Radio station raid*

Classification in categories

  • Battle and nature
  • Battle and technology
  • Suffering / victim / sacrifice


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Movie: Gung Ho!*
Number: 15
Individual analysis: Gung Ho!*
Timecode start: 01:00:18:13
Timecode end: 01:15:30:20
Year of origin: 1943

In the dramaturgy of the film, this scene is the heart of a three-stage campaign. It follows the first stage, the initial storming (> „Jungle battle and the machine gun nest“), is itself the stage of the extermination of the enemy and acts as a transition to the destruction of the abandoned enemy structures and withdrawal (> „Departure and evacuation“).

The scenic composition is based on the variation and blending of two sides of a combat mission as an abstract pattern: on the one hand the battle as the direct experience of the individual (small picture) and on the other hand as a tactical military operation that cannot be grasped by individual experience (big picture). Caught between these poles, predominantly on the level of shot composition and sound design as well as camera, an image is created of: 1. tension, 2. increasing tension, 3. relaxed camaraderie, 4. the desire to fight, 5. ecstasy, 6. triumphant collectivization, and 7. self-denying sacrifice.

The construction of figurations of these affective dimensions—and in one case also their negation—takes place in seven distinct units created through variations or blendings of an abstract pattern of the small picture and the big picture. In the course of these variations and blendings the big picture (commanders’ tower perspective), which counters an individual experience of the battle, is successively built up as an affective sensation of movement:

> EMU 1: Juxtaposition of small picture and big picture and their mutual mirroring: tension (1) and its negation

> EMU 2:The combat mission (small picture) as a figuration of movement along a set vector and its containment: increasing tension (2)

> EMU 3: Figuration of abstract war tactics (big picture):  relaxed camaraderie (3)

> EMU 4: The combat mission (small picture) as a figuration of containment (compare EMU 2): the desire to fight (4)

> EMU 5: Variation on combat missions (small picture) as a dissociation of space: ecstasy (5, with a transition to an image of mourning)

> EMU 6: Figuration of abstract war tactics (big picture), then merging of small picture and big picture: triumphant collectivization (6)

> EMU 7: Mutual mirroring of small picture and big picture: tension (1) and self-denying sacrifice (7)

In the first unit, different perspectives of a combat mission (small and big picture) are established by exemplary images. Firstly, the small picture emerges as an image of tension (1) on the level of shot composition and camera as well as sound design.  Secondly, the big picture (the operative goal and stratagem) are staged as an arrangement in which above and below mirror one another. The transmission of language through the media of radio communication is a central aspect of the abstract pattern of the big picture of war. In the end, the image of the big picture is generated during a briefing through the image of a map, an de-individualized perceptual space created by the interplay of the purely semantic content of the commander’s speech and the graphic portrayal of war tactics, deferring the affective dimension of this unit (> EMU 1).

This is followed by variations of the combat mission (the “small picture”) on two levels—the enemy soldiers and the Marines. These variations are accomplished through camera movements along a vector into space (Japanese) and the containment of this movement (Americans; > EMU 2).This is supported by the sound design, by means of the collision of two expressive qualities of the music, the contrast of the qualitative difference in the speech of the two warring parties and the loud rounds of gun fire. In this staging of combat as an expanding movement and its containment (> EMU 2), the image of increasing tension (2) is formed.

A pattern of abstract war tactics (big pictures, > EMU 3)is generated by the interplay of shot composition and camera. In contrast to the preceding units, an image of relaxed camaraderie (3) is also realized.

The fourth unit (> EMU 4) takes up the abstract compositional pattern of the second, but now an image of the desire to fight (4) is accomplished through the sound design and the camera work.

In this variation of combat, a spatial dissociation (> EMU 5), in which expanding movements can no longer be situated, the mission is generated as a direct sensory experience on the level of sound design, camera and shot composition. In this an image of ecstasy (5) is realized.

This figuration, parallel to a visualization of the big picture perspective in the unit that follows, is transferred into an image of triumphant collectivization (6) on the level of shot composition and shot design (> EMU 6). This step towards affective collectivization ends EMU 6 with the merging of the big picture and the small picture as the war tactics realized in the form of an image of euphoric enthusiasm.
In the last unit, a variation of the abstract pattern of a big-picture stratagem, established in the preceding unit, is accomplished on the level of shot composition and sound design in a scene of close combat. In it, an image of tension (1) is shifted to a figuration of the higher meaning of dying (7), still conveyed through the interplay of shot composition and sound design (> EMU 7).    DG

Expressive movement units

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 

Materials about the scene

    Position of scene in film


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