The folllowing sample essay on Limey Meaning discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
The Limey1 demonstrated through 40 quite fragmented shots lasting 4 minutes and 15 seconds, that the auteur Steven Soderbergh’s use of unconventional discontinuous editing was developed from his blockbuster film thriller Out of Sight2/3. Soderbergh’s narrative establishes that Wilson, the protagonist of the plot is trying to find how Jenny “snuffed it”4.
The focus demonstrates that this extract illustrates four specific interlinked techniques to engage the audience in ideological meanings and themes to establish the screenwriter’s narrative.
This, includes Mise-en-scene, dealing with the elements placed in front of the camera5, cinematography displaying how film footage is shot and filmed, editing relating shot’s to shot’s and the relationship of sound to visual images6. Instantly the film begins the audience notices that this will not be conventional. The first frame is a black screen with a male voice over, saying, “Tell me? Tell me.
Tell me about Jenny”7 in a very harsh, aggressive tone.
The repetition and coldness in his voice suggests the idea of desperation, as if this character will do anything to Know about Jenny. However, this leaves a question hanging over the audience with no visual clues, possibly the director will illustrate answers further on, as the audience are left climaxing on why this was said and to whom? The sequence begins with an extremely blurred image, with the words, “Terrance Stamp” (actor) superimposed over it suggesting that this film will have an unfocused or unconventional narrative.
However, Soderbergh uses balanced composition, as the character walks towards the camera and comes into focus placing Wilson on the left and “THE LIMEY” superimposed on the right, establishing that although elements within the plot shall be blurred it will be understandable and focused by the end. The denoted text may also connote that the character could have characteristics of a ‘limey’8. The word ‘Limey’ is established through history to mean a “British person or ship”9, as the British navy ‘enforced consumption of lime juice to combat scurvy on long sea journeys’ 10.
Thus, illustrating that just as the lime combats scurvy Wilson has something to scourge11. The nondiegetic soundtrack at the beginning works as an introduction to the film, as Wilson comes into focus so does the music and the ideology behind it. The quick rhythmic tempo of a marching drumbeat links to the pace the character walks, displaying conventions of an action movie’s mood music, while connoting an emotional journey for the protagonist. The mise-en-scene demonstrates the protagonist leaving an airport, showing the audience flight attendants in uniform behind him.
Soderbergh uses an eyeline match with subjective point of view cutting, while panning, to establish what Wilson is seeing. The spectator is shown trolleys, people with tickets and bags rushing around. Ideologically, this may suggest he could be new to the area, established later by his cockney accent when he say’s “snuffed it”. While the camera pans the spectator is also shown a medium 2 shot of police men; no zoom, just a direct shot, leading to a medium close up of Wilson loosening his tie.
The figures behaviour and the sharpness of Soderbergh’s shot reflects the idea that he could be tense or stressed by noticing the police quickly, possibly because of criminal involvement in the past. The lighting throughout insinuates duplicitous nature towards the character, as he is constantly half shadowed, and wears dark clothes. Establishing mystery, the truth being hidden through shadow or there being contrasting sides of good and evil. Once Wilson is in the taxi, the audience sees a side ways shot with him looking forward rather than into the camera and then his head slowly turns from left to right and vice-versa.
This could conceivably establish, as the sound track suggests that he is searching for someone. The next shot begins with a plane juxtaposed to the character being at the airport previously. The director follows the movement of the craft from left to right. He tilts the camera slightly downwards denoting Wilson to be coming towards one of many rooms illustrating he’s at a hotel, which is established once he enters, by looking around and putting clothes away. At this point Soderbergh has still not shown Wilson speak to anyone, again connoting a mission. This is clarified by the nondiegetic mood music stating, “They call me the seeker…
Searching low and high”12, interlinking between the ideas that he is trying to find Jenny and the different camera angles, Soderbergh uses. The view that the protagonist seeks someone is clarified when his back faces the camera. The audience sees him remove the prop of an envelope with a news article from his jacket stating, “Women Dies On Mulholland”13, on the back of the envelope there is an address. Resulting in the audience and character being given clues suggesting Jenny is dead and answers to his questions lie at that address. The over shoulder shot connotes that the audience wants to seek the truth just as the protagonist does.
