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Take My Eyes is a Spanish love story, which shows the disturbing reality and truth of domestic violence. The cinematography and mise-en-scene makes the overall film a great story of domestic violence right before the law of protection against gender violence was issued. This Spanish story is about a woman named Pilar, a housewife and victim of her husband’s frustration. Pilar lives with her abusive husband name, Antonio. Despite the fact, Pilar still loves Antonio and he loves her back as he says, but yet he cannot control his temper and abusive behavior.
As the film opens, the sequence begins in the middle of the night, where we see Pilar, who decides that she can no longer tolerate it anymore and runs from her husband after countless beatings. The background music makes the audience feel terror, indicating tension, thriller and suspense. Here’s a medium shot and two-shot of Pilar and their seven-year-old son Juan. Pilar looks very terrified and fearful as she is waking her son, asking him to get dressed while he is still half asleep. She quickly gathers her belongings and escapes. It is cold, dark and late at night, which indicates fear. We see a close-up of Pilar’s feet when she discovers that she is still wearing slippers. She reaches at her sister’s house Ana, who lives with her boyfriend that she’s soon going to marry. Ana opens the door, worried to see her sister this late at night and scared. When Ana asks Pilar, “what’s wrong?” Pilar looks speechless, begins to cry and says, “I’m so stupid. . . still wearing my slippers. ” Ana hugs her tightly and says it doesn’t matter. Although, we did not see any physical violence in the beginning of the film, but Pilar’s fearful face, voice and words to Ana about her slipper’s states that there’s fear in Pilar’s mind and she is indeed very scared. The scene shows the bond between the sisters and fades out to black.
Ana asks Pilar to stay for a few days till she feels better as they don’t meet often. Pilar tells her that she didn’t bring much stuff with her. She then sends her sister to their apartment to collect her belongings. Once Ana gets there, she discovers the place being dirty with food on the floor, broken plates and the broken window. This gives a hint to the audience about physical violence Antonio does using intimidation such as, smashing or destroying things. She comes across the hospital records and the medical bills of her sister Pilar, who is being physically abused by her husband. A Medium close-up shot of Ana’s face expression, shocked as she is gazing over the papers. Which tells the audience that Pilar has not told her sister anything about their relationship and why she decided to leave home. As soon as she hears Antonio walking in, she quickly puts the papers back and closes the bag. She quickly looks around for anything else that Pilar and Juan might need, when Antonio opens the door thinking it’s Pilar. Ana tells him that her sister will not be coming back and is staying with her. Antonio gets angry and asks her to get out. When she says she is not done yet, he yells again. Antonio’s raising voice and behavior with Ana shows the audience his internal anger and short temper. Although, we don’t see much physical violence in Take My Eyes, but we can clearly see the psychological violence that Antonio does to Pilar.
Later in the scene, Pilar is sitting with her son when she asks him if he would like to stay at Ana’s house for a little while and he says, “do you love dad?” Pilar says, “Of course, I love him. ” From her statement, we can predict that she still loves Antonio regardless of his abusive behavior. Juan requests that he wants to see his dad. Pilar heads out to make a phone call to Antonio. Ana being aware of the situation, trying to protect her sister asks Pilar is she would want her to come with her? We see the same fearful face of Pilar again, when she walks towards the phone booth shivering with fear. When she heads back home, we see Antonio standing outside Ana’s house. The overall scene is long and dark with very low lighting from the back resulting the figure in darkness and mystery. When he calls “Pilar!”, she quickly runs inside and shuts the door. Antonio starts to get angry about how she left the house without saying anything. At first, he tries to be gentle with Pilar, convincing her to open the door. He tries to convince Pilar by saying that he swears he will change, and will surprise her, but nothing draws her towards him now, as she is so frightened by him. He tries to be romantic with her as if it may seduce her, but he becomes ruthless, when she refuses to open the door. Here’s a tight framing shot of Antonio and Pilar constantly asking her to open the door towards the end of the sequence before it fades to black. An extreme close-up shot of Pilar, where we see a detailed view of her eyes as she is crying because she’s scared. Although, Antonio starts to think that Pilar might not love him anymore, she clearly repeats herself saying, “She’s scared. ” Antonio apologizes and says that he cannot live without her. At the same time, he wants the power to control her and prevent her from having a life without him. When Pilar tells him that Juan wants to see him, he says, “so go get him and let’s go back home. ” This is also another way of abusing, using children to make women emotional. Antonio’s half-lit face shows us his internal feelings, as if he is struggling with his own fears and insecurities that his wife might never come back home and leave him for good. We can imagine that Antonio might have done something very wrong to put her in this state.
This sequence from Take My Eyes presents the love, fear, gender violence and emotions between the couple very well. The film uses the perfect techniques such as, the background music, lighting and editing to present the meaning of the film and conveying its message. The medium and back to back shots during conversations were easy to follow. Although we don’t see much color throughout the sequence, mostly gray, black and white, but it is to indicate terror. Despite the fact, we don’t see Antonio physically abuse his wife during the sequence and willing to change himself without us knowing what he has done exactly declares that he has temper issues.
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