Hello dear readers! In review of my previous Mise en scène articles which were extremely laborious to write, I’ve settled on what I think it’s a great compromise. I didn’t want to dull down my review of any given episode and breeze over juicy details. That’s what filmmaking is all about, the subtlety of things you didn’t know affect you.
In my new series, “Examining the Scene,” I will pick two to three unique, important scenes that stick out to me as special in terms of the way they are shot, cut, and directed.
With my Season 1 & 2 Blu-rays in hand, I’ve finally begun the LOST rewatch. In my first examination of a scene from the Pilot, I look at the first flashback to to before the crash. 21 minutes into the show, we get a glimpse of what the characters were like pre-crash. This is somewhat pivotal to the series, establishing the flashback for what will become the show’s major staple.
We start of with an establishing shot quickly letting the audience know where and when we are. This episode (and the next) don’t utilize the flashback sfx so they’re strictly relying on visuals to indicate when we are. The shot dollys back to reveal our main character: Jack.
Notice how Cindy is in a medium shot (MS)(waist and above) while Jack is in a medium close-up (MCU)(chest-and-above).
Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot
– Charlie Chaplin
This scene is a little funny and cute. Compared to the first 20 minutes of the Pilot, this scene is down right hilarious. It’s the first departure form the dark and dreary plane crash. However, we don’t cut the medium shot of Jack right away. Staying closer on him and farther away on Cindy keeps us connected the main character. Until Jack laughs and we cut to a further away shot (indicating to us it’s funny):
As the scene dies down we’re back in the close-ups:
Then something interesting happens…
We stay on Jack for a long… long… time. Staying this close, not cutting to anything, it makes the audience nervous. Horror films do this constantly. It’s not about the big BOO, it’s about the anticipation, taking the audience to the edge. A common horror technique goes something like this: see girl walk around suburban house looking for the noise she just heard, stay on her, silent, all we hear is her footsteps; then we hear something off screen; she goes to investigate as we yell at the screen, “don’t open that door!” When she opens the door, it’s actually just her puppy that was making the noise. How cute. Relieved that there’s not a murderer in her house, she turns around and BAM there’s the guy in the mask with a giant knife!
Sound familiar? Well, here, we stay on Jack and his drink. We know the plane crashes. We know it’s coming. We know where they all end up… BUMP. “This is it!” we shout. But it’s not. It’s just turbulence. Then Jack sees that his neighbor is getting nervous.
They have an interesting moment where she tells a story of how her husband lets her know that everything is OK.
Look at this close up of Jack:
Don’t you just trust this guy? The shot is almost dead-on, as if he’s looking right at us to tell us everything is OK.
Too bad it’s not…
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