Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Killer Of Sheep

I choose a scene from Charles Burnett's Killer Of Sheep for my Scene Analysis. The scene stands out in my mind because of its use of visuals to set the tone of the characters and surroundings. The scene is when the father and his friend go to a house of people in hopes of buying a car engine from them. The two enter a small, cramped apartment with an injured man lying on the floor next to the engine and three other circled around a table playing cards.
The first thing the viewer becomes aware of is just the confined, cramped space of the apartment and the spacing of the characters from one another. As a member of the audience, I felt very closed in and uncomfortable in the space and also imagined how hard it would have to be for all four members of the household to coexist in such a small area. The man that is obviously holds the power of the household sits at the table, between a woman and another man. He is the farthest in the room from the father and his friend and silence all when he speaks. He is also the only one in the room wearing any kind of "fancy" clothing. I would imagine he must have been some kind of neighborhood hustler that was trying to pawn off a rusty motor. The whole relationship of the interaction of the household and closed in feeling speaks to the ominous, imprisonment feeling the film holds in full.
The injured man lies on the ground parallel to the old engine. The roll of the man and piece of machinery seem almost interchangeable. The man has no job and the engine has no car. The man asks for money and the engine is about to be sold. Both hold extreme doubt because of their dreadful condition and their value is questioned. This seems to relate to the theme that the people in this community have nor more worth than an object or an animal.
Though technically the next scene, when the father and friend carry their newly acquired engine from the hustler's apartment, the audience is given the tone of struggle that appears over and over in the film. Not only do these poor men have spend their little amount of money on a broken down engine, but they have to struggle their way down flights of steps and cover ground to get to the truck. The long shot is painful to watch as the two men grunt and struggle to the old pickup. They finally make it and hoist the engine onto the bed of the truck. But the fools do not secure it and it falls off the truck and is destroyed when they drive off. This is much like other events in the film that show a struggle and almost obtaining something yet falling short and being disappointed.
One could look at almost any one scene from Killer Of Sheep and come up with a list of themes and insights into the film. And by just comparing a handful of them together, the lists of themes and purposes of the film will line up more and more.

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