Twin Peaks Usenet Archive

Subject: TP: Good camerawork in diner scene
From: maus@Morgan.COM (Malcolm Austin)
Date: 1991-04-29, 06:30

I was re-watching the last episode of TWIN PEAKS last Thursday (needed my fix,
you know) and I noticed something interesting about the scene in the diner
between Cooper and Annie, which ends with their kiss, the crash of crockery,
and the slow-motion shot of dripping coffee.

This isn't a "I think BOB is in the coffepot" or "Didya see the 'Hearty Beaver 
Stew'?" sort of article,  just a comment on how that scene was put together.

The scene opens with a cut from JJWheeler getting in his plane to a close-up
of the Miss Twin Peaks flyer on the counter.  Annie's hand sweeps into view 
and crumples the paper.  Then Cooper's hand closes over hers, and the camera
zooms out and pans up and rightward to a medium shot of Cooper and Annie, or,

For the next ninety seconds, as Cooper and Annie talk about St. Augustine, 
Heisenburg, and bowling, the camera slowly pulls back, exposing more of the 
surrounding diner, maintaining a deep focus.  By the time Cooper leans in to 
kiss Annie, they are in a long shot, nearly in the background of the frame.
The music accompaning this movement is soft, threatening, and toneless.  The 
sound level of their conversation does not change.

This is an interesting camera motion.  I certainly didn't notice it the first
time I saw the scene.  I think it causes the sense of dread, or feeling that
Cooper and Annie are being watched, that several people have mentioned about
this scene.  

Slight spoiler for THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in the following paragraph:

By the time the camera has finished moving, the composition of the scene is 
absurdly long for a private conversation.  Cooper and Annie are almost
lost in the detail that comes in on the right side, and the waitress that
repeatedly crosses in front of them from the left.  The overall feeling is 
that they are slipping out of our sight.  It reminded me of the closing 
credits in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, as Lector walks away, becoming lost in
the crowd.

The tension is finally broken with a cut to a close-up as Cooper kisses
Annie.  But then the crockery falls with a crash, and we cut, first to an
above close-up of the mess on the floor, then back to Cooper and Annie looking
down, and then to the famous (dare I say "Lynchian") slow-motion close-up of
coffee dripping like life's blood.

A more normal camera move during this scene would have been a track in, with 
the camera approaching Cooper and Annie.  This would have caused a more intense
feeling that they were being watched or stalked.  Certainly TWIN PEAKS has used
many such shots, often appearing to be POV shots of BOB or other discorporeal 
entities.  But the backwards movement, combined with the dire music, effective-
ly produced a sense of doom or sadness while remaining very subtle.  It is as 
if the two of them are being abandoned, not hunted.

The fact that this was a complete ninety second shot without cutting contri-
butes further to the feeling building in the scene.  Also, the moving camera 
contributes to the "they're being watched" feeling, even though it did not 
appear to be a POV shot.

The final shot of the scene, with the (extremely high-quality) slow motion
shot of dripping coffee fades, as does the music, into Audrey & Pete chasing
JJWheeler's plane.  This whole scene was just dropped within the more prosaic
action at the airport, increasing its dreaminess and ominous quality.  A nice
Sickafoosian touch.  (That's for you, R o d :^)

Well, that's more than enough from me, whose total training in film has come
from watching the extras in Criterion laserdiscs.  I don't reemeber seeing 
the director's name (Stephen Gyllenhaal) elsewhere, but I certainly thought
he (as well as Bambi and the rest of the editing staff) did a great job on
this episode.  I now yield the tube to people who know what they're talking
-- =Malcolm Austin================================================================ | I have discovered a remarkable quotation for this #include | .sig, but this space is too small to contain it. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------