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  • Writer's pictureDorsa Sajedi

Character Dynamics Research: Pursuit of Happyness (dir. Gabriele Muccino, 2007)

Observing character dynamics and how it aids the editing in Pursuit of Happyness

First Scene of Discussion

Second Scene of Discussion

The scenes that I have selected to discuss here pinpoint two key moments of bonding between Chris and his son Christopher. In the first, Chris attempts to teach his son to never let anybody tell him that he can't do anything by first doing so. In the second scene, Chris and Christopher are spending their first night on the streets - they are both very tired, and to rise up his son's spirits he pretends that they are surrounded by dinosaurs. The editing used in the first scene maintains a consistent delivery through pace, tone, and selection of shots to position both characters as equal. There is no power struggle here. Chris does not look down on his son, so audiences are able to see how passionately he cares about him. Despite the fact that he is trying to teach his son to pursue his dreams, he is also giving himself words of encouragement, something the edit successfully enhances.

The editing within the second scene moves from a neutral to a fast, and then slow again pace - following the emotional state of the characters. As mentioned, they are both very tired, so the pacing remains slow. In order to match Chris' attempts of raising spirits and Christopher's playing along with it the speed of the pacing rises along with them, but this is then interrupted by the sudden moment of reality, realising that they have to sleep in the bathroom. The editing in Pursuit of Happyness uses the characters' dynamics and emotional state to determine the way in which the scenes are structured.

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