Monday, 21 March 2016

Discuss the treatment of masculinity in Billy Elliot (2000) and This Is England (2006)

This essay will focus on the treatment of masculinity in the films Billy Elliot (2000), written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry, and This Is England (2006), written and directed by Shane Meadows, both set during the 1980’s. The film’s both feature young male protagonists who are ‘coming of age’ in a time of political and social upheaval. The community and family of Billy (Jamie Bell) in Billy Elliot (From here on referred to as BE) are involved in the miner’s strikes of 1984-5, suffering the closure of the coal pits in a small town near Durham.  For Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) in This Is England (From here on referred to as TIE), he faces the bleak future of life without his father, who was killed in the Falkland’s war, and involvement with a group of nationalists with racist principles. This essay will look firstly at what the stereotypical traits of masculinity are, followed by how these traits are subverted by various characters in the respective films, and finally at why these traits are subverted. Masculinity, the possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men, has become ingrained into society’s expectations, however when the qualities are lost or changed, men can enter a state of crisis. Billy and Shaun define their own form of masculinity, based on the environments they live in and their ambition to move forward within them.

To begin with, this essay will observe some of the stereotypical traits of masculinity in BE and TIE. Both films are set in the North of England, during a period of high unemployment partly due to the cuts carried out by Margaret Thatcher and the conservative government. Mark Schreiber writes “one of the main features of the working classes in 1980s and 1990s Britain is that the greater proportion of them than of either the middle or the upper classes is not working. Loss of work to a class which defines itself as working is traumatic”(Schreiber, 2007, p.1). Schreiber identifies the catalyst for many of the insecurities expressed by men in these films. One of the first traits of masculinity to be explored is violence. BE is set in the fictional town of Everington, County Durham, with boxing presented as a generational sport used for male bonding and the pinnacle of masculinity. It is contrasted against the ultra-feminine dance form of ballet, to which Billy is drawn.
Stood outside of the boxing hall, Billy is seen as submissive when he is pushed out of the way by a boy who passes him, setting up the audience’s expectations of his lack of aggression. Next to Billy and his friend Michael (Stuart Wells) are two plaques, a large one that clearly reads ‘Everington Boys Club, Second Floor’ and has a picture of a boy boxing on it, the other beneath much smaller, reading ‘Dance School’. The masculine here presides over the feminine in importance, shown by the size and visibility of the male and female sports signage, but then again when the ballet lesson moves into the boxing hall, up from the basement as their space was used as a soup kitchen for the striking miners, another show of emasculation as the men are unable to provide food for themselves or their family. The peaceful ballet is kept out of sights, whilst the violent boxing is in a spacious hall above ground.
When Billy is knocked out in the sparring match, his coach yells, “Billy Elliot, you’re a disgrace to them gloves, your father and this boxing hall”. This statement flags up three traits of masculinity within the film; the sport of boxing, the generational tradition and the local perception. Within the film, boxing is a male orientated pastime involving fierce combat and competitive spirit. It requires dedication and discipline, which Billy evidently finds difficult as he rejects the sport for a more effeminate and creative activity.
The generational tradition shows the pressure of Billy to conform to his family’s ideals and not to break the mould, which ties in with the local perception as public shame is to be avoided by maintaining family honour, in this case through the boxing. For Billy’s father Jackie (Gary Lewis), Billy’s lack of aptitude towards boxing “threatens patriarchal tradition”(Hill, 2004, p.104), as he tells Billy, “they were my dads gloves. You’d better take better care of them”.

The preceding narrative of TIE includes the death of Shaun’s father, leaving him vulnerable to dominant patriarchal influence. To begin with Shaun gravitates towards a predominantly male group of friends who are all older than him, searching for a place to belong. The two figures who Shaun finds particularly inspiring are Woody (Joseph Gilgun) and Combo (Stephen Graham). Woody is in some senses a patriarchal figure - he is the leader of the gang; he enforces goodwill between members of the group and buys Shaun his first Ben Sherman shirt – part of the uniform of the skinhead culture. The controlled violence of the scene where the group of boys dress up and go and destroy abandoned houses shows a bond being made through destruction, but the violence isn’t affecting or hurting anyone directly; this violence is a release rather than an aggressive act. Clare Monk writes that films that are youth-orientated “address the anxieties of young male viewers by portraying the young male underclass in terms of an appealing subculture of dissent from the demands of adulthood, women and work”(Monk, 2000, p.160). The film is set during Shaun’s school holidays, however most of the male members of his gang are a lot older and don’t seem to work. Woody, as a leader and a provider of fun, doesn’t assert his power over the group, rather promotes equality between all the members.
Because of this, Woody becomes a fraternal figure rather than a paternal one, made especially clear when Combo returns to the group and displays his alpha male personality. During his incarceration, Combo was exposed to extreme nationalist thought, within which he thinly veils a racist attitude. Shaun is attracted to his dominant personality and becomes his protégée. When the government conduct violence and initiate a war in another country, it shouldn’t be surprising that the violence permeates into our own society. War connotes violence and dominance, both masculine traits that are explored by Shane Meadows in the film. Shaun craves a masculine figure to look up to, holding his soldier father in high regard, even fighting at school when his name is besmirched.
Combo portrays the masculine trait of dominance through his violence and aggression towards immigrants and non-English residents, however mostly towards those who are physically weaker than him, such as a middle aged shopkeeper, young boys and women. The reasons behind Combo’s aggression and nationalist ideals could be because of the lack of employment, partly due to his lack of education and criminal record, partly due to Thatcher greatly diminishing industrial work and partly due to the influx of immigrants taking a minority of the available jobs. Geoff Mayer writes “It has been noted by some critics that issues relating to unemployment, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse are constituents not merely of the decline of the traditional working class, but symptomatic of a crisis in masculinity”(Mayer, 2003, p.25). In Combo’s case, his idea of the traditional working class is one of industrial-working English men, however in Meadows film, the only people who seem to be working are non-white individuals and women.
In the scene where Combo intercepts Lol (Vicky McClure) on her way to work at, the women who pass Lol and call out greetings are of Asian heritage. Combo’s confession of love for Lol in his car is a pivotal moment of his masculine crisis. Combo’s car is the place he feels most in control, however he has L-plates on the back, which undermines his experience. Not only is his love for Lol rejected when he tells her the night they spent together was “the best night of my life”, and she responds “It was the worst night of my life”, but when one of the young boys insults nationalist ideas whilst in Combo’s car, Combo feels his masculinity and his position of power challenged, and stops the car to physically eject him saying “Don’t you fucking ever undermine me again in front of my fucking troops”. This assertion of dominance isn’t believable as it is an extreme reaction that almost seems petulant and immature coming from a man who believes he has some kind of military authority.

