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This seminar paper analyses the function of the film director through the study of their treatment of the directional function. The relationship between the director and the audience is also explored. The paper compares and contrasts the style of two directors: Clint Eastwood and Paul Greengrass. In order to establish a valid comparison, I have analysed their treatment of the Drama genre. The website www.screenwriting.info describes genre as ‘the category a story or script falls into’. The codes and conventions of my chosen genre are: To have serious presentations or stories To have realistic settings and events The character(s) suffer some kind of conflict or emotional turmoil The characters surroundings can often reflect this conflict Shows people at their best, worst and everything in-between
The role of the film director is a hugely important one. The director oversees every creative element involved in the production of a film. From the cast and crew to the costumes – the director has complete control. Often a script will be adapted for a movie by a screenwriter. Depending on the director, the overall style and treatment of the movie genre vary greatly one director would make a very different movie out of a script than another.
Clint Eastwood was born in 1930 in Oakland, San Francisco, the son of a steel worker. Having worked odd-jobs throughout the late 1940’s, Eastwood was called to military duty in 1950. It was here he met actors David Janssen and Martin Milner. They advised him to move to Los Angeles when he finished with the Army in 1954. Having dropped out of Los Angeles College while studying for a business degree, Eastwood found work in a number of minor roles, both in film and TV during the 1950’s. In 1959 Eastwood made his name acting in the CBS television western “Rawhide”. The series ran for seven years and gave Eastwood solid work as an actor, but to him the character was a little shallow. The show made him a household name and he was picked by director Sergio Leone to play the lead role in his legendary ‘Dollars’ trilogy. Leone proved a strong influence on Eastwood and his directorial style. The characters in these spaghetti westerns appealed to Eastwood far more – they were intricate and had a darker side. After earning $800,000 from starring in 1968’s “Where Eagles Dare”, Eastwood set up his own movie production company – “The Malpaso Company”, which would produce some of Eastwood’s most famous works. It was in 1968 that Eastwood starred in “Coogan’s Bluff”, directed by Don Siegel. Siegel’s work ethic rubbed off on Eastwood, appreciating his no-nonsense approach to filmmaking. Eastwood would later star in four more movies directed by Siegel, including 1971’s “Dirty Harry”. Earlier in 1971, came Eastwood’s directorial debut. The psychological thriller “Play Misty For Me”, was shot in 21 days and under it’s $50,000 budget. More westerns followed, but often in a less traditional sense. Most noticeably in 1992’s “Unforgiven”, Eastwood himself portraying the aged anti-hero. The movie was dedicated to his mentors Leone and Siegel, who had both died a few years prior. More recently Eastwood has received critical acclaim for movies such as “Mystic River” (2003), “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) and his two WWII films “Flags Of Our Fathers” (2006) and “Letters From Iwo Jima” (2006).
Play Misty for Me (1971) The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) Honkytonk Man (1982) Bird (1988) Space Cowboys (2000) Mystic River (2003) Million Dollar Baby (2004) Flags of our Fathers (2006)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Eastwood’s 25th movie as director, Million Dollar Baby is a movie that, quite fittingly, had to be fought to get made. Based on three short stories by Jerry Boyd, this sports drama tells the story of a woman’s desire to become a boxer. Filmed in only 37 days, Million Dollar Baby is a rarity from a major motion picture studio like Warner Brothers. Eastwood’s commercial weight and audience pulling power clearly a factor in the film getting made. Made for a reported £18 million, it is testament to Eastwood’s Leone-like efficiency as a director. The worldwide grosses for the movie stand at nearly $217 million. The movie stars Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman.
Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) has spent a lifetime working in boxing. An ex-boxer himself, he has trained many a successful fighter. He is now running a gym with his close friend Eddie ‘ScrapIron’ Dupris (Freeman), also an ex-boxer. When the protégé Dunn has been training leaves him, Frankie is distraught. However, Dupris sees the potential in a new fighter – Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank). Maggie is a poor thirty-one year old woman who is determined to make something of her life through boxing. She works hard, training at the gym while working as a waitress to make ends meet. She is determined to make her dream come true and wants Dunn as her trainer. Frankie is more than reluctant, saying that he doesn’t train “girls”. Dunn is a very closed off person, unwilling to get close to anybody, largely due to his relationship with his estranged daughter. Eventually won over by Maggie’s determination, Dunn trains her, teaching her the most important lesson in boxing - “always protect yourself”. A fatherdaughter relationship between Dunn and Fitzgerald develops. Maggie quickly earns her way to a title fight but is tragically paralysed. Confined to a care home for the rest of her life due to a seriously injured spine, Dunn spends every moment he can with Maggie. Not able to experience the emotional high’s that she once experienced in her short time at the top top, she asks Dunn to end her life, not letting her memories of the good times fade completely. Dunn does not find the decision an easy one to make, consulting the Priest that he has previously argued with. Eventually, he finds himself complying and Dunn is not seen again by those who once knew him. Characters The characters in this movie are complex and well developed. The audience learns about the characters and their pasts through a number of techniques. The voice over narration by Dupris is key, talking directly to Dunn’s daughter – although we never actually see this taking place. However, we learn a great deal more about the characters by how they interact with one another. When it comes to Dunn and Dupris, all sorts of casual references to each other’s past are thrown in, along with the very way in which they converse. Dupris often acts as Dunn’s conscience and occasionally guides him in the right direction. Small gestures speak volumes, the smile that Dunn cracks when Maggie wins her first fight is priceless – telling so much more about his emotions than dialogue ever could The introduction of a new character, Fitzgerald, is a well used technique to introduce the audience to an existing storyline – she knows as little about Dunn and Dupris as the audience does, so therefore our knowledge grows as hers does.
Eastwood has previously cast Morgan Freeman in his movies, previously starring in 1992’s “Unforgiven” and they are scheduled to work again in “The Human Factor” (2009). Photography The shots throughout Million Dollar Baby are realistic. There are no attempts to hide the harsh reality of this movie, or the highs. Characters are often shown in dark lighting. Strong shadowing and silhouettes feature throughout, as in many of Eastwood’s movies. This dark lighting, often in scenes which Dunn features, reflects the inner turmoil of the character, as well as his dark past. It is unobtrusively edited by Joel Cox, who has served as editor for nearly every Eastwood production since 1976. Thanks to the shot style and editing, Million Dollar Baby never feels like a staged story, taking on a very natural feel playing out before the viewer. Mise-en-scene and iconography Scenes throughout the movie are well decorated. Not over cluttered, they create a realistic atmosphere that the viewer subliminally takes in as believable. Most noticeably, the gym scenes, where the majority of the movie is set, have all sorts of intricate details. Motivational posters and photographs of past glories are stuck all over the walls, creating a truly believable setting. The fitness equipment that is placed around the gym appears to have seen better days – much like Dunn himself. Dunn’s office is littered with fine details – books and paperwork are scattered across his desk, draws and cupboards are left hanging open. The jacket Maggie wears before entering the ring is iconic – emblazoned with the Irish Gaelic “mo cuishle”. Roughly translated, this means ‘my darling’ or ‘my blood’. This sums up the relationship between Dunn and Fitzgerald, with him treating her like the daughter he lost contact with. Relationship with audience The relationship with the audience is strong. The narration from Dupris is aimed directly at them, only at the end does the audience discover that he is talking to Dunn’s daughter. This narration is key to involving the audience emotionally, with it’s carefully chosen dialogue subtle and emotive. Expectations of movies in the drama genre vary drastically. Mainstream dramas often cater to studios and favour a happy ending – where all loose ends are tied up neatly. Eastwood however likes to focus on the realistic and often darker side of human life, proven brilliantly by Million Dollar Baby’s shock ending. The emotional distress that Dunn suffers pulls no punches, we see him lost as to what to do. In the end we do not see how Dunn ends up, the audience is left to assume his fate. Message and theme Million Dollar Baby is far more than a boxing movie. Much rather a story about raw determination and being the best than you can be. With no background in boxing, Fitzgerald is so ambitious – moving away from her family with which she sees no real future. Maggie’s assisted suicide doesn’t necessarily make this movie pro-euthanasia, but suits her character as she never saw a future in anything other than boxing. Feminist elements are present in Maggie’s struggle to succeed, but aren’t the main theme. Sound & soundtrack The orchestral soundtrack to the movie suits it well. All original music is composed by Eastwood himself and like his other works is unobtrusive – complimenting the story, rather than driving it along. Sound effects and ambient noise take centre stage when expected, most noticeably during the more intense fight scenes. The fact that Eastwood composes the music for many of his movies proves he may be more of an auteur than first thought of, liking to see his vision for the film.
