Friday, December 02, 2011

Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche from Spy Films on Vimeo.

Directed by Arev Manoukian, Canada, 2010, 4 Minutes
Source: Vimeo

This film is about a man walking down the street and what happens to him when he sees a woman and instantly feels a connection. Also, this film is about a woman sitting in a cafe drinking wine when she glimpses a man outside and instantly feels a connection. We witness these two lovers as they charge obstacles to reach one another--the woman breaking through glass and reaching the sidewalk unscathed, and the man damaging a car and meeting the woman in the street in one piece. At the end of the film, we learn that the man and woman do not actually push cars or break glass, respectively, but we witness their emotion. We are left to wonder if they act on their promising future.

Once they get past staring at each other, the man and woman have a promising future, due to the events we witness. Both of them overcome obstacles of the same material. Time slows when the man steps into a puddle on the street the minute he decides to walk towards the cafe window where the woman is seated. Similarly, when the woman views the man's actions, she stands and drops her glass of wine, where it shatters elegantly on the pristine white table cloth. Both of them suffer with liquid. The second similar material is glass. The man experiences the shattering of glass when the car explodes around his form, and the woman walks through glass to meet him. These two material elements alert to the viewer that the man and woman have a chance--that they can overcome the same obstacles and come out unharmed.

The technique of this film is both interesting and detrimental to its viewing. Positives first. The formation of the puddle around the man's foot, the wine glass shattering on the table, the window glass shattering around the woman's face, and the car reacting to the man, are well done and enjoyable to watch. That said, the construction of this film is all fake and the man and woman are acting in front of green screens. Because it is more interesting to see then for me to explain, please click here to watch the 'Making Of' video (only requires a few seconds of your time to get the idea). This copy-and-pasting element to the film is what harms the film. When we are introduced to the woman, she is sitting in the cafe minding her own business until she looks up and sees the man. She is a bit too large for the window frame, and it becomes obvious that she does not belong there--that she is separate from her location. Viewing the 'Making of' video, we can see that in fact, she does not belong in the cafe because the cafe is completely constructed from cutouts. This leads to some confusion. If the location is pieced together around her, shouldn't the proportions be better? It is true that she is the dominant character of the shot and we need to see her and only her, because that is what he sees, but, just by sitting front row and center in the window, she is the main focus.

Arguably, this film is not a short, but a portion of a film, a scene more or less. That said, this film cannot be made into a feature, but instead, included in a number of feature film plots. For example, one story can be about a man consistently looking for love and constantly going on unfortunate dates throughout the film. This can be the last scene of the film--the man finally finding the right one. Or, this film can be an additive scene to a film about a woman who is constantly coping with men falling in love with her at first sight. There are a number of possibilities. This film is more of emotion and reaction, than a story. Short films can be emotional, but can they be emotions? This film is about a man and woman meeting and falling in love at first sight and their feelings. If this film had a brief clip of either the man or the woman having bad luck with love, then it would be a short film.

We understand how they are reacting, not necessarily why they are reacting.


M. said...

I agree that sometimes the "fakeiness" and bad proportions was bothering in here but on the other hand it's an artist that decides and maybe thatwas the point to make sure that the viewers see its unreal and exaggerated. while watching the video, I was quite moved about the idea of the love at first sight but know it's annoying that the effect of the broken glass and the movement of water were actually so repetative. anyways, it's lovely have the power of love is shown :) makes me feel good and romantic :D

Cori said...

Dear Haley,
Although you are my sister and I love and respect you, I have to strongly disagree with your definition of a "short film" and your restriction of use of that term to describe the piece in discussion. A short film is exactly that--a short version of a film. It is by nature defined in its opposition to "standard-length" conventional films and thus also gains freedoms from the conventions of other films which often follow structured plot formulas which likewise adhere to conventional Western storytelling: Characters are introduced, a problem is introduced, the protagonist works towards fighting it, encounters a setback, succeeds, and then everything is tied up nicely (or not nicely in the case of a tragedy). Obviously there are some variations, but the point is that stories may take different forms and even sometimes be a story. Actually, I think this piece tells more of a story than many other films: a man and woman see each other, imagine going to all lengths to get to one another, but then at the end are still left to consider what they can and will do. You may not be satisfied with the conclusion, but there is nevertheless a moment being captured and a narrative--actually more of a narrative than many other short films. Consider perhaps the short films of Stan Brakhage and James Benning. Are films that experiment with medium and narrative not also entitled to be called short?

No doubt you and your classmates who are taking a course specifically on this classification will have different opinions and I look forward to hearing them.

Cori said...

I just watched the second video Arev Manoukian created with the same concept:

I guess Sony liked the first one enough to commission him to make a second. I'm wondering: does this version being for a brand change the video for you? Does it make it more of a complete film because it has a message at the end (even if its a commercial one)?

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the rendering of the special effects. The man's shoe stepping into the puddle is a wonderful shot.
Bothered by the usual scenario of man on one side of the street, woman of desire on other side; car approaching. It made me fixate on the car. I feel it should have time to stop, is it the same vehicle in beginning of shot as climax? Should that be my focus?

Is it symbolic of a glass wall between them that is shattered?

Kate the Great said...

While I agree that the green screen effects were actually quite obvious, there were a few scenes that were still really beautiful, like the puddle and the woman surrounded by sparkling glass. That being said, I agree that I would also like to see more background, and that I could feel the emotions but I had no contextual information to ground them in.

Great critique!

haley schattner said...

To Cori: I appreciate your take on the definition of a 'short film' that is what we have been trying to figure out all semester, and of course, your answer is as good as any. I am glad my rant led you to your own conclusions. I like your definition and agree that the film has a story, but to me, it is missing something, and that missing element throws me off.
To Anonymous: I think the glass window is very important as the barrier between the man and woman, thank you for reminding me to mention this fact. If you notice, the woman sees her reflection in the glass before she breaks through it. I think this mirror image is symbolic of the woman being willing to let her guard down and change some of her ways to have a give-and-take relationship with the man. For this reason, out of a few, I believe that the man and woman have a chance at happiness if they quit staring at each other and take a chance.

Anastasia Crittenton said...

The green screen effects are apparent in the film but I wouldn't necessarily say they detract from the film for me personally. This short film felt to me, as soon as I started watching, a representation of why I fell so much in love with film in the first place. The emotions it gets across are palpable and for a film that shows only one moment in time and with no dialogue, it was captivating.

haley schattner said...

I agree, I think the green screen does its purpose in the film, I just don't care fore the proportions.

Alex said...

I agree with what you said in paragraph three. I can overlook most of the fakeness in the film, but her angle and proportion to the window bother me. She's too large.
I watched a bit of the "making-of" video. The way they construct the first wide-shot is amazing.

haley schattner said...

Yes, I like the idea of piecing together. I was between this film, and this one:
The latter is made from only using Adobe Suite. Fantasies are made up of what we know, so the idea of cut and paste is logical--the street you want may not exist, but similar streets and architectural styles do.

K. Tyler Christensen said...

This film is all about drama and effect. I think it's stunning! If it weren't for the visual elements of this film, it would be nothing. It would be a man walking across the street to see a woman (would she still walk through glass? I don't think so, because she'd be dead or seriously injured). We need the drama of that first step off the sidewalk into the puddle, the unleashed wine glass and its subsequent breaking, the letting go of the briefcase, and the real drama of the car crashing into the man and the woman walking through the window. It's all about effect. Additionally, we get this beautiful music in the background that climbs its way to the apex of the film. It's a showy example of what filmmakers can do with manipulating image for the sake of effect.