Textual Analysis: The Sopranos

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This is my second textual analysis and is a scene from the hit US television series The Sopranos. In this scene Vito is working in an everyday job, counting down the minutes to the end of the day.

Transcript of Textual Analysis: The Sopranos

The opening shot in this scene is a close up (which in fact is unconventional). This shot tells the audience the action of the character, but leaves some mystery as to who it is. All we can hear at this point is the diegetic sounds of the saw going backs and forwards. This creates a slow and tedious pace for the scene that follows. The colours surrounding the saw are dark, thus mirroring the character, for he is a murderous criminal. Reaction-Shot-Reaction is used here, for there is a cut to a close-up of Vito's face and then a cut back to the saw. The voiceover begins now, it is him describing the countdown between now and lunch. The voice is broken and pained; we instantly get an empathetic view towards the character, despite knowing his murderous background. The lighting is soft and warm on his face, almost giving him baby like innocent features, as if he is a victim to all this hard work. There is a cut to a long shot of Vito working. The miseen-scene in this shot reinforces the themes of this scene. The surrounding white snow emphasises the idea of nothingness and emptiness, and the forest in the background past the frozen lake implies a sense of freedom which is out of the characters reach. The voice over continues. What could be an idyllic scene (due to the beautiful scenery) in fact is quite the opposite; it is a man hating his working life as we learn from the V.O. A sudden cut to a close up, reminds us of the manual labour that he is doing. In his voiceover he is talking about guessing the time and trying not to look at his watch. He rummages through two boxes of nails, as if desperate to use up as much time as possible. All the colours are very natural looking, thus keeping in with the simplistic, earthy, setting. There is a beautiful sense of depth of field here, as the background is out of focus, yet the watch always remains in sharp focus. He is hammering, still trying not to look at his watch; a level of tension is introduced for now the audience are beginning to wonder what the time is going to be. The camera slowly zooms out, and we are left looking at this giant figure, hammering a tiny nail. This adds a pathetic quality to his character, rendering him helpless at the task at hand.

A close up of the watch as the scene reaches the climax, the audience is put into a state of surprise and also great sympathy, for the time is much earlier than Vito anticipated.

The voiceover is broken as Vito curses out loud. This surprises the audience, and breaks the growing anticipation and hope that he might be nearly finished with his day.

What I can use from this clip for my own Short Film: The idea of tension without sex, drugs or violent, this clip shows what everyone's enemy is, what is always against us, time. The use of frequent close-ups to create a very personal relationship with the character on screen. The emotional voiceover, narrating both actions and thoughts.