My my, what a difference the better part of a decade makes.
For those of you that keep up with my weekly exploits, you may have already known that I am film school graduate (I would use the word “vet” in common parlance, but not to denigrate the efforts of men and women in uniform). The three years I spent learning about the craft will be a time I won’t forget (for better or worse).
I was digging through my computer the other day when I came across my film school application essay. You see, you had to pick a film you loved and discuss why. I figured everyone would most likely write up an older movie in order to “impress” the theoretical people that would be reading applications, so I went for a more modern flick. Below is my actual application essay unedited from the day I completed it. I kind of cringe when I read it nowadays (They STILL let me in after that terrible first sentence?) but hey, it is what it is.The film I would like to discuss is Tony Scott’s 2004 film, “Man on Fire” starring Denzel Washington. The film received critical praise in the summer of its release. Without going into a plot synopsis, there are many reasons as to why I like this film. First and foremost, is its degree of faithfulness to the book. Most of the plot points stay in tact (The search for the child) while others like the character names or the locations have been changed. The setting of Mexico works for the film. The colorful components of culture and architecture crashes into the grit of the grim tale of a kidnapping. Tony Scott’s goes to town with a new found visual style; a style he would later use in his films “Domino” (2005) and “Déjà vu” (2006). His flash bang transitions do a lot in increasing the intensity of the scenes. One example of this is when John Creasy (Washington) gets shot the first time. The camera itself seems to be an innocent bystander, ducking for cover. Something also interesting to note is the use of subtitles in the film. Since the film takes place in Mexico, naturally there is some dialog in Spanish. The subtitles originally convey the Spanish-speaking messages in English. As the film progresses and the intensity, the subtitles manifest themselves into something greater than translators. The size and speed of the font get larger when a character yells for instance. A character’s threat in English gets magnified by an English subtitle. At that point, “Man on Fire” feels like a visual comic book, allowing the audience to subconsciously stretch their collective suspension of disbelief. “Man on Fire” is a film that yields new discoveries on every viewing. Scott does an amazing job with taking standard revenge flick fare and injects enough personality into it to make it stand out against other films in the genre.
Aspiring scholar perhaps?