baguettes & bottles
below are the 6 stills from my COM206 – visual literacy & communication project. i wanted to explore the subject of alcoholism and its effects in a quirky and off-kilter manner through a narrative, and that it is so severe a problem to the point that it penetrates even the subconscious, of which dreams are a product. here it goes:
the first picture establishes the setting. the grass, the mat and the food all point to a picnic scene. the protagonist is asleep. at this point, it is not apparent if anyone else is part of the narrative. the notion of a picnic points towards intimacy as it is an activity shared by couples, family or close friends. note the mat, the bottle and the baguette.
in the next scene we are in her dreamscape. she looks around, dazed and confused, while a sinister jack-the-ripper-esque shadow looms behind her. scale is employed here to make the ‘villain’ appear more menacing. the shadow is created by placing an off-camera flash remotely triggered behind the villain who is just out of the frame. 2 things to note here: as will be with the protagonist’s dreamscape in the subsequent shots, i deliberately created an environment that is bleak and stark, in this case a grey wall. note that she is also wearing a sweater now when she wasn’t before. this helps to reinforce the fact that she is no longer in the previous reality, as well as to emphasize the ‘cold’, relevant to the bleak and the stark.
in the 3rd shot, we get the first frontal look at the villain. he is deep in the photo so viewers are yet able to make him out with clarity. here, the protagonist is walking along a white corridor (achieved through over-exposure with the help of the backlight) that seems to extend indefinitely, in the spirit of the alternate reality. the gesture of the protagonist is supposed to indicate her fear, as she begins to sense a presence.
at this point, she runs – after the realisation that she is being tailed. the villain pursues. his apparent size is larger now, and viewers begin to make out the ridiculous ensemble. a slow shutter speed was used to convey motion.
here, the villain bears down on the fallen protagonist. note the picnic implements that are on the villain. these positive symbols have been subverted to add the surrealism of the dream. the bottle and the guinness hat give clue to the critique at hand. just as the instrument of blunt trauma (baguette) is coming down…
snap back to reality. the protagonist awakes to find her boyfriend, who was the villain in her dream, drinking and taking a big swig at that. her gesture points to the fact that she just awoke and can also be interpreted as a sign of exasperation. whether he beats her or not in reality was deliberately left ambiguous*. though it is clear at this point what she is affected by.
*disclaimer: i can attest that amos loves pamy very much. he is not an alcoholic or wife-beater. i bet they only have sweet dreams of each other.
of course, we couldn’t let the food go to waste.
it was a challenge trying to compress a story like that into 6 stills. i am aware of the holes in the narrative that would have been plugged if i had more frames to play with but hey, what’s life without a few tough spots?
many thanks to pamy and amos for agreeing to go along with this crazy idea. truth be told, they did not know what they were getting themselves into until it was too late. they are naturally fun people and it was a breeze working with them. thanks to weili and supei, who we bumped into along the way, for helping.