- May 27th, 2012
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Doodlebug (Christopher Nolan; 1997)
Christopher Nolan has obviously gone on to make huge productions in Hollywood (The Batman films, Memento and Inception – maybe there are some early elements of Inception in here as well?) In Doodlebug, I found a certain surrealist quality that make for an intriguing viewing for some people, but it could also put other people off.
The film also has a sort of ‘horror’ film feel to it as well – a lot of this comes from the soundscape, a very creepy atmospheric soundtrack and the magnification of small sounds such as the bubbling in the water, and the ticking of the clocks. This film, like Scorsese’s The Big Shave, only utilises one actor. The man, who looks extremely paranoid, and is within a small claustrophobic apartment, is holding a shoe and appears to be searching for something. We soon see and hear something scurrying around on the foor underneath a pair of boxer shorts. He lifts the shorts up, and sees a smaller version of himself. This small man repeatedly whacks something on the floor. The man than whacks and (presumably) squashes the smaller version of himself. The final shot shows the audience the huge face of the same man, appearing behind the first man. The first man, our main ‘protagonist’ is squashed with the shoe.
As stated above, the horror aspects that the film opens with are a very good tool for drawing the audience in, and work very well, as does the use of black and white photography. Again, there is no dialogue, but it is not required. The actor does very well in his role, and the use of the space and the sound design help emphasise his fear and paranoia. However, if some people found Inception difficult to understand, then this film would be way over their heads.
This film is less of a traditional narrative, and more experimental in it’s approach. It is more dreamlike, subjective and there is a nightmarish quality to it.
With regards to my particular craft, I was very impressed with the sound design. At the risk of repeating myself, the slow build up of the ticking of the clocks was very effective and one of my favourite things about this film. There was a greater use of diegetic sound and foley (the scuffling on the floor for instance, of the small man, came out of nowhere and even startled me a little, as I realised that the man was looking for something).
What I would take from this film to infer the work that we propose to make, is the clever use of settings. The apartment that the man is in is very small, or at least appears to be. Christopher Nolan has used the setting to full advantage, and I believe that this is something we need to do as well. The look of the film, and the sound design, are two very important aspects that can’t be ignored, even if we have an excellent story to hold the film together.