demonstrates a sense of control of what the video wants the viewer to see.

Furthermore, in showing her argument in the beginning of the video, Teixeira wants the viewer to keep this in mind before viewing the following shots. Here, the video proposes the argument that machines, humans, and animals thrive in the ensuing environments shown in the following shots. Her argument suggests that the clashing of the visual and sonic components of the video create this sort of ontological equality. This, though, becomes more and more confusing to understand through the visual juxtapositions.

For instance, the first shot of the video consists of a snow-covered environment. This desolate place does not show any sort of human interaction. The following shot shows someone or something underwater. Immediately, a high angle shot returns to observing the previous environment. This modulation of environments becomes even more jarring. It is then here what the video dares to exemplify this chaotic environment driven by machine and human. Of course, this underwater chaos only becomes apparent once it is juxtaposed with the peaceful environment.

The following two shots show another kind of contrast. In the first shot, a group of sheep stands still on the snow. Immediately following this shot, a high angle shot shows a man cutting their fur off. This juxtaposition then showcases the first human interaction between humans and animals. Between these two shots, another modulation occurs. The video then creates some sort of pattern: it establishes a perceived tranquility in one shot; in another, it shows some sort of ensuing chaos. When these two kinds of shots are paired, a juxtaposition occurs, further suggesting that through this type of jarring visual modulation and the peaceful sounds that connect to one of the shots, one can understand this ontological equality.

Moreover, it is still not satisfying enough to explain this ontological equality by simply showcasing examples. It would have been easier to follow the video up to now if the video gave some sort of definition of this phrase. This phrase becomes a bit more clear in the following two shots. In the first shot, a group of fisherman use a machete to cut up the fish they catch. Following this shot, the previous high angle shows the sheep being groomed. It is here, then, where this visual modulation stands out in showing such jarring juxtapositions.

The following shots break this pattern described above. The first shot shows a man sleeping next to a tree. The next shot shows a man sitting inside a boat. The latter shot shows the man’s environment, the various food on the table. Here, the video showcases a new type of juxtaposition between human and human; however, each of the man’s environment differs. One suggests a much more calm and peaceful element of nature. The other represents a much more dark and chaotic atmosphere of the boat. It is also difficult to say with certainty that both men differ. In fact, they both sit in some sort of sedentary way.

Moreover, it is in this sedentary way that the video further showcases this ethnographic experience. Here, the two men are shown living within their own space. Their environment then juxtaposes their own idleness. The video then suggests that some sort of equality exists between human and nature, and human and human-made environment. It is interesting that the video showcases these kinds of shots, for it further creates a sense of oddity in a video full of jarring juxtapositions. Their sedentary position could act as a modulation. The previous shot shows the man sleeping; the following shot shows a different man awake. Perhaps, this is the juxtaposition that the video wants to present. Regardless, the video presents such shots to give a range of examples of this ethnographic experience.



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.

Arrival: A Response To Bad Movies

In the video Arrival: A Response to Bad Movies, Youtube user Nerdwriter1 analyzes three concepts: truth vs. lies, future vs. past, and communication vs. perspective. The film connects these three points with its own non-linear structure. The film Arrival can be viewed and constructed as a call and response. Nerdwriter1 explains that understanding the film through the use of the Kuleshov effect, one can further understand the film’s structure. In the first run of the film, one will be a bit confused as to why the characters respond a certain way or why a plot unfolds as it does. Here, the film posits the viewer to use the Kuleshov as a guide to understanding the film. Instead of using montage editing at the shot level, the film uses this type of editing through the juxtaposition of two scenes. By doing this, the viewer responds to the previous scene with a different reaction. One scene shows the birth and loss of the main character. Another scene shows her going back to work. The viewer can then react to her lack of energy as to the loss of her child. In exploring the three earlier points, such scenes begin to make more sense by the end of the film.

The video communicates this idea of truth and lies through voiceover. The user says a quote about Stephen Fry, stating “a true thing, poorly expressed is a lie.” Here, the video expresses a truth in comparison to the dialogue of the film which states a lie, a lie that the main character tells herself until she can finally accept this truth. This intricate juxtaposition informs the reader the manner in which the film juxtaposes these two ideas of truth and dishonesty. In a way, as the viewer eventually figures out through the film’s ending, the first scene of the baby dying took place in the past. The second scene acts as the true beginning of the film. Therefore, the film’s structuring of its plot hides the truth until the end. The viewer accepts this lie unknowingly and then constructs a perceived response to the juxtaposition of these two scenes. The scene breaks down other scenes and compares them together to expose the hidden truth. One then begins to realize a pattern within the film.

