Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Surprise

SURPRISE
Directed by Ben Dodd, UK, 2008, running time: 1:34.
Source: FutureShorts.com



This single shot, Hitchcockian film, tells a tragic story in from end to beginning. We see what appears to be a vengeful romantic murder, but as time rewinds we slowly see it started with best intentions and was simply a tragic accident. The woman tried to surprise her lover on his birthday and accidentally knocks him through the glass of the shower, killing him.

This film proves that you don’t need a lot of screen time to tell a story or impact an audience. There were several things about this film that caught my attention. First and foremost, the ability to tell a full story in a single (and beautiful) shot is riveting. The camera dives, swoops, pans, tilts, and seems to have no limit to what it can do. The ability to succeed with such ambitious camera work, while ultimately playing in reverse is truly a technical feat.

The film has a definite Hitchcock feel to it, but also plays with the assumptions we associate with film noir (crime, sexual motivation, etc). The look of the film creates that film noir feel se we assume we have already solved a murder, but the twist comes at the beginning of the story. The music also adds a great dramatic element to the piece. Ultimately the film is ambitious, successful, and entertaining because there is a lot going on in a condensed space. We see traces of a great filmmaker, and unmistakable genre, brilliant camera work, and a flipping of traditional chronological storytelling.

7 comments:

Amy Bush said...

What is also interesting about this, piece, and I think you've addressed this briefly, is that the music plays a strong role here. Timing in a 90 second movie is crucial, and I think the music emphasizes the right moments.

mckinley said...

I like your comments about the ambitious nature of the shots, that not only is it one shot, but that the camera is simultaneously swooping, diving, tilting, etc. While not as ambitious, check out the Czech film The Shop on Main Street which has a scene of roughly 10 minutes that is all one shot. Focusing more on an individual struggle, it could provide an interesting comparison piece with this film.

Mike R said...

Your comment about the Hitchcock feel is a very interesting one. I also felt the same way while watching it. All in all a great film.

Zac said...

i love the camera work, its so tight. should be in more recent films

andrewdbeideman said...

howd they do that?

Drew Rosensweig said...

I do wonder how our reaction to the film would be if the action started from the beginning instead of the end. But is it fair to wonder this? Although our certain awareness of storytelling makes us want to see something from start to finish instead of vice versa, can't we just let Dodd's reverse narrative exist on its own?

k.o. said...

Very good work my lad.