Man, oh man, do I love this man. He might not be my favorite director, but he’s a close second and he’s without a doubt the best comedy director working today. His distinct style in directing and writing is what makes him stand out from the crowd of generic, uncreative “comedy” directors that rule the film scene at the moment in Hollywood. It’s his style that makes him so great and because his style is so different from others, it’s an amazing experience to watch one of his movies, since there’s nothing else like it, except other films of his. And that’s why I love him so much. Now, let’s analyze his style! Well, it won’t be a full on analysis, but I’ll at least scratch the surface, so let’s get started!
Wright’s style is very unique and special. But what really makes him different from the rest is his sense in visual comedy, rather than solely support on verbal jokes. Wright utilizes different techniques to create these visual jokes, his scene transitions are probably the most well-known technique he uses. Edgar Wright has mastered this skill thoroughly throughout the years and he uses it as comedic purpose, or just to have scenes flow together nicely, that you don’t even notice that there was a scene transition. In Scott Pilgrim Vs the World, there is a ton of brilliant scene transitions, all of different types. Sometimes it’s a car that drives by and fills up the screen to make it black for a second, and right behind the car, the next scene follows. The scenes where Scott is on the phone with someone in Scott Pilgrim are also outstanding and creative, which also leads to smart scenes transitions, utilizing camera movements to the left or right. With having certain characters being positioned to the left of the frame, Wright has given himself room to move the camera to the right. This movement to the right could show the purpose of being the start of a transition, where the camera would still move to the right, to follow the momentum of the previous scene. take a look at this clip:
On Edgar Wright’s scene transitions there have been a lot of video essays so I won’t be focusing that much on that aspect. They give a certain rhythm to the film and let the film flow together very nicely. Wright’s also very known for his visual comedy, as said previously. Comedy in the sense of what is in the frame and the positioning of the camera, take for example this shot from Hot Fuzz:
Or take for example this scene from The World’s End, where music and what is shown on screen accompany each other brilliantly. The whole scene is funny, but the part I am talking about takes place at 0:35.
Another thing Edgar Wright has mastered is the use of music. He has proven that in his most recent film Baby Driver (an article will be released on Wednesday where I talk more in depth about the film), but in Shaun of the Dead, he had also done it first. He uses songs for comedic purposes or just because they fit the scene, but it is most of the time both of these things. In Shaun of the Dead, he uses the song Don’t Stop me Now by Queen, as they’re fighting against a zombie in a pub, pretty ironic that that song is playing in the background. So we have humor in the scene, but there’s still more. Wright had also choreographed the scene to the beat of the song, which now gives us the actors hitting the zombie on the beat. The lyrics match the scene (oh oh explode… goes hand in hand with the bursting fire extinguisher, etc. ) Just watch the scene yourself and then decide how brilliant it is.
And have I already told you he’s goddamn creative genius? He’s creative with everything. He can take something cliché, and make something new out of it, and the new thing he has then created is also funny. Take for example the way he introduces the zombie apocalypse in Shaun of The Dead. We all know the cliche montage of different news anchors talking over each other like in every apocalypse/zombie movie that came out the past couple of decennia, introducing us to the problem/epidemic of the film. Wright does this too but with a twist. Instead of having news anchors telling you directly there’s a zombie apocalypse, we have a bored Simon Pegg switching channels, where every channel says a word and the following adds another one and so on and so forth until we have sentences, which tell us about the zombie apocalypse. The channels Simon Pegg’s character lands on aren’t always news channels. They differ from news channels to documentaries to sports channels… It’s a creative and fun twist to a thing that has been done too many times before. And what makes this scene as funny as it is, is of course the creativity of the scene, but also Simon Pegg’s obliviousness to the whole thing.
Here’s the scene I am talking about:
Not only that, but the man also foreshadows his entire movie in the first ten minutes. Now, you might be thinking, why’s that so brilliant? Well, he does this very subtly, so you don’t even notice, except after a re-watch. It begs the viewer to pay attention to a little detail. As for my knowledge, I believe that he’s done this in all the films of his well-praised Cornetto-trilogy, I am not entirely sure if he does this in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. In Shaun of the Dead Nick Frost tells the plan for the next day, which turns out exactly how the film will go, just not in the context Frost’s character meant things to happen.
“We’ll have a bloody Mary first thing, have a bite at the King’s Head, couple at the little princes, we’ll stagger back here and BANG! Back at the bar for shots.”
In Hot Fuzz everything is basically foreshadowing the film. Lines of dialogue, music, even the character names (Reaper, Skinner, Thatcher…), basically everything foreshadows what’s to come.
And in The World’s End the names of the pubs they visit foreshadow what’s going to happen in those pubs, but also in the beginning of the film Simon Pegg’s character tells us the story of what happened before the movie, but this parallels the movie itself. Just take a look at the opening clip of the film:
And to round things up, I’ll end with another thing that I love Edgar Wright for and that is his use of reoccurring gags in the Cornetto-trilogy, most notably the fence jumping gag, just take a look at this compilation:
This is where I’m going to end this article, thanks for reading. This marks the beginning of “Edgar Wright”-week on this blog. This is a week dedicated to Edgar Wright, where I write an Ode to Edgar Wright, review Baby Driver and also rank all of his films, including Baby Driver.