This pattern holds the future and the past as part of its structure. The more one watches the film with attention, the more one realizes how similar events occur in both the future and past. For instance, the video displays two scenes in which two groups at different times are distressed. This further indicates how the film has laid out its language for the viewer to use to understand the structure of the film. The video expresses this point in several ways. Through the dialogue of the film, the video showcases the need for language for humans to understand the arrival of the aliens. In this same way, the reader needs to discover the hidden language of the film’s structure to understand such parallels. The film expresses the necessity for language through the graphics and text. In transition points, the video uses a word and masks it through a character. This manner then suggests the same way that the film masks its language through its future and past.

Moreover, the theme of langue fits into the comparison between communication and perspective. The scenes of the film work this way as well. For instance, the first scene of the baby’s birth and death suggests the way the film tries to communicate to the viewer the scene’s significance later on the story. At the end of the film, a similar shot of the birth of a baby expresses this cyclical approach to the way the film structures itself. It is then at the end of the film that the viewer has this perspective. In watching the film once more, the elements that the film tried to communicate in the first watch appear more obvious. Everything makes more sense. The video echoes this same sentiment of the amount of control the film has over itself. The video uses Andrei Tarkovsky’s quote saying that “no other art form is able to fix time as cinema does” as a means of underscoring the way the film uses time to expand elements within the film. In other words, film as the capacity of expanding time or shortening time; it is only when one becomes aware of this doing that one can understand the underlying motivations.

Creating The Ultimate Post-9/11 Allegory: The Dark Night on Risk and Terror

Youtube user Like Stories of Old presents his video Creating The Ultimate Post-9/11 Allegory: The Dark Night on Risk and Terror as a way of suggesting a similarity between  Post-9/11 society and the society of The Dark Knight Rises. The video creates a structure through its use of texts to inform the viewer of the similarities between the way both societies handle risks and terror. Risk, in this sense, refers to the perceived terror a society may have towards the unknown. In the real world, this unknown terror refers to the idea of terrorists attacking the country again. As a means of preemptive protection, society assesses the risks of what could have caused such an event. In doing so a fallacy between risk and catastrophe occurs. The video underscores this fallacy, explaining how such an error does not take into consideration the actual process between risk and terror. The video refers to risk as the anticipation of a catastrophe. Even more, Gotham society further depicts a similar process of a perceived elevated terrorism in Post-9/11 society.

In order to create this parallel, the video constructs the soul of Gotham through the use of various cityscape shots. In doing so, the video wants the viewer to develop a familiarity with the environment. This creates a sense of spatial accessibility. This same structure parallels to the way that the video uses newsreels of 9/11 to depict the type of material that the media and the government use as a means of propagating a sense of elevated terrorism. These institutions use such videos to demonstrate the ultimate terror a society can experience if they do not let such institutions assess these risks. The various newsreels further create a parallel between the terror of Post-9/11 society and to The Joker’s reign of terror on Gotham.

Furthermore, the video focuses on constructing The Joker’s terror. Unlike any criminal The Batman has faced before, The Joker acts with full malicious intent. He does not search for any monetary benefit in terrorizing the city. Rather, he wants to instigate terror on the city to provoke The Batman. In this return, The Batman wants to end his terror. He will take all measures to ensure The Joker’s capture. Thus, he focuses his energy on tracking The Joker’s every move. In this sense, The Batman’s actions parallel the same way the U.S. government handles such perceived terror. Instead of relying on his own abilities, The Batman replaces his instincts and uses technology to spy on Gotham.

Continuing, the video juxtaposes The Batman’s ideology by introducing two other scholars as a means of guiding the viewer through this conflict. The video presents Prof. Ulrich Beck’s theory on modernity. He states that the success of modernity follows its consequences, the evil that has been suppressed. Therefore, in succeeding to eliminate the criminals in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, then, follows the consequences of the utopian society that The Batman tries to create. The Joker realizes this same fallacy of modernity and uses it to show The Batman’s failure in wanting to create a perfect society. In this, The Joker’s spontaneity disrupts The Batman’s ability to trust his own instincts.

