Extra Credit: “Beasts of No Nation” Reflection

Over the weekend, I watched “Beasts of No Nation,” directed by Cary Fukunaga. One of the things that I have come to be inspired by, from some of the information I’ve learned about Fukunaga in class and otherwise, is that he makes films about stories that most people don’t think or worry about, but deserve very much to be told. “Beasts of No Nation” was definitely one of those films.

One of the devices that Fukunaga uses well is close-ups. His close-ups (mostly of Agu) always portray a high-level of emotion that most likely could not be conveyed more effectively through words. It has more impact than words could have.

Deep focus is used throughout the film, except for about 2 or 3 shots. Match cuts are also utilized well. This makes the surroundings very clear, it gives off the feeling that the audience is right there in the forest with them. Eyeline matching attributed to this, as well.

Another strong technique that Fukunaga used was voiceover. It added a dimension to Agu that would not have been there otherwise. It shows his motivation at certain points, shows his shift in attitude and mindset, and also give insight into his fears.

A few weeks ago, Time Magazine did a piece on “Beasts of No Nation” and Fukunaga. I remembered coming across it before and read it after reading the film. The article shared the difficulties Fukunaga dealt with while making the film. Reading about his battle with malaria right before filming was supposed to begin, his lack of sleep, his loss of 20 pounds, etc. demonstrated the difficulties that filmmakers go through to tell the stories that are important to them.

Not only did he write the screen play and direct the film, but Fukunaga was also the cinematographer and also took over the job of one of his camera operators for five weeks, after the camera operator pulled a hamstring on the first day of shoot.

His film shoot did not start out well at all, so for him to work through those difficulties and to still produce the great film that he did is inspiring.

The movie when $1 million over budget, and even after having shot it, Fukunaga still faced obstacles with certain movie theatre chains such as Regal and AMC because Netflix was simultaneously releasing the film. I highlight all of these facts from the Time Magazine piece because it demonstrated to me all the ways in which this filmmaker and his team struggled to make and distribute this film, and the reality that that can all be overcome.

Lastly, Fukunaga says that he introduce the audience to Agu’s family and laces humor throughout the first 20 minutes of the film to establish an emotional connection between these characters and the audience. In the article, he said, “‘I’ll read a terrible headline, and then move on with my life… But you can’t erase the memory you have after experiencing this movie. It will always stay inside you.’” Knowing that was Fukunaga’s motivation for making those decisions, I can say that it is a film that will do exactly what he set out to do. It is a story that will stay with you and memory that will remain long after you leave the theater or turn off Netflix.

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