A Self Identity Problem In Girlhood Movie: [Essay Example], 919 words GradesFixer
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A Self Identity Problem in Girlhood Movie

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In Girlhood (2014), Marieme (Karidja Touré) faces a question of self identity. Troubled by poor performance in school and an abusive older brother, Marieme joins an all-girl gang to define herself and her individuality through petty crime, alcohol, and violence, as well as love and camaraderie. Throughout the film, a major theme present is how characters are influenced by and subsequently emulate each other’s violent and immoral behavior. As a victim of domestic violence, Marieme distances herself from her household and follows a journey of self discovery. But in finding her own strength, she becomes violent herself, and in turn sees her own immoral actions mirrored by her younger sister. This theme is supported by Girlhood’s use of framing and shot length. Additionally, the film uses similarly colored clothing to represent character parallels.

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After the leader of Marieme’s gang, Lady (Assa Sylla) loses a fight to Caidy (Nina Mélo), Marieme challenges Caidy to a fight. In this scene [00:58:35 – 01:00:31], Marieme wins the fight, attaining esteem from her gang and finally becoming a dominant member. She has proven herself as powerful and impresses her friends to become a dominant member of the gang, and not the tag-along as she had been before. But contrary to this scene’s transformative and empowering nature for Marieme, the cinematography favors Caidy, focusing on the hurtful impact of her actions.

The sequence begins with a mobile medium shot of Marieme, pushing through the crowd to her friends. The motion is shaky, and remains shaky even after briefly settling on Marieme and her friends as she reveals that she set up the fight. The wild camera motion that continues throughout the sequence makes the scene more action-packed, which makes both the fighting and emotions seems more intense. Marieme’s vibrant blue sweatshirt stands out against the pale tones behind her. The camera then pans to follow Marieme and reveals Caidy, wearing a similarly colored denim shirt, who’s framed in wide while Marieme faces her close up on screen right. The vibrant shirts provide contrast to the neutral palette behind them, drawing the viewer’s eye and portraying them with equal status.

The next shot is wider, and cuts back to showing only Marieme in profile. The camera follows her shakily, rotating as Caidy walks into frame, the crowd of girls standing behind them. This long take contrasts with the frenetic editing style that follows: as the girls break into a fight, the camera cuts tighter on them, swinging more wildly as Caidy attacks Marieme. The contrast in rhythm creates two tones: first, a slow tense buildup, and then a chaotic outburst.

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The next cut is discontinuous, girls push Marieme back into the fight though she hadn’t been seen falling out. Then the camera pans back to the fighters, framing them parallel to the camera as they tug on each other’s hair. It cuts back over Caidy’s shoulder, pushing in as she attacks and kicks Marieme, and swivels to show her face as she lets out a battle cry.

The fast and discontinuous nature of the cuts makes it difficult for the viewer to fully discern what is happening. This is accentuated by the fact that the girls are dressed similarly, so it is easy to lose track of who is who. Since the earlier shots pictured and moved with Marieme, the viewer is oriented to identify with her in the fight. This frenetic style succeeds in putting the viewer into the chaos that Marieme is in, but also starts to mask the identity of each girl so that it becomes less clear visually which fighter we should identify with. This primes the next major shift in both filming style and identification.

Marieme attacks back, gets Caidy into a chokehold and rips off her shirt. Then, the camera stops following Marieme and pans back to show only Caidy as she backs away scared and embarrassed, covering herself. The camera holds on this momentarily, allowing the viewer to orient their identification with Caidy as she instantly goes from viscious to timid. From nowhere, Marieme leaps into frame, punching Caidy in the face. This is the shift. We are no longer in Marieme’s head. We are in Caidy’s.

The camera continues to discriminately follow Caidy as she crawls on the ground. The audience can’t see Marieme at all, save for her feet kicking Caidy and then withdrawing from frame. As the camera pans up to reveal Marieme taking a knife from her pocket, her face isn’t shown.

Finally, the camera cuts. This long take yet again changes the rhythm of the scene. It is no longer quick and disorienting but rather slow, clear, and drawn out. This has the effect of making the audience feel every punch and kick that Marieme delivers to Caidy, and the contrast in shot length leaves the viewer desperately waiting for the painful shot to end. Marieme pins Caidy down and cuts off her bra. She holds her trophy high in the air, and the camera whip pans up to it, not allowing to see Marieme’s expression in her moment of triumph.

While the first half of this scene puts the two girls on equal footing, the last half portrays Marieme as the attacker and Caidy as the victim. In terms of story arc, this moment should be Marieme’s; she is victorious, proves herself to her friends, and proves her strength to herself. Yet the camera focuses on Caidy, giving the audience a glimpse of how Marieme’s violence affects others much in the same way she was affected by her brother’s violence.

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A Self Identity Problem In Girlhood Movie. (2019, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 23, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-self-identity-problem-in-girlhood-movie/
“A Self Identity Problem In Girlhood Movie.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-self-identity-problem-in-girlhood-movie/
A Self Identity Problem In Girlhood Movie. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-self-identity-problem-in-girlhood-movie/> [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
A Self Identity Problem In Girlhood Movie [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 May 14 [cited 2021 Apr 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-self-identity-problem-in-girlhood-movie/
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