The video continues the juxtaposition of texts on the screen to the shots of chaos by presenting another point: the constant fear of terror forces those in power to assess the risks of catastrophe. Those in power will implement laws and systems that can ‘protect’ society from this perceived threat; however, the simple act of anticipation destroys that which protects the individual. This describes the same way that The Batman tries to take control of the city because he believes they cannot protect themselves from The Joker. At the same time, The Joker’s terror on the city elevates his status to that of a God or demon, an abstract concept that cannot be physically grounded. Thus, those in power—in this case, The Batman—implement their own rules and laws to ground this terror.

When The Batman loses his love interest, The Joker proves his point: in trying to protect the city and his love interest from such terror, The Batman could not realize that he could not play God. His omniscient ways proved him wrong because he focused on everything, yet he lost the only thing that he loved. The video echoes this same point by juxtaposing the scene in which Rachel dies to the ensuing chaos of Harvey Dent’s downfall. In this scenario, the desire to attain perfection through systematic control eventually destroys the individual’s right.

American Sniper: Anti-War Misinterpreted

Youtube user Storyteller presents his video American Sniper: Anti-War misinterpreted through a heavy use of visual juxtapositions. He uses an explanatory style to guide the viewers through the various layers he attempts to uncover. It should be noted that this videographic essay uses external sources as a stepping ground that creates a division between what critics believed the film American Sniper stood for and to what Storyteller believes is the true meaning of the film. In the former, Storyteller uses a variety of clips and tweets to form the current argument: people like Noam Chomsky, Howard Green, or even Michael Moore all believed that the film represented a sense of deep nationalism. Someone like Michael Moore would view this film as war propaganda.

Moreover, on the film’s surface, Storyteller agrees with this assumption. Various scenes throughout the film showcase the way war can instill a sense of national pride into a person which in turn leads the person towards risking his life to protect their nation. In contrast, the latter, Storyteller’s opinion, centers around the underlying message of the film: one cannot protect their nation while also wanting to protect their family. The main protagonist, Chris Kyle, believed in this ideology. If he could fight abroad for the freedom of his nation, he would also be protecting his family. Storyteller, then, uses these various clips to create a contrast between the two arguments.

Continuing, the use of graphics throughout the film act as a way for Storyteller to guide the viewers. In one shot, he uses a triangle to form the three points revolving around Chris Kyle’s ideology. This, of course, revolves around his desire to protect his family, to believe in God’s plans for his future, and to never quit these goals. In presenting these three different points, the video follows them with scenes that correspond with each point. One scene shows a younger Chris at church. Here, from a young age, he forms his ideology to follow God’s plans. Such an idea further informs the viewer of why he decides to join the war. In another scene, Chris looks at the news as he learns of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Once again, this traumatic, national event triggers the ideology of religion inculcated in him from a young age. As he watches his nation, an imagined family, under attack, he realizes he must protect his family.

However, in joining the military to protect this imagined family, he leaves his immediate family at home. Here, the video creates a visual juxtaposition between scenes showing Chris fighting in the war while his wife cries for his return. These two scenes act as a turning point in Chris’s ideology. As much as he believes he is protecting both families, he can only choose one. This, in turn, triggers the video’s third point. Part of his ideology impels him never to quit from God’s plan, this plan centered around the protection of his family, his immediate one, and his nation. These two ideas create a sense of conflict for him, a sense of perpetual internal fighting.

The video further indicates this turning point by showing a scene of Chris watching a group of terrorist murder a mother and child who provided him with important information. Here, he must face the reality of this perpetual war. In protecting his own family back home, he must experience the destruction of another family. This juxtaposition further demonstrates the deterioration of his own ideology. In another scene, he shoots a terrorist. After doing so, one would think he would have sensed some sort of relief, yet he is unable to engage with his own feelings. Instead of feeling a sort of happiness, he experiences an anticlimactic event. Here, he realizes he cannot save everyone.

