L’Eclisse – One Hour, One Sequence Analysis, by Darrell Tuffs

Recently, I was given a short assignment to write a sequence analysis within one hour for an unknown film clip. I found out just before starting that this clip was to be the first few minutes of L’Eclisse (see video). I had never seen the film before, but had one hour to draw out any meaning and style I could from it. Here is my resulting work: 

The camera within the scene creates a tone of observation while capturing the motion of the woman; frequent close-ups of her face and body create a sense of vulnerability and nervousness around her. At one point, we see her legs from a low-angle shot; this suggests a sexually charged mood that is present within the room between her and the male character. Meanwhile, the man is mostly filmed from a distance; he sits motionless by the side of a table. We, as an audience, are never quite invited to relate with him, instead, we are placed within his perspective looking on at the woman; we join him in his observations of her. This is apparent by the emotional distance created with space and camera distance. The man receives less tight close-ups and more medium/establishing shots, whereas, the woman is mostly shot with little screen space within emotionally and physically close framing.

Apparent too is the huge amount of emotional gap the two hold between them. They sit within the same house, within the same room, yet feel emotionally miles apart. This becomes very clear during each character’s individually framed shots. Each side of the space feels like a contrasting territory, with each character afraid to cross the hypothetical line. This is created by the fact that, the man is mostly shot from the woman’s side of the room, and the woman the man’s side, but rarely together in the same image.

The scene’s props are extremely important, most notably, an empty frame on the table in which the man sits. A “frame within a frame” is created in camera. The woman moves objects around within this frame, manipulating the space created by the screen’s smaller frame. This suggests a hidden power and dominance within her, the desire to manipulate and change filmic space, as, too, she is the only character to move within the scene, so changes both the small frame and the larger frame of the film itself. This would also suggest that the static objects she moves are related to the presence of the man, since he is static throughout the scene.

Other props include a moving fan. This is interesting because it generates movement from behind the man’s head in some shots, but too, it blows the woman’s hair ever so slightly. This creates a kind of beauty or glamour shot with some of the woman’s close-ups, suggesting that this is how the man wishes to see her, as a figure of beauty.

An oversized cityscape on the far wall is also an interesting feature of the scene. It appears too big to be a conventional landscape, and is styled more as a type of art or spectacle, taking up a great deal of space and exerting a psychological presence. The landscape seems to be an important subject within the conflict of the scene. It is the key of one shot in particular, one in which we are able to see both points of view in each character, thereby pulling them closer emotionally.

On the character’s mannerisms, the man is clearly slumped, fed-up, and disturbed as he sits static in his chair. He seems afraid to move, or perhaps can’t face the emotional conclusions of moving into the woman’s space. The woman seems conflicted as she moves around the room; she is clearly trying to keep her mind occupied from worry or doubt. She looks on at the man nervously, yet still in a “matter of fact” way. Whatever is troubling the couple, he has clearly accepted his fate, while she paces up and down, looking out of windows, trying to make herself comfortable in any way she can.

The most important aspect of the scene is the space and tension created within the conflict apparent in both characters. They seem connected, yet not connected, or that a heated emotional subject has separated them and the space around them. The scene feels cold and distant, like the characters are attempting to resolve unspoken issues, and are struggling, but ultimately failing.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. beetleypete says:

    You definitely caught the mood of this scene Darrell, and gave a perfectly reasonable description of what conclusions the viewer is expected to draw from it.
    Pity it wasn’t a scene with Delon, an actor I have a lot of time for.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. aworldoffilm says:

      Thanks Pete, and you are correct on Delon. In this class I also saw for the first time “Rocco and His Brothers”, he is so great in that too.

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