Friday, July 13, 2012

The Talented Mr. Ripley: a saturation of pigeons

Title: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Year:  1999
Director: Anthony Minghella
Running time: 139 min.
Country: United States

Humans tend to work with stereotypes. For instance, many people supposed that all the Spaniards love bullfighting and dance flamenco and that an American policeman without donuts is not a genuine policeman. For Anthony Minghella, the director of this movie, it is also assumed that Italy in general and Venice in particular are crowed with pigeons (I don't deny that it's true). Based on this assumption, the director conceived, organized and executed a plan for filming hordes of pigeons. This is a summary of the main appearances:

The first shot is only the prelude of the pigeon apotheosis. A couple walks down a street in Rome and a flock of pigeons appears performing a perfect diagonal flight. Good. It is quite artistic but not comparable to the feathered recordings that we are going to find in Venice.

Some minutes later, now in Venice, we see a square completely saturated with pigeons. The flock is engulfing several characters that seem to be too concerned. I think that it is very artistic. I really like the light in this scene and how the pigeon shadows are projected on the floor.

The next scene comes just few seconds later: Mr. Ripley (Matt Damon) crosses this square with a friend of his. It is interesting to see how scared he is. I'm wondering if he was acting or he was actually afraid of the huge flock of pigeons that flies around him. It is also amusing to see the pigeon captured in the first and third photograms.

Finally, in the last scene, we can see a perfect example of stereotype abuse: in the same scene we can see a street cafe, a guy playing the saxophone, a flock of pigeons and a 'painter'. A complete overload of Italian stereotypes.

Details of the pigeon starring 

  • Source: The Talented Mr. Ripley Starring moment: 1:16:03, 1:40:51 and 1:52:05
  • Pigeon activity: These are the typical urban pigeon flocks that roam around streets and squares.
  • Symbolism: Almost none. They only represent common creatures in Italian cities.
  • Relevance: None. Despite their large number, pigeons are only used for creating a familiar Italian atmosphere. No further relationship with the interesting plot of the movie.
  • Training level: High. In this movie pigeons behave very naturally, showing an excellent field deployment.

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