Combo’s subverted masculinity is evidence of how Meadows takes the power away from the macho character in order to expose his humanity and to question the definition of masculinity. The subversion of masculinity is explored in both BE and TIE through themes such as ballet, empowered women, and homosexuality in the former, and nationalism in the latter, and unemployment in both. The mainly sympathetic view of the male protagonist is largely due to “the perceived ‘losses’ the narrative signal: losses of work, dignity, self-respect, familial and personal relationships, economic, political, social and sexual power and ‘potency’”(Lay, 2002, p.108). When men experience these losses, they fall into a crisis of masculinity because their place is questioned.
In BE, ballet is often referred to as being the pastime of the homosexual, which is viewed as inferior, for example in the scene when Debbie (Nicola Blackwell) tells Billy that “plenty of men” do ballet, Billy’s reply is a dismissive “poofs”. Behind Debbie there is a huge poster that shows a man next to a washing machine, below text which reads ‘At your service Susie. Your ever-faithful washing slave’. This poster highlights how key masculine identities are changing around the oblivious child protagonists as gender roles change to suit a society that thrives on consumerism rather than labour and production, consumerism that requires creativity to further advertising and entertainment.  
Billy’s explanation to Michael of why ballet isn’t a homosexual indulgence is filmed as the two boys are coming out of a tunnel. When Michael tells Billy he would look “wicked” in a tutu, this could be seen as a literal coming out. John Hill wrote “The film is acutely conscious of the popular associations of ballet with effeminacy and homosexuality and much of the film is preoccupied with downplaying these connotations”(Hill, 2004, pp.104). This is the first time Michael broaches his fascination for Billy. Hill writes that the attraction to ballet “sets in motion within the film the discourses of gender and sexuality, and a questioning of the heterosexual masculinity that underpins the working-class community”(Hill, 2004, pp.104). Apart from in the dance lessons with his teacher, much of Billy’s dancing is a mixture of tap and Irish, as seen in the scene where he dances out of frustration and seeks to “physically burst out of his environment”(Hill, 2004, pp.104) in the outdoor toilet. Michael could be seen as representing the working class homosexual, however he could also be seen as a foil for the ultra-masculine, heterosexual grown up Billy in the end scene. So ballet in Billy’s community is stereotyped as the indulgence of the homosexual, which Billy constantly has to prove he is not. Steve Blandford writes of BE, “The film is clearly at pains to avoid an easy correspondence between Billy’s aptitude for dance and the usual clichés about gay men that so often accompany the portrayal of male dancers”(Blandford, 2007, p.29). By having a gay best friend, Billy’s own sexuality is up for scrutiny, however James Leggot believes “the homosexual characters are mostly pushed to the fringes…to dislodge any anxieties that the main protagonist might be gay”(Leggot, 2008, p.88). Ballet is a vehicle for subverting traditional masculinity in BE through opening up a creative channel as a means of expression and redefining the boundaries of what is an acceptable masculinity. Hill wrote, “Billy becomes an emblem of economic rejuvenation through participation in the ‘creative’ industries” (Hill, 2004, pp.108).
In TIE, the minority who are discriminated against are people of ethnic or non-Christian backgrounds. Combo convinces Shaun that the war on immigration is more important than the war his father fought in; echoing the sentiments of the disillusioned British population who felt the influx of Asian Muslims into the country was preventing white Anglo-Saxon people from having a job or a place to live. He preaches that Thatcher sent “good, innocent” men on a “phony” war to “fight shepherds with rocks and little rifles”. Nationalism subverts the idea of masculinity by presenting an extreme territorial dominance that forces Shaun to question Combo’s views by the end.
Both filmmakers show men feeling threatened by change in their lives and communities, which in turn threatens their masculinity. The anxiety about unemployment leads to explosive aggression from Jackie and Combo. For Jackie this is directed towards the “scab” miners who cross the picket lines and against his son which carries “accusations of class treachery” at his “suspiciously non-masculine endeavour”(Leggot, 2008, p.94), whilst Combo blames immigration. In TIE, Combo’s masculine aggression could be perceived as deriving from his failure to fit into society, and his refusal to accept how his community has changed since his incarceration. He is visibly delighted in the scene where he passes on his aggressive, racist behaviour in the scene where he encourages Shaun to pace back and forth shouting “Fuck off, you Paki bastards”, calling him “son” and congratulating him. This scene is preceded by a shot of the Combo’s gang all walking towards the camera, shot from a low angle, with Gadget spitting; the men looking aggressive and threatening. This is a direct contrast to a shot previously with Woody’s gang where they were all laughing, looking friendly and approachable.
The ‘male-panic’ of BE with the men shown drinking, striking and barely being able to survive financially has an underlying positive portrayal of women. The only main character that is working and earning a living, as well as not drinking, is Billy’s dance teacher, Sandra, (Julie Walters), and in TIE, Shaun’s mum, the shoe-shop keeper and Lol, are the main white characters who are employed. All of these women represent the “de-industrialised, consumer-led, feminised world”(Lay, 2002, p.105). In BE, Walter’s is one of the only characters who has a car and lives in an area that is a complete dichotomy of the run down terraced streets of Billy’s world. When Billy goes to Sandra’s house, Sandra’s husband becomes an immediately detestable character, belittling the strike and supporting the idea of pit closure. Debbie later reveals that her father is “always pissed”, and at one point “pissed himself” as well as having been made redundant. This revelation takes away from the dominant figure in the previous scene that sits away from the family, in the foreground of the shot, making him seem bigger than the other characters, and turns him into a figure of ridicule. In the household, Sandra is the breadwinner whilst her husband is an incontinent, unemployed alcoholic.

