Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Conversation Scene Analysis

In Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation," the scene in which Harry breaks into the hotel room is the climax of the film and also the most memorable scene that conveys that all things are not exactly how they seem. After Harry leaves Robert Duvall's office, his paranoia reaches new heights. Harry is hesitant but eager to find out if he really saw the woman murdered on the hotel balcony or not. After harry breaks into the hotel room, Cinematographer Bill Butler does a slow pan shot around the room as if it were from Harry's point of view.

As we enter the hotel room, we see the bathroom light on and hear the diagetic sound of water running while the camera is panning around the room. The room is dimly lite and it appears as if no one had rented out this room and no murder had taken place previously before. Harry along with the audience are confused and suspicion is at an all time high. After Harry hears the running water, he notices the bathroom light is on and the door is open. This leads us to believe that someone may have been in the room earlier since the light was left on and the running water was either coming from the sink or the shower.

As Harry walks into the bathroom, we are taken into a point of view shot of Harry looking down at the toilet and realizing that the sound of water running he heard was coming from the toilet. The sound of the toilet we hear in this scene is the sound one would hear after flushing a toilet and the toilet in this scene appears to be unused because it still has the wrapping around it. Harry understands this and is suspicious of it.

The only consistent sound in the scene at this point is the sound of the running water. Up until this scene, throughout the film we had heard the non diagetic score mixed in with the diagetic sounds in the film. Using diagetic sound for the majority of the climax builds eerie tension and anticipation for what awaits when Harry flushes the toilet and all of our suspicions and speculations are confirmed. Walter Murch deciding to utilize the sound a toilet makes after being flushed to get Harry's attention and speculation about the toilet connects to the central theme of paranoia because it shows that Harry's paranoia wasnt getting the best of him and he did actually witness a murder being commited. As soon as Harry lifts the toilet seat up, an eerie non diagetic score plays. Throughout the film, we consistently heard the same types of non diagetic songs playing but the song that plays during this climax is very eerie and conveys the feeling of discomfort and disgust.

Cinematographer Bill Butler choosing to position the camera behind Harry's feet in a mid shot gives us an uneasy feeling that makes us cringe and the shot placement makes it feel like Harry is trapped and cannot escape the overflow of blood. The blood overflowing at Harry's feet is symbolic because its almost as if it was Harry's fault this happened and now he has gotten the blood on him.

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