“Chris, what is it?”

How things start and end is very important. Movies, books, games, plays. Relationships. Lives. The start establishes how you feel during the experience, and the end decides how you remember it, like a filter.

window

The start of Solaris (Steven Soderbergh) is my favorite among movie beginnings. After the 20th Century Fox fanfare and a studio logo, there is no fancy intro, no mood establishing music, no clever montage. Only the sound of a gentle rain. A window fades in; the target of the rain drops. There is not much color. The depth of focus is very narrow, leaving no details visible but the rain on the glass surface. What goes on outside or inside the window is hidden.

chris

The second shot is a man sitting down. The apartment is low on details and colors. The sound of rain continues with the same intensity, as the man stares at the floor. The expression on the man’s face is as if he has carried a sadness for such a long time that the sadness has become an ever-present part of him. A woman’s voice is heard. “Chris, what is it?”

bed

A third shot show him from behind, sitting on a bed, revealing that there is no woman in the room. The words of the woman continues. “I love you so much.”

fourth

The fourth shot. We now recognize that his sitting perfectly still, still looking down. His hands are clinched. The bed is untidy, and he hasn’t dressed yet. “Don’t you love me anymore?”.

The low key beginning, the rain against the window and the washed out colors are all metaphors for his emotional state. This state is also more directly communicated through his body language, facial expression, lack of movement, inability to get out of bed and the woman’s words.

These 4 simple shots tell us so much with so little. In 30 seconds the director has established the mood, some of the main character’s personality and some of his story. Within half a minute of the movie, I’m right there with him. It is done in such an effective, economical and unsentimental way. Brilliant.

Through the noise

Here are some post and articles that has caught my attention recently. The theme of the day is Tabula Rasa, an MMORPG that will be taken offline in just over a month from now. It’s always sad to se an MMORPG die, but this one didn’t even get two years to live.

The top sellers of 2008

Swamp of the Dead in Age of Conan
IGN has published a list of the top selling PC games of 2008. The list is based on data from a bunch of US retail stores (no digital distribution). A few comments.

  • First, Age of Conan is 4th on the list. Woohoo! Certainly not bad.
  • It’s obvious how the PC platform is dominated by MMORPG’s these days. 7 titles out of 20 are MMORPG’s (although 5 of those are different versions of World of Warcraft and its expansions, another sign of their incredible success).
  • Some of my favorite games of the year sold very well (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead).
  • It’s still possible for small, unknown developers to make hit games – Sins of a Solar Empire by Ironclad Games is on the 14th place, and that’s ignoring its digital downloads.