In the end, everyone is flawed, the racism is inescapable, and the audience feels a twinge of empathy for just about everyone




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Stage 2 English Communications: Crash Film Study

"In the end, everyone is flawed, the racism is inescapable, and the audience feels a twinge of empathy for just about everyone.”

W
Communication

Demonstrates fluent and precise writing using an appropriate style (e.g. formal, sophisticated language using a diverse vocabulary) and structure (e.g. an introduction that clearly states the point of view).


ho did you feel most empathy for in this film and why? Support your comments with close reference to the characters, incidents and filmic treatment in your answer.

The film, Crash, exemplifies fear as a motivator for human behavior and displays that innately everyone is flawed. Our identities are determined by the choices we make and our reactions to others, regardless of class, ethnicity, culture or language. Through the use of an ironic script, symbolism and effective cinematography, Director, Paul Haggis, encourages us to empathize with characters such as Daniel, the Latino locksmith. Contrasting with many of the other characters, Daniel's non-confrontational attitude is admirable and essentially his salvation.

D
Knowledge and Understanding

Demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the ways film makers use the language techniques of film (e.g. camera angles, costume design and shots) to create an empathetic reaction from the viewers toward Daniel.


aniel, played by Michael Pena, is a family man whose primary motive is to provide for and protect his family. In contrast to many other characters, the 'crashes' in his life are beyond his control and despite trying to help people, he experiences bigotry and class superiority which evokes empathy from the audience. Daniel is first introduced at the home of the wealthy Cabbots, whose recent car-jacking has caused them to replace the locks. Daniel's social standing is suggested with the use of camera angles and stereotypes. This is evidenced in the Cabbot's kitchen as the shot pans down Jean Cabbot's feet as she descends the stairs, where her high physical position indicates her class superiority juxtaposed by Daniel, subordinately crouched beneath the stairs fixing a lock. Furthermore costume design has been used to imply Daniel is a "gang-banger", which is accentuated by close-ups of tattoos, a shaved head and low-slung jeans. His appearance prompts Jean to stereotype, stating "your amigo in there is gonna sell our key to one of his homies..." Overhearing this comment Daniel leaves as the camera poignantly focuses on two sets of keys left on the kitchen bench. This scene inevitably persuades the audience to feel empathically for Daniel; racially profiled and judged solely on his appearance.

This scene is later contrasted as Daniel is shown as a caring family-man and the motivation for his action is revealed. After returning home from work, Daniel visits his five-year-old daughter's bedroom. He finds Lara curled beneath her bed, afraid that a bullet will tear through her window. The scene is softly lit as hushed lullaby-type' music plays in the background suggesting the room is a safe oasis from the world. He proceeds to tell Lara a story about a fairy and 'gives' her an imaginary 'cloak of invincibility' that has protected him, "And my whole life, I never got shot, stabbed, nothing." Close-up camera angles display the faces of Daniel and Lara depicting the emotion in the scene.




Analysis

Demonstrates perceptive analysis of a range of ways in which directors of films use conventions such as symbolism to influence the reactions and opinions of the audience.



Furthermore, Daniel's character has a deeper symbolic meaning. Paul Haggis has used the movement through doors as a filmic technique to switch between each character's storyline. As a chapter closes or opens in the lives of one of the characters, a physical representation is depicted by the closing or opening of doors; elevators, cars, shops. However the 'doors' and locks can be viewed on a deeper level as symbolising the transition point of the characters' situations and ultimately the choices in their lives. Daniel, as in his profession of 'fixing' locks, is able to assist others to realize their short comings. He is unable to 'fix' doors, yet he can mend broken 'locks'. By refraining from retaliation when he is referred to as a 'Gang-banger', Daniel is halting the chain of racism by not reacting to the slur. This is also clearly highlighted in Daniel's encounter with Farhad, which eventually shifts Farhad's perception of the world.

The audience is persuaded to empathise further for Daniel as he is called to fix a lock for Persian store-owner, Farhad. Through close ups of Daniel struggling to close the door, it is evident the door, not the lock, requires repair. As Daniel explains the situation to Farhad, he is the subject of abuse as a consequence of Farhad's poor English skills and his own form of racism. Exceedingly frustrated, Daniel throws the account in a rubbish bin and leaves. Again this displays how Daniel cannot help Farhad, with his door or symbolically his aggravation. Rather than retaliating, Daniel avoids confrontation and walks out. Farhad's intent is made clear later when, after being burgled, he searches through the dumpster before the camera focuses on Daniel's address on the account.

