For this assignment I chose to analyze The Joker Pencil Trick and Mob Scene. I chose this scene because The Joker is my favorite supervillain and let’s be honest, Heath Ledger was the best at playing the role. RIP Handsome.
Looking (No Sound)
I think that the camera work does a pretty good job of telling the story. One of the initial things I picked up on was The Joker’s mannerisms. Even though there is no audio, he has a fairly aggressive demeanor and does things in a way that you feel would produce audio (example: about thirty seconds into the clip he slams the pencil into the table. Even though it is muted, he does this with such a force that you can tell it made a loud noise). Maybe I’m stuck in week 3, but watching this without sound made me think of how much fun Foley Artists could have with this clip. Anyways, going back to Ebert’s tips for reading movies, there are a couple filming techniques used to enhance the story telling aspect of this scene. For example, the camera repeatedly cuts back between The Joker and one of the mobsters. Even though there is no audio, you can tell they are having a conversation. Another thing that I noticed is The Joker is typically depicted smack in the middle of the screen, giving him that “mug shot effect” described by Ebert.
The mob guy (? it’s been awhile since I watched this movie) is alternatively shown on the left hand side of the screen, giving him the negative effect described by Ebert. The dark lighting helps establish this vibe as well.
Listening (No Video)
It’s like I am back in last week listening to audio stories! Okay not really, but kind of! Listening to the scene after watching it without audio was pretty cool. I could actually tell when certain events were happening (like the pencil being slammed into the desk) entirely based off what I was listening to. I thought that was neat, and certainly speaks to the skill level of the directors. There was some background music being played to enhance the scene, like tense music when The Joker is being threatened and starts making his exit.
I also thought the pace at which the actors were speaking adds a level of suspense to the scene. Okay, I’ll admit it, I could just be eager to compliment Heath’s acting skills because I love him, but I do feel like the cadence that he is speaking in really enhances the ‘storytelling’ aspect of the scene. There is also a fair amount of background noise I picked up on as well, like the clicking of The Joker’s heels and the distant and uncomfortable laughs after The Joker suggests killing Batman.
Analyze (Looking and Listening)
Seeing and listening to the clip together was interesting. There were a few moments (like the pencil slamming scene) where I had a feeling that I knew what sound would correspond to the video at that time, and I was right! There were however a few parts that I missed as well, like the “lets not blow this out of proportion” line towards the end where The Joker is tugging on a grenade as he says the word blow. Overall I think the directors did a nice job making the audio compliment their video production. There was another part that I had also not picked up on before- when the camera is cutting back between The Joker and the mobsters it seems like they intentionally say negative things when the mobsters are on screen. Example: when The Joker is saying “I know why you’re scared at night” (when referring to Batman) it cuts to a clip of the mobsters.