April 11, 2013
Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank scoops up the audience and places them into Mia’s world, which is filled to the brim with dysfunctional relationships with family, social groups, her mother’s boyfriend, and neighbors. It also sends a message to the audience that portrays the ways in which these broken relationships develop and continue to occur again and again, the cycle continuing with each passing generation. Fish Tank also portrays Mia’s personal struggles that encompass her desire to feel respected and valued, her passion for hip-hop dance, but the lack of appreciation she gets, as well as the social class she grew up in that led to Mia’s destructive behavior and the lack of opportunity that she has. Andrea Arnold portrays these ideas through her use of camera placement, lens choice, screenplay, mise en scène, and diegetic sound. The scene that I chose to analyze is the progression in which Connor takes Mia and her family to a river in the countryside and shows Mia how to catch a fish by a technique called noodling, up to the point where Connor carries Mia on his back as they leave (0:32-0:37).
In this segment of the film, the camera mimics Mia’s movements. For example when Mia is walking towards the river, the camera work is shaky, and handheld. This somewhat basic method of filming helps audiences feel like they are walking with Mia on the slippery uneven ground. Subsequently, once Mia reaches the river and her sister Tyler points out the dragonfly, we are given a shallow focus shot. This is not clearly Mia’s point of view and because of that, the audience is inclined to see it as theirs. Therefore they think of themselves as being right alongside Mia, looking through the reeds, treading through the mud and into the river. Andrea Arnold uses these techniques not to get you into Mia’s head, but instead to place you right beside her and get you into Mia’s world so that you can experience for...