Furthermore, following this scene, Storyteller presents newsreels of President George W. Bush. In using these type of clips, the video wants the viewer to engage with multiple sources. Although a dramatized version of Chris Kyle’s life, the film still portrays the horrors of war. In using these clips, the video wants to remind the viewer of this underlying connection. Because not everyone may understand this connection, it can be easy for many to view this film as war propaganda; however, a closer look further demonstrates the internal conflict that soldiers go through especially once they return home. His death—he is killed by a veteran he worked with—further emphasizes the video’s message of the destruction that such wars cause.

It is interesting to note that the video relies on voiceover as a means of describing the video’s argument. This video would be different if it removed such an element from its style. In one sense, the film’s direction would be lost; however, the video could still use descriptions to guide the viewer. Regardless, the video achieves his goal in presenting its argument alongside the various visual juxtapositions.

Time Travel Analysis: An Exploration of Its Consequences in Movies

As mentioned in class, certain times one might want to use voice-over to communicate ideas that might not get across by implying them through the visuals. In Time Travel Analysis: An Exploration of Its Consequences in Movies, user Dubious Consumption uses voice-over to explain to the viewers the consequences of time travel. He offers a variety of examples to present his argument. He uses this argumentative method by showing the flaws of the first few examples and why they do not offer a great explanation to the film’s own logical system; however, he presents the film Primer as an example that works well. The way that the user emphasizes these examples’ positive and negative characteristics further underscores the voiceover.

Moreover, he begins the video by showing a scene from Primer. Here, the scene lacks a voiceover. Following this scene, he presents three different examples of time travel. In one shot, he places each three films side by side, Terminator, Back To The Future Part II, and the Time Bandits. By using this time of editing, the user wants to create a visual juxtaposition while asking using voiceover to guide the viewer. Here in this voiceover, he emphasizes each film’s confusing time travel system or lack thereof. By the time he finishes analyzing each system in these films, it becomes apparent that he uses visuals that may not show what he says in his voiceover. Here, a problem occurs. In paying too much attention to his own voiceover, the user has forgone the visual landscape. He then creates a chaotic juxtaposition of shots that say less about time travel and more about its own spontaneity.

Furthermore, although a confusing start to the video in terms of its visuals, the video picks up some sort of structure once the user talks about Looper. In this time travel film, a group of men order assassins to go back in the past to murder specific people; however, once they accomplish their jobs, they must also kill their older version. In these following scenes, the video portrays the voiceovers well. Each idea mentioned by the voiceover matches a scene. This structure helps the viewer understand not only the premise of the film but also the film’s system of time travel. In another following scene, the voice-over talks about Looper’s  lack of time travel system. He does show a quote from the director who explains his motivation not to include an explanation of this system. Here, the user makes another mistake. Instead of showing the direct quotes, he could have explained them. This would have saved him the text-heavy quote.

Continuing, the user creates a shift in the following shots. After explaining the errors of Looper, he goes on to state his personal opinion about the film and the director. Although not prohibited, this type of shift in tone detracts from the film’s explanatory style. This was the only part of the video where he gives his opinion suggesting that Looper exemplified a mix of marks and errors in its time travel system. Once again, he changes films and goes on to talk about Primer. By now, after referencing the film one too many times, it would seem that this videographic criticism would have been centered around this film.

The user emphasizes voice-over to guide the viewer in what he considers a jarring film. Even though the elements of videographic editing and style work here, it further emphasizes the video’s chaotic structure. Perhaps, the biggest drawback from showcasing too many examples take time away from focusing on one strong example. Just as the viewer wants the video to go more in depth, a new example emerges. Understandably, this video essay focuses on the myriad types of films in this genre to further focus on one with a logical system. Here, the film’s lack of structure undermines its own attempt at comparison.

Moreover, it would have been interesting to see if the video could have shown all of the underwhelming films with a lack of time travel system in the beginning of the video. From here, the video could have further emphasized the qualities that these films do not explain. Then, the video could have talked about Primer as its main example. In this structure, the video would have managed to get its point across. Instead, the viewer has a difficult time following the video and its abundant examples.

In viewing this video, the use of voice-over further suggests the implications of overusing it: one may deter from having a fluid structure. In overusing the voice-over, one may end up straying away from the argument, the same way the Dubious Consumption does when talking about his own opinion and going off on a tangent about the directors of the film. Such explanations do more harm to the quality of the video than to give any sort of direction. Perhaps, finding a balance between visuals and voice-over will help this video’s structure. Maybe, adding a poetic element to the video would have underscored the implications of time travel. The video hints at such ideas but never explores them further.

