In the opening of the film after John and Gus film the heavily injured woman in the highway car crash (1:00), they walk off with their equipment, back to their car, no words spoken, no sounds of the environment and highway traffic. It is as though the two of them are in their own world, devoid of everything but their objective and focus on doing their job as documenters and photojournalists.
And as they are driving off and calling the ambulance to tend to the car wreck (1:56), a male passerby is striding along on the bridge at top and briefly looks down, slightly curious and perhaps shaken by the scene of the accident. Yet he moves on, walking to the left of the scene as John and Gus drive off straight up north presumably to their next to-do (2:01), and so there is a perpendicular angular movement going on in this particular shot as they walk away, onto the next point of their lives.
And so, is the purpose of Weskler purposefully angling the three people moving this way to describe the nihilistic and emotionally devoid characteristics of a materialistic society today? As people living in a country with much opportunities for growth, we sometimes focus so much on accomplishing rather than feeling and empathizing (perhaps it can be argued we’re even desensitized to tragedies and horrors in the media), instead staring briefly in shock only for a few moments and then moving on about our lives not even thinking about the victim (2:04). How more can this scene relate to us as a society, overall?
When John and Gus go to interview the another person, an older woman in a more modernized and well-established building (27:27), the setting switches from the interior of the building where they are presumably asking the woman to interview her, to the pool outside the patio (27:32). As John and Gus are asking her about her opinion on the protests and commotion coming up in the summer, she deflects by talking about her plans to go up to a house in Ontario, Canada and “get away from civilization” so to speak (28:20). She avoids the subject of politics, of the protests, and of the Civil Rights Movement as a result, and talks more about looking forward to vacationing and getting away from the city.
And as she is saying all of this, the texture and scene of the pool peacefully moves and ebbs and flows. What does this scene mean to say about the concept of privilege and privileged people? Of the people that do have the opportunity and privilege of pushing away societal problems and issues and ongoing pain and just, run away up to a vacation home? Is this scene also alluding to the increasingly large gap between the rich and the poor and the desensitizing emotions of both people in their own personal and financial environments?
Description: A tilt-shot of the protest at the Ripleyville city hall, with a Black man perched at top with another man while the protestors rage on at the bottom against the guards and authorities. Analysis: As mentioned, the low-camera angle signifies power from above to below. During such a time of protests and the Civil Rights Movement, such a shot serves as an allusion to the message of Black power and the equality and anti-racism sentiments it actively fights for. Description: A mid close-up at a fixed camera angle of Harold staring as his friends leave. Analysis: Harold’s face looms in anxiousness, perhaps slight disappointment and much pondering going on, as his friends go off and get a coke without him. The long shot that Weskler utilizes in this scene gives us a better and longing understanding of what may be going on in Harold’s emotions about living in a poor household with no father figure and only his mom to cling on to. Description: A close first-person view of two kids, one of them presumably Harold, on the train after releasing a bird at the rooftop, seemingly happy and joyed. Analysis: This shot shows the innocence and lack of stress and sadness of youth and childhood, as the lively banjo music plays on and they know nothing but only the excitement of having let a tethered bird fly free and going on about their fun and lives.