Mark Schreiber, in his study of masculinity in Contemporary British Film described Britain as a “post-industrial scrap heap” after the decline of traditional industries, with the north hit especially hard because of its “consequential inflexibility for economic change” (Schreiber, 2007, p.1). It would seem however, there is consequential flexibility for a change of masculinity. In BE, Tony wakes in the early hours, takes his father’s hammer and attempts to leave the house when Jackie tries to stop him by hitting him, however this doesn’t work and Jackie is shown as being entirely powerless as Tony walks straight passed him and out of the door. With no work and no money, Tony and Jackie begin to fight like animals, which added to the shots of the striking miners with the verbal and physical missiles, indicates feral behaviour. However, Jackie comes through for Billy as a father and overlooks his prejudices towards ballet, even though it is an alien world to him. Even though Billy’s father is struggling with his changing identity, Billy is valiantly forging his own path, Leggot describing him as “angelic”(Leggot, 2004, p.168), accentuated through Billy’s literal balletic flight.
In TIE, Woody’s group are shown as sitting around in café’s and crowding into small rooms to shave Shaun’s hair or drink. They seem to have no space in society and little purpose or drive, with no real desire for employment, which gives them no need to provide therefore little expression of stereotypical masculine traits. Monk writes “The youth-orientated films present young male joblessness and social exclusion as taken-for-granted states with no history, no proposed solution and no expectation of change. With detached irony, they framed the male underclass not as a ‘social problem’ but as a subcultural ‘lifestyle’ with certain attractions for a young, post-political male audience”(Monk, 2000, p.160). Woody’s gang have rejected the violence of masculine models like the soldiers of the Falklands, instead creating their own utopian tribe of equality that has a new form of masculinity. Unemployment and a lack of political interest means the members of the crew are treated like family, with love and respect rather than a patriarchal hierarchy based on power.

Both films feature children as the protagonists, which begs the question; how do we identify with young boys from working-class, northern backgrounds? The masculinity of Billy and Shaun is examined through the male stereotypes imposed upon them by their families and friends, but what stereotypes are we imposing on them? To attempt to answer these questions, the audience need to understand that the traits of masculinity explored previously can be interpreted as being subverted because of reasons that supersede the narrative and characters of both films. BE was created as one of the first lottery funded films, winning three BAFTA’s including Best British Film. It was created in Hollywood style for a worldwide audience, with the strike being an inconsequential background to the real struggles of the arts in a society based on consumerist and industrialist values. Blair’s strategy with the UK’s Film Council funding, launched in 2000 was that it would finance popular films that entertain people and make them feel good, which is what BE does. It takes a period of time that the audience can relate to as being dismal and bleak, and gives it a utopian twist We identify with the Billy’s desire for a better life, for a brighter future. Meadows created TIE as a reflection of the bullying and violence he’d experienced in his own life and his involvement in the skinhead movement of the 80’s. He openly states, as does Stephen Graham, that he identified strongly not only with Shaun, but also with Thomas Turgoose. Through using real clips of soldiers in the Falkland’s war and playing popular upbeat music over the top, Meadows comments on the futility of war and the twisted perception civilians may have garnered from the footage shown to them at home. Masculinity is challenged in the film by Shaun’s various patriarchal role models, whilst representing the different forms of masculinity as a person changes with age. Meadows film allows the audience to identify with the idea of a child finding their own identity, their own voice in a society that ostracizes anyone outside of the mainstream.

Although BE and TIE are similar in so many aspects, from the young male protagonists to the disillusioned and unemployed man, the desire for change to the struggle for continuity, the treatment of masculinity is multifaceted. Blandford writes, “Billy Elliot appears to assert that masculine identity can only be enriched by embracing a much broader set of values in a rapidly changing world”(Blandford, 2007, 29) which can aptly be applied to TIE as well. Both Shaun and Billy are at a point in their life where they are finding their own voice and creating their own identity, the filmmakers highlighting this through exploring the limited options young men in 80’s England had. Shaun’s inclusion into the skinhead group and Billy’s discovery of ballet are vehicles for the boys to find their voice and to figure out their identity. The resistance Billy faces only makes him work harder in order to prove his choice of masculinity can still be taken as seriously as the men he grew up around. Shaun craves the inclusion of a crew, suffering from the grief of his father’s death, and experiences this twice, once with Woody and once with Combo. The last scene of the film shows Shaun throwing a St Georges flag into the ocean, a metaphor for him throwing away the ideas others have forced upon him. When he looks up and makes eye-contact with the camera, we are encouraged to believe he has come to his own decision about his identity and what it is to be a man. Schrieber writes of British Contemporary Cinema “I would like to read them as examples of a successful deconstruction of gender stereotypes and as triggers for a cultural healing process of the trauma of social and cultural destabilisation caused by economic decline and a gradual realisation of what one might call “post-industrial masculinity””(Schreiber, 2007, p.1).


1.     Blandford, Steve. 2007. Film, Drama and the Break-up of Britain. Bristol: Intellect Books.

2.     Hill, John. 2004. A working class hero is something to be: Changing representations of class and masculinity in British Cinema. In: P.Powrie, A. Davies and B. Babington, ed. 2004. The Trouble with Men: Masculinities in European and Hollywood Cinema. London: Wallflower.

3.     Lay, Samantha. 2002. British Social Realism. London: Wallflower Press.

4.     Leggot, James. 2004. Like Father? Failing parents and angelic children in Contemporary British Social Realist Cinema. In: .Powrie, A. Davies and B. Babington, ed. 2004. The Trouble with Men: Masculinities in European and Hollywood Cinema. London: Wallflower.

5.     Leggot, James. 2008. Contemporary British Cinema. London: Wallflower Press

6.     Mayer, Geoff. 2003. Guide to Cinema. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group Inc.

7.     Monk, Claire. 2000. Men in the 90’s. In: Robert Murphy’s, 2000. British Cinema of the 90’s. London: British Film Institute.

8.     Schreiber, Mark, 2007. Re-negotiating Concepts of Masculinity in Contemporary British Film. Working Out Gender. [e-journal] 17. Available at [Accessed 28 April 2014]

Monday, 8 February 2016

“Mock-documentaries are a more reliable source than documentaries”

