In the movie Looking for Alibrandi, director Kate Woods uses many techniques to help you understand the main character, Josie. Some of these techniques are internal dialogue and voice-over narration, day-dream sequences and colour enhancement. All these techniques help viewers to have a better understanding of Josie’s character. The first technique that Woods uses that is very effective appears in an important part of the movie. Internal dialogue is used so that we can hear how Josie is feeling about the things she is going through.
An example of this is in the opening scene when it is the Italian community’s “Tomato Day” and Italians get together to peel and stew tomatoes for tomato sauce. From voice-over narration we can hear Josie’s internal dialogue and understand that Josie doesn’t identify with this old-fashioned get together at all. We hear exactly what Josie thinks of it: “You might think this is all quirky and cute, but I find it really embarrassing. You would think we were still in Sicilly, but they left there 50 years ago… I’ve got to get out of here!
So therefore voice-over narration is a clever technique for helping viewers understand that Josie does not identify with her Italian-Australian heritage or the traditions they follow, and this is particularly useful in the opening scene because it explains what may lie at the heart of Josie’s challenges and conflicts to follow. The second technique used by the director to help us understand more about Josie is the day-dream sequence. Whenever Woods want the viewer to understand that Josie is having a day-dream the film is in slow motion and in sepia tones.
An example of this is when Josie has a crush on John Barton, who is from a private boy’s school. She imagines herself standing beside John who is now the Premier of Australia and that she is Mrs Alibrandi-Barton. Cameras are snapping, tickertape is flying and reporters are wanting to speak to her. Another example of a day-dream sequence is when Josie is watching Carly, a very rich and spoiled daughter of a racist talk-back host, getting out of the car on the first day of school.
We can tell its day-dream because suddenly Carly is walking very slowly and waving like a movie star. This scene shows us that Josie is very jealous of Carly because she is beautiful, rich and her family is friends with John’s. So therefore, Woods has helped viewers to understand that Josie has a strong imagination and how Josie feels about John Barton and Carly. Finally, Woods uses colour enhancement to help us understand more about Josie.
This is when the director uses strong Sepia tonesto show us that Josie thinks what is happening is old-fashioned. At the very beginning of the opening scene viewers are presented with a panning shot of Josie’s Italian family busily making tomato sauce. We are given the impression that this is set some time in the past. When Josie starts talking the colour changes to full colour. From this technique we learn that Josie doesn’t regard ‘Tomato Day’ as part of her world, or the world of modern Australia.
So therefore Woods’ use of strong sepia tonings right at the beginning of the opening scene helped us understand that Josie was straining against expressions of her Italian-Australian heritage. In the closing scene it is “Tomato Day” again but the whole thing is filmed in full-colour with Josie taking part in the stirring and dancing with Nona. Instead of escaping to the beach, she invites her friends in. This helps us understand that by the end of the movie, Josie is comfortable with her Italian-Australia heritage and has therefore overcome some major personal conflicts about her identity.
In conclusion, in the movie Looking for Alibrandi, director Kate Woods was able to help viewers understand main character Josie’s opinions and conflicts through the verbal techniques of internal dialogue and voice-over narration, and visual techniques of day-dream sequences and strong sepia tones. The dialogue allowed us to understand what Josie was thinking and it lets you get into the frame of mind of the leading character of the movie. Day-dream sequences were important because they disclosed Josie’s fears and hopes for the future while strong sepia colour helped us to know that Josie thought that her family was old-fashioned.