In the exposition to Shine, we have a strong sense of the dominance of David Helfgott's father in David's early life. Our sympathies almost certainly lie with David. How does the director, Scott Hicks, achieve this? From the up-close-and-personal scenes with the adult David at the beginning of the film, our attention is focused on him. When Hicks takes us back to David's childhood, we are aware that David is the focus but Peter Helfgott's presence is stifling. He dominates every scene. Hicks conveys this dominance through the use of audio, symbolic, technical and written codes.
Audio codes include dialogue, sound effects and music. Through these codes Hicks establishes the relationship between father and son. The dialogue demonstrates Peter Helfgott's obsession with winning: "Always win", "We're going to win". Hicks also emphasises the importance of this aspect of the father's character through the sisters' dialogue:
"Did he win or lose, Margaret?"
"He lost. Now we'll cop it."
This dialogue also provides us with a clear picture of the overbearing father and his submissive son. Peter Helfgott answers for his son, tells him what to think and makes choices for him. We learn this from the dialogue.
The film opens with the sounds of a storm. We are already being positioned to expect trouble and conflict. Hicks follows this up with a rather gloomy picture of David's home where sounds are muffled and loud noises frowned upon. We hear the irritation in David's father's voice. We get the impression that it would not take much to make Peter Helfgott snap, that there is so much anger and hurt bubbling just beneath the surface. He seems all too likely to lash out and hurt those around him. We sense a storm is brewing.
We know that music is important. In the exposition we are first introduced to the recurring story of the violin which was broken. We hear music in the background, we hear David perform an obviously difficult piece of Chopin and we hear his...
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