Grade 9 English
In Grade 9 English, we studied a unit on trailers, The Great Gatsby, war and love poems, and The Taming of the Shrew.
This unit was based around the study of film and advertising techniques, particularly in the use of trailers. We looked at how film makers use mise en scene, symbolism, lettering, music, structure, camera shots, editing, and other features to sell their product to their respective audience. The students analysed a poster of their choice, wrote an essay comparing two trailers, and even created their own trailers.
Poster Analysis for Alice in Wonderland (2010)
by Siri Cervin
The composition of the poster is divided along the horizontal into three parts. Each section has a different main focus, but also connect seamlessly together. The text is relatively minimal but the layout is unusual in that the title and release date of the film appears three times, almost as if each third represents a separate poster within the poster. The text that is repeated emphasizes the title, Alice in Wonderland, as well as the fact that it is a Disney production and that it is available “In Amazing 3D 3/5/10.” The text in the centre of the poster provides additional details, with actor Johnny Depp’s name and “A Film by Tim Burton” above the title, and further information about the production in small print. The title appears in white on the left and right thirds and in dark purple in the centre, and the release information appears in light pink in the left and centre thirds, and in a darker magenta shade on the right third. It is unclear why the latter text is in a different colour. The main text uses a custom font that is similar, but not identical, to the font on posters for previous Tim Burton movies.
Visually, each third of the poster focuses on a main character or characters, with the title character of Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska, on the left, along with the White Rabbit. The centre section shows the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp, and the Caterpillar. It is clear from the fact that Depp’s name appears above the title and is the only actor’s name displayed that he is considered the most recognisable ‘star’ of the film. The final third on the right is the most visually crowded, showing the Red Queen, played by Helena Bonham Carter, the White Queen, played by Anne Hathaway, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and the Cheshire Cat in the background. The left and right thirds use darker tones than the bright centre third, and although the right side is somewhat busier, the poster’s composition has a certain symmetry to it that is pleasing to the eye.
The composition follows the rule of thirds not only along the horizontal axis, but also from top to bottom, with the characters appearing the centre along the vertical axis. The poster also uses depth to add further layers to the composition. The curling branches that appear in the foreground are a visual marker of Tim Burton’s signature style, which fans of Burton will immediately recognise. In the left section, the roses with human faces appear in the foreground, Alice appears in the middle ground, and the White Rabbit is in the middle-foreground. The background shows a tea party with a small Mad Hatter, as well as a door and stairs leading down towards the path where Alice is standing. The mushrooms help divide the horizontal axis and lead the eye from the foreground to the background; they also provide a frame for the Mad Hatter in the middle ground and the castle in the background. The Caterpillar appears in the middle-background. The right third is the most cluttered, with mushrooms, roses and branches filling up the foreground, the Red Queen in the middle-foreground, the White Queen and Tweedledee and Tweedledum in the middle ground, and the Cheshire Cat superimposed over the clouds in the background.
The overall effect of the poster is that it shows the visual style of the film and introduces the main characters. Even without knowing the story, the viewer can immediately tell that the film is set in an outlandish, fantastical setting: Wonderland. The poster includes many details that appeal to viewers who are already familiar with the source material of Lewis Carroll’s books or the classic animated Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. The visual tone of the poster is both very colourful and shows the darker elements of this adaptation through the makeup and the general creepiness of many of the characters. The poster matches the fantasy/adventure genre of the film and is designed to appeal to both children and adults.
The purpose of a poster, unlike a trailer, is not to convey the plot but rather to convey a mood or a general sense of the film, and to intrigue the viewer. The poster for Alice in Wonderland is visually appealing and somewhat intriguing, but it also relies heavily on the much-beloved story and the popularity of both Tim Burton and the actors in the movie.
Room poster analysis
by Andrea Wiklund
This movie cover is for the movie Room. This movie was released in 2015, but was earlier published as a book in 2010. The poster has some aspects making it easy to make assumptions about the movie, but it also contains more hidden meanings making you read between the lines, and look a little further.
In the cover it is as if they are in a room, outdoors. You can see the lines of where the walls and ceiling would be in a regular room, but instead of having kept it as plain walls they made it into a sky. This was to show that they got out of the room and to represent freedom. There is actually a lot of contrast in the cover because it looks like they are in a room but you can tell by their facial expressions that they are very happy and there is a lot of love.
The title of the movie, “ROOM” is not very large on the poster. It does not take up a lot of space, and as you can see the mother and son are the main aspect on the poster. They are very large compared to the word “ROOM”. This is showing how the mother and son overpowered the room and how they got through it larger than ever.
The designers of the movie cover chose to put lines, like a box around the word “ROOM”. This was to represent the walls that they were trapped inside while they were being kept in the room. They are not necessarily there, just to look like walls but also to show the feeling of the words being trapped inside. This is a metaphor where the word “ROOM” is the mother and son, and the box around it is the room and the kidnapper.
There are some clouds in the sky and if you look closely you will find that the darkest of the clouds are in the corner of the “room” and almost look as if they are traveling outwards, as in away from the corner of the room. This could show the idea of escaping from a small and dark place. You can also tell that the birds are flying away from the photo and not in closer to the corner.
While looking at the poster you will notice that it is fall in the area that they live in, they are wearing quite warm clothes and the leaves are orange and yellow behind them, the air looks very crisp and the weather does not look great. If you read through the text you will see that the movie was released in fall 2015, The important text on the poster is also in a deep yellow tone, another typical “fall” colour. I think that these three aspects of the poster were connected to create a subliminal message, imprinting in your mind to go and see the movie during the fall.
The quote “Love knows no boundaries” is written towards the top of the poster. This quote is used a lot in our daily lives, creating a real life connection with the readers. Using this quote will make the reader think about the true meaning of the movie, because it is not often used quite so literally. This quote is most often used in situations about racism or homophobia for example, but on the poster it has a whole different meaning, it is referring to boundaries as in literal walls.
All the important factors of the poster all connect in the way that they are all written in the same colour. This could be used as another subliminal message as all the key parts stand out and stick with you. This could have been used as another “mind game” sort of so you connect the word/title “ROOM” with the word “FALL” at the bottom.
The way that the son is looking at the mother in the poster makes it seem like she is the only person in the world and the only person that he has ever loved because, she is. You can really tell by the way that they are looking at eachother that they are very connected in a special way, leading you to believe that there is something deeper than just a mother- son relationship.
In the poster you can see that the mother is holding the son up. I think that this represents that he relies completely on his mother. This is another metaphor to show how she has been carrying him through life, and he knows nothing other than what she has told and taught him. Her carrying him is also a metaphor to show that he cannot take care of himself as he has never seen or experienced the real world and she has.
Finding Dory Poster Analysis
Finding Dory is the sequel to Finding Nemo, and was released 13 years after it's predecessor. There are many different posters promoting the movie, however the one being analyzed is the most prominent. It primarily uses placement to subtly accent certain things, however it does also use lighting and colour.
