I Prayed For a Crash

So with my newly obtained analyzing skills, I took apart this twenty-two second clip from one of my favorite films: Fight Club



For the purpose of catching everything, I watched the clip three different times.


1. Analyze the camera work
For this first watch, I put the video on mute and watched it without the audio. What I noticed right away was several jumpcuts, a technique I learned about in Examples of Editing Techniques. The camera would go from the main character to a different one and then back. It emphasized what the main character was looking at/thinking about. It seemed really natural, like how your vision goes when you’re looking around at your surroundings. This was a good method to step into the main character’s shoes.

Another thing I spotted was the angle used. When the plane crashed, the scene became tilted. Roger Ebert talked about the scene tilting in his article “How to Read a Movie”. He stated “Tilt shots of course put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance.” and “Left tilts to me [him] suggest helplessness, sadness, resignation.” Both are true of the scene. The tilt gives the plane crash scene just that much more chaos and it’s most definitely tilting left. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure a plane crash would fall under a scene of helplessness, sadness and resignation.

Left Tilt!

Left Tilt!


2. Analyze the audio track
For the second watching, I didn’t watch at all. I listened. I started the clip and minimized the window. Focusing on only the audio of the track I caught a few things I hadn’t noticed before. The loudest sound/voice is that of the Narrator. Everything else is like background sound. When the plane makes impact they panned the sound making it go from the right to left ear. It made things seem more tangible. It created a sort of realistic space for the story to be taking place in.


3. Put it all together
This time I watched the clip like any normal viewer would. Sound and Video together. What I noticed this time was how defined the narrator really is here. The scene/story doesn’t just tell you about him, it turns you into him. You’re forced into his shoes by the sights and sounds. When the plane crashes and the sounds start to move around you can hear different distinct sounds layered in. Screams, rushing air and the plane descending are just some. The mix of all of these adds to the uncomfortable feeling caused by the plane crash in the first place.


I found this to be a very interesting exercise. I’ve seen this movie several times, but I’ve never really focused on the visual/cinematic aspect of it. There’s much more to it and if I get the time, I’d like to take the whole movie apart like this and see what else I can find.

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