Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Style of The Wire

About a week ago this video-essay on the visual style of The Wire made the rounds on film blogs and such. I only finally got a chance to watch it this morning, and frankly it's stunning. Erland Lavik, a Norwegian academic, gives a shockingly thorough and well-presented breakdown of The Wire's unique approach to story-telling, and spends thirty minutes expanding upon a premise that only takes a few words to convey: it's shot like a documentary. His analysis of the "creeping up on the action" motif, and the way the camera follows instead of fishes, floored me by pointing out subtle but significant aspects of some of my favourite scenes.

Although I'd acknowledged that The Wire was presented in a particular way to reflect its narrative, until I watched this video I hadn't really considered all of the subtle ways in which that design choice manifested itself. Lavik's video feels like sitting through a half-hour introductory lecture on filmmaking, and if that sounds like something you'd enjoy then I strongly recommend you check it out.

Warning: Spoilers for The Wire follow

As an aside, the zoom on Bodie near the end is positively haunting, especially with Lavik's narration of how Bodie clearly doesn't see the big picture at that moment...

One line I particularly appreciate is when Lavik says that "when everything is presented as climactic, nothing is" in reference to Domino. That sentiment also perfectly captures one of my (many) problems with the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica: the fact that we saw Admiral Adama reduced to tears so many times robbed the image of its impact. *Sigh* But that's another rant for another post...

(Via /Film)

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