A


Application

Incorporates detailed and appropriate use of evidence from texts including reference to specific shots, quotes from the characters in the film and discussion of juxtaposition and symbolism.


new scene opens with a slow-motion shot of Daniel's van pulling into his driveway in the side-mirror of Farhad's car, suggesting Farhad's pre-meditated revenge. As Farhad alights from his car the shot frames Farhad's gun, as Daniel unpacks his van in the background. This shot is juxtaposed by Lara inside, watching her dad out the window beside their Christmas tree and nativity scene; a further indication of the religious and wholesome nature of the family. The pace of the film slows as Lara dashes from the house screaming "He doesn't have it!" meaning his 'cloak of invincibility'. Just as Lara jumps into his arms, Farhad shoots and the camera cuts to Daniel's distraught face. Later it is revealed she is unharmed as Farhad's own daughter has loaded the gun with blanks. Yet again, instead of abusing Farhad, Daniel simply turns and takes his daughter and distraught wife inside, closing the door and ending the 'encounter'. This scene summarizes Daniel's character and his ability to 'help' others or 'fix locks'. As Farhad is left to ponder his actions, there is an overhead shot of a broken man and the American flag – symbolizing liberty, equality and freedom – flies poignantly in the background. Later a regretful Farhad is seen slumped on the floor. It is at this point that Farhad acknowledges he is not only a victim of racial abuse but a perpetrator.
The audience is persuaded to feel empathically for Daniel as a consequence of the difficult situations he is faced with, whilst admiring his actions. This is accentuated by effective characterization, symbolism and filming techniques. In essence, Daniel is everything we strive to be and his character exemplifies how having a non-judgmental attitude towards others allows us to make appropriate choices in life and not increase cultural, social and racial tensions.
998 words



Performance Standards for Stage 2 English Communications




Knowledge and Understanding

Analysis

Application

Communication

A

Detailed and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the ways in which a wide variety of texts are shaped by the conventions of a particular form of expression or communication.

Knowledge and understanding of the ways in which creators and readers of familiar and unfamiliar texts use a range of language techniques and strategies to make meaning.

Detailed knowledge and understanding of the ideas and themes in familiar and unfamiliar texts.

Knowledge and understanding of a wide range of ways of defining and attracting a target audience for familiar and unfamiliar texts and examples of communication.


Perceptive analysis of a range of ways in which authors use the conventions of different text types to influence opinions and decisions in familiar and unfamiliar contexts.

Analysis of complex connections between personal ideas, experiences, values, and beliefs, and those explored in familiar and unfamiliar texts.

Comprehensive and analytical understanding of the ideas, experiences, values, and beliefs explored in a range of familiar and unfamiliar texts.


Use of a wide range of language skills and techniques to create sophisticated and coherent texts that address the meaning and intention of the task.

Detailed and appropriate use of evidence from texts to support responses, with textual references incorporated fluently.

Skills in using the structural, conventional, and textual features of text types for a range of familiar and unfamiliar contexts, audiences, and purposes.

Versatile and creative production of texts for a variety of familiar and unfamiliar contexts, audiences, and purposes.


Fluent and precise writing and speaking, using appropriate style and structure for a range of mainly unfamiliar audiences and contexts.

Appropriate use of language to convey mostly complex meaning in a range of unfamiliar contexts.



B

Knowledge and understanding of the ways in which a range of texts are shaped by the conventions of a particular form of expression or communication.

Knowledge and understanding of the ways in which creators and readers of mainly familiar texts use some language techniques and strategies to make meaning.

Knowledge and understanding of some ideas and themes in familiar, and some unfamiliar, texts.

Knowledge and understanding of a range of ways of defining and attracting a target audience for mainly familiar texts and examples of communication.



Analysis of a range of ways in which authors use the conventions of different text types to influence opinions and decisions in familiar, and some unfamiliar, contexts.

Analysis of some complex and simple connections between personal ideas, experiences, values, and beliefs, and those explored in familiar, and some unfamiliar, texts.

Analytical understanding of the ideas, experiences, values, and beliefs explored in a range of familiar, and some unfamiliar, texts.


Use of a range of language skills and techniques to create clear and coherent texts that address the meaning and intention of the task.

