Thursday, February 21, 2013

Friday Night Lights

There was never a movie that captured the true atmosphere of high school football in Texas until Friday Night Lights came out in 2004. It’s also known as one of the greatest sports movies of all time. Friday Night Lights is about the 1988 Permian High School football team and their quest for the state championship. Both the coaches and the players are under enormous pressure as they are expected to be “perfect” and are constantly under the intense scrutiny of the Odessa, TX residents. The movie is based on the actual 1988 team and is very similar to the real story line. The movie was purposely filmed like a documentary to make it feel authentic and to further elaborate its true nature.  Unlike other sports movies, Friday Night Lights feels real. Giannetti would agree with Friday Night Lights’ use of the documentary style: “Even realistic movies can benefit from special effects,” (Giannetti 33).  The primary goal of the producers was to use a picture quality that felt organic (IMDb). Friday Night Lights’ picture quality works like a special effect because it adds interest and drama to the movie. 

The odd camera angles and the zooming in and out of focus at times makes it seem like someone is video taping the life of these football players with a handheld camera. The use of all of these techniques directly appeals to viewers’ pathos. There is an emotional connection that is formed. It lets viewers feel like they know the players and allows them to feel the same emotions as they play out on the screen. In Everything’s an Argument, Lunsford states “You may sometimes want to use emotions to connect with readers to assure them that you understand their experiences,” in this case the viewers are able to relate to the emotions of the characters because of the way the film was created.

Friday Night Lights’ documentary filming style can also appeal to logos. When I watched this movie, I felt like the emotions of the actors as players were real which allowed the whole film to feel real. Because it looks like a documentary it lets viewers think that logically there must be some truth to this story, which in fact it does. The film style doesn’t appeal to ethos as much as it does pathos or logos. It’s hard to imagine what Friday Night Lights would be like if the director and producers chose to use a standard filming technique. The documentary style approach enhances the movie to a great extinct, and without it, the movie wouldn’t have had the same emotional effect on viewers.

Throughout the movie, the camera will focus in on one person and everything around it is completely blurred out. This is used to some extent in most movies but Friday Night Lights blurs out what is unnecessary at the time and it looks like how a real video camera would move out of focus. In a hand held camera, it is almost impossible to get images in the background vividly clear, while in major motion pictures they can make the tiniest detail stand out. This further justifies the documentary nature of this film. Another way the movie was successful in its filming was the use of odd or awkward camera angles. For example, during one of the final scenes in the movie, Coach Gaines is giving a last minute half time speech. The camera at times shows the coach’s arm and underneath it focuses on a player (the link below shows the scene). Sometimes the camera focuses on someone way in the background and people in the front are blurred. Though it’s odd, it continuously adds to the film’s authentic feel.

          This film was critically raved about with ratings as high as 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is quite an accomplishment (Rotten Tomatoes). Because the plot line is so great and the film style adds another dimension of intrigue, this film easily deserves 3 out of 3 tickets. This movie remains one of my all time favorites and one I can watch over and over again.

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