Color/Lighting In a film that falls under the genre of “Psychological thriller”, Color and lighting are key to show the intended mood and tone of the movie. The scene above depicts this perfectly for “The Machinist”. The horrific and emaciated state Christian Bale’s character is a vital part of the film, as he is a malnourished insomniac who hasn’t slept in a year. By bathing him in a dark, gloomy like, blue, the audience is able to see the dark shadows reflecting off of him. This mixes together to make him look like a living skeleton, instilling a sense of fear and shock into the viewers.
Symbolism/Motifs When Trevor, Bale’s character, takes his friend Mary’s kid, Nikolas, on an amusement park ride, “Route 666”, we are able to see a symbol of Trevor’s guilt and past actions. The symbol directly reflects Trevor’s hit and run involving a little kid, just like Nikolas. Nikolas controls much of the paths the ride allowed, as the passengers ride in simulated cars, and keeps going down the pathway that leads to hell and despair, not salvation in heaven. We are able to see that the kid represents his blind choices to obliviously drive away from the hit and run, sending him into psychological misery that leads to insomnia and emaciation. The scene is cut back and forth from Trevor’s flashbacks and Nikolas and him on the ride, showing direct symbolism of the ride as Trevor’s self-destructive decent.
Framing/Angles/Camera Movement Many parts of the movie, including the picture above, use oblique shots. The use of putting Trevor away from the center is designed so the viewer will experience a feel of discomfort. As these shots show us the constant despair Trevor emits, high shots are able to capture these characteristics perfectly. We can see, in the picture above, that he is weak and depressed. The audience sees him as lower than them, showing the agony and tediousness his sleepless has been inflicting upon him. Strength and happiness has been stripped from him, leaving him to wallow in pity.
Editing Throughout the film, the editing style is crucial to evoke the tension and suspense the film was made to emit. In the film, Trevor is tormented and paranoid over the extreme guilt of the crime he has committed. Cross cutting scenes mixed with focusing shots shows the tediousness and anxiety Trevor lives with on a day to day basis. In the montage we see him wash his hands with bleach, foreshadowing the “crime and blood” on his hands that he can never scrub away. We also get flashbacks when Trevor and Nikolas are on the roller coaster, cutting to his past when he killed the kid, when the ride depicts a child running in front of the roller coaster car. The plot points depicted through various editing prove to be a vital part of the story, letting us know the very reason he is in a self-destructive state in the first place.
Set Design Creating the mood in the Machinist involves a set design that matches the lead character’s, Trevor’s, gloomy and warped psychological issues that ultimately consume his mind. The picture above shows him in a small enclosed bathroom, the tininess of the room illustrates the isolated and constricting feeling that Reznik has subjected himself to. The dirty tile walls, mixed with the unappealing and simplistic items throughout the room, show the hellish and depressing life he lives.
Soundtrack/Music This psychological thriller depicts an eerie feeling as we watch Trevor descend into insanity. Loud bursts of off color music, similar to piercing stringed instruments, like in Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. This specific type of music is used during numerous reveals and realizations the character has, such as the scene above. Other parts of the movie, when suspense isn’t leading the scenes, consists of dark and slow orchestra music, as well as dead silence at specific parts.
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