The Perfect Storm
The Perfect Storm used special effects to give purpose to specific scenes as well as to enhance the overall film. This box office success was released in 2000 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The special effects in this film were powerful and created memorable images for the audience. It is safe to say that special effects have improved within the past 14 years or so but this film is still very impressive today. I will break down three specific scenes from the movie and discuss how they used special effects and rhetorical devices to enhance the film.
This film received so much praise for its special effects due to the tremendous waves and overpowering ocean produced by Industrial Light and Magic. However, the first scene I will analyze comes exactly one hour into the film and is a simple meeting between the captain and his crew. The crew tells Captain Billy Tyne that they want to head home. The scene is an important point in the film as the Captain decides they would not turn around and would instead face the powerful storm. Special effects then begin to come into play. During the meeting the camera was tilting back and forth as one would feel if they were actually on the boat. This also demanded the actors to portray similar movements, “Acting has also been affected by this technology” (Giannetti 33). This use of camera angling made the scene more relatable and therefore was using pathos to get the audience emotionally attached. I did not see any hints of logos or ethos in this scene. John C Reilly, who played a crewmember, said, “There was all these wave machines and dunk tanks. They would articulate the movement of the boat, it was pretty realistic” (McCaffery 3).
An hour and a half into the film the storm finally arrived. It is in these moments that this film became so popular. The ocean looked black and deathly. The waves were smashing into the boat and tossing the crew from side to side. This scene again brings up the rhetorical device of pathos. The black colors and dark setting can be described here, “It’s strongly emotional in its appeal, expressive and atmospheric rather than intellectual” (Giannetti 22). The audience becomes attached to this dark world and has no other option but to feel empathy for these fishermen. There is also some evidence of ethos here as Mark Wahlberg performed his own stunt of climbing up the ladder of the ship. This truly connects the actor and his character, which in turn gives a sense of credibility. I saw no sign of logos.
The last scene I would like to touch on is nearly two hours into the film. The crew and captain believe they have made a turn that will allow them to escape this unearthly storm. They are at the top of a wave and catch just a glimpse of sunlight. The scene uses a slow motion effect to add even more emphasis to this moment. The captain’s face is highlighted against the dark background, “When a face is obviously lighted from above, a certain angelic quality, known as the halo effect, is the result” (Giannetti 21). The slow motion along with special lighting creates an extremely emotional scene. This is another usage of pathos. Pathos was by far the most used rhetorical device. Here, I again saw now signs of logos and no clear usage of ethos.
There is also an argument that the special effects actually hindered this film. While the waves and winds are fascinating to the eye, we don’t really get a sense of the characters’ emotions or where the plot is going. Stephen Holden wrote for New York Times and said, “As the movie repeats images of wind and waves over and over, it begins to dawn that the storm in progress is simply too large an event for the movie to take in” (Holden 1). He later goes on to say, “Drowned out by the simulated roar of nature, much of the ship dialogue is unintelligible” (Holden 1). I do agree that this storm is so large that it becomes the main character in the film, rather than an actual individual. The special effects in this movie seemed to overpower the fishermen, as well as any sort of plot. There is little storyline to the relationships of characters in this film. For the purpose of this blog, I will say that the special effects did hinder the film’s plot because it offers little complexity. However, the bottom line is, the special effects in this movie are the only reason this film is relevant.
Sun Light Scene