'Emilie Muller' - Short Film Analysis
Emilie Muller is a short film that was directed by Yvon Marciano in 1994. It has a runtime of 19:55. It is widely considered to be one of the most important films of the 1990s due to its simple, yet shocking storyline. This film is a one-off as it has no sequels or multiple episodes following it, which means you are left wondering what happened after the film ends. By only having the one film made about these characters, the audience is left to imagine what happened following this event and can therefore make their own mind up about what would happen. This is an effective way to encourage people to talk about the film and what they had watched. This is most likely why it won so many awards after its release, including the Best Film Award at the British Short Film Festival in London 1994, as it sparked a conversation amongst audiences. I would describe this film as a mystery drama with a hint of comedy, which would make it a hybrid. By incorporating multiple genres into one film, you are creating a movie that can appeal to different people and a wider range of audiences.
I found this film online on the website ‘filmsshort.com’, which is a great website to find short films. The video is good quality and easy to access, so many people would be able to watch it, seeing as you can access the website on your phone or other devices as well as a computer. The film is available on other apps and websites as well, like YouTube, which is an extremely popular and well-used website with almost five billion views on videos per day. Finally, at the time of its release, the film was shown in film festivals where it won awards, so that was another platform where people could watch it in the 90s. If someone does not have access to the internet, then they can purchase it on DVD instead if they wish to.
Benefits and Limitations of Single Camera Productions:
The benefits of single camera productions are that they tend to be low-budgeted as there is not much equipment needed for production, so the crew do not need to use too many shot types as it can be kept simple and easy with a driving storyline to make the film a great one. This also means that the location can be kept to one place, possibly a few more if necessary, but the best films are simple. Most of the time, short films only need a couple of characters involved in the story to make it work, which means you will most likely be able to find talent quicker and you will not spend much on hiring people.
The limitations of single camera productions are that because they are usually produced by small companies and unknown directors, it can be difficult to gain enough publicity for it to be seen widely, unless it is entered into a film festival or they have the finances to distribute it themselves. Also, depending on the filming location timing can be quite limited, especially if it is in public and if they do not have the funds to spend long periods of time in certain locations, then they will not have enough time to get the perfect shots they need. These factors could potentially be damning for the quality of the final product.
In Emilie Muller, the film starts with a slow pan, following the character Emilie as she enters the auditioning location in a warehouse where there are minimal people, but you follow her as she approaches the director where the camera is set-up, ready for the audition tape. You know from the description of the film that she is there to audition for a film role instead of her friend, but if you didn’t know this information then it is made clear as soon as she enters the building and sits down with the director. It is obvious from the beginning that Emilie is the focus of this film, due to the camera constantly following her where we are made to watch her every move and listen to her every word.
As the director calls action, the camera switches from our one inside the building, which acts as an outsiders’ perspective looking in on the situation to the camera next to the director where Emilie is now sitting opposite. This sudden switch immediately takes us into the eyes of the audience and what they would see if they watched her in this film role and also what the director will see when he watches this tape back. We only see Emilie through the lens of the directors’ camera during her audition as it is a point of view shot. Whereas, before and after the audition, we are immediately moved to a camera further away, which wouldn’t actually be there in the room. By doing this, we feel more involved in the job of the director in choosing an actress for his film and we are forced to concentrate on what Emilie is saying because there are no other distractions during her audition, we don’t even see the director, we only hear him. This implies that what she is doing is the most important aspect of the film and should be watched closely. As you can see from this mid-shot of Emilie, we are forced to look at her rifling through her handbag and taking the objects out in order to describe them, which is what she has been asked to do by the director, so it feels very interactive, especially in this moment. We only need to concentrate on her words, just like the director is, so her make-up and clothes are not important as she is portrayed as a regular woman auditioning for a film role with little experience. The only crucial props for this scene are the handbag and all the objects inside it, but we do not know why until the end of the film.
There is a consistent flow between shots as the shot frames only change three times. First, we are looking through a camera far away from the characters, almost in the corner of the room, then we switch to the camera next to the director and are watching through a point of view shot and then we switch back to the external camera looking in when the audition is over. Maintaining continuity would have been rather easy for this film as there are no complicated changes of locations or multiple sceneries on different days as it is all set in one room, in one location and only focusing on a couple characters.
The film is a linear movie as everything happens in order, so we are watching everything as it happened in front of everyone involved in the scene, so we feel very involved in the situation. The ending is left on a slight cliff-hanger as we are unsure as to whether or not the director managed to catch up with Emilie, or if she was never seen by him again and used in the movie. However, we can infer that the director was desperate to cast her as soon as he discovered that she was describing objects in someone else’s’ handbag, so she was acting the entire time without anyone’s knowledge. We do not need a sequel to explain everything as the twist is revealed at the end and we can make an educated guess on what happened next.
The entire film is shot in black and white. This is usually an artistic choice made by the director in order to make the audience focus more on the content and the storyline, rather than the surroundings as colour can often be quite distracting. As we know from the ending, the story is more important than you originally think. The edit is very slow paced as there is no rush to get everything done, so the film is quite slow but simple. However, there are minimal cuts between perspectives, so there was hardly any editing to be done. There are also no special effects in this film, which would have made the filming and editing process much quicker and simpler.
In conclusion, I believe this film is a wonderful piece of cinema as it demonstrates that a simple idea with an intriguing storyline and minimal moments can be more effective and memorable than a film with special effects and dramatic moments, because a storyline is the most important aspect of film. I would use this simple method in my own filmmaking as I believe it is better than movies with too much chaos. The only weakness with this film is that even though the black and white shots are a way of making the audience focus on the plot of the film, rather than the surroundings, it could make certain audience members lose interest quickly as it is longer than the average short film and there is not much variety in shot-types or any use of eye-catching colours. Therefore, it might not appeal to some people, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I like the techniques that were used, so it will stick with me for a long time.
Watch the full film below:
- Emilie Muller
To switch on the subtitles, press the cc button at the bottom of the video.
Yvon Marciano box-set - including Emilie Muller
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Katie Newbery