Vocabulary: “Contrast”

A term that describes an acoustic and visual relationship between characters. It thus belongs in the same category as Shadow and Dance. Contrast refers to a relationship of opposition, difference or tension, resulting in a (narrative) conflict. The term has a specific meaning in both film direction and music composition and can be easily transfered to both practices.

Case 1: Space Cadet

‘Space Cadet’ (2013) by Seppe Dausi & Thomas Geudens

Filmmaker: Seppe Dausi

Strong differences have been created between both characters by using shape. The professor has a long, jagged nose and chin, whereas the assistant’s facial features are round and proportionate. In addition their body language denotes a power relationship, which becomes explicit in [00:25-00:29] and [00:44-00-47]. Not only the spatial composition but also the posture and expressions indicate a subordinate, fearful position of the assistant. Finally, several editing choices have been made to highlight the tension between both. In the second half of the film academic scenes are alternated with party scenes. Although the frantic movements in both are similar (and even suggest one continuous motion) strong cuts are created by using different colour schemes (neutral vs. strong), settings (laboratory vs. party) and moods (frantic vs. outgoing).

Music composer: Thomas Geuddens

Sound, intensity and register contribute to the creation of oppositions in the music score. Light, bell-like sounds in a high register contrast with massive sounds in a low register with a square, affirmative rhythmical expression of the piano. In the second half different genres are used to complement the strong cuts in the editing. A Predominantly classical orchestration is interchanged with a modern disco track.

Case 2: Vogelvlucht (Bird’s Eye)

‘Vogelvlucht’ (2014) by Marieke Van Ransbeeck and Laurence Verheijen

Filmmaker: Laurence Verheijen

In this film contrast is not used to create a strong tension but rather to define an initial atmosphere. The gradual change of mood throughout the film can be considered, in terms of narration, as a solution of this conflict. There exists an initial contrast between the protagonist (the bird) and the environment (including all other characters) by the use of color (grey vs. saturated colors) and movement (fluid motion vs. inactivity).

Music composer: Marieke Van Ransbeek

Although the opening scenes are characterized by musical harmony, the initial mood strongly contrasts with the musical solution reached in the end. Whereas the beginning is characterized by a lyrical melodic idiom, at the end a rhythmical, playful melodic idiom is applied. The whistle and the vocal parts at the end intesify this opposition as they refer back to the tone set in the beginning.

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