Spencer Clarke Sound

Engineer and Editor, for Music and Post

Experimental Film Critique - Photographs

For the experimental film critique, I decided to examine "Photographs", a short film by Krishna Shenoi. There is no dialogue in the film, and nothing resembling what I would consider to be traditional scoring. The background "music" is more akin to a droning tone in the background that matches the somber mood exuded in the film's monochrome or unsaturated tone.

The film opens with a shot of a photograph that has fallen on the floor. Upon seeing this photograph, the young man that picks it up is clearly disturbed by it, though we as audience members never see the photo itself. The close-up shots of the man's face and eyes highlights his changing emotions, and amplifies the viewers' reactions as his emotions change. I felt incredibly curious and anxious about the photo's contents before the film had even reached the end of its first minute.

One of the most intriguing parts of the film was the transitions from scene to scene. For example, going from the first scene to the next, the transition was almost seamless as the falling photo spiralled into a sheet of paper in the background of the next shot. The motion of the photo drew my eye, so I barely even noticed that the scene had changed until the camera had panned away from the fallen photo. Another example of this is soon after when a bird flies across the sun, which is then revealed to be a hanging lightbulb inside a house. These seamless transitions helped to hold my interest in the film and keep the ideas cohesive, as it felt like all of the scenes were connected, in time and emotion.

Trying to find a storyline or plot in this film would be an extensive exercise in futility. The young man picks up the photograph, starts to cry, the scene changes to an outdoor scene where a dog is found dead in the middle of the street- the first glimpse of color in the film- and then things start getting turned on their heads. Water droplets  fall upwards, and rain lends itself to reversed ripples on the surface of a puddle. I understand if the film is trying to portray how everything seems to fall apart in the face of incredibly sad events, but the scenes seem to only portray dread, depression, and monotony; none of these nearly as concrete as they could be.

One major flaw I found in the film was the inconsistent sound design in several places. The first initial scene with the young man and the photo was the first thing I noticed, since photos aren't printed on plain paper. The sound effect of the fluttering photograph was not unlike that of a normal sheet of paper being rustled about in midair. Secondly, the sound of rain on the roof of the structure in the middle of the film didn't sound authentic. It sounded like rain on concrete or asphalt, not the ringing cacophony that rain on metal provides. Another annoying surprise was the close-up shot of an ant scurrying around on the ground. I couldn't decide if the accompanying sound effect was meant to mimic the close-up scurrying of the ant, or if it was meant to be this unsettling alien-like sound. Either way, it diminished my immersion with the film, and could have been handled better.

Photographically, the black-and-white and desaturated color scheme was the perfect choice for this film. The somber mood doesn't lend itself well to vivid colors, and it is portrayed better by the simpler tones. The advantage to this is that the times where colors pop out are the times that are important thematically: the dead dog representing a tragedy, the water falling upwards off the pipe that symbolizes the world reacting to tragedy, and the drink in the glass that symbolizing coping with the tragedy. These colorful splashes help to segment the three different sections of the film thematically.

While the content of the film is somewhat disjointed, the overall experience projects what I believe the creator wanted. I would recommend this film to people who enjoy thinking about what they are watching.