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The scene in Arthur Penn’s film Bonnie and Clyde where Bonnie and Clyde share their first kiss is a perfect representation of a complete scene with cinematic meaning to the theme of the movie itself. The scene begins with a medium shot of Bonnie arranging her necklace in the mirror. She sings a song from a movie that she and Clyde had just viewed. She recites the lines, “We’re in the money, we’re in the money”. Bonnie’s singing causes Clyde to look at her, and her words prompt Clyde to ask her if she would rather have a rich man to look after her, than a thief who can’t give her the care she needs. Bonnie insists that she doesn’t want rich man, and Clyde’s lifestyle is fine for her. Clyde kisses her, but before they go further, Clyde backs away and tells Bonnie that he isn’t a “lover boy”.
For this sequence of shots to be considered a scene, there needs to be a clear beginning and end. Both the beginning and the end of the scene are clearly marked by fade-ins and fade-outs- classic methods of jumping from scene to scene. This scene also is its own mark in time; the scene before and the scene after are at different times than this scene. The break in time makes this particular sequence stand out as its own individual scene.
The cinematography and the mise en scène of this scene enhance the deeper meaning of Bonnie and Clyde- Clyde’s struggle with his sexuality. The lighting in this scene is constant; even before Clyde pulls down the shade over the window, the lighting is dark and dull. The lighting creates a somber mood for the scene, letting the audience know that perhaps the scene itself will not be a happy one. If the lighting had been more colorful and vibrant, the scene may have gone a different way, however even during Bonnie and Clyde’s first kiss, the lighting manages to remain as unromantic as possible. The faded colors and the dismal mood of the scene add to the deeper meaning of the film. The camera angles, distances, and movements in this scene also impact the underlying theme of Bonnie and Clyde.
The shot types during Bonnie and Clyde’s first conversation are very important. During this conversation, Bonnie and Clyde talk about their first murder. The majority of shot types used are close ups and extreme close ups, and these shots are important because they show the emotion in the faces of Bonnie and Clyde. The close ups pick up subtle movements in the face, such as the downward movement of the lips into a frown, and the tearing up of Bonnie’s eyes. Such indistinct actions would not be portrayed if a close up had not been used.
The mise en scène of the scene is the most important aspect that attributes the deeper meaning of the film. First, the props placed in this scene are very important. The window shade that Clyde pulls down towards the middle of the scene is brown and faded, with a ripped out hole on the side. On the surface, this represents how Bonnie and Clyde’s current home isn’t very luxurious, and is lacking the proper care. The deeper meaning is that their current relationship is somber and dull, and is also in need of more care. The need for more care is greatly attributed to Clyde’s nervousness when it comes to being intimate with Bonnie. The most important prop in this scene is the gun.
At the beginning of the scene, Clyde holds the gun and cleans it. Before talking to Bonnie, Clyde looks down at his gun, as if it would give him courage. It only takes a few moments after Clyde puts the gun down, for him to become less courageous and more nervous. After Clyde removes himself from the bed, the camera cuts to a close up of Bonnie’s head on the pillow. Beside her- almost overlooked- lies Clyde’s gun, right by her head. She hugs the pillow, almost hugging the gun as well. On the surface this just seems like Clyde put down his gun on the bed and it happened to end up by Bonnie. But the particular placement of this prop represents more than coincidence. Because the gun is no longer in Clyde’s hands, he no longer has the boldness to be intimate with Bonnie. Also, Bonnie seemingly hugging the gun represents how she needs for Clyde to confront his feelings. Clyde has run away from her, but she now clutches the very thing that he needs to feel whole- his gun, and his heart.
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