The poster uses placement to accent main characters and reveal the overall manner in which the plot will unfold. Starting at the top of the poster, many large sea creatures are placed at the top of the poster. These creatures are known to be friendly characters in Finding Nemo, especially the sting rays (Nemo's teacher is a stingray), and dolphins are generally recognized to be friendly creatures. Specific creatures (the baluga and the shark) have been placed further forward in the scene, contrasting with the animals around them specifically accentuate there characters, the smiles on their faces showing that they are friendly and will help Dory in the film. Their gaze is directed directly at Dory. By using the similar looking fish above the more prominent characters, the more prominent characters are emphasized. This means that the viewer is made subconsciously aware of their importance in the movie.
Following the gaze of the main characters to the protagonist of the movie, Dory is placed in the centre of the poster. She has a confused and scared look on her face, which contrasts do everything around her. She is surrounded by fish, the fish above her being willing to help. She also has her friends just nearby, right behind her. However, right above her is text that reads "an unforgettable journey she probably won't remember." This reminds the viewer that she has a terrible memory, and that despite everyone being around her, she lives only in the present moment (that moment being that she is lost), and does not take the time to look around her. The effect of this is that the viewer is left wondering about what happens to Dory next, and how she ended up in the middle of the ocean in the first place.
Continuing with the heavy usage of placement, under Dory are more hostile looking characters. They are made hostile by their presence in deeper ocean, which is therefore darker. They also have more grumpy faces, and are larger. Their presence shows that if Dory goes upwards she will find a way home, however if she goes downwards, she will only get more separated from her friends. This leaves the viewer wanting to know which way Dory will go, encouraging them to come see the film.
It should also be noted that in the lower, darker depths is an octopus, who ends up playing a fairly major role in the story. His presence in the darker section provides insight as to his character. It shows the viewer that he is an important character, however, as he is with the meaner looking fish, the viewer would think that he is perhaps a more evil character (which is partially true), or has a rather unfavourable personality. The menacing look on his face further aids this feature. By including this in the poster, the viewer is left with a feeling that Dory may be in danger, however does not know in what way, or what will happen. This intrigues the viewer and makes them want to find out more, and the only way to find out more is by watching the film.
Another key feature used in the poster is high key lighting. The poster uses this high key lighting, combined with realistic light diffusion through the water to create a sense of depth. This sense of depth plays a key role in the poster. The brighter, more friendly light that creates the whiter blue helps enunciate the friendly characteristics of the sea creatures that are present there. It allows for the poster to emanate the fact that if Dory swims upwards she will find respite. The light quickly diffuses and turns into a darker colour. This darker colour helps immensely in creating the harsh, unfriendly and more city-like atmosphere present, again aiding in conveying the message of Dory being in danger.
In addition, the light shines at an angle that leads directly to the octopus, subconsciously directing the viewer to the menacing looking octopus.
Considering all of the different features that are used in the poster, one very clear message is produced; that Dory is in danger. All of the features clash, and by placing Dory in the middle of the poster, it seems as though her innocent, forgetful character found itself in between two different worlds, one wishing to help Dory, the other a danger to her. As such, the viewer is left wondering what happens to Dory, feeling sorry for her, and also hoping that she will swim upwards rather than downward. As such, the viewer will want to find out what happens by watching the film.
Trailer - Comparative essays
Coming soon… The effectiveness of movie trailers - Inception and The Visit
by Nikhita Mani
“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” , the words of Alfred Hitchcock, the King of suspense, aptly describe the feeling that the trailers of both “The Visit” and “Inception” evoke in their audiences. The Visit, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is a horror film released in 2015 and Inception is an action-science fiction, fantasy film, directed by Christopher Nolan and released in 2010 . Although the two films are from two very different genres, the trailers share common elements that leave viewers, despite their brevity, on the edge of their seats. In an attempt to define good and bad qualities of teasers, this essay will look at the effectiveness of the trailers’ use of music, camera angles and lettering. An effective trailer aims to motivate the audience to watch the movie.
Music and sound are essential elements of a movie trailer that captivate the audience’s attention and promote the movie. In “The Visit”, the music and sound evolves from being happy, joyful and upbeat in its pace and tone building up to a more sinister tone and quality. At the start, he music is non-diegetic and parallel and conveys a happy mood. There is a sudden turn in the mood/tone of the music and sounds that makes it more eerie. The music changes to contrapuntal, as the soft tones of the child’s music box contrast with the scary scene. The use of this music is very interesting as although it is perceived as parallel, it is actually contrapuntal, as it represents the innocence of child’s “music box”. This is very effective as it capitalises on the conditioning of the horror film industry, which evokes an association of the innocent sounds of childhood with sinister motives. The music builds up as it picks up pace till it climaxes into a blood curdling scream. The sudden sharp pause heightens the anticipation and lack of music in this segment amplifies the terror of the seemingly simple statement of the grandmother, “Would you mind getting in the oven to clean it?”. This works as an effective tool in conjuring up images of the well-known fairy tale ’Hansel and Gretel’, resulting in the conditioned response of terror in the viewer. Just as the audience has a chance to catch their breath, the screaming sounds build on the terror to end abruptly with silence interspersed with only some eerie crackles. The combination of harsh, loud sounds like chain-clanging and loading a shotgun superimposed on the sinister music make the trailer true to its horror genre. Similar to “The Visit”, the music in inception builds up, but it does so by an increase in volume, rather than just the pace and tone, which induces more a sense of intrigue rather than terror. There is an interesting use of diegetic voice-overs throughout the trailer that creates suspense. The music is parallel and true to the action packed film. The use of dialogue is amplified by the lowering of the volume when the characters speak. The increase in volume and pace is effective in creating suspense, leaving the viewer wanting more. The trailer creates intrigue by the use of specific quotations as voice-overs, like “there is one thing you should know about me, I specialise a very specific type of security (gun loading)..subconscious security..”. The pause and stresses in the delivery of dialogue coupled with the loading of the gun leave the viewer on edge. As the trailer progresses, the heroic and dramatic music intensifies the sense of action and adventure. The clever use of dialogue stimulates thought, curiosity and intrigue and eludes to dystopian feel and the invites the viewer to question if the distorted fantasy could actually be true. The music in the two trailers is different but true to their genres and therefore equally effective.
Text/lettering is another technique trailers use to advertise a movie. “The Visit” trailer uses text to introduce the director, which attracts the audience and sets an expectation given Shyamalan’s reputation interesting twists and innovative direction. The use of blood-red font against a stark, foggy white forest background integrates well with the horror genre and develops the atmosphere of fear, which is reinforced by the bold, capitalised, blood-red font of the title at the end against cold, spooky blue hues of the sky. The text/lettering speaks heavily to its target audience of horror fans, but doesn’t attempt to attract other viewers. In contrast, the metallic hues of the test/lettering in the “Inception” trailer give a robotic, science fiction feel. Similar to the visit, it also exploits the reputation of Christopher Nolan and his previous work. It also uses its famous cast through the text to attract the fan base. The use of text is more interesting in the “Inception” trailer as it seeds intrigue by implying that “your mind is the scene of the crime”. Both trailers time the display of text to the beat of the music that build tension and anticipation. Overall, the use of text is more effective in the “Inception” trailer as it goes beyond just using famous names, but successfully conveys hints to the storyline by the use of thought-provoking text.
