The Scene from the Wire I chose to analyze was this:
Season 3, Episode 11:
Start: 41:23 – End: 42:57 – Link: http://www.wire106.com/the-wire/season-1/
Here is what I found; I’ll include an overall summary of this exercise in the end.
1. The Camera Work.
The first thing I noticed about this entire scene was that it always stayed focused on Carcetti or Colvin, specifically their facial expressions. While the dialogue is rather important in this scene, there is a lot to see here, specifically when Carcetti begins to walk down Hamsterdam.
The camera constantly focuses on Carcetti from the chest up as he walks down the street. More importantly, the scene felt like trying to make a video and random people just keep walking in the way. I would like to note that this (the people walking in front of our view on Carcetti) was used for three camera transitions, which zoomed in on his face.
The next interesting thing I noted about the camera work was that it never shows you what he is looking at. The camera cuts to get different views on his face as he turns, but you never see the specifics of what he is looking at. More importantly, it becomes a complete mess as the background and characters around him get blurred. It almost creates a sense of bewilderment and confusion at the situation. Based on the camera work alone, you can see that Carcetti is appalled by the situation in Hamsterdam. No sound was needed at all to convey this.
2. The Sound
The sounds of this start in the car, and you can hear that they are in Hamsterdam. Even while the two men are talking, you can hear the dealing on the street. Something to note about their conversation is that it is really slow. In past scenes, Carcetti’s conversations have been rather fast paced. Here, it goes much slower, almost as though he is somewhat scared to see this mess. The most interesting part of this is Carcetti’s walk. When he gets out of the car, there were a couple of key things to notice while listening.
1. You don’t hear him at all. You don’t hear him breathing. You don’t hear his footsteps. You don’t even hear any interactions between him and the people (not that there were any). My point about the interactions is that he is basically invisible, yet he is very present in this place. It is almost a kin to wishing to be a fly on a wall while a given event is going on.
2. The sounds of the crowd get louder. When Carcetti is walking, you hear the sounds of people selling yellow top more so than any other sound. You also hear the noise of other people (potential buyers). In many ways, it is similar to a market. However, one noise did stand out even above the dealers. Towards the very end of this scene, you hear a baby crying. This means that this is a place where children are being exposed to these drugs. I think that sound right there was meant to just stick out more than any other sound, just to show how screwed up Hamsterdam actually was.
3. Wrap Up
Putting audio and camera work together, this scene was really interesting. I picked up on a couple of additional things that I missed the first time around. The first thing I would like to point out is that you don’t actually see Carcetti go back to the car. The conversation he and Colvin probably had (or lack there of) would have been interesting to see on camera. The second thing I noted was that shortly after the child cried, Carcetti stops in his tracks. He appears to be frozen, and his eyes seem as though they are fixed on something. I also picked up on someone yelling the words “swing state.” It could be a possible reference to the election, but it was rather hard to tell.
My overall take away from this scene was that it was meant to show how screwed up Hamsterdam really was to someone who was never actually dealing with it physically. It was one of those scenes that seemed to take someone on high and put them down with the rest of the rabble. The sounds and camera work showed clearly what Carcetti thought of this, and even showed his uncertainty through dialogue with Colvin.
Thoughts on LLA
This was an interesting activity. My overall opinion has to be that this really got me to think. Whenever the focus was put on someone in this scene, they always seemed to blur everyone else around that character. Even when Colvin and Carcetti were talking they would blur one or the other then switch camera angles and un-blur the other when they began to talk. I found myself learning a lot about how some of these methods were used to shift focus for story telling, which was really interesting.
Hope you enjoyed the read. Let me know what you think!