Posts Tagged ‘subconscious’

Grave gunMeir Zarchi was not trying to make a fun, friendly, family movie when he wrote, directed, and produced the 1978 graphic depiction of rape and comeuppance that is  I Spit on Your Grave.  The film is disturbing on several levels, but as one critic says, it’s supposed to be. Clover points out that the gritty realistic extreme approach that Zarchi takes, “reduces the genre to its essence” (115). Grave leaderZarchi does not glorify rape, but instead by dragging out the scene, keeping Camille Keaton naked throughout, and increasing the violence with each successive encounter, he creates extreme unease in those watching.

Grave slow Grave two guys

Grave dressBeyond the content though, Zarchi used some techniques to play around with the psychological comfort of his audience. Like Roman Polanski in Rosemary’s Baby, Zarchi uses color to subconsciously affect the emotions of the audience. When we (and the men at the gas station) first meet  Jennifer she is wearing a red dress, emphasizing the impurity of the “big city woman” as well as signaling danger. Later after she heals from her attack and before she begins her revenge she is dresses in black, a representation of mourning; mourning her own lost innocence, and since she asks forgiveness for the murders that she is about to commit, mourning the men’s’ deaths as well. Grave blackHer outfit is not only black, but unlike every other outfit she wears, it covers her from head to foot, long sleeves, long pants, and even a scarf to cover her head. This covering of the body can also represents mourning, but since she wears the same outfit as she begins stalking her victims it gives her a kind of sneaky ninja feel as well. Grave whiteFinally, when she begins her murderous run on her attackers, she is wearing white, long, flowing, billowing white as if she is a ghost or a dream. After castrating the leader of the pack, she again dons the same white flowing gown as she listens to opera in order to drown out the screams of a man bleeding to death in her upstairs bathroom, and as she cleans up the blood mess left behind. This scene plays up the dramatic contrast between the red blood and the white tub, tile, and gown, representing, perhaps, the fact that these events have forever stained her life.

Grave end Grave zombie

Brigid Cherry explains that creatures in horror films are often refered to as “Monsters from the Id” (99).  Considering that the Id is often refered to as the child-like portion frankenstein1931_18of the subconscious James Whale‘s Frankenstein creates the quintessential “Monster from the Id.” The creature, played by  Boris Karloff, is innocent and eager to learn. This search for understanding is exemplified when Dr. Frankenstein first exposes the creature to light and he reaches towards it instead of shying away. The scene with the little girl also shows the creature’s innocence, playing gently with flowers, and his desire to learn, testing to see if the girl will also float.frankenstein--644x362 This time with tragic results.

At one point in the movie, Dr. Frankenstein explains his reason for creating the creature as his own search for understanding. “Have you never wanted to do something dangerous? Where should we be if no one tried to find out what lies beyond? Have you never wanted to look beyond the clouds and the stars, or to know what causes the trees to bud and what changes the darkness into light?”

Frye-FrankensteinAs with children, the creature learned violence from those around him, the jealous taunting by  Fritz and bloodthirsty revenge sought by the torch-bearing mob. The creature was also rejected by the one who created him, leaving him alone and defenseless, or to his own defenses without any guidance on social behavior, mistreated and misunderstood. Such actions by parents have created numerous monsters  in our society.

 

In the movie Rosemary’s Baby, director Roman Polanski uses subtle color play to enhance the mood of the film and to provoke images and emotions. He uses pink (an expressly female color) for the lettering in the title sequence set against a muted aerial shot of the city. The pink swirly letters combined with a female voice “la la” singing gives a feeling of innocence setting up the later premise that the baby is in danger from the murderous witch coven.

Polanski used pink words against a muted background.

Farrow’s normal attire pale muted tones, here yellow and white.

Farrow wears a blood red pantsuit contrasted against the white walls.

Throughout the film Polanski uses muted and pale colors for costumes and background, mostly whites, yellows, tans, browns, and beiges. When he uses blues or greens they are pale or muted dark colors, never vibrant. Set against this visual image he throws in pops of brilliant, blood-red. By doing this he creates the subconscious emotions associated with blood without ever actually showing blood (except in the scene where they identify the body of the neighbor girl).

I first noticed this trick in the night of conception scene when the drugged Farrow trips down the hall wearing a blood-red pantsuit contrasted against the stark, white walls of the hallway. I then began noticing these small red pops throughout the remainder of the movie; the scrabble tile trays, a handkerchief, cigarette packs, roses, and even red stripes on Farrow’s blue scarf.  These pops of blood splattered across a pale background create a visual discordance contributing to the audience’s discomfort. Polanski once said, “I know precisely what I want my audience to see and hear” (http://minadream.com/romanpolanski/InterviewThree.htm). There is no doubt that he wanted these blood spots to be seen, but the question is did he want them to be noticed. Probably not.