Camera angles, editing and lighting are a crucial part of film-making and they have been used effectively but in different ways in the two trailers. In “The Visit”, the use of hand-held camera shots, especially from the viewpoint of the kids heightens the realism and therefore the terror experienced by the audience. In contrast, the trailer for “Inception” shifts between close-ups and wide angle shots to portray action and suspense. In the “Inception”, the clever use of crane/establishing shots to show where the action would occur but not revealing the action itself creates curiosity and is therefore is very effective. “The Visit” trailer uses jump cuts between interviews and scenes to give a sense of edginess, in line with its horror theme. In the trailer for “Inception”, jump-cuts are used to edit the fast-paced, action packed scenes in contrast to fading in and out in the other scenes. This magnifies the action as the trailer progresses. The lighting in “The Visit” trailer transitions from bright high-key to dark and low-key with the change in mood or tone, reminiscent of a “volta” in a Petrarchan sonnet. In the trailer for “Inception”, low-key, high-key and back-lighting creates different atmospheres. There is a great example at 0:15 where the use of low-key back lighting in a low-angle shot creates silhouetting which makes the character look mysterious, powerful and imposing and the scene full of suspense. The film also uses high-key lighting to create drama at 0:50. In my view, the use of hand-held point-of-view camera angles from a child’s perspective in “The Visit” is extremely effective as it compounds the sense of horror. On the other hand, the editing in the “Inception” trailer creates a manic pace which is augmented by the effective use of low-key and high-key lighting to create suspense.
As I have shown in the above paragraphs, music, sound, text/lettering, camera angles, editing and lighting are important elements of a film trailer. They can be effectively used in a variety of ways to suit the genre and appeal to the target audience. However, to be effective adverts for the film, these various techniques need to blend together to evoke emotions as their primary purpose is to entice the audience to watch the film. So the effectiveness of a trailer can be judged by its ability not only to captivate fans but to motivate newer audiences. In this respect, the trailer for “Inception” is very effective as it will appeal to broader audience because it does not limit itself to a particular genre and withholds just enough to peak the curiosity of the viewers.
Barry Lyndon and The Shining Trailer Analysis
By Isaac Benigson
Still from The Shining (1980) https://www.pinterest.com/pin/329044316498903460/
Still from Barry Lyndon (1975) http://www.theartsdesk.com/film/barry-lyndon
Stanley Kubrick (1928 – 1999) has been frequently called one of the greatest and most influential directors in cinematic history. His films, which are mainly adaptations of novels or short stories, are noted for their realism, dark humour, unique cinematography, elaborate set designs and evocative use of music. Barry Lyndon is Kubrick’s period masterpiece from 1975 in the historical epic genre, which has recently been re-released and The Shining (1980), is probably Kubrick's most famous work. It is a cross-genre psychological horror thriller and now widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made. This analysis will examine the variety of techniques used in both trailers, for example: cinematography, lighting and colour and music and sound.
Barry Lyndon is an adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's, ‘The Luck of Barry Lyndon’, about the adventures of an 18th-century Irish rogue. The trailer is a montage of scenes taken from the movie, similar to movie trailers in the present day. Running at two minutes and twelve seconds the trailer is fairly long and shows a great deal of what the audience can expect from watching this film. Its most striking aspect is its use of voice over. In contrast, the trailer for The Shining is one minute, twenty-nine seconds and is a single shot, not taken from the movie, but created to evoke the terror that the movie will deliver. The Shining is about Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who becomes the winter caretaker at an isolated hotel, hoping it will cure his writer's block. He takes along his wife, Wendy and his son, Danny who is infected by psychic visions.
Barry Lyndon is a long, dramatic, epic film which is beautifully shot and covers a range of 18th Century life. The trailer cuts rapidly between scenes from the film to show the scale of the production and scope of this epic story. The opening of the Barry Lyndon trailer is a wide angle tracking shot showing a group of English redcoat soldiers on parade marching in a field. We can see as the camera tracks back that they have static audience in the foreground of the shot. The shot is narrow to begin with and gradually pans out to reveal the breadth of the battalion. This shot was used to establish location and we can instantly see, as the audience, that this is a period piece. We can see the rolling hills and fields in the background, and this is one of the many shots that were filmed in order to evoke certain eighteenth century paintings, especially those of Thomas Gainsborough. The final composition of this shot is symmetrical, like an 18th century landscape painting. The watching public are placed along the width of the lower part of the screen, with two higher groups at either side, the soldiers and their two red flags hold the centre ground and behind them is the tall, green symmetrical mountain. Like previous films, Kubrick and his art department conducted an enormous amount of research, and he went from knowing very little about the 18th century at the start of the production to becoming an expert on it. Extensive photographs were taken of locations and artwork in particular, and paintings were replicated from works from the period.
The trailer then cuts to a close up of Ryan O’Neil, who plays the title role, brandishing a pistol, whilst in a duel. This shows us the main character early on in the trailer. It then cuts to a wide angle shot of Barry Lyndon killing his opponent in the duel. There follows a sequence of shots showing Lyndon kissing a woman and then having a bloody fist fight with another soldier. Here Kubrick uses a handheld camera to circle the fighting pair. I think Kubrick uses this technique to come from the point of view of somebody watching the fight. It then cuts to Barry Lyndon cheating at cards, fencing and bonding with his son. It gives the audience the sense of an 18th century rogue living an extravagant life to the full. In the final shot of the trailer we see Barry Lyndon kissing his wife in the film. The beauty of this shot captures the essence of the film: an uncompromised artistic vision. Barry Lyndon was the film which made Kubrick notorious for paying critical attention to detail, often demanding twenty or thirty retakes of the same scene to perfect his art, this kiss scene was one of the many that had to be retaken again and again.
In contrast The Shining trailer begins with a static shot of a sinister pair of hotel elevators and then shocks the audience when one of the elevators slowly opens and a sea of blood comes pouring out, drowning the lobby, its furniture and even the camera lens which is now submerged in a red haze. The trailer opens with a wide, low angle shot of the hotel elevators. It is incredibly eerie and we feel a sense of foreboding. I believe Kubrick used this shot to portray the point of view and perspective of Danny, the possessed son. In the film he is often seen riding a tricycle around the labyrinthine corridors of the hotel. The blood pouring out of the elevators is brilliantly subtle and as it flows out, it is almost in slow motion. Furthermore this minimalist trailer portrays exactly what the audience will see, feel and experience; a bloody, shocking and terrifying film.
