An ambitious young jazz drummer is discovered by an instructor known for his terrifying teaching methods. His passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher pushes him to the brink of his ability and his sanity.
Whiplash starts with an opening shot that already tells the viewer a lot about the movie. The hallway is lit with a greenish tone (very similar to the one’s in Fight Club), with Andrew Nieman sitting at the far end enclosed by a doorframe. The top light hitting Nieman is of a harsh quality, similar to the look of an interrogation scene. Being isolated in the center of the frame, the viewer is cinematically introduced to Andrew. The moving camera is beautifully motivated by Fletcher‘s point of view, who is then introduced as a figure emerging from the darkness. Andrew is, not only in this scene, often framed within a frame to convey his isolation. Uncomfortably framing up characters at the side of frames introduces a tight claustrophobic feeling, super close macro shots of wounded hands, band-aids and bloody ice help further this emotion.
While most of the movie is based on steady shots, there is some very well-thought out moments where a handheld camera is used. Only when Andrew is first thrown out of his comfort zone during the well-known “Rushing or Dragging” scene, the camera movement changes. By previously still-framing and even using slow-motion (after Fletcher‘s pep-talk), the audience has gained a sense of trust and comfort in the two characters, which is now immediately broken. This handheld camera helps visually signifying to the audience, that this is where the tension and conflict really brews and the protagonist is tested. Furthermore, we can see the camera jump the eyeline every time Fletcher slaps Nieman, making the action even more disorienting, as if during a real fight. The cut to the reactions of the remaining orchestra members helps convey, that this abuse is nothing new to them and it is a reoccurring act.
January 23, 2018
If you like these Stills, make sure to buy the movie, it is our absolutely highest recommendation.
The materials archived, stored, and presented here, are copyrighted by their respective contributors, and may not be saved, re-transmitted, republished, or reformatted by any means, electronic or mechanical. This site offers broad public access to these materials exclusively as a contribution to education and scholarship, and for the private, non-profit use of the academic community. The materials are protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and/or by the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.