Thorough the visual text “The Lady” directed by Luc Besson, cinematography and non diegetic sounds were used heavily within the film. Luc Besson is well known for his style. Auteur style. The use of camera shots and angles, non diegetic sounds, dialogue, props and costume were effectively used to portray this style.
This scene in the film The Lady is set in Rangoon the capital of Burma, 1941. General Aung San and six cabinet members and the General’s brother were at the Council Chamber while the excessive council was in session. This scene shows the execution of General Aung San during this meeting, by three military rebels. A military truck is shown forcefully driving through the gates through a long shot. The use of military props are also shown throughout this scene and specifically highlighted when three rebels walk in a line towards the cabinet room. A mid shot shows these three men in their military uniforms along with them rapping their red scarfs around their necks. This shot is a great representation of Luc Besson’s Cinema du look as he has focused the camera on the visual look of these men without dialogue. The use of the the red scarfs are used to show the conspiracy idea of the evil military who wear the scarves to murder innocent people through discrimination. As a view Luc Besson uses these scarves to make us scared of the charters who where them and make us see them as the bad guys that hold all the power over the other charters within this film. It has also been said that the colour red was used to represent the blood of the workers who died in the struggle against capitalism. The heavy display of military privilege throughout this scene shows the power the military is holding over the country and the abuse of their power the rebels use through the ranks. This giving the viewer an understanding of the military use in Burma. The General is completely against violence and the military over powering the country and is strongly portrayed as this kind of character in the film, this following the style of Luc Besson, “the principal/main characters in Luc Besson’s films are often loners or outcasts from society”. He stands out from the military as he took non violent approaches for everything and choose to lead the country without the use of weapons and violence. Luc Besson expresses this character to us as a friendly likeable character in which we are drawn to as a ‘good guy’.
During the moment leading up before General Aung San was shot by the rebel in this scene Luc Besson effectively used camera angles and no diegetic sounds to show the intensity of what was about to happen seconds later. All sounds were cut off and the pan flute was bought in along with the slow zooming in of the Generals face. The pan flute has a airy sort of anticipation sound to it therefore the use of it during this moment is very affective. Then with a close up then showing him starring into the camera, blinking, the gun is fired. The close up shot of the General makes us engage in him and no one else during this moment and shows the blank facials on his face expressing the calmness he is feeling which insight relates to the use of the pan flute. The pan flute is a traditional Chinese instrument which correlates with buddhism. The pane flute is a popular sound for mediation and buddhism within the Chinese and Asian cultures. General Aung San himself is a buddhist and the use of the pan flute relates to his true self and what he believes in.That is a non-violent approach and a civil environment. As a view this makes us think about The General and his calm personality no matter what situation he is in. Making him stand out to the views that he is charter we should be like when taking our own approaches in life. Although there are guns surrounding him and violence present he channeled his inner self the moment before he was shot. Luc Besson’s style is seen through this moment as “principal/main characters often show integrity in their corrupt world” which is exactly what General Aung San withheld within the corrupt environment he was trying to change.
The second scene is Aung San Suu Kyi at one of her rally’s where she is surprised with a visit from the military. A long shot shows Aung San Suu Kyi walking past all the village people engaging with them and shaking their hands. This shot was used to show us the surroundings in with she was in and the people who supported her and the lifestyle as to where they are living. The long shot that then follows shows the military quickly getting into a line with their guns in hand after being ordered “In line!”. “Authorities are often dysfunctional and ineffective go through the same motions every day knowing that they make little real difference to society and its problems”, this is a characteristic Luc Besson has used in his making of the film Lady and this scene is an example of it. The military failed to shut down Aung San Suu Kyi and she continued to walk through the line of authority showing the ineffective ness of them being there trying to stop her. We feel attracted to Aung San Suu Kyi during this scene as she is standing up for herself and of course taking the non violent approach which a lot of views support. The huge difference between these two shots shows the intrusion the military is imposing. Two different settings used for these two very different groups of people. In the camera shot of the military men in a line formation you see them once again in their uniforms with the red scarves around their necks showing us as viewers that they hold the power in this situation. That long shot camera angle shows a large group of supporting village people all dressed in neutral lighter colours that are surrounded by a lighter presence showing the happiness and excitement of this moment for Aung San Suu Kyi and her movement. It makes us as views want to be there supporting her and her movement.
As Aung San Suu Kyi is walking slowly towards the guns pointed at her, a close up shows her face along with the guns very close to it. Luc Besson used a close up to show viewers that Aung San Suu Kyi isn’t afraid of the guns and the military and isn’t afraid to disobey orders. All the while she was walking to guns her facial expressions remained calm and she seemed in control. With a gun pointed directly at her head with the countdown reaching two we see a flash back of the close up of her fathers face during his assassination seconds before he was shot. These two shots mirror one another and bring upon the presence of her father and her fathers actions towards democracy before he was killed. Another link to her father is the flowers in Aung San Suu Kyi’s hair. The day her father was assassinated, prior to it he had given Aung San Suu Kyi a flower as he left home. Luc Besson correlated her and her dad within this scene to show how similar Aung San Suu Kyi and her father are with their personalities and believes for the people of their country and the common traits they share. It also makes us feel sympathy for Aung San Suu Kyi as she lost her father from him trying to get democracy for Burma, that he is not there in her presence to support her through this time. The bold action from Aung San Suu Kyi walking toward the military holding their guns at her reflects Luc Besson’s style, being that “actions of principal/main characters are extreme because they want to bring greater clarity to their environment.” She is shown walking towards violent with a non violent approach. Guns being an extreme measure she takes extreme bold movements showing her own power against the military and the system. Aung San Suu Kyi is showing her supporters and her team that fighting back with violence is not that way to go and that a more peaceful approach can be more effective, this teacher the viewers this also.
Luc Besson stays true to his style thought the film ‘The Lady’ using strong visual techniques to express his ‘Auteur’ style thought this film and engage with his audience visually through his multiple techniques and minimal dialogue.
Auteur style quotes – Stuart Fernie