Barry Lyndon is a lavish film, with extraordinary use of realistic set design that captures the audience. The use of colour and lighting in the film, enhances the audience's experience and immersion in the film, the trailer captures these features. In the montage of scenes from the film in the trailer, there are numerous examples of chiaroscuro. It can be clearly seen when we see Barry Lyndon cheating at cards. This style of filming creates an intimate atmosphere for the audience when watching the film. Barry Lyndon had a considerable number of scenes shot without the use of electric light and for the many densely furnished interior scenes it meant shooting by candlelight, which is known to be very difficult. Furthermore Kubrick’s extensive use of close ups and medium shots are due to the lack of electric light.
In both trailers we can see Kubrick has used a limited pallet of reds, browns and white. Whilst in Barry Lyndon Kubrick has used red at times for historical accuracy (Red Coats Soldier), he also uses it symbolically and most noticeably with the red sail of the crossing boat, as well when he is kissing a woman in his red uniform. Similarly in The Shining trailer, the striking use of red for the symmetrical doors of the elevators, in a dull lobby of brown furniture immediately seems sinister. As blood begins to cascade the red doors suggest the elevators are full of blood. Dark red often symbolises danger, blood, violence and lust and these are qualities in both of these very different films.
A notable difference between the trailers is the use of sound and music. On one hand, we have Barry Lyndon which opens with diagetic music of the soldiers playing a traditional military tune (British Grenadiers, Fife and Drums) to place the audience in the period. This piece is intertwined with the slow and very much unemotional narration of Michael Hordern. He reads out reviews and articles written about the film. He uses the power of three to emphasise the outstanding five star reviews from critics such as The National Board of Review and Time magazine. By hearing these outstanding reviews whilst our eyes are being dazzled by the mise-en-scene, we are instantly captivated by this strange monotone, but somewhat hypnotic voice. The music has a clear change when the montage cuts to an interior shot and we begin to hear a non-diagetic classical piece (German Dance No. 1 in C-major by Handel). The film's period setting allowed Kubrick to indulge his love for classical music, and the film score uses pieces by Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Schubert The piece most associated with the film, however not used in the trailer, is the main title music: Handel's Suite in D minor. The classical music used in the trailer evokes certain emotions in us but mainly reminds us of the time period in which Barry Lyndon is set. By the end of the trailer there is an equal balance of the classical music, the voice-over and the sound effects used whilst Lyndon is fighting.
On the other hand, in The Shining trailer there is one continuous piece of non-diagetic music used to evoke terror. In the beginning of the piece we hear the sound of flies buzzing. This buzzing could be used to symbolise death because dead bodies attract flies. We then hear the sound of a clock and the tension rises when we begin to hear a drum, and a clang. The piece is a crescendo and incredibly overpowering and at 0.42 seconds we hear a terrifying looped drilling noise. The cacophony becomes louder and louder as the trailer becomes more and more haunting. The music then moves to the sound of screaming intertwined with an alarm sound, to symbolise danger. The music in the trailer is what makes it so haunting because it not like any other piece of cinematic music.
In conclusion, the trailer for Barry Lyndon, is more traditional than that for The Shining. The trailer for Barry Lyndon reflects the enormity and scale of the movie and the trailer takes snippets of scenes to show the journey of a lavish and extraordinary life and in this case the movie speaks for itself. It is often called the most beautiful of all Stanley Kubrick’s films. The trailer leaves us wanting more of the beautifully constructed film.
The trailer for The Shining, a bespoke trailer, is made with a soundtrack, cinematography and lighting that is so terrifying, we instantly know we want to watch this film. It is one fixed shot with no dialogue or actors, and after a twist in its exact middle it gives the audience a strange situation never seen in cinema before or since, accompanied by the anguishing crescendo of music, and leaving you wanting to know what this movie is all about. The trailer for The Shining is unsettling. `It is out of context and completely baffling, but gets the clear message across: this is going to be disturbing and terrifying. It provokes a horrifying reaction that doesn't give away anything specific but certainly peaks interest. These factors make The Shining trailer definitely the more provocative of the two.
These to Kubrick trailers instantly leave the audience in no doubt they are in the hands of a master who will not only entertain them, but also haut them.
Collative Learning. “Introduction to the Hidden Depths of Stanley Kubrick’s Filmography.” YouTube.
YouTube, 9 Feb. 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
The Guardian. “Stanley Kubrick | Film.” The Guardian. The Guardian, July 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
Ide, Wendy. “Barry Lyndon Review – Re-Release of Kubrick’s Masterly Period Piece.” The Guardian.
The Guardian, 31 July 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
“Stanley Kubrick.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Oct. 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
Warner Bros. “Barry Lyndon - Trailer.” YouTube. YouTube, 8 July 2014. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
Warner Movies On Demand. “The Shining - Trailer.” YouTube. YouTube, 29 Sept. 2009. Web. 6 Oct.
Citations, Quotes & Annotations
Collative Learning. “Introduction to the Hidden Depths of Stanley Kubrick’s Filmography.” YouTube.
YouTube, 9 Feb. 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
The Guardian. “Stanley Kubrick | Film.” The Guardian. The Guardian, July 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
Ide, Wendy. “Barry Lyndon Review – Re-Release of Kubrick’s Masterly Period Piece.” The Guardian.
The Guardian, 31 July 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
“Stanley Kubrick.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Oct. 2016. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
Warner Bros. “Barry Lyndon - Trailer.” YouTube. YouTube, 8 July 2014. Web. 6 Oct. 2016.
Warner Movies On Demand. “The Shining - Trailer.” YouTube. YouTube, 29 Sept. 2009. Web. 6 Oct.
(Warner Movies On Demand)
Suicide squad and Insidious 2 trailer comparison
By Django Allott
Although movies can have very different themes and genres their trailers may have some similar themes and techniques. The movies insidious 2 directed by James Wan and Suicide squad directed by David Ayer have very different genres and themes, although they may share some qualities in some of the techniques used such as colour, lighting and camera work. Both movies have experienced directors and strong casts. It will be interesting to study both trailers and their techniques and to discover any underlying themes they may share.
Lighting and colour are very important in films as they express the mood, theme, genre and intensity of the film. In suicide squad low-key lighting is used in combination with bright vibrant colours such as pink, blue and green. I think this is trying to show the audience the the genre of the film is dark superhero mixed with comedy. I think it could also represent the conflicted morality of the main characters in the movie who have elements of good and bad in their personality. At the start of insidious 2 high-key lighting is used to express a sense of wellbeing and tranquility. As horror elements are introduced into the trailer, the colour red is introduced and the lighting becomes low-key. I think the colour red is used because red is traditionally the colour representing evil, death, blood and murder. All of these themes are present throughout the movie. I think low-key lighting is introduced gradually to build up the suspense to an almost unbearable level and to also signify the increasing horror and level of evil in the film. Both trailers are similar in the way that they both use colour to signify specific emotion or a theme in the movie. Insidious with red to indicate death and suicide squad with different bright colours to indicate freakish comedy. Both trailers use low-key lighting but for different reasons. Suicide squad uses it to show the darkness of the film and the dark side of the main characters. Insidious 2 uses it to show the increasing horror of the film.
