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Posted on April 11th, 2014, by

The editors of Any Given Sunday are Tom Nordberg, Keith Salmon, Stuart Waks, and Stuart Levy. They have used various cutting techniques to support the razzle-dazzle effect of the camera movement. The narration is not linear. Temporal continuum is often violated. For example, there is a scene in which “Steamin”¯ Willie arrives at the party. He behaves like he has got a swelled head. The shots, in which he is wrangling with his team-mates, are mixed with the shots from his interview in which he also reveals like a self-confident, arrogant star, the idol of generation. The scene at the party is followed by the interview itself. Temporal continuum is violated by flashbacks. These are the memories of Tony from his youth and wartime chronicles and reports. Some of them are black-and-white or in sepia. There are also regular insertions of gladiatorial arena. Besides, there are some weather conditions reflecting the characters’ feelings and contributing to the overall atmosphere. For instance, there is a thunder before Willie’s first triumph; there is heavy rain during the Sharks’ last defeat; and the sun of a huge size is rising before their victory.

Transitions between scenes are sharp in the first part of the movie, but in the second part they become gentler. Fading out as well as blurring is used. For example, there is a close-up of a flag with an image of a shark on it. The flag is waving for a few seconds; then it is blurred and camera pans to the next scene. In another scene, Tony has a serious talk with Rooney. By the end of the scene, their faces shown in close-ups fade out and turn into the female face. Fading-in is dramatic and eloquent after the end of the game, as it forestalls the last scene of the movie, in which an empty gym is demonstrated.

All the editors’ manipulations are skillfully amplified with sound effects. It is significant to underline that the movie is full of music, mainly hip hop, hard rock and R&B. Soundtrack plentifully emphasizes tension and dynamics of the events. There are some diegetic sounds, but most of them are devoured by music. The original score was supplied by Richard Horowitz. As music is often used to reflect the inner state of a character, this method is effectively applied in the scenes in which Tony is alone. He is normally in grief and deep in though; memories attack him, and his emotions are communicated with gentle music extremely contrasted to the rest of the soundtrack. What is more, sound is not always synchronic with action. When Tony delivers his passionate speech before the last battle, his face is shown with his mouth closed, while the words go on sounding. This speech is also supported with lyrical music contributing to a strong dramatic effect.

Acting and Drama

Ensemble casting has contributed much to the success of the movie. Al Pacino is especially strong as an excitable veteran coach of a football team. Cameron Diaz also seems to be the right girl in the right place with her appealing beauty and cold eyes. Some of unprofessional actors have been engaged too without spoiling a thing. Especially it is true for Lawrence Taylor as a tremendous Luther “Shark”¯ Lavay. Thus, the art of casting can be estimated as rather high.

Oliver Stone has developed his own characteristic look. In Any Given Sunday, realism borders on impressionistic tricks, as American football is shown as extremely unsightly, aggressive, and traumatic game. At the same time, there is parallel with the entire American life, in which generational, racial and attitudinal divides are sharply observed. The action is developing rapidly; the audience gets involved from the first scene and step by step witnesses the wide-spread conflicts of the today society. It is not a classic drama with linear development. Collisions take place during the entire movie, and they go out of the movie’s frame because it is only a small projection of life.

Story and Writing

The narrative structure of the movie is rather complicated. The central element is Tony D’amato, as the fullest information is provided about him and he is involved in almost all the collisions. He was a friend of Christina’s father and is not satisfied with her methods of management; but Christina has her own drama. Her father wanted to have a son; the team players do not take her as a boss, but rather as a sexual object. The two team doctors argue because of medical ethics and the welfare of the team, and Tony is the one to take decisions. Workaholic Tony has sacrificed all his life, his family and health for the sake of this team, but Willie is young and tends to know better what to do. “Almost cartoonlike at times rather than grimly serious in the style of some earlier Stone outings, pic has no time for pontificating as it barrels headlong into the next crisis or the next game, the final one of which is a 30-minute playoff humdinger in Dallas that’s backdropped by loads of off-field drama,”¯ McCarthy (56) notes.

The script of the movie was written by Oliver Stone together with John Logan. It was based on Jamie Williams and Richard Weiner’s script called Monday Night. The first was the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ tight end, while the latter is a well-known sports journalist. John Logan, in turn, prepared spec script On Any Given Sunday. Furthermore, the projected was filled by Daniel Pyne’s script Playing Hurt. In this way, final screenplay became the amalgamation of three drafts. There were further revisions by Gary Ross, Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans, Lisa Amsterdam and Robert Huizenga. Oliver Stone also admits that the screenplay was influenced by the book of Robert Huizenga, You’re Okay, It’s Just a Bruise: A Doctor’s Sideline Secrets. Some of the details were taken from one of the parts of this book.

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