Nanook of the North is credited as being one of the first feature length documentaries. Made in 1922 by Robert J. Flaherty, it shows the lives of the Inuit people of Quebec, Canada, from fishing and hunting to eating with family. The hypocrisy of this film is that many parts were reconstructed in order to add to the romanticism of the narrative; the ‘family’ at the centre of the film were cast and paid Inuit; the famous walrus scene was re-enacted with spears that were no longer the primary hunting tool, and the clothes worn were nostalgic costume, not the western clothes they had come to appropriate (Duncan 1999: 1). It has been argued that these elements of dramatizing information are still appropriate for the factual discourse of documentary (Ward 2005: 32), however I believe that Nanook of the North falls under the umbrella category of docufiction, and more specifically, docudrama – a text with documentary content, but presented in a fictional form (Springer, Rhodes 2006: 4). In this essay, I argue that the mock-documentary is a more reliable source than the documentary due to the underhand production and actualisation of the documentary form, in comparison to the upfront nature of the mock-documentary, shown through parody and satire. The reason I am using the term ‘mock-documentary’ rather than mockumentary, pseudo-documentary or any other term, is succinctly explained by Jane Roscoe and Craig Hight “mock-documentary suggests its origins in copying a pre-existing form, in an effort to construct… a screen from with which the audience is assumed to be familiar” (2001: 1). By comparing mock-documentaries to documentaries, as well as using my own film, Looking for George as a source, I hope to show how mock-documentaries should be taken as a more valid source of opinion through parodying the often covert agenda’s of documentaries.
Initially, this will be addressed through comparing the current Reggie Yate’s documentaries, Extreme Russia with sketches from the political mock-documentary TRWBT. Subsequent to this, I will explore the techniques that are employed to convey the information about characters in documentaries, mock-documentaries and hoaxes, looking specifically at the cast/crew dynamic of Troll-Hunter, the presenter characters of Dale Mailey from TRWBT and Benjamin Crawley in Looking for George. I will question the authenticity of the documentary presenter and their authority to educate the public. Finally, I will discuss the ethical nature of the mock-documentary, which involves a critique of whether the satirical form trivialises the information or opinion it attempts to convey. I will conclude this essay with an informed opinion of why mock-documentaries are to be taken as a more valuable source of opinion in comparison with documentaries, based on the commentary they make about politics, the media or the documentary form itself. 

A brief history of the Documentary, and the form of the Mockumentary 
According to John Parris Springer and Gary D. Rhodes, Kino Pravda of early 20th Century Russia was the beginning of documentary filmmaking, pioneered by Dziga Vertov with non-fictional films that attempted to record the facts of unscripted life in the newly formed Soviet Union, rejecting any fictional or narrative elements (2006: 1). In 1960’s France, Jean Rouch began to develop his own style of documentary film making, helping to popularise the conventions of cinéma vérité by using hand-held camerawork and synchronous sound. At the same time, ‘direct cinema’ was being developed through the documentaries of Richard Leacock, D.A Pennebaker and the brothers David and Albert Maysles, who worked on observational documentaries. They believed in letting the narrative come together in the editing suite, whilst allowing the filming to remain strictly non-interventionist, unlike Rouch who had a more provocative and interactive approach towards his subjects (Hight 2010: 110). I believe that the problem with the documentary form is the façade of truth, which is undercut by the agenda of the presenter and crew as well as the post-production manipulation of interviews and action, making it seem as though a narrative has developed organically when in fact it has been constructed. A reaction to the documentary format was the mock-documentary and hoax, which parody and satire the tired techniques in order to expose how inauthentic the presentation of information is. These texts often questioned the role of the crew and the presenters, who are edited to seem as though they are invisible to the interviewee, as well as having no agenda other than to film the action truthfully. 

What is the agenda of the text to be communicated to its audience? 
The agenda of the mock-documentary is often made clear through the commentary or critique they are making. This is often not the case in documentaries that are presented as sources of quotable information, created with no intent other than to inform. In my opinion, this is not the case in Reggie Yate’s documentary series, Extreme Russia. The episode to be discussed is called Far Right and Proud. Both the title of the series and that of the episode create a bias towards a fervent nationalism that is supported by the narration over the introduction that includes insightful snippets such as “growing up in the 80’s, Russia was painted as this weird, big baddie”, images of Russian policemen out in force and marches with Putin’s face on the flags. Reggie Yates, a former children’s television presenter and BBC radio 1 host, was chosen to investigate why far right groups, which are well known racist strongholds, were rising in numbers. It seemed as though Yates’ race was used to provoke responses from the small-minded racists interviewed, with comments describing mixed-race children as “freaks”. Yates talked to Dmitry Demushkin, a former neo-nazi, who now led a far-right group and agreed to speak with Yates; however, Demushkin’s agenda outweighed the importance of Yates’ interview about the group’s beliefs. It became apparent that Demushkin was using his interaction with a black man to eliminate previous racist accusations by posting pictures on social media. Yates agreed to attend a self-defence class run by Demushkin, in which he met a man who invited him to a traditional Russian sauna. The nudity obviously made Yates uncomfortable as he made allusions to the apparent homosexuality of being naked in a sauna with another man, belittling the tradition and implying that the tough Russian man was a repressed homosexual. Yates’ agenda here is clear, despite the unbiased pretence of reporting on the support of political parties in Russia. The documentary demonizes the views of the entire group by showing clips that portray them as racist, homophobic and infers the self-defence classes run by Demushkin are the cause of racist attacks on immigrants with no clear evidential link. The agenda of the program The Revolution Will Be Televised (TRWBT) is made clear from the opening title sequence that reads, “Our world is full of hypocrisy, corruption and greed. Someone has to fight back. Shame it had to be these guys”. The idea is that the series exposes the hypocrisy of the media, the corruption of the government and the greed of multi-national corporations. The series is a mock-documentary because it uses factual information but presents it satirically. Like all mock-documentaries, TRWBT relies on audience media literacy to recognise the documentary format of its sketches, and therefore understand the satire. In the first series, one of the sketches used continuously presents mock-documentary style coverage of two lesser-known MP’s, a Conservative named James Tottingham-Burbage, and a Lib-Dem called Barnaby Plankton. In episode three, the two characters wander around an estate, talking presumably to those with lower incomes, about the cuts to their benefits. They ask them how they would feel about moving out of their council houses and into a cardboard box. The agenda is clear: to show how ludicrous the welfare cuts are; to satirize the relationship between politicians and the public, and to poke fun at the documentary technique of the infallibility of the presenters by portraying them as silly and ridiculous. When brainstorming the plot for Looking for George, we took inspiration from TRWBT in the form of political critique. Our agenda was to criticise the political far right parties in the UK for hijacking the patron saint, Saint George, and using him as a figurehead in the Protection of English National Identity Party, or PENIP. The English Defence League use the Saint George flag at marches and often sing the song “With Saint George in my heart, keep me English” at rallies. Through research we discovered that Saint George was historically born in Palestine, fought for the Roman army, and was born to Greek and Palestinian parents. In addition, he is the patron saint for at least four other countries. We tried to make our agenda clear through the blatant parody of the BNP 2014 banned party political broadcast, available on Youtube, in which an animated English Bulldog trots through different parts of Great Britain, criticising the effect of immigration and ‘Islamification’ of the UK. We directly satirised the final part of the video in which a politician says “Just listen to ordinary people like you”, followed by the opinions of apparently ‘ordinary’ people who ask for “British jobs for British people” and the restoration of capital punishment. We began our propaganda video with Saint George drinking a beer, a reflection of the many pictures of Nigel Farage drinking, apparently to make him a more likeable and relatable candidate. We then went on to have opinions from ‘ordinary’ people that reflected the anti-immigration feelings of parties like the BNP and UKIP. We wanted to highlight not only how Saint George had has his identity hijacked in the name of political propaganda, but also how politicians themselves become a product of their campaign rather than retaining their individuality. Our film was released on the same day as the British general election 2015, an election that was dubbed by the BBC as the ‘social media election’ (Wendling 2015: 1). The candidates had become caricatures of their parties, and I feel this was captured in Saint George’s character in the apparent control during the propaganda video, contrasted with the drunken antics towards the end of the film. Whilst our film requires the audience to have an understanding of the policies of UKIP, the use of Saint George by the EDL, and potentially the BNP political broadcast, it is not essential in order for them to grasp the parody of far right policies. Paul Ward’s description of the mock-documentary is apt to what we attempt to achieve with the PENIP party broadcast, “The sober discourse of an informational documentary mode is juxtaposed with ludicrous statistics and outright lies, so that the original conventions appear ludicrous too” (2005: 74). Our agenda is to mock the political broadcast, but its feature in our mock-documentary is made clear from the captions, highlighting the documentary technique that we are satirising. Whilst the agenda of the documentary is supposedly clear from the offset, as shown in Reggie Yates’ narrative introduction, there are often hidden motives that are revealed after a closer reading. On the other hand, the mock-documentary is more open with its intentions, providing they have a level of media literacy and are aware of its fictional nature, and the tropes it is parodying. In this way, the agenda is communicated in a more transparent manner to the audience, despite the biased opinions. 