Sicario – Dehumanization

Jack’s Movie Reviews features an analysis of the film Sicario. Jack emphasizes a mixture of explanatory style editing as well as a visual and sonic juxtaposition. Jack uses this type of videographic style in order to explain the complex narrative of the film. It should be noted that the film showcases three different narratives: Kate, Alejandro, and Silvio. By focusing on each separate character, Jack assesses how each character’s narrative fits the overarching theme of the film.

Moreover, Jack addresses Kate, an FBI agent. From the beginning of the film, Kate demonstrates an interest in capturing the people who caused the explosion in the first scene. Jack notes that unlike the other two characters, Kate upholds to a certain moral compass. It is then quite frustrating for her when she takes on the task of accompanying another CIA agent, Matt Graver, across the border. No one gives her further information as to their reason to visit their neighbor down south, Mexico. Even more confusing, the introduction of Alejandro leads Kate to further question her role in the entire mission. To add further suspicion, once Kate meets Alejandro abroad a private plane, she realizes she is no longer in control. Jack underscores Kate’s feelings by presenting several scenes which show her frustration and lack of control. He tells the viewers why her frustration matters. Kate’s moral compass as shown through her ability to question everything invites the viewer to show some sort of allegiance with her character; however, as Jack points out, the film also aligns the viewer with Alejandro’s character, especially after the viewer finds out about the death of his family.

Continuing, the introduction of these characters creates a juxtaposition. It may seem that they both want some sort of redemption. Kate wants to bring justice against the cartel members; Alejandro wants to avenge his family’s murder and kill the cartel boss. Even though they both show some sense of redemption, their method of achieving this final result differs. For instance, Kate, as an FBI agents, relies on various legal protocols. Unlike Agent Graver, who works for the CIA, Alejandro does not need to follow any sort of legal protocol. What both agents cannot legally do, Alejandro merely commits to his own agenda. In possessing this rejection towards the law, Alejandro represents a sort of cultural chameleon. He is capable of literally crossing borders via privates planes. He acts as an invisible man. Everyone knows of him, but they wish not to recognize his presence. If they do, this would force them to confront the moral conflict of using an assassin to take out those the U.S. deems as unnecessary. Jack emphasizes Alejandro’s isolation throughout the film by showing scenes where he confronts Kate. Jack further underscores Alejandro’s omniscient presence by using the non-diegetic soundtrack from the film to create an even more dark, moody, feeling.

Jack eventually introduces the final character, Silvio, a husband, and policeman. In using these two terms to describe Silvio, Jack notes that the film subverts Silvio’s role as a husband. The scenes shown in the video depict Silvio as a caring man; however, Jack reiterates that the film angles his narrative by focusing on the aspects of his occupation as a policeman. It is interesting to see where Silvio fits in the entire narrative of the film. On one hand, he represents a cog in the cartel war. He smuggles drugs for an unknown cartel. It is only when he crosses paths with Alejandro that the viewer finds some sort of sympathy towards his story. Jack stresses the conflict that the viewer may feel when reaching this point of Silvio’s plotline. A series of scenes show him playing with his son. The film then juxtaposes this visual with the continuous, somber soundtrack. This soundtrack reminds the viewer once again of Silvio’s ties to the underworld of his occupation.

Moreover, it is interesting how Jack manages to remind the viewer of this reoccurring theme throughout the film: the conflict between the evil deeds that good people commit. By the end of the video, one feels a bit overwhelmed by the constant contradictions that each character commits. Perhaps the biggest contradiction that Jack presents is Kate’s moral deterioration as shown through the color of her shirt. At the start of the film, she wears a bright blue shirt which eventually she replaces with a dull grey shirt. Here, the film suggests Kate’s inability to know what is right from wrong. The emotional toll of being a part of such a dangerous mission has left her confused as to which side of the drug war is the right side.

American Psycho (2000): Individuality through Conformity [Thematic Analysis]

“Can they really be different at all?” asks CinemaTyler on his thematic analysis of Patrick Bateman and his colleagues in American Psycho. CinemaTyler’s question derives from a close analysis of Bateman’s duality: his social and psychotic personalities. In analyzing such a theme, CinemaTyler uses sound, visual juxtapositions, and an explanatory style to convey the various themes of American Psycho. CinemaTyler tackles Bateman’s duality by sequentially going through the narrative of the film. In doing so, he seeks to identify the patterns of the film.

