In my essay I will be comparing the generic conventions in the films ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ and ‘The Matrix’ during their shoot-outs. There are many different modern films today which use certain conventions to make great shoot-outs. These ideas have been originally adapted from the Western genre. Even in some spoof films they rely on the Western genre for intertextuality so we can recognise the out comes. Some typical conventions carried on through films are soundtracks, how people are dressed; and different shots types, especially close-ups, extreme close-ups and over the shoulder shots.
The shoot-out scene from ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ is set in a grave yard where Clint Eastwood, the goodie, Lee Van Cleef, the baddie and a third man who is confusing to know whether he is on either side all meet up. They stand on a large round platform which is like an arena – the setting for a great battle. It’s surrounded by blankets of grave stones stretching miles away.
This is quite alarming. It is a mise en scene symbolising death.
There are a lot of conventions, however, they aren’t as noticeable. For example, the hero, Clint Eastwood is wearing lighter coloured clothes compared to the baddie. Lee Van Cleef is dressed all in black suggesting he is an evil character. The soundtrack is a typical tune from the Western genre which the audience is able to recognise. I feel my emotions change dramatically each time the music is played, it makes the atmosphere more intense.
First the soundtrack is played for a short time during the build up of the shoot-out. Then there is a sudden stop. In this short interval there is a silence followed by some digetic sounds; church bells ringing and crows cawing.
These sounds suggest loneliness, desertion and death, they add to the intensity. The soundtrack starts again beginning with slight tinkling bells. The bells begin to fade as the soundtrack reaches a dramatic peak. This is when the viewer is emotionally struck by the fact that they know something important is about to happen. Music is played along with the soundtrack; it is a choir singing depressingly, this also suggests death. The music stops once again but this time the audience are on the edge of their seats, aware that something is about to happen.
Whilst the music is played other conventions are shown, especially quick sharp edits of different types of shots. Some of the shots of Clint Eastwood are taken from a low angle portraying him as superior to Lee Van Cleef. The camera flicks between the three men standing facing eachother. First a shot of the goodie, then the baddie and finally the scared and confused man. This sequence is repeated over and over again, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.’
The types of shots used are also in a sequence. First there is a slow panoramic shot of the three men, this helps the audience to identify what is happening. Secondly there is a shot which is repeated for each the good, the bad and the ugly. It is similar to an over the shoulder shot however, it is a behind the waist shot. It shows their hand next to their weapon, with their fingers hovering. This shot is important as it lets the audience see each characters point of view. From this, this audience can experience their emotions and be the characters positions’, this effect makes the audience seem more involved in the film. After there is a normal shot of each man and then the camera gradually zooms in to a close-up and an extreme close-up.
The extreme close-ups of the eyes of each character expose their true feelings. Clint Eastwood, the goodie looks prepared for anything but the baddie Lee Van Cleef looks worried and anxious. The other man’s stuttering movements and sweating face symbolizes fear and confusion. Finally there is a three shot, this is when the camera is positioned allowing all three characters to be seen. As I have been examining ‘The Matrix’ shoot-out, although the film is science fiction and very modern, there are a lot of similarities to ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.’ The main conventions that are most effective in ‘The Matrix’ are the different shots, the special effects and the slow motion.
In ‘The Matrix’ there is Neo, the goodie and Mr. Anderson, the baddie. They face each other in a gloomy underground metro station. Neo and Mr. Anderson are both dressed in black however, above and behind where Neo stands there is a heavenly bright light, it symbolises goodness, whilst Mr. Anderson stands in the dark, connoting evil. Before Neo and Mr. Anderson fight there is a silence.
They are facing eachother and the camera flicks between each ones point of view shot, there are many shot reverse shots too. Still in silence, a gust of wind is blown throughout the metro station. Newspapers skim across the floor between Neo and Mr. Anderson. This is like a modern day tumble weed, and creates tension. This is an example of intertextuality, it is similar to a Western convention therefore we know what to expect next. Also, there are close-ups of Neo and Mr. Anderson. Neo seems quite confident, however, Mr. Anderson is even more confident.
Neo and Mr. Anderson begin to fight and there are many special effects used. This also adds to the intensity as the baddie appears stronger and the fighting is more dramatic. There are weapons used in both ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ and ‘The Matrix’, the weapons make the scene more violent. There are differences between both films. Firstly in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ there is no speech however, in ‘The Matrix’ the baddie and the goodie talk to eachother before and during the shoot out.
They create tension as they seem to know the other persons thoughts. An example of this is when they tell eachother they have no bullets left, and they are right. Although, I think it is more intense when the characters don’t speak at all, as there is no giving away what will happen. Also in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ they deliberately dress the goodie in lighter coloured clothes although in ‘The Matrix’ they are both dressed in black. I preferred the difference in clothing in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.’ This is because it is more clear to see the difference between the goodie and the baddie.
In ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ Clint Eastwood is shown as superior to the baddie by low angle shots of him, but in ‘The Matrix’ there is a shot of the baddie looking down on Neo (a point of view shot in a high angle shot.) This shows the goodie inferior to the baddie. Overall from watching both shoot outs I would have to say I enjoyed ‘The Matrix’ but I preferred the shoot out from ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’.
The main reason for this is that ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ is a traditional cowboy shoot out with less special effects but just as much atmosphere and build up of tension. This is due to haunting music and extreme close-up shots. ‘The Matrix’ however is a futuristic shoot out high on special effects, modern day weapons and up-beat music. ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ really grabbed my imagination and I felt personally involved with the characters in the film.