Analysis Project #1: Shot-by-shot breakdown of a scene in: M

October 17th, 2011

The first scene of M when children are playing, and a mother is taking laundry.

Shot 1: 1 minute 4 seconds

Camera: LS; extremely long take; shot from a high angle, then to a low angle.

Lighting: No light in the early shot, changes to a natural lighting setting. The different angled shadows suggest there is light coming from 2 sources.

Sound: A girl’s voice in the beginning with a black background, and only her voice is heard throughout the shot, until a woman tells her not to sing.

Depth of field: Shallow

At first, the shot has a black background, then light starts to come with the camera looking down at children in a square-like circle. There is a girl in the middle, whose voice was the one speaking, who looks like she is picking someone to be “it.” It focuses on the children for a while after finally moving to the side, showing 2 garbage cans and a window, then moving up to a balcony with laundry hung from strings. A woman comes into the frame and looks down at the children from the balcony. The woman then screams at them, but the camera does not move down. It stays in that background for a few more seconds, and we hear the girl’s voice again.

Straight cut to shot.

Shot 2: 46 seconds

Camera: Medium Long Shot, Long take, Shot straight on.

Lighting: Natural lighting.

Sound: No music, only people’s voices.

Depth of field: Shallow, can only see the 2 women, and part of the walls.

It starts off with the woman who is carrying laundry going up the stairs. The camera stays put for a few seconds before following the woman up the stairs and in front of a door. The railings and the side of the stairs can be shown. It zooms in when another woman opens the door, but far enough to see their whole bodies. The audience can see a dining room setting from this shot, hinting that the woman who answered may be a mother. They talk about the children singing a song about the murderer around their neighborhood, and how as long as they can hear the children, they know they’re safe.

Straight cut to next shot.

Shot 3: 22 seconds

Camera: MS to LS, medium take, shot straight on.

Lighting: Natural lighting

Sound: Only the women’s voices and the sound of the washboard.

Depth of field: Wide. Able to see the whole kitchen/dining room.

The shot starts off as a continuation of the previous shot, when the 2 women are talking. From this angle, the stairs are shown outside the door. The later woman turns around after talking and the earlier woman closes the door. The camera zooms out and follows the woman to the right as she sets down her laundry. It then follows her to the left as she goes to the washboard. Within the frame, there is the kitchen drawers, utensils, a chair, the washboard, thew stove with pots, the woman, and the window with decorations.

Straight cut to next shot.

Shot 4: 5 seconds

Camera: MS, short take, shot straight on.

Lighting: Natural lighting.

Sound: A clock is heard outside the frame towards the end of the shot.

Depth of field: The woman is shown with the washboard, but still able to see some of the background.

The woman is shown scrubbing white clothes on the washboard. She looks up after hearing the clock.

Straight cut.

Shot 5: 5 seconds

Camera: MS of clock

Lighting: Strong shadow of the clock, but other than that, normal lighting.

Sound: The clock

Depth of field: Able to see the clock, a portion of the cupboards, and some utensils hung up.

The clock rings as it is 12 in the afternoon. The strong shadow suggests importance in the time

Shot 6: 4 seconds

Camera: MS, short take, shot straight on

Lighting: Natural lighting

Sound: The sound of the clock and bells, hinting from outside.

Depth of field: Can see woman, the washboard, part of the window, cupboards with utensils.

The woman is still looking from her washing, stops, and dries off her hands.

Straight cut.

This first scene of the film composed of many long takes at first, then changes the pace into short takes. The long takes seemed to create an ominous mood, while the short takes created a sort of everyday-like mood, like it happens normally. The pace seemed to change when the later woman talks about how the children are safe as long as they are heard. The scene goes on as a normal day would, with children playing, the women doing laundry and preparing what seemed to be lunch. The clock shows that this happens probably everyday. Even on a normal day like this, a murder can happen. The children are just playing, thinking nothing can happen to them, even going along with the song.

In the beginning of the scene, the filmmaker chose to put the girl’s voice in the black background first in order to create a dark mood. It was ironic how the girl’s voice was cheerful, yet the background was black and she was singing about a murderer. The girl in the beginning also seemed to be the one who got murdered, Elsie. Only voices and background sounds were heard during this scene. It turned the scene more mysterious because the audience does know what to feel at what moment in the movie. I thought that was why I was surprised when the girl suddenly got murdered.

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3 Responses to “Analysis Project #1: Shot-by-shot breakdown of a scene in: M”

  1. carolynlumley on October 21, 2011 1:49 am

    What a great scene to choose, I thought it was soooo creepy! It reminds me of that childrens song “Ring Around the Rosie” that was ALLEGEDLY based on a plague…. eerie. I agree with you that doing house chores is one of the most “every day” things you can do, showing that a murder can happen while youre washing clothes is a good example of that.

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