The makers of the film Chicken Run use presentational devices to give the audience clues about the characters and action in the film. During this essay, I will analyze how the filmmakers have used camera angles, costume, lighting, setting, music, sound effects and character interaction to create a more meaningful atmosphere for the audience. In addition, I will look specifically at how Ginger is portrayed as a good character and how Mrs. Tweedy is portrayed as an evil one.
Presentational devices are essential as to how the audience interprets a film; they help identify a character by their class, background, and genre and how the character interacts with others. An example of a presentational device is the setting in which the production is presented. The setting of a film is as essential as the human characters in many cases, and often more so, are the places where the action occurs both as identifiable locations and for what they represent or the feelings associated with them. In some kinds of film, the setting is grand and colourful (like in a casino), while in others (like horror films), it may be narrow and claustrophobic.
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The set of Chicken Run gives the impression of prison with wire fences surrounding the coup and small huts to live in. A further example of a presentational device is the costume, used to identify the character to the audience. The costume that a character wears can also help us decide about the character’s class, background, gender, and age. An example in a chicken run of when a costume is used as a presentational device is the outfit that Mrs. Tweedy wears. It is drab and severe her casual clothes look prim and uniformed in fashion, very much like the character, which she plays.
The audience can relate her personality and her dress sense to make a decision as to whether the character is good or bad. In sharp contrast to this Ginger wears a hat and a scarf this creates a motherly image which we can associate with her warm and loving personality. An additional example of a presentational device is the lighting, which is used to enhance either the character or the setting of the film it can also be used to create special effects. Lighting also changes the mood of a scene, for example, a blue hue over the scene can create a feeling of shadow. The lighting used in a film refers to the illumination of a camera subject being filmed.
Lighting can be natural or artificial and bright (high essential lighting) or dark (low key lighting). Fill light may supplement other lighting on parts of the scene that the key light doesn’t cover. Backlighting lights the subject behind, creating a halo or silhouette effect while leaving the face in shadow. An example of the silhouette effect used in the chicken run was when Mrs. Tweedy took into the barn to be executed, and all we could see was Mrs. Tweedy’s shadow with an axe in one hand and the Chicken in the other.
Music is used to create a mood; for example, music that starts at a low tempo and gradually increases can create a sense of tension. Music can also be used in contrast with other presentational devices such as camera angles to create tension in a film. For example, to create a sense of tension, the camera angle could zoom in as the tone of the music increases. Music enhances the storyline and creates the emotion and ambience in a film. In Chicken Run, at the start, when Ginger tries to escape, the music “The Great Escape” starts to play- the effect that this has is that it helps us understand their plight, as it is rousing and rhythmic.
Another presentational device used by filmmakers is character interaction. This reveals how characters interact with other characters. Character interaction is a good way for the audience to find more out about a character. It is often the case that a character reveals their deepest feelings and emotion to other characters. This is deliberately put in place by the filmmakers to catch the audience’s attention and allow them to make decisions about relationships.
The first time we see Ginger, she is shown trying to escape from the coup, but she is foiled in her attempt to escape and is thrown into solitary confinement. This gives the impression of prison because there is wire fencing around the coup and two guard dogs patrolling the perimeter of the coup. After her first attempt to escape, the makers of Chicken Run cleverly put together a series of other escape attempts, all with the same outcome. During these escape attempts, the tune “the great escape” starts to play at a low tempo, but then the tempo increases.
The music is dramatic and rousing and inspiring, and it is also informative for the audience. As the sequence starts to draw to an end, the lighting starts to change from bright to dark this also changes the mood from jolly to severe and as the coal bunker that Ginger has been thrown into slams shut, it thuds loudly and dramatically, halting the music. The sound effect of the lid closing makes the audience feel sorry for Ginger, and we are also starting to understand the plight that the chickens are in. In the second scene, all the chickens are made to stand to attention (like they’re in the army) for inspection. Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy slowly walk along the row of anxious Chickens.
