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Rango, a pet chameleon, suddenly embarks on a voyage of self-discovery after an accident drives him out of his cage and into the desert in the Gore Verbinsky-directed film "Rango." Through his adventures, Rango, played by Johnny Depp, learns to use his mind instead of physical might to become a hero. Rango is forced to embrace the harsh reality of who he truly is as opposed to what he thinks he is (wiktorek130).
Rango is shown playing with a doll, a plastic fish, and a coconut tree while alone in his glass tank in the backseat of a moving car in the film's opening scene. As pass time, Rango pretends that they are in a set in which he is the director and hero, the doll is a damsel in distress, while the toy fish is the villain; he quickly notices his lonely but willfully ignores. This scene is critical to the film for Rango's real character is exhibited through his monologue. It is also through this scene that Rango is forced to set on a path that will lead him to become a true hero and gaining real friends along the way (wiktorek130).
The animation film is an embodiment of stellar film technique with a combination of great video directing and an equally compelling script that animates the film to feel life-like. This paper explores various aspects of the opening scene in the film which include the camera shots, angles and movement, color, and film editing present and their contribution to the effectiveness of the scene and the movie.
The animation film exhibits great creativity in the angle of shots and what they communicate to the audience. In the opening scene, there is a very close up shot of Rango as he directs his play in the glass tank, and for a moment focus is placed on his toys (wiktorek130). This type of shot enhances the sense of loneliness in the glass tank. This shot is best portrayed in the instance where Rango realizes that his "companions" are but inanimate objects and the film comes in for a very intensely sad close-up shot.
During the accident, the camera begins with a close up of the slight changes in Rango's glass of water, pond and then pans out showing how the whole glass tank falls off the car. The shot is then continued from within the glass tank and shows things from Rango's perspective during which he goes from the back of the car and out onto the tarmac. This shot is crucial in enhancing the terror that he may have felt during the ordeal since it is done from his perspective and in a manner through which the audience can relate. After falling off the car, he appears calm as viewed in the next shot which shows him lying calmly on a piece of glass sliding on the tarmac.
Clever camera shots are also applied when Rango is thrown from one car to another after failing to realize he is on the path of oncoming vehicles. The shot is a continuous one and takes us from car to car and even anticipates the next direction in which he will be thrown giving the audience a full picture perspective. During the accident, such camera shots are utilized to immerse the audience in the motions that Rango goes through and how against all the odds he emerges from the horrific crash unscathed (May). When the car swerves to avoid an oncoming truck, the camera starts capturing the event in slow motion and the water and ice in the glass slowly begin to rise slowly followed by other objects in the glass tank.
An overhead close up shot is evident when Rango finally comes to a halt after the accident. Rango portrays emotions such as shock as a result of the speed and violence with which the accident had occurred (wiktorek130). After Rango meets the Armadillo; who caused the crash, close up facial shots are applied during the dialogue between the two. The shots assist the audience in connecting emotionally with the two by reading their facial expressions as they speak; such as when Rango is complaining about the loss of his friends and the Armadillo asks him "where are your friends amigo?" (May). That statement together with a close-up shot of Rango's reaction shows the truthfulness of the statement and how it jolts him into the real world.
Concerning camera movement, the opening scene is creatively directed to enhance the experience of the happenings in the film for the audience. While in the tank, the camera moves in on Rango`s face for a close up deepening the lust in his voice and eyes. The camera also follows him as he paces during his monologue; this movement enhances the feeling of solitude in Rango's thoughts and speech.
Visual Design: Color
In the analysis of the film's visual design, the film's director has used vivid and realistic colors to enhance the concept of life in the animation movie. Natural colors are utilized to help make the characters in the scene feel as realistic as possible by making the emotional responses of the characters seem realistic (wiktorek130). Proper use of color is also evident in the instance where Rango falls out and lands in the scorching Mojave Desert. In the scene, realistic color is used to depict the expected bright and scorching desert sun. In the scene, one can almost feel the heat that scorches him making him shed his skin several times. The harsh nature of the sun rays also bounce off the tarmac and the cars on the highway giving the scene an illusion of the harsh conditions expected in the event the movie is shot in real color.
The color though realistic, it seems to change unrealistically during the beginning of the scene to suit the monologue of the character. An example is when Rango is romancing the doll, and the light unexpectedly switches into a dim profile depicting what is meant to enhance the seduction scene. During Rango's monologue, the glass-cage is filled with warm and bright colors as well as intense light to depict the openness and safety that comes with being alone in one's environment (May). The color scheme used in the glass tank housing Rango is also appropriate; as it is modeled to resemble the beach and is also complementary to the attire worn by the character. The red beach-appropriate shirt is in sync with the color schemes of the pool and coconut tree setting which together with the painted skies depicts relaxed atmosphere.
The film has utilized life-like color schemes for the animal characters in this scene. Rango has a green shade appearance with a light colored under belly resembling the pebbles in the tank; this is close to a chameleon's natural appearance in a similar setting. The armadillo has a tough scaly and dusty appearance; the color helps in showing the hard shell of the armadillo explaining how he survived being run over by a car. During the shedding of Rango`s skin, the color momentarily darkens when he sheds his dark and burnt skin layers. This coordination of lighting combined with the smoldering sound aids in explaining the occurrences without using words.
The last element under discussion is distortion which enhances the characters actions. Distortion occurs in the form of slow motion which is evident when the glass tank begins to fall out of the car before crashing on the tarmac (wiktorek130). The slow motion in a way glorifies the fall as it lets the audience see in detail the power and extent of destruction caused by the swerving of the car. The slow motion effect aids the accident to feel more realistic since a similar pause right before the violent crash is experienced during an actual accident.
In conclusion, Gore Verbinsky utilizes various creative techniques to tell so much about the story within a short amount of time in the opening scene which leaves the audience attentive and curious. The introduction to the film is captivating since the director employs a variety tools to communicate, allowing the audience to reason for themselves. The director combines amazing camera angles and movement to immerse the audiences into the story in such a way that they find it easy to understand the story and give off the required emotional responses such as shock and awe.
wiktorek130. "Rango-full movie". YouTube, (2017). Retrieved From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzBGijXRTGk
May, N. "Rango - Opening Scene". Youtube, (2016). Retrived From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hptQDGywkyQ
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