Why do the same concepts get recycled and reinterpreted in so many different media, and what does that do to storytelling? Filmmaker Drew Morton poses that question in his video essay “From the Panel to the Frame: Style and Scott Pilgrim.” The piece, which was originally produced as a part of a doctoral dissertation, uses the 2010 Edgar Wright film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as a springboard to talk about how videogames, movies and comic books influence each other—and how you can often see the aesthetic roots of one medium represented in another, in a way that feels increasingly relaxed and organic. (Press Play contributor Matthias Stork has also dealt with this issue in this piece.)
Morton isn’t talking about adaptation here—turning a book into a movie, for instance, or a movie into a TV series. This is something else. As he puts it in his video essay, it’s more about reproducing or reimagining one medium’s aesthetic within the context of another medium: not just adapting Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original Scott Pilgrim comics, but making the film look and move and somehow feel like those books, to the point of quoting specific panels.
There’s a specific academic term for this phenomenon: “transmediation.” Morton explores that, too. He uses examples from Scott Pilgrim, the Matrix universe, Sin City, and other stories, or “properties,” that unfold across different media to prove that the boundaries that supposedly separate those media are more porous than we may have thought. The “bullet time” scene in the original Matrix movie, for instance, was a great cinematic moment, but it wouldn’t have existed without the aesthetic of mid-‘90s videogames that tried, in their ostentatious yet primitive way, to look three-dimensional. And when Time-Warner, the company that released The Matrix, decided it had another Star Wars on its hands, it commissioned videogames that fans found disappointing because they wanted something that felt like the movies, only game-like, and the games didn’t deliver.
These are slippery subjects to analyze, but Morton never loses his grip here, and the final section—a detailed analysis of the style of Wright’s film—is dazzling. He talks about how Wright folds representations of comics, videogames and music into a movie based on a comic book that was itself strongly inspired by videogames, and in so doing, creates a “re-remediation.” If you tried to represent that on a page, it might look like a bunch of parentheses inside one big parenthetical, or maybe a line drawing of a Russian nesting doll, animated, with each layer’s shell cracking to reveal the layer beneath, each pop commemorated by a point value materializing in space and hanging there. Fifty points! A hundred! Next level!
Click and watch.
—Matt Zoller Seitz
Drew Morton is a Ph.D. student in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA. He has written about film and television for such publications astheMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, UWM Post, andFlow. He is currently researching the aesthetic convergence between comics and film.
Matt Zoller Seitz is the co-founder of Press Play.
John Q Movie Analysis Essay
1239 Words5 Pages
The movie “John Q” narrates a story of the financially constrained character John Quincy Archibald who ensures that his nine year old son at the brink of death, secures a heart transplant by any means possible. Throughout the movie, there is a compelling display of the love shared by a family and this is seen in the great lengths John went to save his son, however unlawful. The main characters are John, Michael and Denise Archibald, Rebecca Payne, Doctor Turner and Lt. Grimes.
In the movie there were two main negotiators who were negotiating on the main driving force of the movie’s story line; they were Lt. Grimes and John Q. John, from the onset of the movie, portrayed very choleric tendencies. He was a leader as shown by how he stood…show more content…
Consequently, he went into negotiations with the police lieutenant to claim value (Lewicki, Barry, & Saunders, 2007) with distributive bargaining techniques. John’s real interest in this negotiation was not to get his son’s name on the donor’s list but to save his son’s life and that was his main goal throughout the movie. This interest was reaffirmed by his option to kill himself so his heart would be used for his son. At this point, his concern was not getting his son’s name on the donor’s list but making sure his son was alive.
John Q analyzed the issue at stake very candidly. His son needed a heart transplant or else he was going to die but he did not have enough funds to provide for his son’s transplant. He could either watch his son die or do something drastic to save him. He chose to abduct patients in the hospital to use them as a bait for negotiation therefore he perceived the negotiation as an exchange. Whether or not he acted in whatsoever manner, there was a possibility he would lose his son, so he decided to act in faith in the possibility of saving Michael because this negotiation was a necessity to him. He viewed the negotiation situation through an outcome frame, which was of more importance to him and so he needed an agreement to be reached between him and the police. He knew the situation was a one shot negotiation so he was not interested in building and