Use of evidence from texts to support responses, with textual references incorporated.

Skills in using some of the structural, conventional, and textual features of text types for a range of mainly familiar, and some unfamiliar, contexts, audiences, and purposes.

Production of texts for a variety of mainly familiar, and some unfamiliar, contexts, audiences, and purposes.



Mostly fluent and precise writing and speaking, using appropriate style and structure for a range of mostly familiar audiences and contexts.

Appropriate use of language to convey complex and simple meaning in a range of familiar and unfamiliar contexts.



C

Knowledge and understanding of some of the ways in which texts are shaped by the conventions of a particular form of expression or communication.

Knowledge and understanding of a number of ways in which creators and readers of a narrow range of familiar texts use some language techniques and strategies to make meaning.

Recounts of some of the ideas and themes in familiar texts.

Knowledge and understanding of a restricted range of ways of defining and attracting a target audience for familiar texts and examples of communication.



Descriptive analysis of a number of ways in which authors use the conventions of different text types to influence opinions and decisions in familiar texts.

Analysis of simple connections between personal ideas, experiences, values, or beliefs, and those explored in familiar texts.

Analytical understanding of some ideas, experiences, values, and beliefs explored in a range of mainly familiar texts.


Use of language skills and techniques to create texts that address the meaning and intention of the task.

Competent use of evidence from texts to support responses, with some use of textual references.

Skills in using some of the structural, conventional, and textual features of some text types for familiar contexts, audiences, and purposes.

Production of texts for familiar contexts, audiences, and purposes.



Generally fluent and functional writing and speaking, using appropriate style and structure for familiar audiences and contexts.

Appropriate use of language to convey simple meaning in a narrow range of familiar and unfamiliar contexts.



D

Knowledge and understanding of a limited number of ways in which texts are shaped by the conventions of a particular form of expression or communication.

Knowledge and understanding of some of the ways in which creators and readers of a narrow range of familiar texts use language techniques and strategies to make simple or factual meaning.

Identification of some of the ideas and themes in some familiar texts.

Knowledge and understanding of a way of defining and attracting a target audience for a familiar text or example of communication.



Reference to some ways in which authors use a range of the conventions of different text types to influence opinions and decisions in familiar texts.

Reference to simple connections between uncomplicated personal ideas, experiences, values, or beliefs, and those explored in familiar texts.

Analytical understanding of the ideas, experiences, values, or beliefs explored in a familiar text.


Use of language skills and techniques to create texts that partly address the meaning and intention of the task.

Some use of evidence from texts to support responses, with restricted use of textual references.

Skills in using some of the structural, conventional, or textual features of a text type for a familiar context, audience, or purpose.

Production of a limited number of texts for highly familiar contexts, audiences, and purposes.



Achievement of a level of fluency in writing and speaking in personally relevant situations, using appropriate style and structure for a narrow range of familiar audiences and contexts.

Occasionally appropriate use of language to convey simple meaning in familiar contexts.



E

Knowledge and understanding of a way in which a text is shaped by the conventions of a particular form of expression or communication.

Knowledge and understanding of the way in which a creator or reader of a highly familiar text uses a language technique or strategy to make factual meaning.

Identification of an idea or a theme in a familiar text.

Emerging development of knowledge and understanding of a way of defining and attracting a target audience for a highly familiar text or example of communication.



Reference to the way in which an author uses the conventions of different text types to influence opinions and decisions in a highly familiar text.

Recognition of a simple connection between a straightforward personal idea, experience, value, or belief, and that explored in a highly familiar text.

Development of understanding of the ideas, experiences, values, or beliefs explored in a highly familiar text.


Attempted use of a restricted range of language skills and/or techniques to create a text or texts that attempt to address the meaning or intention of the task.

Restricted use of evidence from texts to support a simple response, with textual reference.

Skills in using the structural, conventional, or textual features of a text type for a highly familiar context, audience, or purpose.

Production of a text for a highly familiar context, audience, and purpose.



Emerging development of fluency in writing and speaking in personally relevant situations, using appropriate style and structure for a narrow range of highly familiar audiences and contexts.

Occasionally appropriate use of language to convey literal meaning in highly familiar contexts.




Page of Stage 2 English Communication annotated student response for use from 2011

(October 2010)



© SACE Board of South Australia 2010


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