Sunday, September 04, 2011

David Fincher's two sequences

Your honour, take a look at what David Fincher has done. If you look at the second halves of his last two films - The curious case of Benjamin Button and The social network, you will find sequences. These two sequences seem different and they, according to my keen eye, are there for a reason. A reason different than just telling the story of the film.
Most important thing to note is that they are sequences. They are like mini stories, they have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Secondly they're quite distinct from the flow of the story and yet connected to it in a very integral way, as my evidence that will follow, shall inconclusively prove.
They seem to give a new lease of life to viewers' point of view. They rouse their curiosity and give them an experience that is a bit slanting, for the lack of a better word, from what they've been having for the last hour or so.
They are strategically placed in the second half of the film because that is when, its my suspicion, that the attention of the audience is most susceptible to wane.
So first I present to you the Henley sequence from the Social Network.

This is the easier one to talk about. Quite clearly Mr. Finchers' skills as a music video director have come very handy here. A little introduction - till now in the film, Mark Zuckerberg has left Harvard and is working with Sean Parker on is start up. He seems to be in the hold of Sean's billion dollar ideas. Out of nowhere this sequence comes in. Dark blue and cloudy skies, lush green fields and great music to boot. The audience realizes that this is a complete change of scene from the academic environment of the film till now. Literally a different continent altogether. And it has no clue where and why we're here. Music slowly creeps till we see the Winklewii. Artistry of Fincher is in showing the intensity grow. For authenticity's sake Armie Hammer and his body double prepared like a real row crew member for the sake of this less-than two-minute sequence. We feel the intensity of competition grow - the theme of the film. 
The idea of the start up is like floating in the air among individuals and teams of Harvard. Question is who will make the most of it and get there first?
Second one is my favorite, its beautiful and its heart rending. This mini story has been narrated like Benjamin is a preacher, a very humble one at that..God, you gotta love Brad Pitt's voice. The shot shows him feet to the head - waiting for Daisy. We dont know why she's in a hospital. Things go in and out of sequence, depending on occurrence of the events. The director controls the experience that is being delivered to the audience and I have never seen a better example of this ever before. See for yourself - 2:20 to 2:50 -  these moments have been hair raising for me. See how ambient sounds of a hospital effect our emotions at 2:50 - 3:00. In this period I felt pain because we get to see how it could have been.  If only! A dancer would know the world of pain a broken leg can give. Sharp editing - voice over and shot of Daisy's broken leg in the hospital - that is the first sight of her. David Fincher you are genius
This film is about letting go. "Whether its because of accident or design. there's not a thing that we can do about it." Its a small demonstration of the uncertainty in out life. The question is the same that Forrest Gump asked his Momma at her grave. His life was the parable of the same - is life luck or fate or maybe both? On the other hand Benjamin Button's life is about being different - and letting go of the questions and comments about his age, his appearance.
Quite simply Daisy has been hit by a taxi, her ballet career is over. There's nothing she can do about it. But there is a way of narrating the incident. In doing that, David also demonstrates the inexplicable and absurd nature of life.

Come to think of it Bollywood director's use item songs, or songs of any kind to give a new lease of life to the second half of the film. Take a bow David Fincher - you do it so much more craftily.


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