Emotions in Motion- ‘The Breakfast Club’

Discuss how the director has positioned you to respond to the characters in the movie.                      

‘The Breakfast Club’ is an iconic 1985 film, directed by John Hughes. It tells the story of five high school students, from different backgrounds, who must sacrifice their Saturday due to detention. The film incorporates a range of film techniques to successfully manipulate the viewer’s response to particular scenes in the film. In order to do so, the composer has used relatable characters, a realistic setting and intense storyline to engage the viewer, and also uses elements of humour and light hearted events to ease the tension and intensity conveyed through significant, serious events in the film.

One of the most significant scenes in ‘The Breakfast Club’ displays the character Bender, in a thoughtful and pensive state of mind. Bender is portrayed as the stereotypical high school criminal, who is insensitive towards other people’s opinions. In this scene, Bender mimics his home life and becomes furious when the rest of the group refuse to believe him, as they assume the act to be part of his stereotypical image. A variety of film techniques are used here, to manipulate the audience’s emotions into sympathy for the protagonist. A close-up shot is used to provide detailed information about the character’s emotions. Bender’s dialogue incorporates loud, offensive language which also creates tension in the scene. Therefore, film techniques have been effectively applied in this scene to make the audience sympathise with Bender’s views.

The scene depicting three characters, in a library setting effectively uses film shots and dialogue to create an eased and jovial environment for the audience. A long shot is used to provide details about the setting, where the principal questions a ‘ruckus’ heard from his office. The characters, who are aware of this supposed ‘ruckus’, act confused to prevent Bender from getting into trouble. In this discussion, Brian asks if the principal could “describe the ruckus” and creates humour as the tone in his voice is sarcastic and mocks the principal’s anger. The use of humour in this scene engages the audience in relatable comedy and involves the viewer in the occurring events.

Emotive film techniques are applied in the scene where all five protagonists are gathered in a circle. This scene acts as a turning point, where each character reveals more about themselves defeating the social boundaries of their stereotyped image. This scene is taken on a low angle, long shot where the characters positioning, shows their vulnerabilities and emotionally engages the audience in the scene. The atmosphere is intense, wistful and quiet as characters describe their social pressures. Natural lighting in the shot assists with realism and connects the audience with relatable experiences. The following quote mentioned by Andrew, highlights the theme of social boundaries around stereotypes, thereby engaging the younger audience in relatable social issues; “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” This quote suggests that some characters choose to hide behind their stereotyped image, rather than expressing their true identity, and is thereby significant in relating the viewer’s feelings into a thoughtful and approving state of mind.

Therefore, the director of ‘The Breakfast Club’ has successfully applied conventional film techniques to successfully manipulate and engage the viewer’s emotions in relatable events and scenes, which assists in outlining the key themes of stereotypes and relationships explored in the film.


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