Friday, January 6, 2012

Motion Studies: Relative Disappearance

(Home Alone/1990)

            Kevin (Macauley Caulkin) wanders through his deserted house after awaking on a snowy day shortly before Christmas. This scene in Home Alone starts off looking like a reference to classic cinematic suspense style, or a parody of said style. The way the shots play suggest both.
            Kevin’s brother’s tarantula scurries to the edge of his glass cage as Kevin hobbles through the bedroom, calling out his brother’s name. Kevin walks through the absurdly grandiose suburban parlor, calling the names of his mother, father and uncle. Kevin goes in to the basement, where his eyes scan the mannequins and dolls, and he stops cold at the sight of the menacing stove. His face, mouth open in a half-pose of his scream face (is there a childrens film that makes greater use of profiles?). The stove comes to life, its mouth opens, the coals flare up. Kevin gasps and races upstairs. He is outside, displayed in a tracking shot that follows him along the front of the house, through the snow. He sits at the dining room table and sighs; “I made my family disappear.” The taunting faces of his brother, his cousin, his uncle and his mother shimmer in to thought-bubbles above his head. 
          But suspense means nothing to nobody or no thing by now; not to the delicately creeping spider, the goofy stove, the mannequins. (In Kevin's world, it is vaguely suggested that things do have their own existence, in his head or outside of it). Based on what our eyes took from this space, who cares about suspense at this point? What of parody? The point of it all is that Kevin was told exactly what he (most kids) wanted to know from his roam around depopulated suburban glitz. Another profile: he smiles and looks directly at the camera and repeats what his surroundings told him; he made his family disappear.