Frame analysis Chad Richins
ENG 195 – M. Dembrow Instructor
Still from The Big Lebowski (1998 – Joel and Ethan Coen)
Film Stock: Color, not grainy or contrasty. Slightly pink in hue.
Film gauge: for this still it is academy or 1.33:1
Lighting: Interior bowling alley fluorescent with obvious fill lights, bright, somewhat realistic.
Focus: Selective, foreground 3 figures, 1 figure in rear blurred somewhat, far wall very blurred
Composition: 1 figure standing screen left edge, main/title character seated in center reclined, figure seated right in field vest leaning elbows on knees, holding handgun. Figure slightly deeper in frame clasping hands anxiously. Eye is drawn from top left to bottom right and pretty much stays on gun.
Frame is closed, image fairly dense, somewhat complex image with many objects visible, bowling apparatus, beer light in back, ceiling fan, lighting fixture.
I’d say medium long shot, low angle, we’re looking up at standing figure as if seated across short space from figures.
Sightlines: all figures watching standing figure in foreground, while he watches man with gun.
Figures expressions all tense. Man with gun as if waiting for response, eyes raised, mouth set as if saying, “Your move, buddy.” 3 of 4 figure’s body language all somewhat relaxed still which somewhat betrays that the scene may not be quite as deadly ptoentially as it seems.
Costumes of 2 characters are location specific. One other dressed casually, apparently in hooded sweatshirt and Zubaz loose pants, long hair and goatee. Other figure wearing cargo shorts, button-up shirt and field vest, close-cropped hair, wristwatch, glasses, goatee.
Décor is standard 1970s era bowling alley décor. Pink back wall, lots of lights, aging bowling score station.
Man holding gun dominates scene due to possible actions/consequences, creating tension. Standing figure faced by man with gun appears apprehensive and static. Seated central figure seems upset by situation but also looks kind of menacing at standing figure. Figure in background looks apprehensive, anxious.
Symbols: the number 23 on bowling station (ask Jim Carrey and Joel Schumacher about that) apparently non-significant
Themes: us vs. them, team vs. outsiders
Overall, I think this frame shows great composition with action drawing eye from top left down right to the man holding gun dominating the scene. The closed frame and close shot gives us a sense of intimacy with the scene and a sense we can’t get away and are tied into whatever happens, as if we were seated close by. The theme is effectively visually setup as established group deals with intruding other and we wonder what dire consequences will come from the action. The costumes give a sense of realism and add a level of interest because they are somehwat random and not too stylized, perfect. The setting is familiar and adds to realism, tension. Sightlines also add to tension since gazes are directed and apparently intense between figures. There is a lot to wonder about here. Why are such differently dressed men bowling together? Is the man with the gun an aggressor or a defender? Is the gun appropraite to the situation? Is the man in background a bystander or part of action? Will standing man back off, run, leap for gun? Will man with gun fire? The director has placed us into a scene that is plausible and realistic and given us a seat uncomfortably close to what could be deadly action, making us intently search the frame for clues as to what will happen next, who will act or not act, how will the tension be resolved.