Music and sound are incredibly important in film trailers as they set the mood for the trailer and the whole film. They can also build suspense or create emotion very effectively. In suicide squad a single song is played continuously throughout the trailer. The song is Bohemian Rhapsody by queen. This is a very interesting song choice as it has two very different halves. The first half is slow sad and emotional, while the second half is more like a traditional rock song with loud guitar and drums. In the first half of the trailer the music is contrapuntal as slow and sad music is played while the main characters are introduced in a dramatic way. In the second half of the trailer the music is parallel as loud rock music is played throughout the intense action sequences. I think the stark difference in the first and second half of the song in the trailer could again represent the conflicted morality between the main characters. With the first half representing their slow and subdued side after being in prison for many years and the second half representing their crazy unpredictable side. All the music used in the trailer is non-diegetic. In the first 30 seconds of the Insidious 2 trailer non-diegetic parallel music is played while the family are shown to be happy and peaceful. This relaxing and happy music is used to further reinforce the sense of peace and happiness which is quickly broken. Throughout the second half of the trailer an alarm like buzzing sound can be heard. I think this is used to install a sense of panic and insecurity in the viewer which is the purpose of the trailer and the film itself. The traditional horror trope of nursery rhymes is also used to increase tension and suspense. The music also randomly changes volume at different points in the trailer to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. The music and sound used in these trailers are very different as suicide squad uses a continuous song throughout the trailer and insidious 2 uses different excerpts of songs and sound effects. Despite these differences both trailers use their music and sound to express and represent the themes and emotion of their films and create a specific mood present throughout the trailers and the films. In suicide squad a mood of chaos and unpredictable action. In Insidious 2 a mood of horror, suspense and tension.
Camerawork and editing are also very important in trailers as they affect the way the audience views the characters and their surroundings. The suicide squad trailer starts with an establishing shot of a prison to show the audience where the first scenes will take place. A series of close ups and establishing shots are used to introduce the main characters. More close ups are then used to show the roles purposes and powers of the characters. Throughout the second half of the trailer quick jump cuts of action sequences to show the audience that the film will be full of frantic fast paced action. There are a couple of medium shots showing the joker lying down surrounded by weaponry. These are used to introduce the traditionally crazy character in the weirdest and most harrowing way possible. There are also a few medium shots of comic relief added in random points to show the viewer that the film is a comedy as well as a dark superhero movie. At the beginning of the insidious 2 trailer there is an establishing shot of a sunny house and a car pulling in to show a new beginning for the Lambert family. In the first few seconds of the film there is a fade in of text to introduce important background information. There are some quick shots of the family being happy to reinforce the feeling of happiness and the sense of security. A shallow focus shot starts to introduce a sense of uneasiness as visible distress is shown on the characters face while it is unclear what is going on in the background. As the suspense increases a tracking shot of a mysterious woman in white is used to add an element of supernatural horror to the trailer. In the second half of the trailer slow jump cuts are shown of random creepy images in a non chronological order, this builds suspense and unsettles the audience. Quick jump cuts are then used of rotting corpses and other supernatural phenomena to add some jump scares and further increase the tension. At the end of the trailer there is an unexpected close up of a demon to leave the viewer with a sense of uneasiness and desire to see more. Both trailers use jump cuts to effectively build up tension, suspense and horror. Both trailers also begin with establishing shots to introduce the setting and location of the film. They also both effectively utilise close up shots to show the emotion and tension felt by all the characters. In my opinion the suicide squad trailer does a better job at conveying the emotion felt by the characters as it spends more time using camera shots to convey emotion and establish themes than insidious 2. Which in my opinion spends too much time on simple scares.
In conclusion I would say that while both trailers are exceptional I would say suicide squad is more effective in conveying messages and emotion. While also introducing the characters in an easy to understand and captivating way. I think that the trailer for suicide squad has better lighting and colour as the mix of low-key lighting with bright colours is very eye-catching and also can provide a deeper and more subtle background to the characters emotions and psyches. However I think the trailer for insidious 2 uses music and sound effects a lot more effectively than suicide squad. As the trailer for insidious 2 uses a myriad of different sound effects and excerpts from songs to build the tension to an almost unbearable level. While suicide squad just uses one song throughout the trailer, even though this is effective it does not have the same depth and complexity as the sound from the insidious 2 trailer.
Using IMovie, the groups created their own movie trailers. They created them entirely on their own, showing great creativity and humour.
All's Fair in Love and War
Tableaux from Dulce et Decorum Est
Poetry Comparative Essay
by Nicholas Schuller
'All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.' - John Steinbeck
In only twelve words, John Steinbeck manages to express how all wars, even those started with good intentions, display clearly how all men are, at our very core, animals with advanced technology. This theme of man's primal nature has been an important and frequently used one for poets, both those who live in modern day and those who lived nearly a hundred years ago. Wilfred Owen, widely acknowledged as one of the most famous war poets of all time, expresses the horrific and savage nature of war in his poem 'Dulce et decorum est', a poem about his experiences in the army during World War One. 'Haddock of Mass Destruction', a poem by the former soldier Danny Martin, also conveys how war is often times misguided, and how even those with good intentions can end up ruining the lives of people who were completely uninvolved in the conflict. Both Owen and Martin use imagery, word choice, form and sentence structure to effectively and vividly portray the gruesome and foolish nature of war, and how it could turn the most rational and intelligent men into simple beasts, harming anyone and anything just because they are from a different country.
Imagery is a very important and potent tool that if used correctly, could massively improve a poem and draw the reader in by painting a picture in their head of the poem. Imagery also can be used to further convey the themes of the poem in an artful way.
Danny Martin uses imagery extensively throughout his poem, 'Haddock of Mass Destruction.' For example, the poet uses zoomorphism in the line, 'we swooped low over the target truck.' The poet compares himself and his comrades to a bird of prey stalking an animal by using the word 'swooped', which is commonly associated with birds, and the word 'target', which equates the truck to prey. Furthermore, this line makes the reader imagine a bird of prey swooping down on prey, and the effect of this is that it makes the reader believe the narrator is the antagonist. The poet may have done this to show that men fight and act like animals when in combat, as they are no longer thinking human beings acting civil, but animals that are giving into their primal urges.
Similarly, in Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et decorum est' poem, he mentions the theme of men no longer acting like, or being viewed as, human beings, in the line, 'But limped on, blood-shod.' The effect of this is that it makes the reader imagine a large line of men marching in pain, covered in blood, like beasts of labour forced to walk on. Owen may have chosen to include this line in the poem to show that the men were being treated like animals, forced to march on and on without rest.
In addition to using zoomorphism, Martin also utilises onomatopoeia and plosives in the lines, 'I dragged the driver from his seat, Slammed his face into hot Tarmac," and these literary devices help the reader imagine a soldier slamming a man into the hot ground. The reader may also imagine the soldier using more force than necessary on account of the onomatopoeia, which helps the person reading the poem imagine the sound of what's happening in the event. The effect of this is that it further solidifies the notion that the soldier is the antagonist of the poem, and that he is acting more like a violent beast than a man.
