Lauren Taibi First Paper Assignment The Notebook The movie The Notebook, directed by Nick Cassavetes and released on June 5th 2004, is a captivating love story, which takes place in the 1940’s. Through filmatic elements such as Cassavetes choices of cinematography, editing, narrative, mise en scene, sound and music, he creates an extremely believable story of two teenagers in the 1940’s who fell in love over the time span of one summer. In order to create a 1940’s vibe, Cassavetes wisely uses a specific choice of costumes, makeup and scenery to portray exactly the time period he wanted to.
The main character Allie, played by Rachel McAdams, is a free-spirited 17 year old who in the beginning of the movie is seen wearing a variety of long 1940’s dresses, with patterns and specific styles commonly worn during that time period. The other main character, Noah, played by Ryan Gosling, is a teenage boy who because of his low social class, is constantly seen wearing a causal pear of slacks, worn out button down shirts, and suspenders with slicked back hair.
A scene when Allie and Noah are swimming in a lake is a prime example of how the costumes contribute towards the time period. Instead of wearing modern day bikinis or swim trunks, Allie is wearing high wasted bathing suit bottoms, which covered her entire stomach and almost looked like shorts; a style of bathing suits worn by girls in the 1940’s. The makeup Allie wears in this movie as she grows up is also very old fashioned. Her excessive amounts of blush, the simple eye makeup and deep red lipstick are identical to that of a woman who lived in the 1940s.
Extras and other characters that also take part in this movie, wear 1940’s attire as well. Because of this, the overall feeling of this movie is old fashioned, and a time when everything was much simpler. Not only does the specific attire of the main characters help portray a true feeling of the 1940’s, yet it is a key contributor to the love story as well. What makes this love story so captivating and unforgettable is the struggle that Allie and Noah must go through to finally be happy together.
One of these obstacles includes their obvious disparity in social status constantly reminded to them by Allie’s stuck up and self absorbed parents. Allie is always dressed beautifully with dresses that the rich wore, while Noah is always seen in old, ill-fitting clothes that help the audience understand the huge difference in the way these two teenagers live. Yet, costumes and makeup are not the only thing that Cassavetes uses to create a 1940’s vibe. Scenery also plays a large part in doing so as well.
Everything about the scenery used screams 1940s. This scenery includes the old fashioned cars in the street, the sock-hop that Allie attends which was a popular gathering that often occurred during the 1940’s and Allie’s job as a nurse tending to injured soldiers from World War II. All of these elements combined including scenery, makeup and costumes, successfully creates an undeniable 1940’s vibe. The music used in this movie also allows the audience to be captivated by the 1940’s.
In the very beginning scene at a carnival, 1940’s upbeat and positive music is played noticeably in the background as Noah tries to convince Allie to go out with him. Also, after having seen a movie together, Noah stops Allie in the middle of a quiet street and asks her to dance. As Noah hums the rhythm to an old fashioned romantic jazz song, the actual music he is humming gets louder and louder and drowns out his singing as the audience watches the couple dance to the now audible and realistic version of the song Noah was originally singing to Allie.
Also, later on in the movie when Allie and Noah are much older and have been apart for a long time, Allie is invited to a sock-hop by her new fiance. The loud music orchestrated by an over enthusiastic man mimics the up-beat jazz bee-bop music commonly played at joyful events such as that one. Also, throughout the entire movie as scenes occur; low 1940’s music always accompanies the events whether it be dramatic, suspenseful, sad or joyful. Music also plays a key role in reminding the audience that this movie took place in the past.
The sound used in this movie serves a large purpose. There are many scenes when Cassavetes allows everything else to be silent and the object of focus to be the loudest in order for the audience to truly concentrate on its meaning. Going back to the scene when Allie and Noah dance in the street together, Cassavetes purposely makes them dance without actual music initially and has Noah hum the tune he wishes to slow dance to, while all else is silent.
The reasoning for this is to further contribute towards Cassavetes attempts to get the audience to fall in love with the two teenager’s relationship. Dancing without music in the middle of the street shows that the couple can have a great time with nothing else but their love and it also portrays their free spirit and fun personalities. Another time when sound serves a specific purpose is when Noah takes Allie to an abandoned house that he promises he will fix up when he gets older so they can live together in it.
A dusty piano in the corner intrigues Allie and she begins to play one of her favorite slow tunes. All else is completely silent in the room as Cassavetes forces the audience to focus on the tune she is playing, for it serves a purpose later on in the movie. When the scenes switch back and forth between the story of Noah and Allie, and an old man narrating this story to an old woman who appears to be hearing it for the first time, the old woman begins playing the same tune Allie played in the abandoned house that night.
Once again, all is silent and the audience can only focus on what tune is being played. Cassavetes does this to further hint to the audience that the delusional old woman is Allie in her old age who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and has forgotten the story of her and Noah, which is being read to her by Noah, yet she is unaware of who he is. Cassavetes uses a variety of camera angles in this movie. In one scene, Allie goes to visit Noah when they are older, because she heard news that he completely renovated the house he promised he would for Allie.
They go in a small row boat on a lake with an abundance of birds around them, which is when Cassavetes uses a long shot camera angle to film as much scenery as he could to show the huge amount of birds on the lake. These birds have a symbolic meaning because Allie and Noah said they were both birds when they were younger. As they talk and tell each other how different, yet how much the same they both look, Cassavetes utilizes an extreme close-up so the audience can observe for themselves in what ways they have changed, and in what ways they have stayed the same.
Another scene when camera angles serve a specific purpose is in the very beginning when Noah sees Allie for the first time at a carnival. An immediate look of fondness comes over his face, and Cassavetes does an extreme close-up on Noah’s face to show that the second he saw Allie; it was love at first sight. Lastly, as part of one of his schemes to get Allie to go on a date with him, Noah climbs the Ferris wheel bars at the carnival while Allie is on it.
He hangs by one arm all the way on top of the Ferris wheel and refuses to get down until Allie says yes. Here is when Cassavetes uses a long shot camera angle to show how high Noah is, and demonstrate the extent he would go to in order to get one chance with Allie. The editing used in this movie, is what makes this movie so special and unforgettable. Cassavetes decision to switch back and forth between Noah and Allie’s story and an old man narrating this story to an old woman serves a huge purpose.
In the beginning of the movie, the audience is completely unaware that the old couple has any relationship to Noah and Allie, yet as Cassavetes continues to alternate these scenes at select times, the audience gains more and more clues that the old couple is really Noah and Allie who after all of the obstacles they were put through, ended up together in the end. This switching back and forth between these two scenes all leads up to when at the same time the audience realizes the old woman is truly Allie, Allie has a short episode when she remembers everything and realizes the story she is being told is the story of her and Noah.
This editing was specifically done to create emotion and drama, and lead to the audience’s further emotional involvement in the movie. It also prepares the audience for a bittersweet ending. Just as we are relieved Allie finally remembers after endless times of Noah reading her their story to spark memories, she forgets again within 5 minutes. This devastates both the audience and Noah. Yet in the middle of the night Noah sneaks into Allie’s room because he lives in a nursing home with her, to find her wide-awake and fully sane.
They lay together remembering everything, and die together that night. Cassavetes then decides to switch to a scene of two birds flying together, which has a huge amount of significance since earlier on in the movie Allie says she wants to be a bird and Noah replies saying “If you’re a bird I’m a bird. ” This switch of scenes to the two birds after their death, indicate they moved on to a better life together in the form they always promised each other they would become after death.