The Film Bonnie & Clyde

The following example essay on “The film Bonnie & Clyde” is an analysis of the Arthur Penn film. The essay tells the story of young and desperate lovers Bonnie and Clyde who robbed banks with ease and grace in the 1930s.

Bonnie & Clyde portrays the love filled action story of an amazing duo. This movie was one of the first to depict actual violent scenes, as well as intensely frisky ones. During the 1960’s, the French New Wave directors began influencing a vast majority of films, Bonnie & Clyde being one of them in 1967.

With so many tones and action filled scenes, the technique and style of the editing in the film is an important factor which helps set up the entire tone of the movie.

The film Bonnie & Clyde, by Arthur Penn, utilizes pace, rhythm, and certain French New Wave editing techniques to portray and enhance tranquil, frisky, intense and even violent tones in scenes throughout the movie.

The rhythm of slow paced shots in the film are used several of times to illustrate scenes which do not include much action, more over include tranquil moments. This would include scenes when Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were simply driving or waiting in their car, for example, when they were waiting in the car for C. W. Moss to get back from buying the “light bulbs” for his dad.

That scene started with a long lengths medium long shot. In addition, the movie opens with Bonnie Parker standing and wandering around in her room.

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As she roams around, there is a series of close-up shots, which run slower-paced than most shots. Then, the moment Bonnie spots Clyde Barrow, an extreme-close-up of her eyes occurs. The calmness and boredom of Bonnie Parker is portrayed through the steady but slowly paced close-up shots. The following immediate shot to her eyes show and mark one of the most important moments of the film, when Bonnie and Clyde first lay eyes on each other.

The use of shots in this sequence enhanced the projection of the tone as well as the tranquil, calm moods of the story. In order to create a frisky, affection filled scene, Arthur Penn uses a mixture of medium long shots and medium close-ups to capture the intense atmosphere of the romance filled scenes. The part of the film where Bonnie and Clyde attempt to make love for the first time, really gave viewers an inside look at what each individual thought at the moment, bringing the viewer to a deeper understanding of the atmosphere that was taking place.

During that scene, the couple is disputing about what is safest for Bonnie, when she decides that she does not care what is right, she just wants to be with him. Clyde suddenly attempts to give making love a try and begins to caress Bonnie. Eventually he realizes he could not proceed and turns away from her. Throughout the scene, a series of fairly medium and faster paced shots begin to sequence, showing medium close-ups of each characters face, with medium long shots in between.

By doing so, viewers are able to see and feel each character’s emotions, bringing the viewer into the tone of the film through its style and choice of edited shots and sequences. Since the Movie was produced in 1967, the French New Wave was of some influence on the editing of Bonnie & Clyde. The style of jump cuts is seen sporadically through out the movie. The first time is from the start, when Bonnie is at her house, bored and roaming around her room naked. As Bonnie lies down on her bed, a jump cut occurs and she is suddenly banging on the metal frame of her bed.

Penn uses the jump cut technique to take away time that is pointlessly and slowly passing by, as well as to show the boredom of Bonnie Parker. Another place was on the scene where Clyde was wrestling the butcher man from the market, and they ended up falling on top of some boxes and groceries. As Clyde and the Butcher Man attempt to stand back up, the scene automatically jumps from being on the floor, to Clyde standing up and running out of the store, on his way. Jump cuts are noticeably used throughout the movie and are there to strengthen certain tones, which scenes are trying to portray and aware the audience of what is going on.

Lastly, Penn’s movie truly displays the new intense tones of the century’s violence through its various rapid, short length cuts. The best example is at the very end of the film when Bonnie and Clyde are trapped and meet their final end. On their way from leaving the town center, they run into C. W. ’s papa Ivan Moss out on the road. During the entire ride from the market place, Clyde is driving while Bonnie is eating an apple and sharing it with him. When the duo sees Ivan Moss stranded by the roadside, they park their vehicle and Clyde walks over to help Moss.

Seconds after, right before another car is about to cross paths with them, Ivan turns suspicious and as he looks around, black crows fly out of the bushes, Ivan runs under his truck to duck, and Bonnie and Clyde realize that there is someone in the bushes and that their ends had finally come as they attempt to run to each other and be together once more before they breathe their last breaths. That scene begins with long length shots of medium close-ups which show them just driving down happily, not much going on.

Moving forward to the end of the scene, their bodies are completely being shot at all over, and the entire scene is all being played by a series of several medium long, medium close up, and a couple of long shots. Combining those series of shots and by making them fast-paced short length shots, Penn was able to create an intense edit to enhance the violence, making one feel as if they were there first hand to witness it themselves and giving the viewer a full and thorough understanding and perspective.

Again, clearly setting the intense and dramatic tone of the story for that particular scene. By using several of the editing techniques such as the pace and patterns of shots, including the types of shots, and the French New Wave editing techniques, Penn is able to create several tones throughout the film, which relate to the situations or to the attitude/moods of the given circumstances. For action scenes, fast-paced close-ups are ideal to reveal a detailed picture to the viewer so that they can feel that adrenaline rush and the action or violent tones of the scene.

As well as for scenes, which have more dull characteristics, longer lengthened shots are put together to enhance the simplicity of the scene. Even the jump cut technique is put into action in scenes to skip time and enhance whichever tone the scene may portray. These editing techniques and use of shots have created the moods which Penn envisioned the viewer to feel, capturing the viewers attention and enhancing the excitement, rush, or other feelings simply through the technique and style of editing.

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The Film Bonnie & Clyde. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

The Film Bonnie & Clyde
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