In The Bedroom: Discuss The Interplay Between The Opening Scene (Movie Review Sample)
IN THE BEDROOM (Todd Field; 2001)
5 questions / total 1,250 words
Film Response due by Tuesday, February 5th at 7pm via email
Thomas Newman has made a career of composing scores for both film and television that
always stand out for their uniqueness, almost quirky but mournful use of non-traditional sounds
and instruments. Previous notable film scores include AMERICAN BEAUTY and THE
SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, to say nothing of his iconic main theme for the television series
SIX FEET UNDER.
For Todd Field's feature film debut about ordinary people in an ordinary town whose lives
intersect with immediate danger, Newman has composed music that is often slow and
lackadaisical like many of the scenes and images it scores, but eventually turns sad and
haunting, almost aggressive.
Newman has employed choral music (which was called for both in the short story on which the
film is based by Andre Dubus III, as well as in Todd Field and Rod Festinger's screenplay
adaptation) to powerful, diagetic use to say nothing of the memorable usage of piano, strings,
bells and chimes throughout.
Place also plays a key role as the story unfolds in a small coastal American town. Class is
another theme explored in the film as it subtly contents with the the upper-middle class lives of
the Fowler family, compared to the working-class lives of Natalie and her ex-husband. Even
though everyone lives in a small, casual American town, there is a tension between the classes
that is illustrated quietly between the characters and also with the music.
Ultimately, IN THE BEDROOM's musical energy - building, worrisome, mournful and sometimes
almost metalic in quality - contribute an invaluable dimension to individual scenes as well as the
totality of the film.
Questions for IN THE BEDROOM
1-Discuss the interplay between the opening scene of the film and the segway into the opening
credits. Why are these scenes built this way? What does the music contribute here? How do the
tracks "Houses" and "The Cannery" connect with each other?
2-Ruth Fowler is, notably, a choral director. Discuss the use of choral music in the film and how
it advances the story and gives us insights into the character of Ruth.
3-Newman's track "Baseball" is used frequently in many other feature films and documentaries.
Discuss the use of the track here in the film. What does this scene (and its music) contribute to
the overall tone of the film? 4-Newman adapts his track "The Cannery" and turns it into "In the Bedroom" as the film closes.
How has Newman changed the original track? Why has he done this? What do these changes
contribute to the films final scenes?
5-For a film with so many interesting musical sounds, IN THE BEDROOM is distinguished for its
long silences and overall quietness. How does Todd Field achieve to make the film notably
silent and then notably unsilent?
1-When preparing any of your written assignments:
a) Please use the third person, as opposed to the first person. This will reinforce your efforts to
offer more nuanced discussion and support the arguments that you are bringing forward.
b) When referring to titles, please use CAPS for the title of the film, and italics for any names of
songs or bands.
c) All papers are expected to use a proper bibliography. While there is no minimum of sources
to be used on any written assignment, when there are sources they must properly be credited.
In The Bedroom
In the bedroom
1 Discuss the interplay between the opening scene of the film and the Segway into the opening.
The film starts with Frank Fowler and Natalie Strout chasing each other across a grassland then confessing their love to each other; it seems they have known each other for a short period. Then afterward the movie introduces us to the surrounding and relationship status of Frank and Natalie (Box office Mojo, 2001). Frank goes for fishing with one of Natalie's sons, while in the boat the lobsterman explains the theme of the film using lobster. During the birthday of one of Natalie's children it is revealed by Frank's parents, Ruth and Matt that Natalie is not yet divorced from her rich and abusive husband, Richard Strout. Ruth is a choir director at a high school while Matt is a local doctor. His parents especially Ruth seem not contented with Frank dating an older woman since Frank is a new graduate student while Natalie is much older than him considering the fact she already has two kids. His father to some extent seems to have no problem with the relationship When Frank and his parents go to watch the two boys playing, Ruth inquiries from Frank the status of his relationship with Natalie which Frank states it is nothing serious but just a summer romance (Rotten Tomato, 2010). He does not seem to be truthful since he later confesses to Natalie that he has been considering postponing his status for one year. Natalie's husband is infuriated when he sees his wife with another man and wants to move back in with Natalie, which she obviously refuses for she has already moved on and in love with another man. Richard firstly hurts Frank's eye when he finds him with Natalie but no police case is filed against him but when they meet the second time frank ties to protect Natalie from her husband but ends up dead.
These scenes are built this way to illustrate that the movie starts with romance and happiness, this is when Natalie and Frank are alone, but when a third party is involved, it causes tragedy (Box office Mojo, 2001). The track "house" and "the Cannery" connect in that it is hard to predict. The house track is for a happy occasion while The Cannery track reveals anxiety and sad result of a situation.
2. Ruth Fowler is, notably, a choral director. Discuss the use of choral music in the film and how it advances the story and gives us insights into the character of Ruth.
There are three songs coached by Ruth Fowler to her group choir all of them sang by The Newark Balkan Girls Chorus. The first song is Zeni Me Mamo. This song is sung as a way of revealing to the audience the career Ruth is in. During the choir practice, Ruth seems to be full of emotions it is not clear whether she is angry from events that take place while she is at home or the manne
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