Critical Analysis of Brassed Off

Critical Analysis of Brassed Off

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Critical Analysis of Brassed Off

We studied a 5 minute exert from the film Brassed off. Within this
there were many media techniques. And in such a short exert there was
a lot. The main characters are Phil and his wife Sandra. The scene
starts with Phil, a miner, being a clown at a childs party. He is not
very good and we can tell that it is not his main job and he is doing
it for the money. We then go to Sandra who cannot afford a few items
at the local shop and the cashier tells her to pay her back next year.
When giving her the receipt she hides a five pound note in it and
passes it on. With the money Phil earnt he went and bought a trombone.
When he returns home he sees his family fighting to keep the balifs
off their property. He confronts them and they tell him he needs to
pay his debt or they seize his property. He then tells them to wait
until the 21st when he will take the redundancy money the mine will
give him. The bailiffs are leaving and Phil tells them that if he
touches his kids again he will kill them, the bailiff punches Phil and
then leaves.

I looked at sound in more detail and after watching it a few times I
picked up on some. When Phil is punched he is still in his clown
clothes and as he is hit his red nose squeaks. As this happens you
can’t take Phil as a serious threat to the bailiffs, instead just a
clown. This shows him up even more in front of his own family who he
can no longer protect. When Sandra is in the shop the cashier tells
her that she is 60p short and the women behind tuts. Although only a
small sound this could mean a thousand words. The women behind looks
middle class she has her purse in her hand and it doesn’t look empty.
She is also wearing quite expensive clothes and has jewellery and make

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up on compared to Sandra she looks really rich. This small tut shows
that nobody feels sorry for the poor miners. Sandra who knows she
cannot support her family with everything they need uses the women as
someone to snap at and starts to shout at her.

After Phil is punched his baby starts crying and it shows him
realising that he has failed at protecting his family and that it is
falling apart. The baby crying intensifies this.

The dialogue used is very powerful. For example when Phil has been
paid and she asks him what he does she seems surprised when he says a
miner. He sees this and says “Dinosaurs, Dodos, Miners” this is very
powerful as he is putting his job down with other things that are
extinct and believes he is heading that way. When Phil is being the
clown his tone of voice is trying to be funny and appealing to
children. Also when Sandra gets charity from the cashier her tone of
voice is very loving and appreciating. She realizes that she has put
her job on the line to give her a bit of cash. The bailiff realizes
that Phil is going to take the redundancy money and betray his fellow
workers and knows that Phil is feeling bad about this so to make him
feel even worse he calls him “co-co the Scab” which is the nickname
given to the people that took the money. He could have said something
such as “so your taking the money” but its there nature to be nasty
and to twist the knife. So instead he says this informally which is
more realistic and you can see that it gets to Phil. The bailiff
realizes that it is his only option and so takes advantage of the

I looked at the camera angles used and picked up on some key bits.
They are important as they can also represent inner feelings and
emotions, as I saw when Sandra was given the money in the receipt
there was a close up on both hands exchanging the money. We only see
the hands not the faces and cannot see any expressions. But the way
they hold hands and give each other a comforting squeeze it is more
descriptive than a face could be.

When the Bailiff is walking away Phil turns him around and we are side
on to both of them and he is having to look up at him. This makes Phil
look small and insignificant, no match for the bailiff. We end up
looking from behind Phil and we can see the Bailiffs head clearly
above his and that’s when he gets punched.

When Sandra is in the shop the camera is actually moving around it is
just not panning there is first an extreme close up of her purse and
this zooms out to Sandra. Then the camera moves along its tracks until
the cashier is in view as well.

The last shot that we see in this small scene we studied was of the
whole family together. Phil is still in his clown gear, the baby is
crying and then for some reason you focus your attention onto Sandra
who looks depressed and saddened as if she has had enough of this
lifestyle and is worried for her family.

The film we watched used natural light and as it was a normal film
there was no need for any lighting. Even if they did use any lighting
we were not supposed to notice it.

The 5 minute exert that we watched was separated into three scenes.
They were when Phil was at the party, Sandra at the shop and when the
bailiffs come to there house. These are cleverly changed from one to
the other. They are called pivot points and we see an example of this
at the start. The end of scene one is when Phil is getting paid the
£10 and this cuts and the next thing we see is Sandra emptying out her
purse onto the counter. This is clever as it follows your chain of
thought money to money. It also shows to me and highlights the problem
early on that money is short. From having to do a small children’s
party for a few ponds to then being short for groceries. They have
wanted to show that money is a big problem and this method they have
used has worked.

We also see use of inter cutting this is when we hear something before
we see it. I found this when Phil was playing his trombone. We saw
people walking down the street, we heard the trombone but couldn’t see
the source, then the camera panned around and it showed Phil trying to
entertain passers by. There is some pace editing when the lady gives
Sandra the money between there faces. Then when she puts the money
into her hand there is a pause. This shows this is a significant
moment when she has put her job on the line to help a friend. There is
also a long pause on Sandra’s face just after this. This has been done
so you can see the gratitude on her face and see what this £5 means to

In this short exert I picked up many media techniques that were used.
After watching this film and studying it I have seen the following
that I will try to integrate into my own film. I thought that the
pivot points that were used were very effective and now reflecting on
this I can remember these in other films and programs that I have
watched and in all of these they worked really well. They are quite
successful because they follow the chain of thought threw e.g. money
to money.

I would also try to use some powerful dialogue that really means
something and adds to the film that I am trying to produce. If the
dialogue is powerful and meaningful it will make the film much more
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