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  • Writer's pictureDorsa Sajedi

Character Dynamics Research: About Time (dir. Richard Curtis, 2013)

Observing character dynamics and how it aids the editing in About Time


First Scene of Discussion [00:00-02:42]

Second Scene of Discussion [00:00-02:05]


These two scenes in About Time pinpoint two narratively significant moments in the film. In both of them, it is clear to the audience on the nature of Tim and his father's relationship. For purposes of research into editing, I will be noting how I feel the editing guides audience members to gain an understanding of their relationship with one another.


Within the first scene, we go back and forth between the two characters as Tim's father reveals the family secret. This follows a simple shot-reverse-shot structure. What is significant to note is how long we stay on each character and how that informs us of the dynamics of their relationship. For example, around 45-50 seconds in after his dad acknowledges how strange what he is about to say may sound, the edit cuts back to Tim who reacts in a teasing manner. From this cut, we are informed of their healthy and loving relationship where the two are able to joke around with one another. If we were to remain on Tim's dad, the narrative would still make sense, but we would have lost out on that extra information about how Tim and his dad feel about each other.


A further point of discussion from this clip to note is how the edit approaches travelling back in time. As our film will be incorporating forms of science fiction in a similar manner (induced dream states), I feel that is important to look into this from an editing perspective. Overall, this short sequence (at around 2:59-3:07, nothing after as a segment has been removed from this YouTube clip) follows an extremely large pace resembling the exhilarating feeling one can assume can be expected of being able to travel back in time. Being only 8 seconds long, this sequence goes through several shots and various speeds, with the earlier ones being on screen for a longer duration than the last, following a linear structure of accelerating pace to position audiences with Tim as he test-runs his newfound powers.


In the second scene, we follow a structure filled with slow pacing as the two spend their final moments with one another. The use of the slow pace allows the editor to guide audiences through the feelings of pain that Tim is feeling, establishing a connection between the audience and the spectator. In addition to this, the edit follows a far-to-close shot structure, first distancing us from the characters, and then getting closer as they share an emotional embrace, which guides the audience to feel their grief with them. From these indicators obtained from the edit, it is clear to say that these two characters care greatly about one another, establishing their relationship as warm and loving (which is then followed and enhanced by the warm montage of them on the beach).

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