What techniques are employed to convey information about characters and their roles? The introductory narration is one of the tell-tale signs of a documentary program, often spoken in an over-enthusiastic and disjointed voice. The narration is often used throughout, especially when the presenter is on screen travelling, walking or thinking. Alternatively, the presenter will directly address the camera, breaking the fourth wall and connecting with us, the ‘audience at home’. As aforementioned, captions indicating where footage has come from are another documentary technique, but captions are also used to demonstrate who interviewees are. In most documentaries, the crew are invisible, never being caught on camera or spoken to directly. The effect of this is to create a sense of verisimilitude that implies the action has organically occurred with no directions from the producer or cameraman, often achieved in the editing suite during post-production. The issue I have with this is the pretence of reality, the idea that the action would have happened regardless of whether the camera were there or not.  By parodying the documentary techniques, the mock-documentary highlights the hypocrisy of the documentary. This is achieved in Man Bites Dog, where Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel and Benoît Poelvoorde write, produce and direct the film, as well as editing, filming and acting in it. As seen in fig. 3, the men are often in shot interacting with the main character, with the reflexivity taking a dark turn as they end up participating and facilitating the murders, rapes and cover-ups of the serial killer they originally intended to document.

Another film where the cast/crew are involved in the action of the documentary they are shooting is Troll-Hunter, a Norwegian hand-held horror/hoax about a group of students who, whilst filming about bear killings, accidently become involved with a troll-hunter and uncover a government level cover-up. The self-reflexive nature of involving the crew as cast in this film is purely fictional, as the cast in the film are actually actors. However, this film also satirises another documentary trope; the found footage declaration at the beginning of the film. Troll-Hunter begins with a statement that declares the footage was delivered to the production company as hard disks of rushes, and they have released the film as unedited clips, in chronological order, with no image manipulation. It then goes on to claim that a “team of investigators” had concluded this footage was real. These statements encourage the audience to extend their belief to the idea of reality within the footage. This is one of the reasons hoaxes are not as valid a source of information as mock-documentaries, as they attempt to con the audience into believing the films they watch are factually correct. The presenter is often portrayed as being a source of knowledge and authority in the documentary form, shown through their point of view being constantly consulted in relation to the topic they are investigating. Brian Cox is a physicist and a professor of physics at the University of Manchester, a respected academic in his field, and therefore fully entitled to present documentaries on space. However, when Stacey Dooley, a BBC3 television personality, presents documentaries on marijuana production in South Africa in her recent series Stacey Dooley Investigates, it is difficult to see what her authoritative status is. When Dooley shadows the airport drug enforcement, and comes across a package that was labelled with an address in E16, she gives the valuable insight “The hipsters won’t have any weed to smoke”, and during a three minute action sequence in which she rides with the police, she helpfully points out where she is and what she’s doing, in case we hadn’t been paying attention, “I’m not looking to push my luck, this is Johannesburg, and we’re door stepping drug dealers”. We try and parody the presenter of documentaries like Dooley with the beginning of Looking for George, having a slow-zoom in to Benjamin Crawley standing in a museum, saying “I’m Benjamin Crawley, part-time historian, full-time Englishman, and today I’m in a museum”. By pointing out the generic spot he’s in, we highlight the absurdity of presenter’s narrative. This continues with our travelling shots of Crawley walking along streets in Hebden Bridge or around Manchester Piccadilly Gardens. The humour is accentuated in the wardrobe choice of the Crawley, satirising Richard Clay, a BBC history presenter. The long coat, the flyaway hair and the tucked in shirt are all parodies of the documentary presenter attire. This is just one of the ways we parody the documentary techniques employed to build the characters role. We use typical documentary shots such as the presenter walking towards the camera and then walking past, but we mocked them by having ridiculous narrative. TRWBT also parodies the presenter with the character ‘Dale Maily’, a reference to the sensationalist newspaper and online gossip site, The Daily Mail. In series one, episode three, Dale Maily introduces his story with the tagline “I’m Dale Maily, the fearless hetero journalist” and finishes with “Telling you the right way to think”. The small section of ‘news’ involves him reporting on an English boating race, pretending to hold similar beliefs to those he is interviewing in order to get a response from them. He asks a young man about the Falklands, calling the Argentinians ‘Argies’ and questioning whether or not they should be “beaten down”. The young man responds by saying, “We should let the Argies take the Falklands, and then we kick the shit out of them, and take the Falklands back!” to which Maily and the young man guffaw. The coverage of the boat race highlights the lack of ethnic or religious diversity, and attempts to poke fun at the opinions of the upper class. The Dale Maily sketch uses news tropes such as location shooting, hand-held camera and natural lighting that increase the verisimilitude of the piece; however, because the content is sardonic, the effect is to highlight the ridiculousness of the situation.