Moreover, Wilfred Owen includes the line, 'His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin'. This line helps add to the theme of men acting like and being treated like animals, as the man's face is so mangled and bloody that even the Devil himself cannot bear to look at him. The words 'sick of sin' echoes this notion. By using sibilants, Owen makes it seem like the devil is hissing in disgust at what he is seeing, which adds to the menacing tone of the poem. The poet may have chosen to include this line in the poem to show that human beings are doing to terrible things to each other and fighting like animals with no sense of compassion, and the things that they are doing are so cruel and horrible that the Devil, a creature completely devoid of love and remorse, felt sick to his stomach upon seeing his face.
Along with imagery, word choice is a powerful tool in a poet's arsenal, and by using strong and rich language the poet can further the theme that the poet is presenting.
'Haddock of Mass Destruction' utilises rich word choice throughout the entire poem in a powerful and interesting way. For instance, in the line 'We charged in our Storm Trooper costumes.', the poet uses strong word choice and allusion to help convey the theme of the poem. The words 'Storm Trooper costumes' conjures up an image of children dressing up as Storm Troopers from Star Wars for Halloween or some similar event in the reader's mind. This makes the reader think that the soldiers are acting silly, and one may wonder why they are even doing this. This may echo the author's point of view, as he might be wondering why they're even doing these things to innocent people. The poet may have included this line in the poem to express how he felt about the situation that he was in, as he felt like what he was doing was silly and was confused about why they were destroying an innocent man's stock of fish.
In Owen's poem, he also utilises strong word choice to further express the theme of his poem. For example, in the line, 'But limped on, blood-shod', Owen uses the word 'shod', along with zoomorphism. The word shod is typically associated with horses and similar beasts of labour, and means to fit a horse with a shoes or shoes. This echoes how men were treated like animals and the pain that they were in, because if their feet were bleeding they must have been marching for a long time, which would result in large amounts of pain. Furthermore, this makes the reader imagine a line of men with their feet bleeding profusely, but they are still limping onwards and trying to ignore the pain, and the effect of this image is that the reader feels intense sympathy for the men. This links back to the anti-war tone of the entire poem, because Owen may have been trying to make the reader feel pity for the men and begin to despise war and its effects. Owen may have chosen to use that particular word in his poem to further emphasise the point that men were not treated like men should be, instead being lowered to the status of beasts of labour and simple animals.
Poets use many different types of form in their poems to help emphasise the point that they are trying to get across by either giving an underlying structure that pervades the entire poem, or by not using form at all to purposely not give any semblance of structure. Owen and Martin both use two different types of form, with varying effects on the reader.
In Martin's poem, he purposely does not use any rhyme scheme or structure by using free verse. This writing choice has two effects on the reader. Firstly, the reader gets the impression that, because Martin is using a very simple form of writing instead of using a complex form like many professional poets are prone to doing, the poet is just an ordinary man stating his opinion on war in the form of a poem. This makes the poem feel easier to understand and more relatable, which helps get Martin's theme of war being silly across easier. The second effect is that it makes the reader feel like, as the poem has no structure, war has no structure, and is just men acting on impulse and behaving like animals, which also helps the poet get his poem across.
Dulce et decorum est also utilises form, with different effects on the reader. The most noticeable use of form is how Owen separates two lines from the rest of the poem, which are 'In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.' This separation from the rest of the poem helps echo how much of an effect that event had on him, and makes the reader feel sympathetic for what Owen had to experience. Furthermore, another subtle, but effective use of poem occurs in the first and second stanzas. The first stanza uses iambic pentameter, to show how the marching of the soldiers is organised and repetitive, but the second stanza abandons the iambic pentameter as soon as the gas arrives, which echoes how chaos broke out among the soldiers when they realised that gas had been dropped on them. The effect of this on the reader is that it helps us imagine more clearly the events that are occurring, as well as give us insight as to how the soldiers acted before and after the gas was dropped. These two uses of form help convey the theme of the poem effectively, as it gives us even more awareness as to how terrible war is.
Poets frequently change the structure of sentences to more clearly convey the theme of the poem by calling attention to certain words, or by painting a picture in the reader's mind to draw an emotion out of them.
For example, in Haddock of Mass Destruction, Martin uses Anaphora in the lines, 'No match for our guns, our bombs, our good intentions, our morals, our God.' This use of Anaphora helps portray the fact that there is a large, perceived gap between the military and the 'enemy', as the repetition of the word 'our' continuously re-emphasises how it is believed that there is a difference between us and them, even though they may also posses guns, bombs, good intentions, morals, and a God. Furthermore, this leaves the effect on the reader that all of the listed items or ideals are ineffective against the enemy. Martin may have chosen to include these lines in his poem to show that he may have used to perceived a difference between the enemy and him (as he repeats the word our), even though the enemy also has the items or ideals listed by him.
Owen also utilises sentence structure to get his point across to the reader, by using repetition in the line, 'Gas! GAS!' This repetition of the word 'Gas' emphasises how important the gas is to the poem and the men, as after that repetition of the word 'gas', the rest of the poem becomes focused on that gas, it's effect it had on the unfortunate soldier that inhaled it, and the indirect effect that it had on Owen even though he got his gas mask on in time. In addition to the above statement, this repetition of a singular word has another effect: It makes it seem as if someone was actually screaming out the word 'Gas!' in urgency, which helps the reader imagine the panic of the situation more vividly. The poet may have chosen to include this line in his poem to both emphasise how important the gas is, and generate sympathy for the panicked and confused men who were experiencing the direct and indirect effects of the gas. By using repetition, Owen makes the reader experience the scene more graphically, as it gives us a glimpse, however small, to the confusion and panic that the soldiers experienced.
In conclusion, both 'Dulce et decorum est' and 'Haddock of Mass Destruction' effectively portray the horror, futility, and misguided nature of war through the use of imagery, word choice, form and sentence structure. Through a few lines of poetry, we as readers get a look into the horrific and terrifying effects of war on both those fighting in it and the innocents who were caught in the crossfire.
Video recitation of Dulce et Decorum Est
Video recitation of The Man He Killed
Video recitation of War
Video recitation of Haddock of Mass Destruction
Video recitation of The Man He Killed
The Great Gatsby
And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back
ceaselessly into the past...
Martina and Andrea lead the class in showing the way people danced in the 1920s. It inevitably results in chaos. But fun chaos!
The Great Lily
A Gatsby pastiche by Akira
Before I was old enough to know just how rich we were, my father cautioned me, and it is a caution I live by to this day.
“From the moment you leave school every girl you meet at a party, every man you shake hands with in a meeting and every new neighbour who brings around a basket of fruit with a big smile... wants something from you”.
