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Still Frame Analysis : American Gangster. The dominant in this frame is Denzel Washington. The eye is attracted to his character first as he is centered on the screen and is in sharper focus

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Still Frame Analysis:

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  1. Dominant: The dominant in this frame is Denzel Washington. The eye is attracted to his character first as he is centered on the screen and is in sharper focus than the other characters and objects on screen. Lighting also makes Washington the dominant as a shaft of light highlights him while causing the other characters in the shot to be darkened by shadow.
  2. Lighting Key: Low key lighting. There is detail within the shadows.
  3. Shot and camera proxemics: Medium Shot. The camera is close to the nearest characters within the shot, but the focus of the shot is on Washington, who is further away.
  4. Angle: Eye-level shot. The subjects are all seated, and the camera is placed as though the audience was seated in the same room, eyes at the same level as the characters. It is not highly dramatic from an Angle sense. From the angle alone, no power relationship is being suggested.
  5. Color values: The scene is set in a lounge of some sort. Color is not really used for symbolism here. All four characters are Black Americans. The two males closest to the camera are not illuminated enough to see the color of their outfits. Washington is dressed in dull colours (black, brown, grey). The set is also very dull. The female character has red hair, and red and purple clothing, which, is the the only colour contrast. Perhaps this is just to symbolize her difference from the rest of the characters. However, she is not being focussed on by the dominant character (Washington) therefore, the color contrast between her and everything else is undermined.
  6. Lens/filter/stock: The lens is not wide angle as only Denzel Washington is in focus and there is not much sense of depth. The quality of the image is high, therefore the stock is slow.
  7. Subsidiary contrasts: The subsidiary contrasts are the three characters in the foreground. Although they are not in focus or well lit, they are larger than Washington (due to proximity to the camera) and cover a large area of space.
  8. Density: The image is dense as a lot of visual information is packed into it. Almost every part of the image conveys a message to the audience, and there os an overwhelming sense of  compactness about the image.
  9. Composition: This shot has triangular composition. The characters in the foreground are facing each other, but between them in the background, is Washington. The gaze of Washington is on the two men in the right foreground, while the women gazes at Washington from the left foreground. Thus there is strong interplay among these three elements. Horizontal lines are apparent between the three characters in the foreground, while vertical line are apparent between them and Washington in the background. There is also triangular composition between the three characters in the foreground.
  10. Form: The form of this shot seems closed as it seems highly composed as there is a seemingly intentional balance to the shot. Also the shot is densely saturated with visual information and all the necessary information is captured by the shot. Also, the three characters in the foreground seem trapped.
  11. Framing: The framing of this shot is tight. The three characters in foreground can not move around freely around the frame. Washington on the other hand has a degree of freedom, although the shot remains tightly framed as there is no space between the characters and the left and right borders of the screen.
  12. Depth: The image is composed of three depth planes. Three figures in the foreground, Washington in the mid-ground and the back of the room in the background (although it has very little detail, so it appears as though Washington is in the background).
  13. Character Placement: Three characters in the foreground, two of them seated on the right, one seated on the left. In between them (in the background) is Washington. He is the only character in focus, indicating his importance.
  14. Staging positions: Washington is centered in the frame in the background, his gaze is squared on the two men on the right of the screen. The female is directly opposite the two males; the three in conjunction frame the image of Washington.
  15. Character Proxemics: Between the three characters in the foreground the distance is personal. The distance between them and Washington is social.

Write a short paragraph (approximately 200 words) about what possible meanings are conveyed to the audience by the composition and framing.

By means of framing and composition, the director is conveying a strong sense of interplay and tension between the characters in the frame. The triangular composition leads the audience to believe that there is some sort of relationship relating the four characters. The triangular composition of the three characters in the foreground also lead the audience to believing that these three are in alliance against Washington, or, that they have come together out of fear for him. This is emphasized by the tight framing of the shot. Moreover, the horizontal lines between the three characters in the foreground connotes a comfortability  between each other, while the vertical lines between them and Washington's character suggests tension.The three characters in the foreground appear to have no space to moving around, conveying a sense of entrapment to the audience.  Furthermore, Washington's character has a sense of freedom about him as there is a clear gap between him and the other characters, giving the audience the impression that he is in control.

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An almost flawless analysis, that shows an admirable grasp of the technical language of film studies.

5 stars

Marked by teacher Govinda Dickman 10/09/2013

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