The audience can hear Mrs. Tweedy’s every footstep; the tension then intensifies before her footsteps increase. When Mrs. Tweedy suddenly stops, the Chicken that she stops in front of starts to shake violently. Mrs. Tweedy then clutches the Chicken by the neck and heads towards the barn. All the other Chickens breathe a sigh of relief but immediately focus their attention on the barn where the other Chicken was carried. Ginger then shows her strength as a leader and a role model towards the other chickens by taking a direct approach, and she climbs onto the barn roof and peers through a gap in the roof.
Here we see Mrs. Tweedy cleverly disguised in silhouette to make her look scary to the audience. She has the Chicken in one hand and an axe in the other. The camera then zooms in on Ginger. Her face beholds a look of horror as we hear a loud thud. This is the sound of the axe coming down on the chickens’ necks. The chicken coup is in a subdued atmosphere as the scene draws to a close. During this scene, the audience has witnessed a whole host of presentational devices. We have seen countless close-ups of characters, and we have also seen a lot more of Mrs tweedy in this scene. Another presentational device used in this scene was the silhouette effect, which made Mrs. Tweedy look eviler. This also made the audience feel sorry for the chickens
When Rocky enters the frame, Ginger sees him as her ticket out of the coup. Rocky is portrayed as a hero because the makers of Chicken Run dress him up in bold clothes so that he stands out from all the other chickens and this also makes him identifiable to the audience. Rocky’s American accent also adds to this. He is almost the American heartthrob that appears in teenage romance movies. Ginger, however, is portrayed as feminine when she falls prey to his masculine charms. When Rocky flies into the coup all of the chickens stand back in amazement and Rocky accepts his plaudits but then Ginger shows her imagination and vision by asking Rocky if he can teach her and the other Chickens how to fly.
Rocky straight away jumps onto the offensive by refusing to have anything to do with Ginger’s scheme. But as they approach the wire fencing and Rocky is about to take off and fly away the guard dogs see Rocky and start barking. Ginger and Rocky then dart off to the other side of the coup where they both overhear a conversation between the manager of the circus where Rocky came from and Mrs. Tweedie. The manager of the circus says to Mrs. Tweedy that Rocky is very valuable Mrs. Tweedy then says that she will do all she can to find Rocky while she is saying this the camera slowly starts to zoom in on Mrs.
Tweedy and her eyes start to glow devilishly. Ginger then lays all her cards out on the table and tells Rocky that if he doesn’t teach the chickens to fly, she will not hide him, and she will cluck loudly to tell Mrs. Tweedy that he is in the coup. Here Ginger’s character becomes more aggressive, but she uses controlled aggression to get what she wants, so it is almost like she’s bribing Rocky. Rocky then has no choice and reluctantly agrees to the offer. Later on in the film, Mrs. Tweedy announces a new invention that will change the face of the farm forever.
She addresses her husband very formally and calls him Mr. Tweedy. She says that she is sick of selling eggs for minuscule profits and announces the revolutionary new invention of the machine that can turn the chickens into pies. As she says this, the tone of her voice is very aggressive. This is also the first time we see Mrs. Tweedy smile. However, this makes Mrs. Tweedy look desperate to make money even though it means killing the chickens. This makes the audience’s sympathy move towards the chickens. This also makes the audience think Mrs. Tweedy is evil. The camera then has an extra close-up on her; the close-up reveals her as an ambitious, ruthless, money-hungry character.
However, this shows that on the farm she is boss and by introducing this new idea she is exercising her superiority over the farm. She then leaves Mr. Tweedy to put it together. As the film starts to develop the chickens again line up for inspection Babbs confesses to Ginger that she hasn’t had the time to lay any eggs because of the flying lessons that she has been taking Ginger is obviously concerned by this but Rocky is hounding her about where to hide. Ginger then shows that she is normal and her relentless patience with Rocky finally comes to a crashing end and she tells Rocky to hide.
