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Dunkirk practice essay

Question-'Analyse how film techniques were used to make you feel emotions

During the film ‘Dunkirk’ Christopher Nolan uses multiple film techniques to snatch the attention of the viewers. These include the ticking of the watch, shepard tone, and camera angles; the techniques are used to bring anxiety/tension into the scenes. Nolan’s use of the different techniques helps the viewer feel as though they are living the lives of the soldiers in the film, feeling the same emotions. Camera angles are shown from time to time throughout the film to help the views engage in a deeper way.

The ticking of the watch is a tension building sound that is played throughout the film to symbolise that time is running out. Nolan using the ticking of the watch not only brought tension into the scenes (especially when Farrier knew time was running out) but also brought tension to the audience. The ticking sound started to get louder in the moment of Farrier shooting down the plane which was aiming for the mole.

The next technique used in this film was shepard tone, shepard tone is a non-diegetic sound used to cause dramatic scenes. Nolan used shepard tone in multiple films, for example, The Dark Knight, Inception, and Interstellar. Shepard tone holds three different types, first one being loud and slowly getting quieter, the second one staying the same volume the whole time, and the third one being quiet and slowly getting louder, yet they are all the same pitch the whole time. Nolans use of shepard tone makes the viewer feel worried, and even a little fearful. The pitch of the sound makes them wait longer for the climax to appear.

The lighting used in this film was a key technique as it showed how the soldiers were truly feeling, it displayed the horror they felt. Natural lighting (high key lighting) was often used to make the film seem as realistic as possible to those watching. As Nolan started to use darker lighting (low key lighting) it made us aware of the feeling of horror within the scenes, while having light open lighting gave us and the soldiers a sense of hope for the soldiers to live a normal life again.

The final technique Nolan used was the camera angles, these angles were used to bring emotions into the audience that the soldiers were feeling. These important angles were first shown in one of the opening scenes of the spit-fire pilots. Farrier and Collin, Farrier had nearly the most important decision in the film between choosing to carry on the fight and save the British or turn back home and not risk his life, Collins was soon after shown on a high angle to show how small he was compared to the whole ocean. The close ups were used in Farrier’s scene to gain the attention of the audience and build tension and anxiety throughout them. The emotion shown on Farrier’s face and the shaking in his voice as the close up hit him showed he was feeling anxious and wasn’t sure what his next move would be. The close up of the fuel gauge showed that he might not make it all the way to Dunkirk, meaning turning home was the only safe option. Finally the close up of Farrier’s calculations made us aware he has chosen to save his people and risk his life. The scene brought out the theme of self sacrifice as Farrier picked the lives of the soldiers over his own life. Lastly the use of low face shots were used to make the audience feel claustrophobic and as if they were in the soldiers position.

The main two emotions found in this film were the tension brought into nearly every scene and the anxiety all the soldiers were feeling inside of them, these two emotions are used to bring the film together. The ticking of the watch, the pitch of the shepard tone, the effects of the lighting, and the different angles shown all helped the viewers to understand this film on a deeper level, as if they were there themselves. Bringing these types of emotions into a film not only makes the audience feel as though they are there but also left them wondering what will happen next.

Kia ora - good text to be writing on!

Intro is solidly addressing the question - although where possible in an essay, try to avoid vague statements like “engage in a deeper way” - try to always be specific - “engage with the idea of…”

I would look at building your egs and analysis a little bit more- for example, the ticking of the watch - try to give multiple examples of where this is played, and the effect on the audience. If it is being used to build tension then try to get to the WHY - WHY might Nolan want us to feel tension? What is he wanting us to understand, or empathise with, or to consider? The same thing with the Shepard tone and lighting - WHERE do we hear/see this , how is it used, why is it important that we feel worried/fearful/hopeful? These examples are very non-specific to this film.

Your discussion of angles was a lot more specific and gave really clear good examples - use this as a model for your other paragraphs.

Conclusion - again, a little vague “leaves them wondering what will happen next” “understand on a deeper level” - what would make this a bit stronger is to consider specifically what the director wants us to come away thinking about - does it give us new insight into the life of a soldier at war for example?

Some good understanding of techniques in general through here - now just keep working on specificity.