It was only three weeks later that my mother choked out the details of the crash and I was denied his guidance forever. But I never forgot that in this world the only way that you survive not knowing what people think is not caring. At twenty one I was travelling in a helicopter . At twenty five I owned the helicopter company. At forty five I own the world's largest airline, I’m the biggest defence contractor in Europe and last Christmas I had three heads of state inviting me to stay at their homes. And why? Because I never let anyone take anything from me if I wasn’t going to take more from them. So why is it now that all of these accomplishments mean nothing to me.
An acquaintance of mine spoke highly of a woman. He said she was the definition of divine beauty, had eyes that could pierce an entire crowd and that her smile could heal the weak. I just took this as some kind of exaggeration. He then muttered what could only be her name, “Lily”. As soon as he did that I couldn’t stop myself asking questions about her. In an instant I became infatuated with her. I requested to my friend, “I must meet this girl” with childlike excitement. Nothing I did in my entire life meant more to me than this woman. He responded with a snigger “I’ll introduce you”.
The Great Despoena
A Gatsby pastiche by Nikhita Mani
In the innocent naivety of my youth, I perceived human behaviour to be a true reflection of one’s personality. And so, I found myself surrounded by shallow, supercilious, snobs. Not alone, but lonely in a crowd. I confined myself to walls of my own making and found myself identifying myself with two worlds. A world of books and a world of reality. Going into college, my limited horizons widened, I started noticing things. Things that were always there, profoundly substantial things, that were lost in a subconscious abyss. My introverted nature grew stronger which offered the opportunity to observe the most curious of instances. Instances that etch into memory, the vulnerability of human character. A vulnerability epitomised by Despoena. The Great Despoena. The sheer serendipity of meeting her would draw me from the depths of my melancholic temperament.
It was the cold winter of 1903, as the first exploration of unfathomable flight conquered the heavens, breaking through barriers of science and spirit, my own relatively mundane life carried on in my small, decrepit cottage by the Thames. But there was something different about this day. Although I did not know at the time how one ephemeral encounter with the person who gives this book it’s name would transform my jaded perception of life.
I was consumed with my thoughts when my eyes locked onto two deep blue depthless seas lost on faraway shores. Against my steely will, I found myself drawn into a vortex, falling head first into icy pools of aquamarine. She stared right through me. She smiled. That knowing smile, as if to mock ‘You don’t know me at all...you never will’. What fascinated me about her was not just her striking appearance but the enigmatic persona, an arresting aura that took a hold over you.
Daisy Buchanan Diary Entry - By Sabrina Ciauri
5th August 1922
A figure stood behind the white silk curtains gracefully dancing in the bursts of summer wind. I recalled a similar moment three years ago, my wedding day. I was seated at my engraved dressing table pinning the last wavy golden curl in place, when my darling cousin, Nick, came to the door with a telegram in hand. As I stood, the intricate white dress I wore cascaded behind me. I slipped the telegram away from his grasp. I knew what words would lie beneath the mystical cursive writing of this hopeful soldier’s hand. Unsure if my heart could endure any more angst, especially on such a day, I swiftly placed the telegram with the others in the delicate table drawer.
You see, I couldn’t wait for life to pass me by because of one man’s promise. Undoubtedly, I had made my decision. These thoughts surrounded me as I elegantly walked up the grandiose pathway to my future, Tom Buchanan. The dignified, wealthy man whom I married on this exact day three years prior.
My life must be on a clock! Maybe, one of those great big magnificent clocks Tom has chosen to fill our halls with, among the many other lavish items. For it seems as if that moment was yesterday...
This very night, Nick stood beckoning to me from the doorway. He spoke of Chicago, a place I once knew very well. It was a breath of my youthful past, of my childhood, the time I very much missed. He spoke of his travels, his work and how he had moved into a small peculiar house across the bay.
Later on, among the various convoluted conversations, a name arose from Jordan’s lips,
“You know Gatsby?” she asked Nick.
“Gatsby?” “What Gatsby?” I questioned.
It was this very name that caused the speck of shattered glass to pierce what thick wall of fog I had built around my memories and hope for his return. For James Gatz’s return, the man with the mystical cursive writing.
It’s not even as if his exact name were mentioned, but it was the closeness of those two names which caused my radiant mood to falter. The rest of the night was filled with a disconsolate essence. Particularly, the unexpected phone call from Tom’s new object of attention. This time she’s one of those hideous molls you see whilst driving through the city of ashes to New York.
Tom’s always been one to lose interest in women very quickly! It’s not as if I didn’t know that, he is my husband after all. But, the audacity it takes for a woman to call a married man during dinner time is absolutely abhorrent.
She should be ashamed of herself! What a disgraceful imbecile. Thinking he’s actually in love with her? Who is she kidding?
Tonight was all such an earful! I felt very guilty to leave poor Nick and Jordan so early in the evening. On the other hand, one cannot push the limits with these things, otherwise, they may say things they don’t mean.
Now maybe I shouldn’t complain... Not everyone in life can be contented, and well mine is so very full of an endless amount of opulent dresses, each pair of shoes a work of art, the meticulous hats and hotsy-totsy scarves and my goodness, the polished pearls. Each item expensive, tasteful and sophisticated. I’ve even started to take a liking to those interesting flapper dresses. At first, to be frank, I was astonished by such fashion choices, however, they seem very ritzy nowadays.
I suppose this is a woman’s purpose! To enjoy the splendors that life brings! There’s really nothing more a woman can do in this male dominant world. I hope for my daughter’s sake that she is stunningly gorgeous for she can be nothing else.
The Great Mr. Gratz
A Gatsby pastiche by Reka Blakemore
I have always been a curious girl. As a child, I drove my mother crazy asking questions about everything that I laid my eyes on. Patient would definitely be a word to describe my mother. She would have to be, to withstand my constant barrage of questions. This trait prospers within me to this day, I am always wondering about the peculiarities of this world, and I refuse to consider that an unfavorable characteristic. However, it was this very trait that started the trouble. Back when I lived in Ohio, everything was easy. Although, I suspect that was the very problem. I was bored, like a fish in a bowl, I felt trapped in a small world. I was curious to see the world, so I moved to New York. That move transformed into Icarus; I have flown too close to the sun. All summer I have felt my wings slowly melting, until they eventually deserted me and I fell to the ground.
I would have been fine in New York, the change of scenery was not my issue. I have never been the type of person to let those sorts of things bother me. Alternatively, it was once again my curiosity that bested me. For I made my home in a poor part of town, next to a gentleman called Mr. Gratz. He was an interesting fellow to say the least. He lived in a small bungalow, which was completely covered in ivy. There was a wire fence that stretched around the small yard, also carpeted with ivy. The grass was incredibly long, but so luscious that I felt it was on purpose. That seemed strange to me, as I had always known avid landscapers to be quite particular about the height of their grass. The combination of this and the ivy created a small square in which one was completely surrounded in greenery. The only reason it did not feel claustrophobic was the sky. Even though I knew that the sky should look no different here than anywhere else in New York, the heavens always looked more spectacular when gazing from his garden. Needless to say, the strange garden ignited my curiosity. I immediately felt that I had to know what he was hiding behind all of that thick coverage. That garden led to the start of my adventure - meeting Mr. Gratz.
