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In the film A Quiet Place, a family is faced with learning how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where any noise they make will result in death by an unknown creature. This film became a crowd favorite when it was released in March of this year. The Abbott family is the only surviving people after a blind, super-sonic hearing creature took out most of humanity due to the noise they created. Figuring out how to survive in a silent world would be hard, but the Abbott family has an advantage because their eldest daughter, Reagan, is deaf. They have adjusted to the quiet life very well, but when the mother, Evelyn is due to have her baby, things become quite chaotic in trying to protect her and the family from the creatures. Working together as a family, they all became triumphant against the monsters in the end, but this came at a price. The father, Lee, surrendered his life in order for his family to survive. After reading an interview with John Krasinski, the director of the film, he explained why he began creating this film. Him and his wife just gave birth to their second child, and he began to wonder what he would really do for his children; what sacrifices he would make for them. After reading that statement and watching the movie, there is a lot of evidence in the film of the sacrifice and love parents have for their children. Using type-casting, classical narrative structure, cinematography, editing, and sound, the theme of sacrifice and love is well portrayed throughout the film.
When John Krasinski was choosing actors for this film, he had feeling he needed to portray the main father figure and his wife as the mother. Trying to choose the children was a simple task because he wanted kids that truly knew what it was like to be deaf and who are very empathetic. After calling a casting director, he found some of the most amazing, humble children to play these roles. Even the actress who played Reagan was deaf in real life, therefore she could easily relate and help others relate to the story. This typecasting technique helped the audience more fully understand what it is like to be deaf and live in a world with a deaf child. Because the audience understood a little about being deaf, they could feel the family unit get stronger as the film went on due to the obstacles placed in their paths.
A specific example of typecasting which helps portray the world a deaf person lives in is when Reagan and her younger brother Marcus get stuck in a corn silo. Marcus trying to distract the creatures from getting to his mother sets off fireworks which lead the creatures to him instead of his mother. In order to hide from the creatures, Marcus and Reagan climb on top of a corn silo, which breaks and Marcus falls through starting to get swallowed up in corn. Reagan jumps in to save him when a creature comes to attack them. Because Reagan has her hearing aid on, a loud frequency noise is emitted and the creature gets scared and runs off. When her hearing aid makes the loud noise, her and her brother, Marcus, both grab their head as though in pain. This example of acting as though the frequency is too intense for them has a little bit of truth because in real life, the actress that played Reagan has experienced this feeling before.
Having these specific people play the characters help the structure of the film come to life in more than just a physical way, but emotionally as well. The structure of this film is a classic three act narrative because the opening scene sets up all the main characters and their relationships with each other. The act ends when the youngest boy, Beau, is attacked and killed by a creature which is a turning point for all of his family, but especially Lee and Reagan. After this, act two is all about how Lee tries to protect his children more and how Reagan copes with feeling responsible for her younger brother’s death. This father daughter relationship has high tension which is tested and stretched throughout act two. Along with testing the father daughter relationship, throughout act two, the Abbott family has to overcome many different obstacles. Act three is the resolution of all of these problems having one solution. The cochlear implant Reagan has lets out a high enough frequency to immobilize the creatures long enough for the family to kill them. This film ends without a clear resolution. It leaves the audience hanging when the family is preparing to eliminate all of the creatures that are coming to attack them. The screen goes black and credits run up right as they cock their weapons.
This film is considered a high concept film because it appeals to such a wide variety of people. It has a very simple story-line where the family must work together to accomplish something that, at first, seems impossible. This high-concept film is a classical film style as well. This film fits into the classical style of film because the producers manipulated the setting to fit the storyline. They have also edited the scenes and sound to fit the dramatic purpose of the film which help emphasize the story.
During the beginning scene of the movie, Reagan gives the youngest brother, Beau, a noise making toy rocket. As they are walking back to their house on the farm, Beau is the last one in the single file line they have made and turns on the toy. A lovely song starts playing from the toy, but as the audience, you know something bad is about to happen. Going from a medium shot of Beau with the toy rocket to a close-up view of Lee, the father, realizing what is about to happen. The close-up view of Lee transitions to a long shot of him running towards Beau to save him from the creatures he knows are coming. Using a long shot while Lee is going to try to save his son, shows the love the father has for his son. As soon as Beau is executed by the creature, the camera angle goes back to a close-up of Lee’s face. This camera shot is useful because you see the pain of loss in the facial expressions of Lee. Camera angles during this scene show the audience the love Lee has for his son.
Another example during this scene is the point-of-view of Reagan. Because Reagan is deaf, when we are in her mindset, there is absolutely no noise. The only way Reagan knows something is wrong is the reaction from other family members faces. When her and her family are walking back to the farm in a single file line, she is in her own world just looking at the trees and the sun, and doesn’t know the toy is making noise. She doesn’t know something is wrong until she sees her the look on her parents face as they abruptly turn around. The shot when we see Lee’s reaction is Reagan’s point of view, this signaling to her something is wrong.
