Look, listen, analyze

I picked out the Joker scene for this analysis, I remember seeing it a long time ago and thinking abut how I enjoyed it but couldn’t fully recall it. So what better way to rewatch it than to watch and learn from it!

To start, I muted the clip and simply watched the scene unfold. The camera work in the very beginning showing tension on the faces of everyone in the room and cutting immediately behind the joker rather than showing his face stood out to me immediately. It helps carry the tension through his introduction to the scene. And then, we see his wonderful face. The shots cut between him and some people in the room, showing who’s talking and the tone of the conversation through their expressions. The tension is still high and if anything is rising. Something that caught my eye is that at 0:45 the camera angle is below a man standing up, and as he sits down the camera angles down with him. This really helps show his transition from intimidating to casual, as we can see that he’s backing down from a confrontation. Further in, we can see the conversation becoming even more tense, with slow close ups on apprehensive faces and the shots of the joker getting more and more zoomed in. Then at 1:57, the body language shifts everything into a more relaxed state. The shot is zoomed further out, giving more space, and the people in the scene seem to relax, shoulders dropping and letting out breaths. Right after boom! The expression of the man on the right side of the table brings stress to the scene, and when people start getting up and moving around in those smaller scale shots everything feels chaotic. And just like that, he backs out of the room and the shot and the scene ends.

Next up, I unmuted the clip and minimized the tab so that I couldn’t see the scene. The start of the scene simply having him laughing was a great way to tell the audience just who was the focus of the scene. No one else made a sound save for his laughter. The music is subtle yet tense, and it quickly builds to a bang as the joker exclaims “Tada!” and the ambience goes back down. The backing music goes on continuously as the conversation goes on and joker takes the floor. As his speech progresses and he gets more specific with his words, the music slowly picks up, adding in more instruments and chords to the background. At around 2:05, the music tones down a bit as the actors laugh. This helps bring down the tension in the scene only for it to pick right back up with a loud slam and yelling. It continues to pick up slowly as the joker leaves the room and promptly stops when the door slams shut.

Finally, I watched the scene in all its glory. The scene with the pencil trick has so much apprehension in it despite how fast it happens. There’s not much buildup to it yet the audio combined with the swift action on screen almost makes for a jumpscare. It’s surprising and it serves as a release to the tension built up by his entrance and the ambiance. Later on the part in which he calls out his lovely audience is combined with the camera shots panning towards the actors really stood out. The tension from the building music, his choice of words, and seeing the direct impact they have on the characters is really something else. The entire scene feels tense, the atmosphere and the lighting is almost uncomfortable, and yet you just can’t look away.

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