As with the other elements of editing, sound can add depth to the rest of the layers. Throughout the video, a jazzy soundtrack plays as CinemaTyler gives his commentary or when he plays scene. Sound can be a very effective element in heightening a specific element of the diegesis; however, in this instance, the jazzy soundtrack acts as a distraction for the entire video. In viewing the entire video,  CinemaTyler’s use of this specific jazzy music suggests his attempt to underscore one of the film’s themes: the inability to distinguish individuality from conformity. Here, it would seem that CinemaTyler means to show the scenes of Bateman and his colleagues showing off their business cards as a model of competing with each other. CinemaTyler tries to highlight the absurdity between the clique in suggesting that all their business cards look too similar to distinguish; however, for Bateman, such a showcase represents his individuality; only he can see the details and differences of each business card. A closer look shows the same information and title on each card.

Moreover, CinemaTyler’s intent of using the jazzy music to underscore this misses the mark. In picking this type of music, the offbeat music creates a distraction to the viewer and in the end to the user’s goal. It would seem that if he had chosen a basic monotone and softer soundtrack, the video essay would have been more effective in this specific regard. Of course, picking the right soundtrack is a difficult task, for the wrong choice can minimize other potential powerful messages in a video. CinemaTyler could have chosen a soundtrack related to Bateman’s obsession with popular culture—Pop music. In this, the soundtrack would have heightened the spatial distance between the viewer and the diegesis of the video. In this mode of editing, the viewer would be closer to Bateman’s point of view, his world.

It should be noted that CinemaTyler offers other great elements that provide a clear connection between the elements of editing and his own message. For instance, the visual juxtapositions he provides throughout the film further underscore Bateman’s duality. One more of the video showcases a series of scenes of Bateman’s various reflections. These juxtapositions highlight Bateman’s superficiality and his inability to see people as mere objects that he can remove from his life. The series of crimes and murders he commits further exemplifies such an ideology. In this case, mirrors act as a motif throughout the film. Such an object showcases Bateman’s inability to control his two extreme personalities. Earlier in the film, the shadows hide half his face, his dangerous side. In contrast, his clean, social side shines brightly. For instance, after he kills Paul Allen. After Bateman murders Allen, his blood splashes over half of Bateman’s face. Meanwhile, he sits down on the couch to reveal the other side of his face in perfect condition, unscathed from any blood.

Continuing, CinemaTyler forms another visual juxtaposition between Bateman’s external appearance and to his apartment, his prized possession. In the mise-en-scène of the apartment, white walls with minimalistic-looking pictures hang. Such artistic direction gives a sense of cold, isolation. Hence, the various shots of the interior of the apartment connect to Bateman’s superficiality. In sense, Bateman can only express his individuality by pompously showcasing his apartment. Such a psychologically rooted relationship between man and object indicate his decision to lure his victims to his apartment. Here, he can use and abuse his victims as he wishes. In engaging his victims in his apartment, for once, he acts as a god, as a god in total control.

In focusing on his message, CinemaTyler uses an explanatory style throughout the video. In doing so, he specifically uses this style to guide the viewer through the heavy narrative. Although presenting such detailed information, CinemaTyler attempts to pace himself in order not to confuse the viewer. In certain parts of the video, he pauses to give attention to the scene. This decision proves effective in highlighting his message. Often, he focuses on a single still-frame and zooms in on the face of a particular character. At the same time, he continues to talk. This time of editing isolates the character and forces the viewer to give their full attention to the subject at hand.

It should be noted that like any other medium, the video essay is a craft that takes careful consideration in constructing. The mentioned video attempts to do so. It succeeds in heightening certain editing elements; however, in other elements, it fails to fully grasp the intent of the editing such as the soundtrack.

Moreover, CinemaTyler picks an interesting choice in using American Psycho. The film depicts an environment of excess through wealth, sex, and murder. These three elements induce a kind of primitive side within Bateman; such irony between Bateman’s perceived elite status and his heinous murders prove that within his social bubble, everyone uses objects as a means to suppress their darkest intentions. For Bateman, his darkest intentions manifest into pure anger and eventually murder. Perhaps, the film’s ambiguous ending informs the viewer that regardless of what a man of such elite status, such as Bateman, he will never experience any negative consequences to such savagery.


