Example research essay topic: Analysis Of Cinematography In Silence Of The Lambs – 1,396 words

Jonathan Demme, the director of Silence of the
Lambs, and Tak Fujimoto, the cinematographer, do
an excellent job in portraying almost every aspect
of cinematography to make this movie suspenseful
and gripping. Various motifs of camera angle, shot
duration, movement, point-of-view shots, on-screen
and off-screen space, and framing allow the viewer
to better feel the intensity and reality of the
scenes. In addition to motifs, there were certain
scenes in the film that portrayed Demmes directing
and Fujimotos cinematography skills. There are
many different camera angles throughout the movie.
They are used to illustrate the height of a
character, provide more on-screen and off-screen
space, and symbolize power and suspense of certain
characters. For example, when Clarice was in a
room full of police officers, the camera was
placed at a high angle looking down at all of the
officers and other characters in the room. This
usually occurred whenever the setting was a large,
open room with many characters.

It also occurred
whenever a room was entered to show the off-screen
space of the surroundings. The low angle shots
were used whenever the camera was behind Clarice
while she was talking with someone taller than
her, for instance, Hannibal and Agent Jack
Crawford. These shots were also used to symbolize
the power and danger of Hannibal and Buffalo Bill.
They seem taller and massive which adds more
effect to their presence. To add suspense, the
camera is sometimes positioned with the light to
cast shadows on Hannibal as he is talking with
Clarice in his cell. This makes it difficult to
predict what may happen next because it hides the
view of his eyes and body language. Shot durations
are manipulated throughout the movie in many
different ways.

For instance, one moment the time
setting is daytime and a couple seconds later it
is either evening or nighttime. This keeps a fast
pace going while moving on to the next scene.
Another example is when Clarice is investigating a
murder scene one minute, and the next minute she
is back at FBI headquarters training. There are
also long take durations whenever Demme places the
camera on an important object. These durations may
only be a few seconds, but they are somewhat long
because the actions and movements taking place at
this time are more fast-paced. During the scene
when the officers bring Hannibal his food, the
camera pauses on his hands showing that he is
holding a small, pin-like object. This gives the
viewer a rush of anxiety that something is going
to happen and that he may escape.

The
point-of-view shots were very important framing
aspects throughout the whole movie. They were used
quite often and played a vital role in capturing
the viewers attention by virtually placing them in
a characters position. This took place during the
conversation scenes between Hannibal and Clarice.
The camera would stay on Hannibals face whenever
he would talk, and then it would switch to
Clarices whenever she spoke. It was noticeable
that whenever the camera was on Hannibals face, he
was centered most of the time and it was a
close-up shot. However, whenever the camera was on
Clarice during the conversation, she was off
center and it was more of a medium close-up. This
was done to intensify Hannibals presence and
Clarices fear that she felt while talking to him.
When Hopkins and Foster both look and speak
directly into the camera, it causes the viewer to
feel as if they are being addressed which makes it
even more emotionally gripping.

Besides
conversations, point-of-view shots were used at
other times. For example, when Hannibal was
attacking the police officer, the camera was
placed at a low angle making it look like he was
attacking the viewer. At the same time, the camera
would switch to a high angle and give the audience
Hannibals view as if they were the ones attacking.
Buffalo Bills point-of-view shots were taken
whenever he would look through his night vision
goggles. One instance is whenever he was watching
Catherine as she arrived at her apartment before
he kidnapped her. Another instance, which happens
to be a very exhilarating scene, is when Clarice
was in Buffalo Bills basement whenever all the
lights went out. The room was pitch black, but he
could see her through his goggles while she could
not see anything at all.

Sometimes the camera was
placed on him when there was just enough light for
the audience to realize how close he was and to
feel a sense of fear and closeness. Whenever he
reached out for Clarice and later pointed the gun
at her, his arm and pistol were visible through
the infa-red vision. This gave the audience a
better view and understanding of what was going on
and brought more excitement into the scene. The
camera height and distance were used whenever the
setting would switch to Buffalo Bills basement.
There were a few instances when Demme placed an
extreme close-up shot on Bill whenever he was
applying make up and sewing. This was important
because he was notorious for being a transvestite
and sewing womens clothes for himself. The height
of the camera was noticeable whenever he was
looking down at Catherine in the well and when she
was looking up.

It also gave more point-of-view
shots between the two. This helped bring
Catherines sense of hopelessness to the audience.
Camera movement was also well portrayed throughout
the movie. During conversations between Hannibal
and Clarice, the camera would follow or change
positions whenever one of them moved. There was a
good tracking shot whenever Hannibal was walking
behind the bars while she was talking to him. This
shot was used to keep her point-of-view. Reframing
and following shots were used many times whenever
Clarice was moving.

In the beginning of the movie,
the camera followed her as she was running,
changing positions and giving the audience a
different view wherever she went. This was a good
way to show off-screen space and the rest of
Clarices surroundings. In addition to motifs,
there were certain scenes in which Demme and
Fujimoto used cinematography to trick the audience
by cross cutting to a different scene. For
example, when something reminded Clarice of her
father, the setting would instantaneously change
while she was having a flashback. For example,
when she was in the house of the murder scene, she
heard someone playing an organ in a different
room. As she went to check it out, the scene
changed to the memory of her fathers funeral.

At
first it was unnoticeable, until the camera
changed views and the surroundings were suddenly
different. Another example is towards the end of
the film when it kept showing shots of Buffalo
Bill, his house, and the SWAT team. As one of the
officers rang the doorbell, it also showed Bill
hearing a ringing noise. When he went to open the
door, one would expect to see the officer, but
instead it was Clarice. The SWAT team was actually
at the wrong house, but it was not obvious until
after he answered the door. There were also a few
scenes in which Demme did a spectacular job
filming.

One was when Hannibal was talking to
Clarice while she had her back turned towards him.
The reflection of his face appeared on the glass
wall of his cell next to her. Another scene was
when the officers discovered that he had escaped
his cell. When they entered the room, it showed
the other officer hanging from the bars with a
bright light shining behind him. It looked similar
to a crucifixion scene while the light added more
awe. One last interesting detail is when the bars
separating Hannibal and Clarice became
unnoticeable towards the end of one of their
conversations. This symbolized the closeness that
Hannibal and Clarice sense at this moment since
she has told him her childhood trauma.

Silence of
the Lambs is an excellent movie for representing
good cinematography. It portrayed almost every
aspect of it, making it such a popular film. The
various motifs bring the audience into the movie
and intensify the reactions and feelings resulting
from a certain scene. Camera angle, shot duration,
movement, point-of-view shots, on-screen and
off-screen space, and framing all play an
important role in improving a movie and making it
one of the best..

Research essay sample on Analysis Of Cinematography In Silence Of The Lambs