Experimental Film Critique


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/190986464″>Pattern of Life</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user3946359″>john butler</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

So I watched Pattern of Life by John Butler on Vimeo, and I can honestly say that my understanding of it has only become more muddled the more I watch it. This piece, I believe at least, is a dedication to the dynamic between the mobbed crowd and the ones who standout and become leaders. Though the processes and trials may seem strange, it is also built up to give strong realizations about reality to the child who is becoming this said leader. The whole thing is made in an amazing, and slightly creepy, world of 3D animation filled with bright colors and much use of blank spaces.

The very first shot is of a pair in full jumpsuits, made with extremely bright colors, watering a garden and admiring a fresh orange. The slow zoom through the grass feels as though we are sneaking in on the scene, and this is the beginning of a presumably normal routine.  The best way to describe the color use in this world is that everything is distinct and standout against everything else. This is important as the next shot is of a crowd walking towards a unknown destination. The crowd is brown, faceless, with only enough distinct shape to make out the people but no features. The sky is near to the same color of them, blending them into the world more. A series of medium shots show the movement of the crowd, and that they do indeed actually have some place to go instead of mindlessly wandering. A overhead shot shows the true size of the crowd, while again diminishing their actual size and scope with the color blending and the way its angled.

Disjointed and unsettling music brings us back to the bright and vivid experimentation room where we are treated to the actual testing of the leader child. This is where they lost me. I’m assuming that everything was a metaphor for something, but I’m just not getting it. Through the testing we get a series of tracking shots, dolley shots, close-ups, and overhead shots. All of them are used to emphasize the room, which seems to be the only real space they interact in, and the horrifying toy object in the room. The overhead shots are interesting. It really emphasizes the child parent role the narrator and these children have, the narrator sternly, though somewhat kindly, lecturing the children on how to survive in a harsh world.

Probably one of my favorite shots is the low angle shot of the… floating blog thing. It creates a strong advisory for the children that is intimidating. Then medium panning shots seem to be the children and the blob on the same playing field before the blog eventually died, another overhead shot turning a possible victory in another stern lesson from the narrator. In the end though the children have seemed to gain an advantage over the crowd as an over the shoulder shot puts one of the children on a pedestal over them.

I would actually love for other people to analyze this and comment their thoughts on this piece. It’s engaging, confusing, vibrant, off putting, and unsettling, but very interesting overall.

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