The film that I am analysing is called “Raising Arizona”; it is based around the themes of comedy. The film focuses upon a character called ‘Herbert’ who has been released from person. Herbert wants to start a new life with his newly appointed wife. They both try to start a family and realize that they cannot conceive, a plan is hatched to steal a baby after adoption procedures have failed them. Herbert and his wife proceed to steal a baby and the film follows their trials and tribulations of trying to keep hold of the baby.
The film sequence I will analyse is a supermarket robbery. I have chosen to analyse the convenience store robbery because it one of the funniest sequences in the film. Sonnerfield’s surrealistic wide angle and low angle views make the insanity of this sequence work.
This film sequence starts when the car door opens and Herbert steps out of the car. The camera is a mid-shot and pans upwards on Herbert as he steps out from the car. The sound on this frame is mostly diagetic. The framing places Herbert underneath the supermarket sign. The sign reads, “Short Stay”. This sign could represent many underlying meanings. Herbert’s intention is robbery and the sign could represent that he wont be a there along time committing the crime.
Herbert walks into the supermarket and a close-up shot shows him picking some tights up. Music is added in the background to create an intense atmosphere to show something is going to happen. This gives the audience a realistic effect. The next shot cuts to a close-up of a gun in the front of Herbert’s trousers. Herbert says, “Wake up son”, and the robbery starts. The shop assistant is your stereo- typical young college boy who works in the supermarket to make some money. He is covered in spots and is reading a magazine called “Jug’s”.
The Cohen Brothers have a reputation for using acronyms in their films. In this shot the cashier in the convenience store rings the alarm bell. The alarm button reads, “Odegard-Trend Security,” This is the name of the security company in Sam Raimis, Crime wave’ (1988).
There are various camera shots in the next sequence between Herbert and the shop assistant. The sequence contains panning shots, close-ups and mid close-ups. The camera is showing the interaction between the two characters. The shots are creating the tense atmosphere between the two characters.
The next shot cuts to a mid-shot of Herbert’s wife waiting for him outside the supermarket in the car. She is relaying a story to the kidnapped child, ‘ Nathan Junior’. Noises are heard in the background of police sirens and car tyres; she carries on with the story. The story ends with, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down”. When she says this she is looking up to see if anything is happening. She acknowledges Herbert pointing a gun at the shop assistant. The spoken words of, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down”, fits in well with the action of the scene. Blow your house down is spoken as she sees Herbert pointing the gun. The camera pulls in to a close- up of Herbert’s wife to show her the realization of what is happening. There is a point of view shot from Herbert’s wife. The camera angles change and we see inside the supermarket and it shows Herbert’s wife in the car outside.
There is a build of comedy chaos within this film sequence. There are quick changes of shots and the music cuts from inside the supermarket to the outside. Hearing the different sounds helps create the tension. Herbert’s wife gets out of the car and shouts “Ya son of a bitch”, this makes this sequence realistic and conveys the emotion of what she is feeling. The sound is mixed at this point with supermarket music and police sirens being heard at different intervals.
Herbert’s wife gets in the car and proceeds to drive off. Tyres can be heard screeching adding to the frustration of it all. The police sirens are getting louder and the camera follows the car when it is reversing. The insane part of this clip is that you actually see the camera lens reflection on the back of the car. The camera goes into a close-up of Herbert as he is left standing outside the supermarket waiting to face the police. The framing of this shot is magnificent in its utter simplicity. Herbert stands above the sign “Short Stay”, with tights on his head. The connotation of the sign meaning could mean its time to go.
The next shot you hear a gun shot above all of the other noise. The shop assistant has tried to shoot Herbert through the glass. The sound changes to a comic effect, something you might associate with cartoons. The music is non-diagetic. Herbert runs around outside the supermarket for a while not knowing which way to go. The music is very fast non-diagetic and the chase begins. The music sounds like western music. It makes you feel like a chase is on its way.
The chase begins, Herbert starts running down the street and the police chase begins with sirens blazing and gunshots can be heard. One of the funniest moments of this film is when Herbert drops the ‘huggies’ and carries on running. He returns to pick them up and as the camera pulls into a close-up the tight on his head stand up as if they were rabbit ears. This all fits into the codes and the conventions of this film. The tights look like rabbit ears to suggest he is the prey and the police are the hunters.
The chase scene continues and various wide-angle lensed sequences are used to over accentuate the films over the top fantastical comedy feel.