Making Eternal Moonshine

This assignment allowed me to more intricately explore elements I like and dislike about movies. I noticed that some of my favorite films are ones with little dialogue and exquisite musical scores (think No Country For Old Men and Tree of Life). No Country For Old Men uses mainly deafening silence, sound design, and very quick subtle minimalist cues to alert strong feelings in the viewer and focus him/her on the visual landscape. When the aural landscape clears out like this, more layers of emphasis and meaning are brought onto the dialogue/speech. The musical-minimalism heightens our focus on elements like volume of voice and voice-tone, and as viewers we become more apt to sympathize with characters when we notice small cracks in their speech and hear its stress. Great horror films do this very effectively. We are terrified when the character is and close our eyes when the setting becomes dark and eerie music is amplified, because we know what’s coming – we’ve seen it happen before.

Supernatural Moonshine... not for the faint of heart.

I chose to create a trailer consistent with the claim Thomas Sobchak makes about contemporary audiences in his essay “Genre Film: A Classical Experience.” Sobchak says,  “It is only because we have seen other films that strongly resemble the particular film at hand that we can say, “Yes this is a Horror film or a Thriller or a Swashbuckler.” Because audiences are so equipped to identify genre and remember the way they felt while watching certain movies within these genres, I thought it was futile to try and complicate emotional response by conveying a plot in my trailer. My aim was for a purely aesthetic reaction.

I chose to begin my trailer with a comparatively long, halcyon sequence. The frames are filled with sunshine and the protagonists are warmly clad, usually cuddling or admiring each other’s peacefulness. The affectionate musings of the male protagonist arrest the ear of the watcher. In less than ten words his short-monologue is the only thing heard over Jon Brion’s melodious “Phone Call” (it’s a truly pleasant tune). In it he dreamily describes his happiness at being with his girlfriend (romantic enough to incite a couple aww’s from adoring classmates sitting up front). However, the tranquil nature of the trailer quickly turns, and the film brings on a doomy mood.

When the trailer transitions, the editing process became much more difficult and time-consuming. Searching the film for multiple short-length clips required a lot of patience and a discerning eye for the right one, such were ample in my film. (For future students, I recommend mapping out potential scenes before the editing process is actually begun. This is something others stressed to me, and which I chose to ignore. Bad idea.) These clips were necessary to portray feelings of panic and psychological strain. In my opinion, the most effective way to convey feelings of distress is by using a subjective camera, because, as Bernard Dick explains, it is an effective way to “make the audience a participant in the action [and] camera movements express the presence’s emotional state.” In one of these clips, the protagonist is inside a dark room, with only a flashlight to see. We sense his agitation by the quick back-and-forth pans the camera makes.

The film I chose is essentially a romance with elements of science fiction. In it, technology is advanced enough to search out and erase painful memories people harbor inside themselves. The female protagonist chooses to erase the memory of her last relationship, and her ex, totally distraught at her actions, chooses to to the same.This idea fits well in Baudrillard’s philosophy of the hyperreal. Their relationship virtually doesn’t exist anymore once the memory of each other is gone. This hyperreal is embodied in the trailer by a supernatural force come to earth to separate their love, an abstraction. The tormented protagonist’s fight is to salvage an organic connection with his partner, but she has been erased, turned into abstraction. The minimalism of the trailer asserts the presence of this supernatural existence.

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