Connecting to others past experiences through distinctively visual elements allows the responder to mentally visualise images evoking an emotional and historical connection with the story, as they’re brought to life. “The Shoe Horn Sonata”, a play by John Misto establishes these experiences through the eye witnesses of the Australian nurses. In addition to Angelina Jolie’s film “Unbroken”, both exemplify dramatic visual elements to convey their survival experiences onto the audience. As the play opens, halfway through scene five Bridie tells an unfortunate event of the killing of the Australian nurses by the Japanese in the water.
This is evident in “sounds of machine gun fire… ” The clever use of descriptive language and the loud upbeat nondiegetic sound shocks the audience, as the reality of the story becomes more sinister and unsettling. It’s almost as if they’re experiencing it first hand, as they’re exposed to the brutality that the Japanese sought. The torture is further enforced by the photographic image of the “Faced of… soldier… a warrior, fierce… ” This causes the responder to visualise and feel vulnerable as they’re being subjected to a soldier so powerful, that their uncertain future rests in the hands of the Japanese.
It is than a “few seconds’ silence” in the photograph leaves the audience feeling angry and scared as they’re isolated from everyone except the warrior. Misto brings these experiences of torture and fear of the Australian nurses through descriptive language, non-diegetic sound and photographic image. Whereas, Jolie places the audience in a realistic world that an individual “can’t outrun the war, but they can outrun the fear”, that shape their personal experiences. This is shown as Wanatabe physically abuse Louie.
The use of high camera angle shot is reflected upon Mutsushiro representing the dominance and power. The violent nature exerted by Wanatabe leaves the audience feeling afraid and disturbed, as the story thickens. Yet, at the same time there’s a fear of excitement as the lighting descends upon Louie, the viewers are able to visualise the determination in Louie’s eyes as the memories of him running to the finish line are predominantly flashing at the audience. He is no longer what Wanatabe remarks as “nothing”, he is a war hero, a legend.
Furthermore, Misto conveys the terrifying events in play through the characters’ personal experiences. As the lighting descends upon the motel room, the utilization of a motel room setting established by the composer is a symbolism of personal identity and privacy, away from being the “spotlight” in the interview room. The audience can see the reality of the personal tension that Bridie and Sheila share. Combined with lighting, Misto effectively creates attention and a dramatic impact of the on and off set relationship between Bridie and Sheila.
The following expression “Ya-ta” through the use of tone by both Bridie and Sheila, is ironic as the foreign word is juxtaposed with the harsh camp life that these prisoners of war faced. It’s this that enables the audience to relate the strong resilient and courageous tone in their voices, with the visualization of the horrendous treatment that they received in camp, bringing about a negative feeling. The underlying fear, uncertainties and trauma of their experiences during their life at camp intensifies the action as the composer has dramatically impacted the audience with a “blackout”.
It was Misto’s purpose to bring about the heroism of women in the war from the personal experiences of Bridie and Sheila. In comparison Jolie utilizes effective techniques to convey the physical hardship of the Olympic athlete. As Louie skin is drowned in brown coal from excessive working he holds the wood over his head. The use of mis-en-scene evokes a lesson that he learned from the resilience of a human spirit based on his past experiences onto the audience. To be able to understand and visualise the sacrifices he made; the willpower to fight is all he needed to survive is centered on the wood.
The “wood” is part of him as it uxtaposes with his skin colour, captivating the harsh conditions that Louie has, suppressing his emotions, reassuring him there’s hope. Moreover, Misto reveals the notion of truth about the past and present, how it affected both characters effectively, leading them to be who they are now. “The waltz continues on the soundtrack-joyous, triumphant-the music of life. ” The use of imagery in the quote empowers the audience to mentally visualise the journey that Bridie and Sheila had together, the hardships that they endured and the truth were finally expressed through the symbolic representation of the “waltz”.
The effect of the soundtrack “The Blue Danube” in the waltz portrays the audience to understand and visualise the physical connection between Bridie and Sheila. At the beginning of the musical composition it’s slow paced and soft, it’s a visual representation of the reconciliation of the damaged relationship. As the soundtrack gradually becomes more upbeat and cheerful, they’re able to let go of the past and move on, leaving the audience to forget about the horrendous events. It’s than followed by the final moments in the scene that is the prop of the shoe-horn.
It’s a unifying symbol to justify their deep connection establishing an emotional experience that the audience can relate to . Thus, Misto brings these social and harsh experiences through the waltz, soundtrack and props to help the audience connect with the story. In contrast, Jolie highlights the deep emotional negative connection that Louie has with Wanatabe. As Wanatabe commands Louie by saying “Don’t look at me”, the use of emotive language allows the audience to visualise how merciless and severe he was, transporting them back to the first time they met each other, Wanatabe wanted to be friends with Louie.
The commanding atonement in his voice, contradicts the nature of “If you can take it, you can make it”, words that Louie grew up with. It’s this fear that Mutsushiro has is a paradox of what Louie was like in his childhood. As it emphasizes the composer idea of how both characters, grew up in similar situations and these experiences had shaped their social attitudes and personalities that they had towards people. This reveals to the wider community that they both share this connection with each other, where two men are struggling against evil, whether it is in the form from within or outside himself.
Hence, Misto reinforces the concept of the traumatic revelations and emotional power in the play through the story of Bridie and Sheila’s experiences by utilising distinctively visual elements. In addition, Jolie exhibits the notion of resilience and redemption of a character during the World War 2, through film techniques. Both composers create a historical and emotional world to fit the vision of the experiences that these characters had, for the responder’s to understand and connect with the story.