History of the Cinema II blog

Shot by shot analysis The Lady Eve

I chose the scene from The Lady Eve where Jean is talking to
Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith about why
Pike didn’t recognize her after showing up to the party as “Eve”.

  • First shot: long take. Sir Alfred MacGlennan Keith is eating. Diagetic sound: can
    hear birds calling. Sheer curtains on windows. Dark wood all around room. Jean
    is laid down smoking a cigarette. She wears a white peacoat and black pants.
    Shot is slowly zooming to just Jean, excluding her “Uncle”.
  • Second shot: Jean. Medium long shot. High angle. Cup of tea on the side. Tons of
    pillows designed with flowers surround her. Can even see shadows of panels,
    branches, and flowers from outside of the window on pillows. Jean holds a
    cigarette. Starts swinging her foot a bit.
  • Third shot: Switches back to shot of only Sir Alfred MacGlennan Keith. Straight shot.
    He wears his monocle and drinks his tea. Medium shot. He sits on an intricate wooden
    chair with designs carved on back. Flowers sit in small vase on table.
  • Fourth shot: Back to Jean. Medium shot. She sits up, cigarette out of sight. MacGlennan
    has her full attention.
  • Fifth shot: Back to him. Tells her what story he fed Pike and says he has to protect
    himself as well.
  • Sixth shot: Back to her. Dialogue: “You mean he actually swallowed that?”
  • Seventh shot: Back to him. Dialogue: “Like a wolf. Now that you’ve got him what are you
    going to do with him?”
  • Eighth shot: Back to her. She lies back down. Relaxed.
  • Ninth shot: Worker comes in with flowers, we see him carry a long box and enter from
    doorway.
  • Tenth shot: Jean sits up and accepts roses with
    a British accent saying they are “rather long”, then laughs and complains about
    having to continue faking the accent after sending the worker away but she
    keeps a rose and puts it to her nose. Lays back down and confidently starts talking
    about her plan which will overlap with the next scene.

Fades out to next scene riding horses.

There’s a lot of playing around with contrast, Jean’s black and white clothing, the dark and light of the room. More than just that, we battle with our view of the characters throughout the whole film of who is good and bad. The imagery is just an extension of that. Jean is a very likeable character and empowering and she only wants revenge because Charles Pike hurt her. She’s not a typical victim, however, because she’s not too innocent, she’s a con herself. This is also the only time we actually see the cigarette in her mouth and it’s very brief. I’m not sure why that would be, I would need more background knowledge on what public opinion was regarding smoking.

She’s very confident while speaking of how well her plan her worked, but begins to fidget and swing her foot slightly when she talks about how they felt about one another on the boat. This is her weakness. The pillows feel like a symbol of luxury because they’re more than anyone needs. She’s swallowed up by propriety. The flower design is very feminine and obviously her character is a very different version of a woman than we’re used to. She knows how to play everyone and how to be the perfect woman for anyone to fall for, but its all deceit. She is a very guarded individual who hides behind her tricks. She hides herself but we see through it and this is mirrored in the use of sheer curtains.

Sir Alfred MacGlennan Keith is eating from very luxurious silver trays himself and the designs of the chair he sits in are fairly intricate themselves. The audience knows that these con men are pretending to be something they’re not and are after money and all the comforts it provides. The back and forth shots between the two serve not only to follow the conversation but to separate them as people. They serve their own cause and while they don’t mind helping each other, they have individual goals. It’s interesting that they chose to include flowers in the shot with MacGlennan. It was a very conscious choice because the shot itself is visually full enough just from the tea cup, glass, background shelves, and the actor’s attire.

She expects that everything will go exactly as she planned, so she’s never quite prepared for additional unforeseen information. She’s most at ease when she’s in control. It gives her confidence.

She accepts the roses and makes sure the room knows they don’t satisfy her by commenting on their length yet she still keeps one and then places it to her nose. She actually enjoys getting these flowers but doesn’t want any excitement to show so she minimizes the situation. We see she’s starting to fall into her own trap but won’t even admit it to herself yet. Her own emotions, her femininity in a way, will be her downfall.

Obviously, flowers are a pattern in this scene. It could be interpreted as a lot of different things. They could represent womanhood, or love, or just be tokens of appreciation. I notice that they are everywhere that something is being lied about or faked. Its almost as if flowers are warning because they only serve to keep up appearances and something deeper lurks underneath.

 

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October 17th, 2011 at 7:53 AM




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