So the other night I decided to watch a Clint Eastwood western. I watched Hang Em’ High for the first time; since it was one of those movies I had wanted to watch and always eluded me (available on Hulu).

I really enjoyed it, but in particular, there was one scene that got me thinking about ready-to-hand, and present-to hand. I know Ben brought up this point earlier when he wrote about his experience with Casey playing DDR. Though my point is really that in the scene I watched, the director used some interesting techniques to really capture the visual action, and make Clint Eastwood’s handling of a gun look very ready-to-hand.
Here’s the scene, where Clint Eastwood’s character (who is an expert gunman) guns down a criminal that had tried to kill him earlier:

I know this film is a work of fiction, but it is kind of scary to fathom that there are people that are so well trained to use firearms that their guns become ready-to-hand. Then their intention to kill becomes reality, almost as if their mind kills another person instead of their hands and a gun. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people; well, while I don’t completely agree with that saying, in the case of this scene, I’d say the ready-to-hand-ness of the gunman is pretty well portrayed.

Now that I’ve said that, since we’ve been talking about sequences lately, I thought I’d do a sequence analysis so the director’s design is out there, in front of us, and we can think about how he used camera/film techniques to portray Clint Eastwood’s character as a tough, pissed off, expert gunman who can shoot so well with a revolver that it’s ready-to-hand to him.

Shot # & description Shot Type Dialogue
#1 Eastwood tipping his hat, leaving jail medium N/A
#2 Worried look of local Sheriff, looks back at grinning prisoner Close up N/A
#3 Eastwood strolling calmly across the street, lighting up a cigar (striking a match on his boot), then noticing something important he sees Continuous medium, zoom in to close up upon realization of something N/A
#4 a brown horse that Eastwood recognizes medium N/A
#5 Eastwood starts walking towards the horse for closer inspection Close up, zooms out to long shot and follows Eastwood N/A
#6 The saddle reads the word “JED”. It is Eastwood’s previously owned saddle that was stolen from him Close up N/A
#7 Eastwood then turns towards the saloon, and goes in to find one of the criminals he’s looking for Continuous long shot follows Eastwood into Saloon N/A
#8 Eastwood’s reflection in the bar mirror as he bursts through the doors Long Shot, pans following bartender till Eastwood comes into view, follows Eastwood as he walks left, and closer towards the camera, stopping once he reaches the criminal he’s looking for JED (Eastwood): You’re under arrest Reno.
#9 Reno responds to the Marshall (Eastwood) while he’s drinking liquor Close up RENO: You talkin’ to me Marshall?
#10 Eastwood looks pissed Close up JED: You’re name’s Reno, isn’t it?
#11 Reno responds to the Marshall (Eastwood) while he’s pouring liquor Close up RENO: Look Marshall, I dunno what kind of town you’re runnin’ here….
#12 Reno is pouring liquor, ignoring Eastwood, and Eastwood is getting angrier Medium shot JED: This isn’t my town.RENO: Well I wouldn’t know…see, I just rode in….gonna wash down some trail dust..
#13 Shot Reno, with Eastwood extinguishing his cigar into Reno’s glass of liquor Close up RENO:…and
#14 Full shot of Eastwood still with his cigar in Reno’s liquor. Eastwood looks pissed Medium shot N/A (stare down)
#15 Reno stands up Close up RENO: All right Marshall, whaduya say I done?
#16 Eastwood looks pissed Close up JED: You don’t remember me, do you?
#17 Reno Close up RENO: No.
#18 Eastwood looks pissed, pulls down his scarf to reveal his hangin’ scar Close up JED: When you hang a man, you better look at him!
#19 Reno looks scared as hell Close up, zooms in to Extreme close up of Reno’s scared face N/A
#20 Eastwood’s scar is visible to the audience Extreme Close up, pans up from scar to Eastwood’s eyes. He looks pissed. N/A
#21 Reno looks scared, starts to back away from Eastwood as camera follows Close up N/A
#22 Reno continues to back away from Eastwood. Angle makes Eastwood look tall and towering, and Reno looks small like a scared little kid. Medium shot N/A
#23 Eastwood continues his stare down, and covers his neck again Close up N/A
#24 Shot of Reno backing away, with Eastwood in the foreground Long shot of Reno, Eastwood in front of camera, over his shoulder JED: Don’t go for that gun Reno…
#25 Shot of Eastwood with a low camera angle, makes him look tall and in control Close up, low angle JED: ..I need you alive.
#26 Reno pulls his gun to kill Eastwood Long shot of Reno, Eastwood in front of camera, over his shoulder N/A
#27 Quick, clear shot of Reno pulling his gun on the Marshall Medium shot N/A
#28 Quick shot of Eastwood pulling his gun fast, in reaction to Reno Long shot of Reno, Eastwood in front of camera, over his shoulder N/A
#29 View of Reno’s eyes widening as he is shot and killed Extreme Close up N/A
#30 Eastwood looks pissed as he shoots and kills Reno, pulling the trigger again and again Medium shot, low angle N/A
#31 Eastwood continues to gun down Reno as Reno falls down over the barrels of whiskey Long shot of Reno, Eastwood in front of camera, over his shoulder N/A
#32 Reno collapses and falls from his feet, dead, whiskey pouring on his face. Medium shot, pans to follow Reno’s corpse falling to the floor N/A
#33 Eastwood looks satisfied as smoke clears from his gun Medium shot, low angle N/A
#34 Shot of Eastwood walking towards the corpse, saloon patrons can be seen in the background. The local Sherriff runs into the saloon. Medium shot, pans left following Eastwood, zooms out as he checks Reno on the floor N/A
#35 Shot of local Sherriff checking the corpse Long shot, changes to medium as Sheriff stands up to address Eastwood JED: You know em’?SHERRIFF: No…JED: Anybody here know em?
#36 Shot of Eastwood and the saloon patrons Long shot, holds steady for a while, then zooms into a medium shot. JED: Goes by the name of Reno. Come up here and take a look at him.
SHERRIFF: He musta just rode in.JED: That’s what he said, how much to bury him?
SHERRIFF: Elwood?ELWOOD: Well…15 dollars oughta do a fair job Marshall.