It was around midnight, and I couldn’t sleep. For some reason, I just couldn't stop thinking about my neighbor’s curious landscaping choices. I crept out of bed, down the stairs, and onto the strip of land between my residence and my new neighbor’s garden. I was determined to quench my craving for information about this mysterious garden. At this point, the garden had already manifested itself in my mind as a great, exhilarating mystery. As I crept to the fence and peered through a hole in the ivy, I spotted what I assumed was Mr. Gratz laying in the grass, staring intently at the sky. I froze, a deer in the headlights, before reclaiming my wits and gathering my courage. I obviously did not know about the appeal of the sky from his garden, so it seemed quite strange that he chose to spend his time this way. Mr. Gratz did not stir from his gaze, so I continued to peer into his garden, mesmerized by the situation, until the sun rose in the East. From that moment on, although I did not yet know why, I knew Mr. Gratz was great.
The Great Magnus
A Gatsby pastiche by Melina Blanco
Magnus Bane. Chit chats and rumours had always spread around like heat waves when it came to the mystery of Magnus Bane. My new neighbour’s name always seemed to echo in every corner of the city. Some said he was immortal, born eight hundred years before this very day. Others went rambling on about how they were sure they had seen sparkling blue smoke pour from his windows at dawn. One thing everybody knew about was his jubilant parties, the grand fests that were held in his mansion. Everybody came to them. The young, the old, the rich and poor, whatever color was painted on your skin, it didn't matter. Everyone came to Magnus Bane’s parties, but few had ever seen the man himself.
I never paid close attention or care to the matter, until a fine evening. I was meandering through the area, practising my aim with my new bow and quiver on the tall trees, when I had accidentally shot an arrow into the garden of the mansion. I knew there was no way I could retrieve it, so I gathered my things and went back home, where I could hide safely from mysterious men with strangely popular parties.
That had been weeks ago, and I had almost forgot about my incident. But one sticky summer night, a knock on my door shook the rest of my life to a new direction. Somehow I found this extravagant man standing at my door, grasping the arrow with a curious gaze sprawled on his face.
“Magnus Bane” was all I could muster. He arched one eyebrow in return as his shimmering eyelids hit the lights. He gestured at the arrow, extending his long brown arms towards me. When I looked into his eyes, I swore they were almost cat-like for a moment, but I blinked this vision away.
“I found this the other day, stuck inside a bush. I presume it is yours?” He glanced up at me, every word hitting his tongue with such elegance, so every movement I made felt robotic and stiff. His hair, it glistened in the breeze, and a spiky sensation spread through my veins as a small grin crept on his face. His eyes, they seemed to portray tales of a thousand heartbreaks and adventures as they pierced into my own. His fingertips, idly pricking against the sharp edge of the light weapon. His skin, it tingled as it made contact with mine, him handing me the arrow. Although it was sturdy and quite tattered, he held it in his hands with such delicacy, made it seem as if it was the most precious thing in the universe.
Magnus Bane was breathtakingly beautiful, I decided.
And that sticky summer night as I looked into his eyes and the quirky curve of his lips, I decided that this man was going to shake and break and mend me.
The Great Merek
A Gatsby pastiche by Nicholas Schuller
Ah, Merek. A beacon of light and peace, in a time marked by strife and sadness. A symbol for those unfortunate souls caught between the crossfire, an exemplar for what men ought to be. His dream for a better tomorrow was a dream that many, myself included, flocked to and admired, a dream that empowered the downtrodden, a dream that had the power to bring love and compassion to fill the holes that hatred and misery had dug for more than three generations… A dream that many, Merek included, were willing to give their lives for.
I believe it was the winter of January, 1097, the same day that my dear neighbor had passed away from the flu. Not a soul was outside bar the priests in their black robes, a stark contrast to the white blanket that God had draped over the tiny village. I had just entered the church, a small but beautiful building. I came here often, either to speak with the priests that looked after the church, or to simply bask in God’s glory, letting His warmth and love overpower the troubles and doubts on my mind. The winter’s cold was merciless, and I felt the chill bite into my very bones despite the several layers that I had on. It was only me for several minutes, the priests off tending to other parts of the church, and the rest of the townsfolk were busy looking after their families. That was, until… He walked in.
Thud. Thud. Thud. I was yanked out of my own mind and placed back into the church, and I became conscious once more of my knees on the hardwood floor and the chill of January seeping in through the cracks in the walls and the now open door. I assumed that it was my father come to get me, walking down the aisle. But why were his footsteps so heavy? Was that the sound of metal scraping against metal? A second before I turned my head to find out who this man was, the footsteps ended besides me. I opened my eyes, and I gasped.
Even though I was kneeling, I could tell that this blond haired behemoth was taller than me by a head or two. The red sign of the Cross was painted on his white tabard, silver armour coated with hoarfrost covered him like a chitinous shell, and he held his helmet in his hands. The tall knight knelt down next to me, and my breath was caught in my throat. Who is this? Why is he here? After several seconds, I realised that I was staring, and I quickly turned my head away.
“I don’t mind if you stare. I doubt you see many of us this far north.”
I cautiously turned my head, and saw that the knight was smiling at me, his blue eyes twinkling like the gems that the merchant down the road from my house had on display.
“Sorry, mister, I d-didn’t want to be rude.”
“No need to be sorry, lad. Of all the people I’ve met here, you’ve been the least obtrusive.”
The knight laughed, and I couldn’t help but laugh along with him. We fell silent after that for several minutes of us, both of us praying side by side. Somehow, the cold didn’t bother me as much as it did before we spoke.
The knight let out a heavy sigh, rising to his feet. I rose to, my prayer finished as I made the sign of St. Peter’s Cross. My estimate was correct, the man was much taller than me, my eyes only reaching his Adam’s apple. The silver-clad knight dug into his bag for several moment, before producing a book that I immediately identified as the Bible. It was a simple book, with the Cross being the only decoration that the book had, along with a name.
To my surprise, he offered it to me.
The man put his hand on my shoulder, squeezing it tightly. It occurred to me that he could probably break my shoulders if he had the mind to, but before I could explore the gruesome notion further he spoke once more.
“You’re too young to come with me, son. The best thing to do for you is to read this book, and read it well. It will be your moral compass, your shield against the wickedness and sin of this world. Understand?”
I nodded quickly, looking into his twinkling, sky blue eyes.
“Yes sir, I understand.”
The knight smiled warmly, giving my shoulder a pat before marching down the aisle.
“Remember, son! God rewards the faithful!”
God rewards the faithful. I never forgot those words. I kept them in my mind when I looked through his Bible, reading his annotations and his comments on the various passages. They filled me with confidence, and as I donned my armour on the eve of battle, many years later, they came to mind once more.
God rewards the faithful.
How do I love thee?
Poems by Grade 9