The film O brother, where art thou? is set in the Great Depression of the 1930’s and emphasizes the struggle between the upper and lower classes by using a variety of cinematic devices. Through the use of these cinematic devices and comedic relief the realities of the Depression are viewed without creating a stark, melancholy, documentary-styled film. Examples in this film of these cinematic devices used to show these realities include:
contrasting of light and dark colors,
high-angle shots, and
spherical camera lenses.
These particular devices provide a glimpse at the realities of the oppression, poverty and despair of many of the American people during this time.
From the start of the film it is apparent what time frame it is taking place in and the differences in the social stratification through the lack of colors. One of the most obvious portrayals of the bleakness and desperation of the era is the overall faded and washed-out look of the whole film, due to manipulation of the film saturation; the heaviness of it almost cries out to the audience. Though the film was shot during the summer, cinematographer Roger Deakins and Cinesite colorist Julias Friede were able to use digital technology to change the appearance of the colors. “Together, they worked on manipulating the [digital] saturation of the images, and in particular selecting the greens of the trees and grass and turning them into dry browns and yellows” (Escaping, 2). These dry brown and yellows enhance the audience’s impression of the desperation of the characters and the time period.
Brown is a prominent color shown not only in the overall appearance but in the sp...
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...ts was very distinguishable. This film captures this class distinction without subduing the atmosphere through the use of a variety of cinematic devices, “ A good film is not a bag of cinematic devices but the embodiment, through devices, of a vision, an underlying theme” (Barnett, 274). The audience can see this theme of the realities of the oppression, poverty and despair of this time period through the use of the things mentioned, but also through the character development that is driven by the character’s hopelessness. Each of the characters associated with the lower class is motivated by the conditions, which are viewed through the cinematic devices mentioned above: color, spherical lenses, long shots, and high angle shots.
“Escaping From the Chain Gang.” October 2000. 25 July 2002 <http://www.theasc.com/magazine/oct00/brother/pg1.htm>.
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