 

JED: All right, there seven dollars there, I’ll give you 8 more.

Mark it down there. Don’t anybody leave! I want everybody to write down in this book exactly what they saw…

PATRON #1: I didn’t see nothing marshall…

#37 Shot of Eastwood responding to patron. Close up JED: Fine, then you say that in writing.
#38 Shot of patrons talking to Eastwood Close up PATRON #2: Nobody’s gonna fault ya Marshall…you gave him every chance.JED: Then say it in writing.PATRON #1: Marshall, I can’t write!
#39 Shot of patrons talking to Eastwood Close up JED: Well the Sherriff here can write it down, and you can put your mark on it.
#40 Shot of everyone in the saloon. Long shot of patrons, Eastwood in foreground at medium distance JED: Sherriff, there’s a saddle out there that belongs to me, I’ll be takin’ that.
#41 Shot of Eastwood Close up JED: Any of his friends or relatives show up, want his horse or his belongings, you let me know, heh…
#42 Long shot of patrons, Eastwood in foreground at medium distance, holds steady as Eastwood walks away from camera towards doors, and out of the saloon. JED: …you can wire me in Ft. Grant.SHERRIFF: You gonna pick up the Swede now?JED: No….I’m gonna have that steak now.

Well, after looking back, it’s interesting how rapidly the shots begin to change and cuts happen as tension builds before Eastwood guns down the criminal, and then the shots get longer again after the shootout and calmness returns. I’d say that this is a classic example of rhythmic montage: the cutting of the shots is based on the visual narrative, and the feeling that is being communicated to the audience, (of calmness or high intensity), is communicated through the contrast of a rapid succession of shots, or rather, long slow shots.

Ok, that’s all for now,

-Joe

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