Any help would be appreciated. Also, please do tell me if I unpacked my techniques well, and whether I connected my points to the wider world, because that’s what I’ve trying to focus on. Thank you.
Describe at least one setting in the text. Explain how this setting helped you understand an important idea.
The film ‘Catch Me If You Can’ by Stephen Spielberg is based on Frank Abegnale Junior’s life, as he impersonates and lives the life of crime to bring his broken family back together all the while evading Carl Hanratty, the FBI assigned to capture him. In this film, the challenging settings are his home where he is told that his parents are getting a divorce, and another setting is his mum’s new home after the divorce. Through these settings, Spielberg helps us show the idea of the importance of family and its immense impact on our lives. Spielberg uses the techniques lighting, mise-en-scene and camera shots to show us this.
As Frank enters his new home, a lawyer approaches Frank, telling him that his parents are getting a divorce, and he needs to pick which custody he will be in. This would ultimately be one of the first steps that would lead him to a life of crime and change the course of his life. Here, Spielberg uses a close-up shot of Frank’s face to show the audience that he is tense and emotionally stressed about this revelation. Moreover, Frank is struggling to comprehend his parent’s divorce because he thought they had a great relationship with one another. This is further reinforced when Spielberg employs chiaroscuro lighting to draw the audience’s attention to his face and wide agape mouth. Through his facial expressions, it helps the audience to understand that he is shocked and in fear. The use of symbolism through the half-light and half-dark lighting on his face represents his inability to make a decision, as he doesn’t want to make a decision that could possibly pull his family apart. Through this challenging setting, it shows the audience how much parents and family have a great influence on our emotional state and who we become as a person. Furthermore, Spielberg imparts part of his purpose: sympathising with the crooks. We as an audience gain a deeper understanding as we realise that no one is born bad. It is through and events in our lives, which shape us into the person we become, whether that be bad or good. It is through this realisation that helps us sympathise with Frank because in the end “he is just a kid,” who, through circumstances became a criminal.
When Frank finds out about his dad’s death, he escapes the FBI once again to find his mum and be with her, but once he got there, his mum already had a new family and new house without him. Here, Spielberg utilises the technique mise-en-scene as we see a POV shot of Frank looking at his new family in the police car. Through the use of mise-en-scene: the arch way, doorway and christmas decorations, it helps the audience understand that he is now completely estranged from his own family and he has been replaced by his own half-sister. No matter how much he wants to become a part of that family obstacles, literally and figuratively, prevent him from doing so. Through the POV shot, we can see him looking at his saddened reflection in the mirror, as he realises that all he has done was all for naught, and that no matter how much he tries he will always be alone. All he wants is to feel loved and accepted, and to see him not achieve that after all the trials and tribulations is what helps us engage and sympathise with him. Through this setting, we are able to understand that, unfortunately, even we can be a stranger to our own family and be replaced. Moreover, Spielberg explores the human condition of feeling loved and valued, and how no matter we need it, the sad reality is, not everyone gets it. It is in our innate nature as humans to feel loved and valued. Without it, we can feel lonely and lose a sense of purpose in life.
In conclusion, though the settings of his new mum’s home and his old home before the divorce, Spielberg helps us understand that we can be estranged in our own family and how family not only plays a big part of our lives but also our emotional state.