Analyze and comment on the effectiveness of media devices used to present war in sections of ‘Braveheart’ and Saving Private Ryan’ Different media devices were used for effectiveness to present war in sections of ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan. ‘ In both sections of the films battle scene, it brings all reality into the living nightmare that took place. Brought back into life by Spielberg and Gibson, I will show how media devices are used to present war in the most realistic ways.
I will discuss how the sections portray the characters, use of sounds, and the use of camera shots and how they contribute to the overall effect of the scenes. One of the movies I will be looking at is Saving Private Ryan. Saving Private Ryan is an action packed movie directed by Steven Spielberg. The 1998 multi Oscar winning film illustrates the struggle of a set of men on a mission to retrieve a soldier from the front line after the beach landings in France. The film is set on the coast of northern France during the Second World War. The actual date the events take place on is the 6th of June 1944.
The lead role was played by Tom Hanks who take the character of Captain Miller, the leader of the mission. The other movie I will be looking at is Braveheart. Braveheart is a passionate blockbuster about Scottish hero William Wallace, a commander who, from 1927 to 1305 AD, led revolt against the ruling English that eventually led to the independence of Scotland. It is also a multi Oscar winning movie, and was directed by the main character: Mel Gibson. Until Braveheart came out, Wallace was not a particularly well known historical figure outside of Scotland.
But, Mel Gibson’s almost three hour ‘tour de force of film making’ changed all of that. The opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan is the most realistic, horrifying and shocking scenes throughout the movie. The film is very bloody, and shows the reality of war. During the films battle scene, many media devices are used to effect the audience’s emotions in some way. Camera Shots plays a big part in affecting the audience as different camera positions can alter the mood of the audience in diverse ways. The first shot of the scene looked at the metal pegs stretched along the beach.
The US army moves in on a boat, ready to attack. We see the leader, Captain John Miller look at the front, and then we look down the boat and see troopers vomiting, scared, kissing their crucifix and acting out the sign of the cross. This creates a tense atmosphere and is a good technique used by Spielberg as it portrays sympathy and suspense as it engages the audience. At this point it seems as if a handheld camera is being used, it moves freely around the boat and shakes when the boat hits the waves. This gives the audience a feel of what the soldiers were going through when they were on the boat.
Spielberg deliberately shot the film in the distinctive ‘hand held’ camera style to give an effect of realism and this effect I think was successful as it brings the viewers closer to the action. There were also close-up shots of soldier’s terrified expression which creates a mood of fear and tension and emphasizes on the soldiers emotions. As the whistle sounds, the war begins, Spielberg wonderfully throws the camera at such a dizzying pace, that the audience is lifted right from their seats and into the war itself. Every bomb, every gunshot, every scream was real.
When the soldiers got out of the Higgins boat we hear bullets zip through the air killing the soldiers suggesting that the Americans had no escape and could not back down now as it was too late. The camera even went underwater to show soldiers getting shot and the blood mixing with the dirty sea water. The camerawork brings the audience close to the action and gives them an overview of the carnage. The camera then cuts to an over the shoulder shot gives German perspective emphasising a sense of power and advantage over the Americans.
This high angled shot of the Germans indicates to the audience of the immense difficulty of the mission. All the way through the beach scene there are guns shots going off and bombs exploding, the actors have to really shout to be heard, the viewers can tell from this how hard it was for the military to give and receive orders, the audience can understand from this how simple it would have been to get the instructions wrong and be gunshot down doing the wrong thing. In contrast, ‘Braveheart’ opens its battle scene in a slow motion editing sequence.
There are low angle shots of each army and then close up shots of rebels showing their emotions just before the main battle. The affect of the slow motion was to prepare the audience of the breath taking and epic scenes to come that will leave them in shock. The editing sequence was fairly long as it emphasized the emotions of the armies. There was a medium angle shot of the English army galloping on their horses, then after a few seconds the camera shot would change to a close up of the faces of the Scot army waiting with their weapons on the other side.
I feel this is an effective way to open up the battle scene as it builds tension and anxiety on the audience as they are eager to discover the outcome of the clash between the two armies. As the slow motion is playing on, there is a soundtrack put over this sequence. Gibson uses music here, to create tension and suspense. It varies at places to alter the pace and atmosphere of the scene. This keeps the tempo of the movie moving at a constant speed which keeps the audience in a tense situation as they are concerned with the battle. Similar to the opening of ‘Braveheart’, Saving Private Ryan uses slow motion to its advantage.
When the soldiers leave the boat and fall into the water, we suddenly get an underwater camera; we can still hear gun shots and see bullets but the sound had an underwater effect, people are shouting and screaming but everything seems slower and has a different effect making it more dramatic. In addition, When Captain Miller goes onto the beach a bomb explodes nearby him; the sound automatically changes and is apparent. The audience would be able to tell that he lost his hearing, as the sound is a bit muffled. Just like the underwater camera, the slow motion is slower and dramatic.
When Captain Miller reels out of the water, he stumbles and falls. There is a large amount of varied camerawork during this scene. It begins with a close-up of Captain, Miller as he emerges from the sea before it cuts to jerky, sow motion shots of Millers shocked expression edited alternately with the horrors taking place around him Subsequently we witness the carnage and chaos from his perspective. This brings the audience more closer to the action and they are able to empathize what Captain Miller is feeling. Furthermore during the slow motion scene, the sound can affect the scene in terms of realism.