Horror films as a genre seemed to have established a set of conventional elements: the night as a setting, the overt creepiness of the antagonists, the realism in the film’s props. Such conventions further create a sense of order even in the realm of these kinds of films. Of course, not every film will follow these kinds of conventions. For instance, Youtube user Ryan Hollinger emphasizes in his video essay The Horror of Texas Chainsaw Massacre how such an original film as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre underscores its horror by ignoring, for the most part, such horror conventions. He explains that unlike most horror films, this unconventional film follows its own set of rules: the clear violence in broad daylight, the plastic feeling of the props, the subversiveness of the characters. As Hollinger explains such unconventional elements gives a sense of distinction to the film.

Moreover, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre depicted most of its on-screen violence during the daytime—it should be noted that the film had very few scenes of direct violence. Again, even in this detail, the film holds true to its unconventional ways. Hollinger explains that such scenes of daytime violence create a new paradigm. It would be difficult to imagine a director shooting a horror scene in broad daylight. For director Tobe Hooper to do so creates a different sense. In one scene, the main female protagonist runs out of the house as Leatherface chases her back inside. Here, the director shoots the scene in broad daylight. In doing so, Hooper offers an unsettling feeling: the bright scene exposes Leatherface’s body. No longer can the viewer understand him as an effaced antagonist. Rather, in revealing him, the film creates a sense of ordinariness. Such a scene suggests to the viewer that this kind of violence can happen in the daylight. The format of the video itself, as Hollinger explains his ideas, further depict these scenes. When he pauses on the shot of Leatherface grabbing the woman, the viewer can fully grasp the deliverance of using daylight. In using such scenes, Hollinger further underscores such an unconventional method of shooting.

Continuing, the film builds its realism, not in the details of the violence—gore and such. Rather, Hooper intends to further the plain and ordinary feeling of the setting. In the scenes, presented in the video, Hollinger demonstrates the art director’s choice in filling the setting with cheap, ordinary props. Such a choice further deviates from the norms. Audience members would tend to believe that in creating a world of terror, the art director would rather create a detailed gore-infused setting; the film resides in the opposite; however, the use of decomposing animals echo some of these normal conventions. These props are more rarities in the film. In showing the apparent plastic-looking bones and gore, the director, in a sense, places the viewer in a mockery of the genre itself. Only, such comedic commentary to the props quickly dissolves as the viewer meets the cannibalistic family. Here, Hollinger, rather than telling how such props appear, he showcases a variety of scenes with the props. At times, he does not speak and allows for the scenes to speak for themselves. This method allows the viewer to fully grasp the cheap aesthetic of the mise-en-scène.

Furthermore, as has been described, the film’s core centers around a sense of dread in the ordinary. This mundane feeling follows the group as they encounter the small town and its inhabitants. Although many of the townspeople act in an eccentric manner, Hooper uses them as mere props for the audience to become well adjusted to. In doing so, he hopes to expose their behavior as a direct contrast to the actual cannibalistic family that the group will eventually encounter. Once the family kidnaps the female protagonist, the family’s even more eccentric and deranged mannerisms seem quite normal compared to the townspeople. Here again, Hooper effectively reduces the viewer’s expectations on certain norms and heightens other unconventional elements of the characters. For instance, in heightening the townspeople’s ways of being, the cannibalistic family appears normal. This contrast further confuses the viewer in that one would want to isolate such grimy behavior, yet the townspeople act in a similar, if not more, chaotic manner. Adding to this, Hollinger’s presentation of scenes with close-ups of the people further emphasizes the director’s desire to confuse the viewer. The viewer here, cannot distinguish how the townspeople differ from cannibalistic family, in terms of appears that is.

It should be noted that Hollinger’s use of voice-over creates a balance in which this explanatory format guides the viewer; however, certain moments without such an element allow the viewer to examine the scene or shot without any necessary commentary. In this sense, Hollinger creates a balance so not to overwhelm the viewer with too much voice-over or too much space— just enough of both. Even then, the use of sound, specifically the dark music, further emphasizes the film’s diegesis. With it, the viewer can experience the same chaos apparent in the film.

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