Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Misery - A dual-meaning title?

When someone is taking care of you, you naturally expect them to be caring, sweet and loving, right? You'd expect nothing less if this person were a nurse, but that isn't the case with Paul Sheldon (James Caan). After a nearly dying in a blizzard, he is brought to safety and placed under the care of Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a former nurse. It is there where Paul Sheldon's miserable experience begins. The camera angles used in Misery are arguably the most effective techniques used in the film. The low and high angle shots were the two most commonly used angles in the entire film.
Used almost constantly on Kathy Bates, the low angle shot gave her an almost constant superior, controlling, and intimidating air to her character. Combined with lighting and music, Kathy Bates, who has a very kind face, is transformed into a character straight from our midnight terrors. When she is hunched over Paul Sheldon's bed, slamming it up and down, furious and distraught over Misery's fictional death, a low angle is all we need to create the desired effect.
Seeing as Annie Wilkes is he dominating antagonist, it seems only fitting that Paul Sheldon, her ‘patient’, gets all of the high angel shots. High angel shots make you look small, powerless, weak, and insignificant. All of which describe Paul Sheldon and his situation. There are only a handful of low angel shots used on Paul Sheldon, but the vast majority are high angel shots.
Now we move on to framing, and as I’ve previously mentioned, it is one of my most favourite shots. In Misery, we have a rather evident frame shot, and this is when Paul Sheldon is exploring the house for the first time (Annie is at the general store picking up Paul Sheldon’s precious paper). As he enters the living room, we are seeing him from outside, through a window. The window on its own would give a feeling of imprisonment, but Annie Wilkes even has bars on her widows, making that feeling of imprisonment all the more potent. What does this signify? Well, most obviously that it is like a prison, that he is trapped there, and there is very little chance of escape.
Point of view: Ever wonder what it’s like to be a crazed, obsessed; portly, controlling nurse taking care of her favourite author? Well, if you’re like me, you can now find out!! There are only a handful of point of view shots, and they’re mainly used to create suspense (of course). As Annie Wilkes is approaching the front steps, with Paul out of his bedroom, we see the approach through Annie Wilkes eyes. The reason being is that it would be much more effective and suspenseful as opposed to not showing her at all, or even just a simple pan, or various cuts.
The, of course, is the ever popular canted angel. My favourite of which was used in Paul Sheldon’s first venture outside of the bedroom. As Paul Sheldon is crawling in the kitchen, the camera is tilted ever so slightly, and just enough to give an added sense of difficulty to his crawl. As he is crawling, it looks as if he is crawling up-hill.
...That about sums it up.

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