Film Analysis: Primer

There are moments of tonal montage within this film. An example is at the beginning when four of the characters are sitting around a table putting labels on envelopes. The way in which the camera pans around the table shows a sort of stronger connection between two of the characters, then looks behind one of them to show the profile of two actors across from each other. This shot creates a sort of tension between the characters across from each other, which is further shown as they begin to argue about a project idea.

Rhythmic montage is also effectively used within the film. It is used very subtly within one garage scene, following the direction that one of the character’s is looking. This emphasizes that the character is trying to organize their thoughts as they speak with the other person present.

There is some metric montage involved when one of the character’s is explaining what happened with the machine. The camera shows the one character during his process of testing the machine, then moves to when both characters are repeating the process, then later shows them after they have left and are going elsewhere. This accompanied with a change in the lighting outside shows that a good deal of time has passed during the scene’s narration.

In the beginning of the movie, the lighting keeps changing from a more subdued, yellow color to the brightness of a sunny day. This accurately reflects what the narrator is telling the audience, about how there are both good and bad days with what the characters are developing. With a little insight, it also shows the flow of the entire movie and how there are good and bad moments that happen. Later, the light changes back to yellow while two of the character’s are in a garage. This sets a more uncertain feel to what is happening in the scene, and helps the viewer to understand the character’s uncertainty to what is going on with their machine. Later in the movie, a dark, blue-tone light is used when they are with the machines. This adds a heavy feel to the scene, which reflects how the characters felt being confined in the small space within the machines for so long. This allows the audience to an extent to understand how the characters might have felt when emerging from the machine.

There is variation between sharpness within the depths of field. There are some very up-close shots, and some farther away with the characters being more out of focus. This keeps a sense of mystery in the film while it is being introduced and before we are shown the characters whose story we will follow. At points, the camera moves as if you are a part of the film as well, such as when you see the camera angle looking over one of the actor’s shoulders at the sticker being placed on the envelope.

This film was successful in showing time travel. When people think of what time travel would be like, we usually think about the time paradox, and how altering something that happens in time changes what has happened in real time. The director of the movie very cleverly shows the confusion surrounding time travel with the far-away shots of the characters repeating actions that we have already seen the characters doing. It also shows the time paradox in effect when one character interferes what the other versions of himself are going to do. The director’s use of the camera creates the effect of time travel through a carefully planned choice of scenes within the film, and by giving the appearance of the characters being in the same area as another version of themselves at the same time.

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