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Film Technique Analysis Essay, Research Paper


In this essay, I would like to go into a bit more detail about the first questions in both the first viewing questions and the study questions, since they are very similar in nature. The scene in question is the opening scene of the motion picture Smoke Signals, when, after a fade-in, we see a radio station broadcasting out of a trailer/mobile home-like structure. In this scene, the trailer cum radio station is filmed in a rather deep field most likely intended to show the mountainous background, which helps to give the viewer a sense of place. One could view only the first ten seconds of the movie and, even without the text across the screen stating Coeur d Alene Indian Reservation, Idaho, 1976 , immediately get an idea that that this film takes place in either the Rocky Mountain West or the Appalachian region somewhere. Sense of time is far more difficult to pinpoint. The radio station/trailer that DJ Randy Peone sits in appears to be in fairly decent condition (save for the various junk car and truck parts, old furniture and various pieces of trash strewn about the outside of the trailer. The KREZ traffic van also appears to be a Ford Econoline manufactured anywhere between 1974 through 1981, and the semi truck that drives by Lester Fallsapart doesn t look terribly antiquated, save for the lack of aerodynamics found on today s big rigs. Nor do the houses (at least the ones in the opening scene) look like they were built in the early 20th century. On the contrary, they actually look fairly modern in architectural design. It could just as easily be 1997 in this setting as 1976.

The abrupt cut from the KREZ broadcasting trailer to the traffic van then takes us to a scene with an extremely deep field coupled with an extreme long shot from a crane view. This is a dramatic landscape shot, with no homes or other structures of any sort anywhere in the frame. With the misty drizzle and grayness of the scene, combined with the deep field/long shot/crane angle, I felt that Chris Eyre (the director) was trying to convey a setting and mood of dreary desolation. I know that he was utilising the long shots and deep fields throughout the entire movie to show a sense of proportion and ratio of people and buildings to acres of land. The population density of Benewah County (about 53% of Benewah County s total land area is the Coeur d Alene Indian reservation) is approximately 10.2 people per square mile. To contrast this, Ada County, Idaho (where capital and largest city Boise is located, roughly 400 miles south of the Coeur d Alene reservation) is almost the same size in land area as Benewah County, yet packs in 195 people per square mile. New York city is approximately 77,000 people per square mile. (All figures obtained from 1990 census bureau data.)

The dialogue…

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