At this point the article is juxtaposed to the nondiegetic music stating “People tend to hate me cause I never smile… I’m a seeker, I’m a really desperate man” finishing instantly. This demonstrates not only his character, as constantly he gazes towards nothingness but connotes a sense of revenge as the sudden end to the song demonstrates elements of aggression, by wanting to know who caused Jenny’s death. Soderbergh now displays discontinuity editing, whilst using fragmented shots, but giving the spectator a fluid sense of time, forwards and backwards, allowing the audience to see where the character is emotionally.
This is firstly demonstrated when Soderbergh denotes a close up on Wilson, as he looks at the envelope stating “Ed Roe” and juxtaposes that with a medium shot of Edward. This could connote the genre to be a crime thriller where the protagonist constantly reflects on clues. The interesting part of these fragmentations occurs when the little girl is introduced. The spectator goes from seeing Wilson sitting in a hotel room smoking and the room looking lived in with nondiegetic chimes and diegetic humming. This is juxtaposed with an image of a little girl standing on the beach with light beaming in her eyes.
Thus reflecting a mirror in the characters eyes, establishing a link between Wilson’s constant reflection and the little girl possibly portraying Jenny, his daughter when younger. The overlapping humming could be part of this memory; maybe a nursery rhyme he sang when she was younger and he reflects on that, just as something reflects in the girl’s eyes. Another fragmented point is Wilson reflecting on Jenny in the car with Edward. This through a form of superimposed editing is filmed in a blue tint which clouds the footage just like the girl at the beach, making the audience look closer.
However in the car shot there are vertical lighting strips, representing the image of shutters and connoting ideas of hiding the truth. At the same time establishing an ideological voyeuristic nature that wants the audience to find the truth just as Wilson does. This is then juxtaposed to a shot of Wilson looking at a photograph of his daughter, through a motif of light, which follows the whole extract, half is covered with shadow, linking her to Wilson, but also establishing her to have something to hide.
The concluding footage is less fragmented establishing continuity, as Wilson tries to follow the clues the spectators and himself have been given linking them to Edward. This begins with Wilson in a taxi, heading somewhere in a big city denoted by background city lights. This leads the director to an objective point of view shot where the audience notice a car drive past speedily making them think Wilson is in there. However, the background denotes a person getting out of a car who spectators realise is the protagonist heading up to the house, shown to be Edward’s.
This is an interesting use of cinematography as the film illustrates the character from different points of view through both subjective and objective omniscient shots, making the audience feel they are actually seeking out his daughter, while ideologically demonstrating that nothing within this film is settled and everything is disrupted just like the fragmented shots. Soderbergh uses another sharp edit with no zoom, to have Edward open the door connoting the idea that he has one true mission and nothing will stop the protagonist.
Through reversal shot techniques it is determined that characters have a conversation about Wilson’s daughter, at the same time in the background of the medium close up with Edward we ironically see his children running round, thus allowing the audience to feel sympathy towards Wilson and his need for the truth. Finally the audience are invited into Edwards back garden where the truth appears, “who done it then. Snuffed her” establishing, she is definitely dead while connoting his mission for revenge to the spectator.
This extract has used a varied amount of both conventional and unconventional techniques such as the amount of fragmentation used. However, through these techniques of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound, the spectator is able to identify with themes established by Soderbergh. Firstly, there is revenge, as Wilson is seeking the true answers to why his daughter died, resolving a sense of injustice, as through reflections of a little girl’s innocence is represented. Secondly, there is the theme of nostalgia established through the protagonist being around 50’s and reflecting on his past through Soderbergh’s fragmented shots.
Finally, another theme is that of Father and Daughter as through the fragments of his reflective memory we see both a little girl and a women but also by his facial expressions as a character the nature of pain, which he feels over her death, is very clear. Through all the techniques and ideological meanings illustrated Soderbergh is suggesting through the music that the genre is an action movie, representing a crime drama through the protagonist constantly reflecting on truths and clues.