Posted: October 17th, 2013
Close Up and Monologue in My Darling Clementine’s Grave Scene
Close up and Monologue play a fundamental and important role in illustrating the thoughts and emotions of Wyatt Earp regarding the death of his brother, James in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine (1946). The use of close-up and monologue as film devices allows the audience to see or rather, experience another side of Wyatt Earp, which is not evident throughout the film. Additionally, John Ford is able to use these devices to illustrate Wyatt Earp’s inner and emotional side regardless of his character being deemed as violent, quintessential and superficial throughout the entire movie. Therefore, Ford reveals Wyatt Earp’s emotional distresses, through a series of techniques that embody the devices of close up and monologue in the film’s grave scene.
The grave scene in My Darling Clementine incorporates Wyatt Earp’s monologue to his dead brother, James Earp. Assessing the scene requires an illustration of the events that led to Wyatt conversing with a deceased person. In the previous scene, Wyatt discovers his brother’s demise after returning to Tombstone. Accordingly, Wyatt had been asked to take the post of Marshall after assisting in the removal of Indian Joe. Thus, the monologue between Wyatt and James enables the audience to understand his emotional state as well as the reason for his resolve, which is accepting the post of Marshal. Additionally, the monologue allows the audience to understand the sudden change of mind illustrated when Wyatt vows to stay in Tombstone, something that he had previously refused.
The effect of the monologue resonates throughout the film since it opens the audience to comprehension of Wyatt’s actions. Irrespective of the violence in the film, the audience is able to relate to Wyatt’s actions and thus mystify him as an anti-hero because of the touching grave scene that was accentuated by Wyatt’s monologue at James’ tombstone. In addition, the monologue in the grave scene allows the audience to view the protagonist’s path. To expound on this point, the audience is able to actualize the protagonist explicitly assuming the path towards chronological destiny that had previously been depicted to him within the previous scene. Moreover, the logic of destiny, revealed by the monologue, is characterized by a sense of indebtedness to the dead, augmented by the citation to a parental figure, the father, who is absent but dangles over the narrative, hence providing the audience with an abstract of the Earps’ father.
The use of close up in My Darling Clementine is important since it frames Wyatt’s face in the grave scene. The close up is mostly used at the scene to provide intricate and considerable detail of Wyatt’ emotions as he engages in the monologue with the deceased. Several close-up shots have been applied in the scene to cover Wyatt’s emotions. For instance, a tightly framed shot depicts Wyatt’s anguish in his soliloquy as he declares to the tomb marker his action in writing to their father and the deceased’s betrothed, Corey-Sue. Additionally, Ford utilized a long-range shot and a medium shot to accentuate Wyatt’s appearance and provide a clear picture of the background and the foreground simultaneously. The landscape, which Ford uses in the grave scene, provides the audience with an illustration of heavenly farewell. Moreover, a shot that captures both Wyatt and the tomb marker provides a clear angle of the period in which the narrative takes place as well as the time that the deceased passed away.
Ford’s My Darling Clementine has been criticized as a feature that does not stay true to the historical facts that actually surround the controversy between the Earps and the Clanton gang. Nevertheless, the film is interesting and captivating because of the broad use of effects and imagery irrespective of a black and white cinematography. Indeed, Ford delivers an action packed and a sentimental film simultaneously by allowing the audience to understand Wyatt’s emotional and moral struggle in the Tombstone society.
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