Thursday, October 12, 2006

Musing Pictures: The Departed

I was amazed at one moment in this film. It's a moment I can not write about without "spoiling" something, so I'll tiptoe around it (and those of you who don't trust that I can keep much of a secret, stop reading now).

I was amazed at how startling a gunshot can be in a movie.

In many movies, gunshots are quite common. There's even a moment in one of those "Hot Shots" films (the parodies of "Rambo") where it's just a whole lot of shooting, and on the screen, a tally of the hero's kills, rising like the score on a pinball game.

In 1903, Edwin S. Porter was probably one of the first people to startle an audience with a gunshot, when he has a character point a pistol at the camera (and, as such, at the viewer), and fire a blank. The Movies were only about six years old at the time, so it's no wonder people were scared.

We've gotten rather dull about gunshots since then. They're just not surprising or startling much, anymore.

Scorsese managed to give gunshots a force that is not one of power, but one of wild lack of control. There is no way to stop a bullet without being stopped cold by that bullet, and when that gunshot rings out, it's not meant to be just another sound effect. It's piercing, loud, and committed.

I'd be curious to look and listen more closely to the gunshots in "The Departed", and to compare them to some other gunshots innovations of the past century -- especially gunshots in films such as "Schindler's List" or (the totally different) Indiana Jones films. Was it the narrative that made the gunshots in "The Departed" seem so much more deadly than in other films? Or was there some sort of trick of the eye, or trick of the ear, or editing finery that caused the effect? Anyone have any ideas?


1 comment:

~RM~ said...

I know what part you mean, the first time I saw "The Departed" that scene made me actually like stop for a second. I was like Wow! I think it was more in the misdirection of the scene. When @$%%@#@ steps out, it's just like BANG! It almost makes you feel like blindsided. That's how I felt anyway. Happy someone else felt something from that scene.