The exercise asks that the student chooses a Road Movie and then writes 500 words on the Narrative of the Landscape within the movie.
I chose the Sam Mendes film “Road to Perdition”;
Landscape Narrative – Road Movies – Road to Perdition.
American road movies come out of traditional storytelling which can be traced back to Homer and the Iliad; the main characters of the story undertake a journey where they will have to make choices and face the consequences of decisions made. In Sam Mendes “Road to Perdition”, a father is hiding his mobster life from his family and must go on the run with his surviving son when his wife and other son are murdered because the surviving son witnesses his father and a colleague gun down some men.
Father and son undertake a physical and emotional journey, as the emotionally repressed father tries to save his son and prevent him from becoming like him. In doing so, on the journey the father opens up emotionally to the son and they finally connect.
Mendes uses a number of motifs within the film, but here we will concentrate on only two; water and the landscape. Water in the film is present as a lake, snow, rain and ice and they all represent life and death and the inability of man to change his fate. Landscape is used to represent not only the emotional state of the two main characters but also the narrative boundaries of the tale.
In the beginning, as they start the journey, the landscape is barren and flat, much like the emotional state of the characters. They pass empty fields and empty crossroads. They could deviate at any point, go away from the road and cross the fields abandoning the quest but instead they push onwards through the night into the city. The city is bright, busy and bold, the buildings surround and dominate the landscape and now the roads are filled with cars and the pavements crowded with people. It closes in on them, but at the same time, defends them as they are hard to distinguish from everyone else in such an identikit landscape, full of identical people performing identical tasks. Forced back out of the city, they start to cross the American landscape, which begins to appear like the paintings of Edward Hooper, even the characters themselves when dining look like his paintings. On the run, the two main characters come to the decision to fight back and the landscape reflects that decision by the representation of a piece of road lined on either side by trees. Here, the decision made, the other choices have been discarded and their fate set; now thoughts of abandoning the quest are discarded and the only path is forward.
The film is book ended by a body of water, the same body of water that the son is drawn to and viewing when his father’s fate catches up with him, mortally wounded by his assassin, he tries to clutch at a gun on the floor. His son hearing the shot arrives and picks up the gun but cannot shoot the ‘weegee’ like hit-man. His father understanding that he has succeeded and that his son will not follow in his path, manages to take a gun and kill the hit-man. The sunlit lake becomes the final scene, the sunlight over the water representing a positive future for the son.
The second part of the exercise asks the student to undertake a journey and document the landscape.
In this exercise, I chose to take a trip down to Cove Harbour, where in October 1881, there was a Fishing disaster where 189 fishermen perished in a severe storm.
This is my journey from the village down to the harbour, I had intended on taking these images in good weather but a sea haar still remained on the coast. Continuing with the challenging conditions under foot for me, I decided to photograph anyway in the unusual conditions as I felt that it was a good experience.
IMDB. 2002. Road to Perdition. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0257044/. [Accessed 4 June 2018].