I finished watching “Prisoners” about 20 minutes ago.
If you haven’t seen the film then stop reading. Go watch it.
Films are often a shared experience.
When the movie ends, we usually have a chance to discuss it with somebody next to us.
How often do we take advantage of that opportunity?
Film works on us at a unconscious level. In order to talk about what we’ve just experienced, we would need to engage with our unconscious. “That’s pretty scary,” you say. “I just wanted to be entertained for a couple of hours.”
“How do you even do it,” you ask. “I mean, it’s your unconscious because it’s not conscious. So engaging with your unconscious is kind of… an impossibility?”
After the movie, my girlfriend and I had a lot of questions. “So, who was this guy? What did he have to do with it?” “Why was there this scene?” “What about that shot?” We wanted to work out some of the story stuff we didn’t get, and we needed the other’s help. We were figuring it out. There was a lot there to turn over.
Some questions we were able to answer, others we agreed to let live in the unknown.
This film definitely offers more in terms of character development and emotional engagement than your typical whodunit. It exercises other parts of you besides your brain.
The setting, characters, plot, cinematography, editing, sound design were interesting enough to keep me emotionally invested.
Remember all these things that work their way into a film, in every shot, in every frame.
There was one shot, without any characters, very early in the film that stood out to me, and still does.
At first I thought it was a hint. To the best that I can figure, it wasn’t. But that shot, it hooked me. It was so interesting and it didn’t feel out of place. As we continued to discuss the film, we answered many of our questions, but this single shot continued to bother me. I said so, aloud to my girlfriend.
“That shot still bothers me.”
Thankfully I have the Internet, and I love the Internet tonight. It gave me more than I deserve or expected on the subject of this 3-5 seconds of a four year old film. Apparently Indiewire named this shot and picked it as “the shot of the year” for 2013 and the director of the film discussed it here.
The only thing I will add to that is this.
The only instruction the scriptwriter apparently gave for the director for this shot.