Special effects Typically of Eastwood, special effects and CGI are kept to a minimum. This ensures the gritty, realistic tone of the movie and the emphasis on strong characters. CGI may be used on occasion to enhance crowd shots or lighting, but it is minimal. When Maggie is injured, it is shown in slow motion, due to it being the key turning point in the film. Tone, mood & treatment The mood in Million Dollar Baby varies throughout. Overall, a sense of optimism prevails. Optimism while Maggie is on her way to the top and in a way at the end of the movie. We are not left with a clear cut conclusion, but we are left with Dunn’s daughter having contacted him for the first time in years and it is my personal interpretation of the film that he has settled down, running the diner than he visited with Maggie. Human character and emotion is compared to boxing in the movie. “Protect yourself at all times” are the words spoken to Maggie Fitzgerald and this reflects Frankie Dunn to no end. He is secretive about his past and is reluctant to let anybody get close to him. As the fatherly relationship with Maggie develops throughout the movie, we see him open up and his more emotional side exposed. Much like his previous work, Eastwood blurs the lines between good and bad. There are no clearly defined heroes and villans, much like real life.
Biography Born in Surrey in 1955, Greengrass developed a taste for film with a super 8 camera found in his secondary school art room. Even back then, he was very much a gritty director, making animated shorts using props from the art room. After studying at Cambridge University he worked for Granada on ITV’s long running documentary series “World In Action”, earning a BAFTA in the process. In the 1980’s, co-authored “Spycatcher” – a book giving details of MI5 Assistant director Peter Wright’s attempts to uncover a Russian spy from the British intelligence agency. The book was banned by the government until 1988. In 1989 he directed his first fictional movie “Resurrected”. Work in TV dramas followed, writing and directing 1994’s “Open Fire”. 1998’s “The Theory Of Flight” was a departure from Greengrass’ social and politically based movies, focusing more on a smaller scale story. In 1999 “The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence” was released as a TV movie, again penned and directed by Greengrass. “Bloody Sunday” (2002) saw a return to the big screen, starring the then relatively unknown James Nesbitt. A dramatization of the events in Northen Ireland on January 30th 1972, the movie won first prize at the Berlin film festival. The movie opened doors for Greengrass, who wanted to try something new creatively. He was chosen to direct “The Bourne Supremacy”, bringing his involved, documentary style approach to the movie. In 2006, Greengrass brought “United 93” to the big screen – a harrowing tale of the events on board a hijacked aircraft on September 11th. Again, this was written and directed by him. Greengrass directed the last part of the Bourne trilogy, “The Bourne Ultimatum” in 2007 to critical acclaim. Paul Greengrass is currently filming “Greenzone”, for release in 2009, a political thriller involving two CIA agents on the trail of weapons of mass destruction. Filmography - Resurrected (1989) - Open Fire (1994) - The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence (1999)
- Bloody Sunday (2002) - United 93 (2006) - The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
United 93 (2006)
Shot on an estimated budget of $15 millon, United 93 tells the story of Flight 93 on September 11th 2001. Featuring a cast made up of relatively unknown actors and a mix of genuine flight crew and survivors from the day, it gives an accurate portrayal of the events that day unfolded. A bold move by both Greengrass and the studios, it’s release provoked understandable controversy. The movie was nominated for two Oscars in 2007 and has grossed more than $76 million worldwide. Plot Synopsis United 93 follows the passengers onboard Flight 93 and the air traffic controllers up and down the country on September 11th 2001. The audience sees the events of the day unfold in real time. We are subtly introduced to the passengers and crew of the aircraft and learn details about them through their expressions and dialogue. The four Arabian terrorists onboard the aircraft take over, killing both pilots and one of the passengers. Over the course of the movie, we see the mayhem unfolding on the ground and in the air. The passengers attempt to stop the hijackers and eventually break into the cabin. By the time the passengers have seized control of the aircraft, it is too late. The last shot we see is the ground coming closer to the aeroplane windscreen. Characters The cast in the movie is a mix of both unrecognised actors, survivors from the actual day and genuine staff who did not participate in the day’s events. Genuine air traffic controllers were used in the recreation, both military and civilian, ensuring a realistic feel. As they are based on real people, Greengrass did extensive background research on the 40 passengers and crew killed that day. He was offered information about their appearance, their hobbies, their personality, making the picture as accurate as possible. The audience learns and interprets a great deal from how these characters look, as well as why they are taking the flight. Acting is largely conveyed via the characters eyes. With no lengthy scenes of dialogue between characters, expression in the face is key. Photography Photography is typical of Greengrass’ movies. Largely handheld camera work provides a documentary feel as well as making the viewer feel more involved in the action. As scenes become intense the camera shake becomes more noticeable. Shots are often taken at eye level to give the audience a greater feel of involvement. Mise-en-scene & iconography Scenes are filled with details and props. Control centres are cluttered with computer monitors, radar screens, paperwork and other people. People in the scene often walk in front of the camera as if it wasn’t there. When close-ups are used, the cluttered backgrounds are often still visible, with people rushing about giving a sense of activity and authenticity. Relationship with audience The audience for this film is wide. The whole world changed as a consequence of September 11th and therefore a huge number of people have knowledge of the days events. Those who are interested in the human spirit would have a strong interest in this movie, as in very simple terms it shows a battle between good and evil. As United 93 is based on true life events, it is hard not to fulfil expectations. Everybody watching the film knows the inevitable ending.