 What are the ethical concerns behind the mock-documentary? 
While TRWBT uses factual information, Looking For George uses information that is false and potentially misleading. This could be viewed negatively, as with the first on air hoax by Orson Welles in War of the Worlds in 1938, where a story of alien invasion was broadcast as a news item resulting in a panicked public and policemen storming the studio. The program caused a local mayor to call the studio and announce there were mobs on the streets of a Midwestern town. However, in Looking For George, as Roscoe and Hight say of mock-documentaries, we attempted to “engage directly with a factual discourse, and effectively to encourage viewers to develop critical awareness of the partial, constructed nature of documentary” (2001: 160). We did this through questioning the authenticity of the presenter through using Benjamin Crawley to ridicule the seriousness of documentary presenters. Our film is a hybrid of what Roscoe and Hight would refer to as “parody” and “critique”; parody because we appropriate documentary aesthetics to emphasize humour; and critique because we engage critically in the reflexivity towards factual discourse, raising questions about unethical interviewing practice in the apparent spontaneity of our doorstep interview with Saint George. A lot of mock-documentaries, particularly low budget shorts use non-professional actors. The positive aspect of this is that a platform is created for previously unknown artists. However, the use of a working script and non-professionals means that the quality control is low, and the actors may not have a say in the final cut of the film, as the story is mainly created in the editing suite. This means they may not agree with how they or their character is portrayed, for example, in Looking for George, the actor Mritunjay Sharma was originally cast as Saint George, however his acting was not to a high enough standard that the crew collectively agreed was necessary for one of the main characters of the film. We had to regroup and change our working script, deciding to change the story line in order to work with one of the actors who had more skill in improvisation. We still wanted to use Sharma, however we created a different role for him, which would allow us to use more documentary tropes. We had a ‘victim confession’, which is often used in documentaries, and blurred out Sharma’s face, dubbing over his voice with another actors, and distorting it to an almost humorous level of unrecognizability. The ethical problem with this is that we didn’t consult Sharma before we changed his character, as ultimately, the creative control lies with the crew, not the actors. This meant although he had auditioned for the role of Saint George, he ended up being an anonymous character, with another actor speaking his lines. This could be viewed as unfair, however with the time constraints and limited filming time, we made the executive decision that the harm would be minor and would be a fair judgement for the benefit for the film. With conclusions like these being made without the actor’s agreement, it could be argued that the mock-documentary practice of creating the story in the editorial suite draws actors in with a false sense of trust, as they are never exactly sure of how their character will turn out. The documentary form and style is described by Springer and Rhodes as including “historically specific devices such as the authoritative voiceover narration… the use of on-camera interviews; forms of evidence such as archival photographs, diagrams, maps and charts; and such visual characteristics as handheld camera” (2006: 4). The mock-documentary borrows these documentary elements, as Looking for George did with Crawley’s insightful narration, the interview with Johanna Eccles, the historical images of Saint George and the shaky hand-held footage. Instead of claiming to be filming real people in a “segment of the real world” (ibid), it bases its content on self-referential irony through acknowledgement of the crews presence, satirical narrative and fictional content. The “real world” of the mock-documentary us irrelevant, because what is important is the critique the director/cast are trying to highlight. To be read correctly, Looking for George relies on the audiences knowledge of the documentary format, a basic knowledge of the political parties of Great Britain, and the typical presenter characteristics. Our film serves as a metacommentary on the rise of far right parties in the UK. Whilst non-fiction television attempts to “mediate aspects of the socio-historical world according to varying agendas, ethics and representation styles that typically incorporate a direct address to their assumed domestic audiences” (Hight 2010: 102), the mock-documentary seeks to upset this through parodying many of the techniques used by highlighting their tired effect on the audience. The mock-documentaries are an essential element of modern day media, critical to weed out the tired conventions that become less and less effective with use. Humour points out the pomposity of the documentary form so it can continue to grow in a healthy direction, and while the mock-documentary may not tell us the correct facts about the patron saint of England, we are taught about how documentary and political propaganda rhetoric is dangerous in influencing the nation. 

Duncan, Dean, W. (1999) ‘Nanook of the North’ in The Criterion Collection. Accessed online: [11.05.2015] 
Hight, Craig (2010) Television Mockumentary: Reflexivity, satire and a call to play. Manchester University Press: Manchester Roscoe, Jane and Craig Hight (2001) Faking It: Mock-documentary and the Subversion of Factuality. Manchester University Press: Manchester 
Springer, John Parris and Gary D. Rhodes (2006) Docufictions: Essays on the Intersection of Documentary and Fictional Filmmaking. McFarland & Co. Inc: USA Ward, Paul (2005) Documentary: The Margins of Reality. Wallflower: London 
Wendling, Mike (2015) ‘What makes a ‘social media election’? on BBC. Accessed online: [11.05.2015] 

Banned BNP Broadcast 2014. Accessed online: [15.05.2015]
Extreme Russia dir. By Chris Alcock. (UK: BBCthree, 2015)
Looking for George dir. By Amelie Eckersley, John Hemsoll, Jenny Mcintyre (UK: Unreleased, 2015)
Man Bites Dog dir. By Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel and Benoît Poelvoorde (Belgium: Les Artistes Anonymes: 1993)
Nanook of the North dir. By Robert J. Flaherty (USA: Les Frère Revillion, Pathé Exchange, 1922)
Stacey Dooley Investigates dir. By Joyce Trozzo (UK: BBCthree, 2015)
Troll-Hunter dir. By André Øvredal (Norway: Filmkameratene A/S, Film Fund FUZZ: 2011) 

War of the Worlds dir. By Orson Welles (USA: Columbia Broadcasting System, 1938)

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Analyse the visual style (cinematography, editing, mise-en-scène) in The Red Shoes. How does the visual style assist our understanding of the film’s themes and narrative concerns?

The Red Shoes (1948) was originally a fairy-tale by Hans Christian Anderson, and although it was adapted into a film by The Archers Powell and Pressburger, many of the same themes still exist, such as the girl’s desires to dance. The mental state of Vicky Page, played by Moira Shearer, is explored extensively in the Ballet of The Res Shoes, the colour red is referenced to throughout, and the desperation to succeed is something that has transpired from the original fairy-tale as well. The narrative concerns this essay will focus on are the instability of Vicky’s mind explored through the scene in which she dances the ballet of The Red Shoes.  It will also look at how the visual style assists the audience’s expectations of the film from the opening sequence and the first scene. This particular film has been chosen due to its plenitude of exploitation of visual style to support and influence the audiences understanding of the film’s narrative concerns and themes.