The sound is slightly muted; nothing can be heard except for the explosions. When another soldier tries to get some commands from the Captain, the sound returns and the audience are dragged back into the loud, fierce conflict and for the first time, we can hear the soldiers’ words above the loudness of the gunfire and explosions. The outcome of the slow motion sequence used in Saving Private Ryan was very effective in the sense that the audience was given an insight of the true horror of war and this could affect their emotions towards the movie.
Sound was an instrumental factor in the beginning battle scene of ‘Braveheart’ Music was used to control tension and suspense. It varies at points to alter pace and atmosphere, For example, when the English army was charging on their horses in the direction of the Scottish army, a soundtrack was used as well as slow motion to enhance the mood and keep the scene going at a constant tempo. Gibson purposefully does this to keep the audiences state of mind in a sluggish way so when the slow motion scene finishes and the hectic main battle approaches, the audiences will be blown away by the action.
The soundtrack seemed to suit the scene well in terms of its context and tempo. However, when the armies conflict the soundtrack immediately changes into sound effects. The sounds of the horses, soldiers and swords clashing were the focal point in terms of sound. Similar to this, Saving Private Ryan sticks to sound effects in its chaotic battle scene, for the reason to achieve practicality. The sounds are terrifying as the scene is dominated by gunfire and the sound of bullets firing and hitting their targets is evidently heard.
The total realism is so distinct that shouted instructions from soldiers are sometimes indistinct. Even when it’s underwater, the cameras will take you down there and the muted sound adds to its effectiveness and it shows a chaotic and turbulent scene. Bullets are also heard whizzing through the water, still hitting and killing soldiers below the surface. The ever-loud rapidity of war seems to heave the velocity of the scene constantly. This raises the adrenaline of the audience and brings their physical emotional rate in parallel with the chaos on the screen.
Spielberg produces immense excitement, as the audience cannot bear to look away. Every moment is unpredictable and so is the sound along with it and this is extremely exciting and tense for the watcher. Both movies uses Sound/Sound effects to its maximum advantage to affect the audience. Another media technique used in both movies is the lighting of the scenes. Through the whole beach scene very dull de-saturated colours were used, everything is grey, green, black or other dark colours. It looks like Spielberg has edited the film after and removed some of the colour.
From this the audience can get a feel of how much of a horrible place this was to be. I think this is used to show how depressing and disgusting there job ahead of them was and to give the effect of dullness over the entire scene. The images are sharper and the lighting is much more sombre. Blue and red dominate the film, especially the red as it stands out to emphasise the blood. These colours can shock the audience as it adds to the atmosphere of death and despair In contrast, Braveheart simplistically uses natural lighting to give the audience a true overview of the bloody, gruesome pictures of the war.
Both the techniques used by the directors are effective in the sense that they create stunning, vivid pictures that remain in the viewers head for a long time. Another Media device I will be looking at is: editing sequence. This is how shots are cut and spliced together and it can be very effective if it is used correctly. In saving Private Ryan, the editing sequence is lengthy as soldier after soldier is killed of leaving the boat. However it tends to speed up and it comes to a stage where the movie was hard to follow due to the rapidity of editing sequence.
The fast editing sequence emphasises the speed of deaths. The Captain is shown with his men on the boat waiting nervously, and then suddenly most of them get gunned down. The fast action of warfare then slows down underwater. Spielberg varies the lengths of the shots in the sequence so we get a different kind of image of the war. Similarly in Braveheart, the editing sequence is varied at points. During the slow motion sequence, the sequence is quite lengthy as medium and close up shots were filmed of each army. However once the battle started, the editing sequence turned fierce.
In a matter of milliseconds shot after shot of men being killed and fighting was being viewed. This again emphasises the speed of the battle. This however can make a negative effect on the audience as they will be struggling to get grips with the speed of the movie. This will then make the storyline confusing and hard to follow. The drawback of the fast paced editing sequence is that we, the audience don’t always know what is happening. This can also maybe a strategy of the director, to make the audience more involved in the movie by making them figure out the storyline and the ongoing of the particular scene.
In conclusion, both ‘Braveheart and ‘Saving Private Ryan’ are awe-inspiring films which provoke many emotions, feelings and reactions using media devices such as slow motion scenes and camera angles and tricks. Spielberg and Gibson- the directors of the films engage the audience by the use of violence which creates suspense and tension. The techniques that make the sections of the films emotive and realistic are the closes up shots where people are scared and confused. I think that Saving Private Ryan is a very good film because it gives the audience a detailed insight into war and its effect on the people who are immediately involved.
I also liked the Braveheart because I liked the story it was telling. Braveheart is a film with entertainment, history and passion. It’s fair to say it’s not just a movie but also a state of mind. It allows the viewer to enter the magical world of Scotland and become a rebel fighting beside the mighty Wallace. Both movies present war in the most effective way that the images are still vibrant in our minds. This is the effectiveness of media devices used to present war in sections of ‘Braveheart’ and Saving Private Ryan’