Message and theme United 93 serves as a sort of dedication to those involved in the tragic flight. It does not present a glamorous view of the situation by resorting to excessive patriotism, but tries to present the situation as accurately as it possibly can. Obviously Sound & soundtrack The soundtrack throughout the film is not typical of Greengrass’ other works. Subtle electronic beats help to build up tension throughout the movie. Composer John Powell has collaborated with Greengrass on many occasions, notably in the two Bourne movies directed by Greengrass. The sound of people screaming, especially towards the end of the movie start to overwhelm the music, conveying the sheer sense of terror that must have been experienced by those onboard the flight. Shot types & length Shot types are varied throughout the movie, but always conform to Greengrass’ particular style. Largely filmed with handheld cameras, the viewer feels involved in a way that could not be achieved through lots of static, tripod mounted shots. Shots often appear to be taken on a high zoom in a documentary style. Special effects Special effects are used minimally throughout the film, giving it a realistic feel. The only use of CGI would be to superimpose the landscape out the aeroplane windows. Tone, mood & treatment The tone of the movie changes throughout. As the passengers become aware of the situation involving the hijackers the mood changes accordingly. The moods towards the end of the movie are more unpredictable though. There is a sense of the ‘calm before the storm’ as the passengers make calls to loved ones before attempting to take control of the aircraft.
Comparison of Clint Eastwood and Paul Greengrass
Clint Eastwood and Paul Greengrass are very different directors, although certain traits about their films are similar. Both have a heavy focus on the drama/action genre. Both tend to analyse the darker side to human behaviour and explore this through their movies. Characters are complex, but often developed in very different ways. The scale of the movies they take on are also very different. Greengrass’ movies mainly focus on very large scale events. For example, the events that United 93 and Bloody Sunday are based on both changed countries, while Eastwood’s movies are very personal and small scale. Camera work is less subtle in a Greengrass movie, with the camera shaking, zooming and panning about quickly. Eastwood prefers to let the characters shine through and for the audience to become emotionally involved in their lives. In a Greengrass film, this process is slightly more blatent, with Greengrass panning the camera towards what the audience is supposed to be noticing.
The two directors are incredibly different in their style and how they tell their respecitve stories, but their movies feature similar themes. The human spirit is something which is deeply explored in both movies and the darker element to human life is certainly a draw for both. The different directorial styles will appeal to different audiences. Younger audiences may prefer the slightly more involving feel of Greengrass’ dramas – it certainly proved a commercially successful style for the last two Bourne movies. While Eastwood’s movies are more slow burning, with the story slowly developing over the course of the film.
Clint Eastwood @ IMDB www.imdb.com/name/nm0000142 Biography @ Clint Eastwood Fansite www.clinteastwood.net Biography @ Tiscail Entertainment www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/biographies/clint_eastwood_biog.html NNDB Article for Clint Eastwood www.nndb.com/people/849/000022783/ Clint Eastwood Biography @ Biography.com www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=9283502 Don Siegel Bio @ IMDB.com www.imdb.com/name/nm0796923/bio Interview: Clint Eastwood @ Guardian Unlimited http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2020602,00.html Million Dollar Baby @ IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405159/ Grosses for Million Dollar Baby @ Box Office Mojo http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=milliondollarbaby.htm Hilary Swank @ IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005476/ Interview on Million Dollar Baby, Eastwood’s Persona @ Bright Lights Film Journal http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/47/clint.htm Million Dollar Baby @ Rotten Tomatoes http://uk.rottentomatoes.com/m/million_dollar_baby/
Biography @ Yahoo! Movies http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/contributor/1800026327/bio Biography @ Biography.com http://www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=212152 Mini Biography @ IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0339030/bio United 93 Grosses @ Box Office Mojo http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=united93.htm Profile @ Rotten Tomatoes http://uk.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/paul_greengrass/ Filmography @ Brit Films