The film codes and conventions are greatly used in the movie Holes, directed by Andrew Davis, to construct characters and develop the atmosphere. The film is about a young boy, Stanley Yelnats, who is falsely accused of stealing a pair of shoes. As a punishment, he is sent to camp Greenlake, where he meats and discovers an ancient secret that leads him to great treasure. Throughout the movie technical, symbolic, audio and written codes are used to demonstrate the characters’ personalities as well as create a profound atmosphere in every scene.
These filmic conventions help the audience to obtain a clearer understanding of the main characters and the movie itself.
The innocent and friendly nature of Stanley is effectively demonstrated through the film codes and conventions. He is a protagonist in the movie and undergoes the most change to his personality and behavior throughout the film. In the very first scene, Stanley’s voice over is used saying “All my life, I seem to appear at the wrong time in the wrong place”.
This audio code has a great effect on the viewer’s opinion of Stanley, indicating that he is clumsy or unlucky. A little further into the movie, techniques such as costume and setting are well used. Stanley’s over-sized old clothes and the messy, un-tidy house of the Yelnats’ family gives an impression of a less fortunate family. These filmic codes are vital in the construction of Stanley’s personality.
The film codes and conventions successfully show Zero’s as a closed, shy and disrespected little boy. He too is one of the main characters in the movie and over time becomes great friends with Stanley. When Stanley is introduced to the other boys in camp, Mr. Fernandsci explains, “You know why everyone calls him Zero? Because he has nothing going on in his stupid, little head!”. The effect of this dialogue is immense. Zero is introduced as a dumb and helpless boy, yet we understand that he is plainly judged and bullied. When the councilor proclaims this, Zero turns his back on the boys and his facial expression shows anger and disappointment. These symbolic codes have a huge effect on the viewer’s opinion of zero, suggesting that he is an annoyed and perhaps unapproachable little boy. He just wants everyone to leave him alone. The audience understands zero’s calm yet unsociable personality through the excellent use of various film code techniques.
The filmic conventions are used to create a dream-like atmosphere in the scene where kissing Kate Barlow commits suicide. After stealing and burying the treasure of Stanley’s great grandfather, she has been stranded in the desert for several days. When viewers first see her lying on the sand, the focus of the camera is blurred. This technical code has a great effect on the viewers understanding of the scene, showing that it is a flash back or memory. Further into the episode, a blurred image of Sam appears and Kate murmurs, “Its so hot Sam but I feel so cold”. These techniques give an impression that Kate’s vision is blurring and she is hallucinating because of exhaustion. This dialogue and several other shots work together to create the imaginary, almost unrealistic atmosphere.
A happy and relieving atmosphere is created with the use of film codes in the scene where Stanley and Zero climb god’s thumb and reach water. After a close escape from Camp Greenlake, the two boys have been wondering along the desert for days. They have finally reached a rocky mountain in the shape of a thumb, onto which Stanley’s great grandfather had once climbed, and found water. Joyful and lively music plays when the boys finally come to the top of the mountain. The use of this technique demonstrates how Zero and Stanley have finally reached their goals and the atmosphere is clearly shown. Throughout this scene, cool colors such as blue, purple, grey and violet are used. This symbolizes the peacefulness of the situation and the viewer gives a sigh of relief, as the main characters are unharmed. These filmic codes are very important in the construction of a serene atmosphere in the particular scene.
The atmosphere and the characters’ personalities in the movie are created by the excellent use of film codes and conventions. Voice overs, body language and costumes are used to construct the character of Stanley and Zero. Colors, music, different camera shots and dialogue are used during different scenes to portray the correct atmosphere. These various codes give us a better understanding of the film and the important messages.