There is a lot of editing of scenes in this movie that helps portray the sacrifice and love Lee has for his children. One particular scene is when Lee sacrifices his life for his kids. The kids were setting a distraction for the monsters so their mom could have the baby. In the midst of this, they get stuck in an old pick-up truck with a monster trying to get inside. Lee discovers they are in danger and finds them in this situation. He makes eye-contact with his children and knows what he has to do. Lee then lets out a loud scream to distract the monster so the kids can get away. The shot goes from Lee letting out a scream to the reaction of his kids in the pick-up truck. This reaction shot shows the kids’ emotional connection to their father and how much they love him. Even though one does not see Lee sacrificing his life on screen, the audience assumes this is what happens by the look on the children’s faces which shows the loss of a loved one.
Another example of editing to portray sacrifice and love is switching between Evelyn giving birth and Marcus planting a distraction. At first we see Evelyn’s water breaking in the middle of the hall. She signals she is in trouble by turning on the lights around the farm to red communicating to her family that she is going into labor. Lee sees this and instruct Marcus to go set a distraction while he goes to help Evelyn have the baby. Cross cutting this scene helps intensify the situation because the audience does not know if Marcus will make it in time to help his mother. As the scene continues to cross cut we see a creature coming up the stairs behind Evelyn as she is having her baby at the same time Marcus sets off fireworks. In the background of the shot of Evelyn screaming due her giving birth, the creature runs away because the fireworks are making a louder sound than her scream. Cross cutting this scene also helps portray the sacrifice Marcus makes for his mother. He sacrificed his life potentially being taken away so his mother could bring another child into this world.
An editing technique throughout this whole movie is the editing out the sound. Normally noises on a farm in the country would be a lot more than what this movie portrayed. The lack of sound puts more focus on the characters, their facial expressions, and the actions they are doing to more develop the characters and the plot. The use of sign language and lip reading make it difficult to understand the conversations between characters, but using non-diegetic sound helps the audience better identify what they are talking about.
The use of sound, or lack thereof, helps the audience visually see how the Abbott family bond is so tight. Because of the style of movie, classicalism, the sound is meant to be used for dramatic purposes and emphasis the story. The lack of sound does the same thing. The audience is more focused on the storyline, and what they are visually seeing because of the lack of sound. There is a scene where Marcus and Lee go out hunting. While walking in the forest they come across an old man who is shocked to see his wife lying dead and lets out a loud scream. Marcus and Lee run away quickly because they know what will happen if they are around the old man who made the loud noise and don’t want to end up like him. Using sound in this scene and a close-up view of Marcus’s face, we see how terrified he is to make any sort of noise. He seems traumatized from first his brother dying, and then watching the same thing happen to an old man. This makes him fear making any sort of noise.
A way love is shown using sound is when Lee is teaching his son Marcus about the rules of talking and making noise in their world. Just before this, they encountered the old man and Marcus is now terrified to make any sort of noise, Lee takes Marcus to the waterfall to get food for the family and to show him not to be scared of making noise. They begin talking and making a lot of noise in the water. Lee could see the fear on Marcus’s face from making too much noise and instructs him that soft sounds are safe and big sounds are not safe. Due to the diegetic sound of the waterfall, the audience and Marcus realizes the creatures can only hear a certain frequency of noise and that the family is safe near the waterfall. The act of Lee teaching Marcus this shows his love for his son. He is showing his son that things are okay and how he doesn’t have to live in fear or have to live his life in silence all the time.
Another use of sound, is the use of non-diegetic sound. Because the point of this movie is to be quiet, there is little to no sound from the characters or surrounding environment. In order to make this movie interesting, the directors and editors put some outside sound and music in the film. These choices of sound either helped intensify scenes, or show what the character was feeling at a certain point in the film.
In conclusion, The Quiet Place, is a film which uses typecasting, cinematography, sound and editing to show the love and sacrifice a family has when overcoming opposition. The actors chosen portray the characters very well through their facial expressions and actions. The lack of sound intensifies the scenes and focus more on the actions and facial ques from the actors to understand the development of the pot. The cinematography used help the audience focus on certain aspects of the scene in order to understand the feelings and thoughts of the characters that could not be portrayed through dialogue. The editing of the scenes, reveal much evidence of sacrifice and love from all of the family members, from the youngest child to the oldest. The sound, or lack thereof, help build the development of the plot by focusing on the characters facial expression and to bring in the feeling of the unknown of what may happen. Overall, this movie has a touching theme of the love and sacrifice of family, but with a horror spin on what life would be like if there were deadly consequences to making sounds.
Works Cited Page
- Krasinski, John. “The Making of ‘A Quiet Place’ by John Krasinski.” Empire, April 20, 2018.
 Krasinski, John. “The Making of ‘A Quiet Place’ by John Krasinski.” Empire, April 20, 2018.
 Krasinski, John. “The Making of ‘A Quiet Place’ by John Krasinski.” Empire, April 20, 2018.
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