Currently enjoying (though not so sure that’s the right word) getting into my first assignment for this year – a shot-by-shot analysis of a sequence from a film that has been adapted from a source. I’ve chosen ‘Last of the Mohicans’ (novel by Fentimore Cooper, film by Michael Mann), as it is a film I love, and perfect (hopefully) for this assignment as it has a number of sequences which have left themselves ingrained on my brain. I have no pretensions regarding my lack of knowledge of camera angles and the practical side of film-making, but this assignment has been something of an eye-opener. I have chosen the sequence towards the end of the film where Alice is being taken by the Hurons, Magua in charge. Uncas, Hawkeye and their father follow with Cora, and launch a rescue attempt. It’s one of the most moving (weird word I know for such acts of violence) fight scenes I’ve seen. It left an impression on me and still does, but it’s taken until now, before I thought about investigating why it has that effect.
In breaking it down, frame by frame, shot by shot, I’ve suddenly discovered that within the 6 minutes I’m looking at, there are nearly 150 separate shots, and discounting emotional sounds, there’s only 1 piece of dialogue properly uttered. The sounds and soundtrack play a massive part… I feel like I’m managing to understand a tiny bit more about the layers of effort that really go into making a film. This is a time-consuming assignment so far but I feel like I’m getting something practical out of it.
It’s left me wanting the soundtrack too.