Wilbur is first seen through a long shot of the piglets suckling. His importance is hinted at through a medium shot showing that he is unable to find a spot to suckle. The shots get progressively closer, helping the viewers to pick Wilbur from the crowd of other piglets. There is a great close up of Wilbur when Fern is first given the piglet. Fern is also introduced through a long shot, and again her importance is emphasized when the camera focuses on her and zooms into a medium shot, then close medium shot.
A number of medium shots throughout the film keep viewers informed on what is happening. In a medium shot, Fern and Mr. Arable argue about Wilbur's fate. The use of the medium shot helps to focus the viewer's attention.
When thinking about the "where" of the movie version, I immediately thought on the opening sequence in which the film makers use wide shots to establish the location of the film. This establishing shot is intended to keep the audience from growing weary or becoming disengaged with the film. The location is further established as the camera pans closer and closer to the Arable farm. Inserts such as the birds nest are used to provide another level of depth to the location of this film and adding a connection to the natural world.
The attire of the characters is rather indistinct, but the era of this film can be determined by looking at several different features. The first most obvious feature is early in the film when Fern first enters the kitchen and finds her mother cooking breakfast. Mrs. Arable is using what appears to be a cast iron wood stove. This suggests that the story takes place prior to the modern era or electric and gas stoves.
I had a difficult time finding shots that exemplified the "why" of the film. I did find some extreme closeups, but they were mostly included in songs. One particular instance, in the song "I Can Talk", there is an extreme closeup. While it doesn't provide an overall "why" of the story, it does provide an intimate look into Wilbur's emotions upon learning to speak.
One example of the "How" in this film is when Charlotte is working on her webs. The film uses extreme closeups of the web to show Charlotte complete a very specific task as well as medium and long shots to establish when she has done or will do.
I love the opening of this version of the movie! The filmmakers begin with a watercolor-looking wide shot of the small town surrounded by farmland.This choice makes me think of the illustrations by Garth Williams. I think it was a wise choice and made a great connection to the book.
A medium closeup is used effectively in the scene where Fern is arguing with her father about saving Wilbur. You are able to see her passion by being so close, but are still able to see her in the context of her surroundings.
One fun cutaway was in the kitchen when Mrs. Arable is frying the bacon. I thought this was funny and reminds viewers of a pig's ultimate fate on a farm. It also acts as foreshadowing. Even though Fern just saved Wilbur from her father's ax, he is still in trouble later on.
Before this week's lesson, I had never heard of L and J edits. I teach broadcasting to the 8th graders in my school, so this would be a neat trick to teach them. I watched specifically for examples of these types of edits and found that they are kind of sneaky! I did find one example of a J edit (I think) when the film transitions from the outside of the Arable house to Fern's bedroom. Fern begins singing to Wilbur before you see her.
The use of a narrator was effective in this movie. I thought that it did a good job of establishing the story and providing a focus - the idea of ordinary creatures doing extraordinary things. This is different from the theme of the book, so establishing this so clearly helps to clarify this for fans of the book who may be confused by this.
There musical score and use of sound effects fit beautifully in the natural world of the film. So much of the film is outdoors so having organic sounding music really helps to ground the film. There are also a lot of animal sounds that have been added to add depth to the farm and make it more realistic.
Edith, excellent job comparing each of the film versions with White’s original novel. I appreciate that you don’t just talk about the differences, but that you focus on what difference those differences make. Nice work.