Death Parade Episode 1

Saturday, January 10, 2015

In the first episode of Death Parade a husband’s suspicion about his wife’s infidelity comes to light during a painful game of darts. For these types of scenarios the natural inclination for the audience is to ask the question, “Who do I believe?” However, this episode’s camera work actually leads the audience to an answer to that question by presenting one character as more believable than the other. Of course, this was done as misdirection.

When the husband finally revealed his suspicion, he was shot with a high angle and low angles. In the visual language, the common use for high angle is to portray one as weak and inferior and the low angle to portray one as strong and superior. For this scene the high angle and low angles were used to give the audience an unleveled view of the character. The audience could easily associate these unleveled shots with emotionally instability. These shots magnify his suspicion and turn it to baseless paranoia. As a result, he’s portrayed as a character the audience most likely would not believe.

The last image, a worm’s eye view shot of the spinning chandelier, creates a dizzying effect. This feel of dizziness creates a perception that the husband is emotionally unstable and not one to be believed.

As the wife tries to explain the folly of her husband’s suspicion she was shot at eye level angles. In contrast to the high and low angles, these are stable looking shots that can be associated with level-headedness. The wife was portrayed to be far more believable to the audience, which set up the big revelation later on.

We get another shot of the chandelier, but this time it’s an overhead without the spinning. It then turns to a slow downward crane shot that has a sense of calmness which further reinforces her believability.

There are a few things going on with this composition. The ground level framing is quite appropriate for man at his lowest moment. The shot manipulates relative sizes. The husband is made to look diminutive which makes him look more weak and pathetic. The wife appears larger which presents a mood of conviction and moral high ground.

The husband is framed in and out of the wife’s strides. This creates a visual rhythm of the sad image of the slouching husband. This rhythm repeatedly instills to the audience his supposedly paranoia induced breakdown. The tracking shot pulling away from the husband and the rhythm in the wife’s strides display her as composed and ready to move on from his misplaced rage and suspicion.

This little tracking shot is a nice piece of visual storytelling. It communicates the emotional state of the characters and cleverly acts as a misdirection that made the final revelation even more impactful.

3 comments:

  1. Brilliant article sir! I don't know much about the art of cinematoraphy but I also noticed the clever direction in the last picture with the wife walking away in a triumphant manner which portended a sinister development and set the tone for the final revelation. Keep up the good work!

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  2. This is a pretty good post and the episode itself was incredibly strong. Something that speaks for it is how, through both the writing and directing, you still tend to notice things about the episode days later. Lots of talent and thoughts were put into it.

    With that said, there's one point I disagree with, namely:
    "that the husband is emotionally unstable and not one to be believed."
    The unstable thing - yes. The question about whether you believe him or not is irrelevant though. It's Machiko who was to be doubted through the entire episode and Takashi who didn't trust her, his word was never up to debate.

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    Replies
    1. The main premise of my post is that the shot making attempted to create a perception that he's the less believable character. I think this is very relevant since the misdirection that sets up the final revelation hinges on the audience not believing the husband's words and siding with the wife.

      Of course it's up to the individual viewer to decide who to believe. I'm just hypothesizing that the cinematography was designed to lead the audience into believing the wife in order to set up the twist that she was the one in the wrong.

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