Posts Tagged ‘director’
How Movies Signify Urgency
Y’ever (yes, y’ever is a word – it’s a contraction of “did you ever”). OK. Let’s start again shall we? J’ever, I mean, y’ever notice this dramatic plot device in movies? The template for this dramatic device operates thusly: In the middle of a rather sedate scene, off in the distance, you hear the whooping gyrations of a helicopter’s rotor blades. Soon this feathery whoosh becomes progressively more insistent as the clamorous decibel level combined with the helicopter’s formidable appearance eclipses whatever trifling activity was happening in the scene. All are transfixed upon the chopper’s thunderous arrival. And all is transformed when the whirlybird drops down from on high and rudely inserts itself into the middle of a fancy lawn party or some such other incongruous venue. We moviegoers wonder – “What in tarnation is a helicopter doing here?”
Depending on the movie’s storyline, sometimes the helicopter lands athwart the path of our soon-to-be hero while he’s jogging on a lonely beach (wow, they must really need him, we think). The incongruity of the helicopter in a decidedly un-helicopter-like setting renders the scene all the more critical and signifies a moment fraught with urgency as it foreshadows something pivotal about to take place. The yakking rotor blades herald the significance of this pivotal moment, and wily directors employ this aural technique to segue us into a scene of mounting anticipation, replete with surges of excitement and a heightened level of arousal. In real life you see this dynamic with enthusiastic lovers who try to generate similar feelings, but without a script and definitely without the rotor blades.
In each movie the scene plays out a little differently. The good guy or gal (hey, why don’t I just call them the protagonist) is awakened rudely in the middle of the night by the vacuous flutter of counter-rotating helicopter blades. In these movies our protagonist is either a retired elite Navy Seal counterterrorist type or a brilliant professor (is there any other kind?) who holds unique knowledge in some esoteric field like electro-magnetic warfare or translating runic glyphs. As the helicopter comes into view, a crescendo of thunderous clucking fills the theater’s Surround Sound with enough vibratory alarm to wake the dead – or in this case to wake our protagonist from deep REM sleep. Who wouldn’t straighten up and fly right upon awakening to the other worldly roar of rotor blades slicing through the air with the ominous chop of 10,000 guillotines blades being released in deadly syncopation? OK Mr. Director, you’ve got my attention. Now what? Read the rest of this entry »