Monday, December 29, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Part III: Reactions

Have you ever wondered what a movie would be like without reactions? It would feel more sterile, less real. In this roundtable discussion with the moviemakers and actors who made 'Benjamin Button', the talented actress Taraji Henson (who played Queenie) describes a scene in which she explains to a young Benjamin that he was born under special cicumstances and people will react in different ways to him.

It made me reflect for a minute. We are all the product of our experiences AND we are the product of how people have reacted to us throughout our lives. The popular kids in high school experienced positive reactions. The kids in high school who were on the fringe may have experienced much less positive reactions, which reinforced their status and their view of themselves. Reactions matter a great deal. And they are ubiquitous. You experience them in every conversation you have every day, even if it is just an "uh huh" of a friend acknowledging that they are listening.

Cate Blanchett says "The hardest thing in the world to do as an actor is to react." She goes on to say that Benjamin's reactions to the events that sweep him along give a lot of insight into his character.

We try to capture as many reactions of guests at a wedding as possible. This requires a third cameraman whose main task is to catch the fleeting reactions. Not only does it seem more realistic, not only does it feel more like a movie with a story, but it allows you to see many of the guests behaving in a natural way, rather than being stood up before a wall and shot as though they were in front of a firing squad.

So, the next time you watch a feature film or a personal wedding movie, observe how often you see reactions and how much they enhance your movie-going experience.

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