The mise-en-scène translates from the French as ‘staging’ or ‘putting into the scene’ and thus has its provenance in theatre rather than cinema1. However, fairy-tales are often adapted for film due to their dramatic nature and accessibility for all ages. The fairy-tale origins of The Red Shoes is alluded to from the very beginning, with the film opening with an extreme close-up of an atmospheric flickering candle, then zooming out to show a book with ‘Hans Christian Anderson’ written on the spine in ornate gold lettering. The candle sits on the book, with a white-feathered quill on one side and a charcoal black inkpot on the other side. Behind, a piece of tattered, aged parchment nailed to the wall, reads “The Red Shoes”, written in bold, blood red paint. In front of the book sits two small, bright red ballet point shoes, the ribbons frozen in curls out to the side horizontally.
The mise-en-scène of this shot, which takes up less than a minute, visually heralds to the origins of the film and gives us an insight into what the film will be about. According to James Monaco, mise-en-scène is the filmmaker’s tool, which ‘alters and modifies our reading of the shot’2. So the red of the writing and shoes being representative of love, passion and anger was carefully picked by Powell and Pressburger to introduce a motif that will be engrained into the audiences subconscious from the very beginning. The shoes themselves being fairly self-explanatory as a symbol of ballet, poise and elegance let the audience know that they will be important, and as the opening credits show, they are concentrated on more as the introduction continues. The camera technique of extreme-close up zooming out to the view of the whole frame gives a gradual exposition of the fairy-tale idea of the film. The use of a candle as lighting gives the piece an aged feeling as it flickers on the archaic parchment and quill, however the candle is not really the source of light, it is in fact full front lighting which washes out the objects, giving them equal importance.

The animated backgrounds of the opening credits support the fairy-tale ideal, with the red ballet shoes in a fixed position in the centre while the backdrops change. The flowers and sunrise images juxtaposed with the flames and dark trees show the different periods in which the tale has been told, as though it has been adapted in many ways since it’s original creation.
The saturated use of primary colours accentuate the affect of the mood changes, giving the opening a dream like quality, colour adding ‘an entirely new dimension’2. The fantastical feel to the animated opening is encouraged by the major orchestral music, adding to the feel of thematic continuity.

Cinematography depends largely on how the filmmaker transforms perspective3. In the next shot, perspective is played upon to give the audience an understanding of where the scene is set and the status of the characters in the shot.
The first shot of the actual film is from a low angle short lens shot of a staircase and the audience are immediately brought into the action by the sound of crowds shouting. If we are to take into consideration what Bernard F. Dick suggest, that sound is an integral element of mise-en-scène 4, then as the first noise made by actors in the film, this shouting is important to the film, and assists the intrigue created by the low lighting, lack of physical actor presence and the open form of the shot, exposed by the first actor walking into the frame. The plastics of this shot include off-white and green walls with a dusty window lit from the outside and a wall lamp giving off minimal yellow light. From this, the audience become interested in where the scene is being shot, and expectant of a performance once the character in tails appears.
 When the first actor enters the shot, as he is being lit from behind, his shadow is thrown onto the wall making him seem larger, the perspective relations3 meaning that the characters shadow seems larger than normal because of the back light. This gives the impression of importance and stature, supported by his formal dress of tails in comparison to the two doormen who are in grey uniform. The doormen calling him ‘Sir’ explains the status quo to the audience further as well as the shot reverse shot with the actor in tails being above the two doormen, and the fact he gives them instructions based on checking his wealth-connoting pocket watch.
As the door opens, the camera is at knee level with the actors and the student run towards it, giving as sense of a stampeding crowd. Then as the students run up the stairs, the camera following them from above, the audience notices the plain yet smart nature of their clothes. The frame then switches to a static shot of the camera slowly zooming in on the poster of The Ballet Of The Red Shoes while the students run through the corner of the camera. The next shot is of one of the doorman on the floor being trampled as students run over and passed him up the stairs, which cuts to the students ripping the poster as they run pass.
The editing of this sequence is sharp and fast, reflecting the sense of urgency portrayed by the students running for seats in the theatre. The focus of the short lens encompasses all the actors at once, giving no particular student more technical advantage than another, and the lighting washes the scene with no preference. The sequence of film resulting from the montage of shots put together with calculated steadiness creates a sense of urgency, but carefully controlled. The director has chosen the closed proxemics of the stairway and put a large number of fast moving actors in it, but has balanced this with using a steady camera and full front lighting so as not to totally disorientate the audience.

The mise-en-scène of the backstage before the ballet of The Red Shoes starts is lacklustre in comparison to the front of house, the back of the set being plain board with writing on, and crowded with ballerina’s practicing individually. The lighting washes out the features of all the actors and gives no individual preferential highlighting. The set is chaotic with props scattered on the floor and the door broken. The plastics here assist the audience’s understanding of the theme of Vicky’s state of mind being chaotic because they physically show the chaos she is surrounded by. Costume can index emotional and psychological status1, and Vicky’s costume is simple, white and corseted, which shows her purity and fragility of mind. This is contrasted with her red lips, another homage to the theme of the colour red, and juxtaposed with her costume later on as it becomes ragged and dirty, insinuating she has become tarnished and worn out.

The lighting at the beginning of The Ballet of The Red Shoes is dark; the scene is from the audience’s theatrical perspective of a proscenium arch stage. As the red curtains are drawn, Grischa Ljubov played by Leonide Massine is revealed centre stage with a spotlight focused on him to begin with, followed by full stage overhead lighting. This high-key lighting gives an even diffusion to the shot, resulting in low contrast between brighter and darker areas1. The set is a large, colourful painted backdrop, which becomes clearer as the camera cuts to a close up of the scene, giving the audience the cinematic advantageous perspective of the stage. The camera and spotlight follow the subject as he dances on stage, at which point a dissolving montage takes the ballet from the opening shot to a scene with a backdrop of a communal village setting, with a company of dancers and then focuses on Ljubov, dancing as the shoemaker, behind a glass shop front window, holding the red shoes. The montage here does not show us the entire dance; it alludes to it5, and the use of dissolving from one scene to another is a cinematic privilege that assists our understanding of Vicky’s mind as the time is moving quickly and seamlessly.
It is apparent that the shoes, which are lit by a spot light, are meant for Vicky when she comes to the window and see’s a holographic vision of herself dancing in them. This is our first glimpse into Vicky’s mind, and the use of editing here to create a ghost-like image of Vicky relates to her constant desire to dance and perform. There is a subtle flashing light on the shoes when there is an extreme close up. In Western culture, we see flashing lights on emergency vehicles and in film or theatre to represent the distress of the mind or disorientation. When the shoemaker dances with the shoes in his hands, the same subtle flashing spot light is used, this warning becoming a motif. The shoes have become a prop, which have helped to pick out the character3 of Vicky. Often elements of mise-en-scène will work in patterns developed across the length of a film6. The shoes stand on point unattended, still lit by a flashing spotlight, and as Vicky jumps into them the ribbons magically do themselves up. Again this use of editing speeds up the process of the dance, reflecting how much Vicky desires the performance. At this point, Vicky is escaping into the fairy-tale origins of the ballet, shown by the magical element.

