Next Floor-Denis Villeneuve (2008)

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This was a simple but very effective short film. We were told not to be drawn into the story but look at the ‘invisible’ methods used to create the narrative. This included the images, sounds, way of filming and editing.

The film begins with the close up of a man’s eye. There are no clues as to who he is but his image stays in your mind and the director is successful in engaging the audience from the very beginning. An establishing shot is next shown of the centre piece where a large tray of food is placed. The camera then starts pulling back showing the rest of the table laden with food and of the dinner guests. There is no dialogue but you can hear cutlery being used and a drum being played. This sets up the film cleverly because the drums provide a tribal atmosphere where you feel that a feast is about to take place in a jungle where no manners or etiquettes are required but the cutlery sounds and classical music bring you back to a setting of a posh dinner party taking place. Initially the meal is being eaten with manners but as dramatic music sounds the table falls to the next floor and again the scene is reset. The waiters run down to the next floor and as the audience you feel you are running with them and not part of the fallen group. The whole scene is covered in dust but somehow the dinner guests are only interested in eating the meats that in the real world would offend many. The narrative continues with the table falling again and the waiters resetting the scene. As the table falls down to each floor the guests become more and more wild in their eating habits. The director has cleverly shown this with the guests stealing from each others plates and change in music. The director has used the dramatic change in music as nondiegetic where only the audience knows something is about to happen. The film seems to become repetitive in its narrative but again the director surprises us with the table falling continuously through the floors and the chandelier following. The music and sound effects create a thrilling atmosphere and the shot of the waiters turning and looking at each other turn by turn as if questioning what happened makes the audience curious and looking for answers. The narrative concludes by returning to the character. He is looking at the audience but his image does not resolve the audiences questions as to the conclusion of this film but if anything leaves us with a small satisfaction that greed is never good. You feel however that the character is looking for the next group of people to punish for their greed.

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