Film Language: Bly Manor
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Colour and Sound.
WARNING: There will be spoilers and I would recommend you see the show before reading this blog post.
The haunting of Bly Manor is a TV series following our main character, Dani Clayton, as she travels from America to England and work as an au pair for the Wingrave children. During the series, we are shown multiple instances of hauntings and ghosts.
This scene is at the end of the show when Dani sacrifices herself to make sure that all souls are free to leave the property. We see Jamie, Dani's wife/lover try to save her, however since Dani does not want Jamie to suffer the same fate as her, she refuses.
The movie used narration throughout the whole series since it was established in the first episode that it was a story that was being told by a woman to a wedding party. It is later revealed that it is Jamie, the woman who jumps into the lake in the clip. Once the season ends, you realise you have seen the whole story through a lens created by Jamie. While narration can be cheesy and as Matt Seitz, editor-in-chief of rogerebert.com and critic for New York Magazine, says:
" Malick's voice-over might be the factor that drives some viewers away from his movies, more so than his increasingly nonlinear, improvised-seeming stories. Why? It's the old "show, don't tell" prohibition, I think. You hear that phrase all the time in film criticism, indeed anywhere movies are discussed: "Show, don't tell." Most commercial films obey it, unless they had production problems and need to paper over their storytelling gaps with "My name is so-and-so, and this is the story of how I ended up the president of a small country"-type narration. This is the laziest kind of voice-over. It tends to sit at the start and end of the picture, enclosing it like sandwich bread. " - Seitz
From what Malik says here, I understand that audience may be thrown off by narration due to the fact that they'd rather be shown than told what is happening. Especially if it is a lazy kind of storytelling. However I believe Bly Manor was able to overcome this due too adding more depth into the nature of the narration by making the narrator Jamie. This adds a sense of tragedy to the story due to Jamie being Dani's lover and essentially describing their separation. I love the use of narration in this setting due to instead of the narration being too obvious, it creates a climax at the end of the movie and a sort of realisation when it is revealed that it was Jamie talking.
Towards the more technical side of the sound in this scene, I believe they used a low-pass parametric filter, to create the underwater muffling sound. A good video to watch is Mike Russell's video “How to Make an Underwater Muffled Audio Sound Effect.” This is used to create the underwater effect of Jamie's screaming as she is underwater, making the scene much more immersive for the audience due to the sound design being much more realistic.
Finally, when looking at the use of colour in this scene, I noticed that once Jamie went under the water, the colour scheme seemed to be more greens and blues rather than the yellow and brown when she was above water. The colours green and blue often signify "depression" and "envy", as Jon Fusco said in the article titled "The Psychology of Color in Film". As we see in the video clip, Jamie is screaming for Dani to take her down with her, to join her. This colours obviously correspond to the feelings that Jamie and Dani are feeling right now. Jamie and Dani envying each other and depression for the fact that they know they can no longer be together. The colours then change back to the brown and yellow colour scheme once Jamie gets out of the water to signify the "betrayal" she feels from the rejection from Dani.
In conclusion, the colours and the narration makes the scene seem more like a tragedy than it would have without. Adding the fact that Jamie is recounting their sorrowful end, the colours showing the betrayal and depression Jamie feels.