As the set starts to collapse around Vicky, the plastic sheeting with characters painted on falling to the floor, the camera focuses on Vicky’s shoes dancing on top of them, insinuating that Vicky is stepping on her co-stars to get the limelight. This could be deduced as Vicky’s view of them as material and unimportant now that she has the lead role.
The camera follows her through the chaos until Vicky is alone on stage, a low camera angle making the set seem tall and imposing, while Vicky is small in comparison. This camera angle makes Vicky seem isolated and the set being so much larger than her gives a sense of entrapment in another world. When Vicky attempts to exit through the door she initially entered through as it is opened by a maternal character with a warm yellow light spilling out, a large imposing shadow reaches for her and drags her backwards across stage. This ability of something not physical having a presence over Vicky leads us into her fractured mental state, which is supported by the extreme close up of Vicky’s sweaty face with unnaturally lurid make up, bright red lips and painted on eye-brows. You can see the physical strain the dance is having on Vicky encouraged by the key light, the effect of this being that we can clearly see Vicky’s turmoil.
The director here decides to expose Vicky’s splintered mind as he edits the silhouette of Ljubov for a brightly lit Lermontov and then replaces this with Julian. At this point we see her mental dilemma in choosing between her love for Julian Craster, played by Marius Goring, who before the performance generously said he would follow her lead, and between her dedication and respect for Lermontov, who before the performance told her the only thing that mattered was the music. Vicky’s decision is seemingly made as she runs towards the image of Julian, however the distorted perspective and Julian’s silhouette is twice the size of Vicky. Her confusion is then added to, as the camera cuts to Vicky in a fantastical empty stage with a skyline of blue and orange clouds, framed by mountains, quickly replaced by a long shot of a smoky blue wasteland. Gravitational forces seem to have been lost as Vicky jumps and remains in the air for longer than possible and then starts to fall through distorted colours.
Lermontov had asked Vicky early on in the film ‘Why do you want to dance?’ to which she replied ‘Why do I want to live?’ showing how dancing is not something she wants to do, it is something she has to do. This is translated into her psychotic state of confusion that is reflected in the setting of these fantastical worlds that she has escaped into in order to deal with the pressure of the performance. Bordwell and Thompson comment that setting is not just the container for human events but can dynamically enter the narrative action3, shown in how the deserted spaces with backgrounds of far off silhouettes of towns, or cliff edges enters the narrative action by highlighting how isolated Vicky feels in the real world by escaping to this dream world. Even though she is imagining the worlds herself, she is unable to make them happy, safe places.

Colour is an important aspect of mise-en-scène, capable of furnishing motifs that develop across the film3. The colour red was always going to be an important theme in The Red Shoes and it is no mistake that both Vicky and Julian, who fall in love, both have red hair. Vicky’s hair in particular is highlighted by the backlighting in the dance scene to make it appear flame like, possibly reflecting the passion she feels for Julian, as he is then projected, through her imagination, before her. The red ballet shoes throughout the dance scene carry this motif of colour; there are often extreme close-ups of just the shoes, which are supported by flashing red lights when there is a close up shot-reverse-shot of Vicky and Ljubov towards the end of the dance of The Red Shoes.
The colour of the film isn’t realistic, as it is painted on by Technicolor, however it isn’t supposed to be, colour is used to create meaning and subconscious theories6 so doesn’t need to be accurate. The brightness of the red brings the object closer to the audience’s attention, and we develop an association with that object. Much like the montage of attraction that is used when Vicky and two female dancers are held in the air, and then the shot is edited to dissolve into painted images of flowers, birds and finally clouds, all three being beige colours. The affect of this is to associate Vicky as a dancer to these majestic objects, but as they are all pale comparisons, we see Vicky as even more fragile.

To conclude, the visual style assists the audiences understanding of the films themes and narratives by helping follow Vicky’s thought process throughout the dance, and noticing, through the mise-en-scène, how Vicky relates to other characters in the film. The motif of the colour red contributes to the patterns of similarity, difference and development3 of our interpretation of Vicky. The camera editing shows a lot of the ballet of The Red Shoes from Vicky’s perspective, for example when we see a shot of Vicky covering her eyes with her fingers, and the next shot is from her view point as fingers uncover the lens, the audience are acutely aware of the significance of this action and how frightened Vicky as a character must be.

The mise-en-scenè, editing and cinematography of The Red Shoes allows the audience to become active, to indulge in the rich tapestry of the film underneath the surface reading. Powell and Pressburger put together their own ballet company for The Red Shoes, which adds to the verisimilitude of the film, and the use of extreme close-up shots of the actor’s faces throughout the ballet which fills the entire frame allows the audience to see in detail the affect of the action on the characters emotions. The use of shot-reverse-shot sequences in the ballet not only give a cinematic privilege to the audience but also allow scenes to be show the dramatic effects without using montage. Although when watching The Red Shoes the audience may not remember exactly how the mise-en-scène, cinematography and editing affect our interpretation, on reflection they would pick out particular scenes based mainly on what they saw, how they were shown it and how it was put together on screen. In this way, the visual style influences the audiences understanding of theme and narrative through it’s ability to subconsciously assist their grasp of the film.


The Red Shoes Screening Date:                   8th October
 Released:                              1948
Running Time:                      133 minutes   
Production Company:         Archers, J. Arthur Rank Films, Independent Producers       
 Production Credits: Director:                                  Michael Powell and Emeric PressburgerProducer:                                Michael Powell and Emeric PressburgerScreenplay:                             Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Hans AndersenCinematography:                     Jack CardiffEditor:                                      Reginald MillsMusic:                                      Brian EasdaleArt Direction:                           Arthur LawsonProduction Design:                  Hein Heckroth Cast: Boris Lermontov                      Anton WalbrookJulian Craster                          Marius GoringVictoria Page                           Moira ShearerGrischa Ljubov                        Leonide MassineIvan Boleslavsky                     Robert HelpmannIrina Boronskaja                      Ludmilla TcherinaSergei Ratov                           Albert Bassermann