The presence of media in a clip from The Machurian Candidate

The Manchurian Candidate does a beautiful in symbolism, strange camera angles, and sound to put power onto their characters and scenes. It serves well for a debate about how the role of media could affect a person and a nation, and you only need one person to roll the ball to cause a chaotic mess for the fight of communism.

The Manchurian Candidate, created in 1962 that revolved around the events of the Cold War, in which the paranoia for communism was at an all time high in America. Propaganda against the idea of communist or a critical comment about the silliness of it, the film is,overall, carefully crafted in every scene, speech, sound, and so forth to bring whatever message the director tried to impose. I will be analyzing a certain scene from the film that uses a couple camera shot effects and sound that makes the scene very intense. The elements used reflects a symbol of manipulation and force by one of the main villains to enact a domino effect and create an upper-hand for them for their next acts in the movie.

The scene begins with a public relations meeting with the Secretary of State surrounded by dozens of cameras and reporters, taken as a shot from above to show the entire room. The second shot is also of a man with a camera and the scene is film next with a camera pan of the room that shows camera’s focusing on the secretary talking. There is also one tv during the beginning of the pan that is showing the secretary, possibly live, and another tv near Eleanor Iselin at the end of the pan. Why so many camera’s and and tvs? Considering that the whole meeting must be important for many reporters to record the secretary, it also represents this very centered aspect of how media is heavily involved with politics within the film. There is barely any space without seeing a reporter or camera, possibly a metaphor for how there is no privacy within the legislation, especially if it is during an era where communism is considered the biggest threat by the United States.

Once the panning does stop, Eleanor gives the signal to her husband John to make his grand proclamation that he has found over two hundred communists in the government. The spectacle is taken aback by the secretary, and the camera shots at him again where he accidentally insults John. This results to a very quick camera shot of a zoomed part between Marco and the secretary, as he blocks the microphones and tells him that he could not do that, even if it was true. It is true though, because of the presence of the cameras he can not tarnish his image so easily. The scene continues in a back and forth shot between the secretary and John. The tvs are now recording John much more than the secretary, gearing the attention away from him to focus on a man and his ridicules. It is important to remember that this was an era in American history in which anything communistic, whether it was or not, was bound to be recorded and taken seriously by the media. This was a perfect transition of how this was captured and thus begins the domino effect.

Notice how Eleanor takes more of the shot when camera is supposedly shooting John, but really, you mostly Eleanor looking at the tv with John on the screen. This is a metaphor of Eleanor’s power amongst the ordeal. She had no lines and yet knew and controlled the situation by choosing when John should speak and starting the frenzy being recorded by several cameras and reporters. John is simply a puppet of Eleanor. John is certainly clear enough to be seen by the viewer to focus on but because he is blocked out by Eleanor and the tv showing him, it proves that only his voice and image are important, not his physical, actual self for the viewer. Eleanor used John to gain media attention, which is symbolized by her looking at the tv rather than her husband.

Another important feature to pay attention to is the sound, as we hear the faint buzzing noise of the tv in the first half of the clip which ends with people screaming. This only adds emphasis of the presence of the media everywhere in the room. The sound gets slightly louder and louder when John begins to talk which then ends with a mixture of arguing and screaming when he announces his communist findings. We can barely hear what he is saying anymore, putting more focus on the chaos between both John and the secretary, I also noticed a faster back and forth shot during the argument that came with the yelling sound.The sound of disorientation plays a role of how critical his statements are but also blocking what he is saying because anything else he says is not as important. He only needs to bring an uproar to the crowd about communism and everyone goes insane.

The point of the strategies used has always been to bring attention to John, in a media type of way. The camera angles, the sound, it helps emphasize his importance and lack of importance on how he is represented on television. He becomes important, for Eleanor in this case, as he is planning to run for president and if he does feed the audience of his knowledge to stop and arrest the communists he “found” it puts him in a strange positive light because of the heated and hatred view against communism by the public of America. Eleanor is shown to be the main perpetrator to cause the events, and her subtle and strong presence is shown by the way she takes up half of the shot when John speaks. She wants to feed the people of the U.S. what they actually want to see, which is a decrease of communism. John is insignificant because he is just a puppet, he only serves as recording for another voice.
The Manchurian Candidate does a beautiful in symbolism, strange camera angles, and sound to put power onto their characters and scenes. It serves well for a debate about how the role of media could affect a person and a nation, and you only need one person to roll the ball to cause a chaotic mess for the fight of communism.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s