(Please note this is just a draft)
Question: Analyse how language features were used to show the negative and / or positive sides of one or more characters.
“The True measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” - Mahatma Gandhi. This quote relates to the film Joker, Directed by Todd Phillips as the film is a criticism to how we treat those we deem as ‘different’. The film Follows Arthur Fleck who is abandoned by society due to his mental illness and we watch as his mistreatment leads to a social disaster. Phillips uses different film techniques such as angle shots and long shots to show the audience the positive and negative sides of Arthur as he transforms from Arthur to Joker.
(P)In the beginning of the film Phillips Portrays Arthur as a weak, naive, outcast who can’t stand up for himself against the mistreatment he receives on the daily. (E) The first opening scene helps us to understand this by showing the audience a long shot of Arthur at work. We see him sitting at a vanity with his clown face paint on and there doesn’t appear to be anyone near him. (EXP) Despite having a smile painted on his face we can clearly tell that he isn’t happy because of his facial expressions behind the paint. The paint in this long shot is a way of Arthur masking what is beneath it, which based off of his facial expression we can see a lot of sadness in the character. The facepaint is also a way for Phillips to tell the audience that Arthur is seen as different from the others and the people around him view him as a clown or a freak. The isolation in this longshot supports the idea of people disliking Arthur or them being uncomfortable around him. This technique makes the audience feel sorry for Arthur as I am sure most people have felt isolated at some point in their lives. Our reaction to seeing Arthur by himself as he is dressed as a clown is a criticism of how we as society tend to exclude those who we deem to be ‘different’ or ‘weird’. (E) There is another scene in the beginning of the film where we see Arthur being beaten up by a group of kids in an alleyway. In this scene we see Arthur being beaten up from a high angle shot. This shot shows the kids punching and kicking Arthur as he is left defenceless on the ground of a dark and dingy alleyway. (EXP) This high angle shot shows Arthur as an inferior character that is quite literally being looked down on by the audience. This Angle shot is showing us that Arthur doesn’t just receive verbal and mental hate from others but also is being physically hurt by society and people that he doesn’t even know. Although in modern day society most people are more accepting of others that are ‘different’ than what people were in the 1980’s, when the film was set, however this doesn’t mean people still don’t receive negative attention because of their differences. (L) These techniques show that Arthur, in the beginning of the film, doesn’t mean any harm as in both techniques he was just trying to do his job as clown and he does have positive intentions, however society has cast a negative light on him due to him being ‘different’, and the result of this is Arthur being forced into a corner where he can’t defend himself against those that harm him mentally and physically.
(P) The middle of the film is where we see a change in Arthurs character as he begins to react to the mistreatment from others instead of just accepting it. (E) There is a scene in the film where Arthur is being beaten up by three guys on the subway and instead of taking the beating Arthur shoots the three guys instead of just taking it. In this scene we see a low angle shot of Arthur pointing the gun as he runs after the last guy. (EXP) This is a major shift from the beginning of the film as instead of looking down on Arthur, we are now looking up to him, which indicates the beginning of his transformation into Joker. This angle depicts Arthur as strong and superior against the three men. Arthur defending himself starts the domino effect of murders and incidents as this incident likely gave him confidance and showed him that he is capable of standing up for himself. The gain in confidence is a positive change for Arthur, however what he did with this change wasn’t necessarily the right thing to do. (E) The final stage of his metamorphosis was a scene in which he was at home in his kitchen. The scene is particularly odd as we see a long shot of him clearing his fridge and getting in. (EXP) Throughout the film Arthur imagined a lot of events so this shot is really to be interpreted by the audience on whether or not it really happened. Real or not the fridge is of great significance to Arthur as it acts as a chrysalis, the character gets in the fridge as Arthur and comes out as Joker. Arthur gets in the fridge as the weak, naive man so that he could hide from the world and the terrors that come from a prejudiced society and he came out as someone who wanted justice for the way he was treated. (L) This metamorphosis stage was when we started to see the shift in Arthur’s attitude towards society. I believe in this part of the film the director still wanted to show that Arthur was a severely mistreated person and deserved justice, however when he had a boost in confidence he made negative decisions with the positive change that he had. This part of the film shows us that people that are seemingly harmless can have negative reactions based on the way we choose to treat them.
(P) The final stage of the film is when Arthur has become Joker. Joker is portrayed as a confident and rebellious person who isn’t afraid to take Justice into their own hands. (E) Right before Joker walks out onto the stage of the Murray Franklin show we see him standing behind the curtain, listening as Murray plays a video of him and makes fun of the clip. We see a low angle shot of Joker, in his clown face paint, with a visibly angry expression (EXP) This low angle is showing Joker as a powerful, superior character and his facial expression makes this low angle shot even more threatening. This emotion shown towards Murray Franklin is surprising as Arthur held him in such high regards. This was the point in the film where the audience realised The Murray Franklin show was going to be more significant and I realised this was a breaking point for Joker. Being humiliated on national television by an idle would have been hard enough alone but because Joker had nothing to lose we then got the idea that Joker was going to get justice for himself. (E) After the Murray Franklin Show we see a long shot of rioters Placing Joker on top of the crashed cop car with a crowd of people cheering in the back. (EXP) This long shot shows the change in attitude towards Joker as he went from being considered a freak to someone who is adored and seen as a hero. This shows that Arthur went from someone who had positive intentions that was treated negatively by society to Joker who has negative intentions but has positive characteristics such as confidence, power and is loved. The character Joker shows us that it doesn’t matter whether we have good or bad traits, it’s about how we treat others. (L) Joker was the result of severe mistreatment and he shows us that social disasters can happen because of the way we mistreat and it isn’t a very unrealistic idea. Many terrorist attacks and mass genocide perpertrators where severally abused and treated poorly in their earlier years. Phillips use of these techniques tells us that many peoples negative sides are the result of them trying to show their positive sides.
Joker was a film that showcased the domino affect that began the transition of Arthur to Joker. Phillips use of techniques such as angle shots and long shots are vital to the audiences understanding of the negative and positive sides to Arthur and Joker. The way Joker was portrayed in the beginning and the end are complete opposites and were basically completely different characters. Seeing the two different sides of the characters through the use of the angle shots and long shots, we see a character many of us are able to relate to.