Mrs. Tweedie slowly walks along the row of chickens her loud steps and black leather boots slamming on the ground to create a sense of tension. Mrs. Tweedy then analyses each one but as Ginger feared she suddenly stops when she gets to Babbs. But to everyone’s surprise, Mrs. Tweedy brings a measuring tape from behind her back and measures the waist size of Babbs and she then shows her indiscretion by telling Mr. Tweedy she wants every Chicken to be the same size as Babbs. Mr. Tweedy then brings out a big bag of chicken feed for the chickens to indulge themselves with.
Ginger then shows her observational skills and tells the Chickens that the attempt by Mrs. Tweedy to give them more seed was a ploy to fatten them up for slaughter. Suddenly, the coup goes quiet and the Chickens leave the seed alone, and they all seem to be in a state of shock at Ginger’s powerful choice of words. Rocky tells Ginger to lighten up, but Ginger responds by saying that she cares about what happens to the chickens. When they return, the coup is still in a state of shock, and some of the chickens are seen to be rolling around on the floor because they have overeaten seed. This makes us feel sorry for the chickens, and it also makes us understand their plight.
Ginger is nervous around Rocky because when she is on the roof with him after escaping from Mrs. Tweedy and saving Rocky from being put in the oven, she says thank you to him but then goes red. After this, she shares her ambitions with him and says that all she’s ever wanted to do was escape from the coup and be free and that he is their last chance of completing that ambition. After that, Rocky calls her by her real name instead of “doll face” and is filled with affection. The audience is now seeing how Ginger interacts with Rocky, and they also see how the relationship between Rocky and Ginger has become more robust.
When Ginger finds out that Rocky has left, she feels hurt and betrayed. Later on, as she is organizing her latest escape plan, she sees a poster of Rocky on the wall. The makers of Chicken Run cleverly include soft music to co-inside with Ginger’s facial expression. The camera also slowly zooms in. As the music starts to quicken and the tone of the music gradually increases, Ginger shows her creativity and imagination by announcing to the chickens that they are to make a crate. The chickens show their respect for Ginger because they are all hard at work trying to accomplish this.
Then a chicken calls Ginger “doll face,” the name Rocky used to call her Ginger then glances at Rocky’s poster this shows that she has feelings for Rocky because her facial expression also changes from one of joy to one of sorrow this gives the audience the impression that Ginger has feelings for Rocky. Ginger then shows her strength of character by putting all that to the back of her mind and leading the revolt. She also encourages Fowler to fly the crate. The music starts to play rather dramatically as they are escaping, and there are changes in camera angle because the camera keeps switching between the bottom and the top of the crate. The lighting also keeps changing because it shows you the outside of the crate, and then it shows you the inside. This gives the whole saga a more dramatic effect.
Then all of a sudden as, the crate is about to take off, Rocky appears on the scene. Ginger then shows two different types of emotions towards him. First, she slaps him for going away without saying anything. Then she kisses him for coming back. Meanwhile, the evil Mrs. Tweedy has caught sight of the crate, and she chases it and clings onto the end of it. By this time, the music is playing at a high tone, and at a fast tempo, the tension is also at its highest. Mrs. Tweedy then tries to kill Ginger, but she misses and cuts the rope. Mrs. Tweedy’s face turns from one of jubilation because she thought she killed Ginger to one of sheer horror as she realizes that she has cut the rope instead of Ginger’s head. The music then changes from a dramatic tone to an optimistic tone.
Then as the realization of escape starts to dawn all the chickens are shown to be dancing around and hugging each other and everyone is in a jubilant mood. Ginger then kisses Rocky as a sign of relief. After studying Chicken Run in detail, I have learned that what makes a good film is not just what happens, but it is about how the film is presented. I have also learnt that there are many ways in which films can be presented. I have also learnt that costume isn’t just used to prevent a character from being naked, but in animals, it can be used to humanize the character and make it identifiable to the audience.