american Plan, the movie

Definition of american plan

Before going in detail on the plan itself, let’s talk a little bit of history… Why does one speak to plan “american” ? Simply because these are the americans who are at the origin of this plan, and that has really democratized in the westerns. The filmmakers wanted the gun visible in the waistband of their cowboys and were, therefore, below the belt, at the level of the thighs. It is now widely used in most films regardless of the genre.

The american plan, therefore, it is the characters up to the height of thighs. The main consequence of this is that the game character is clearly put forward. The developer has no obligation to fill the space with the scenery or an object. Two characters can easily be framed side by side in a american plan. This is very useful in dialogue if the director does not wish to constantly change the position of his camera, or simply to intensify the action, making the gestures of the characters more visible.

Examples of american plans

What could be better than the one of the best Western to illustrate the case of the american plan ? In this plan, from the film the good, the bad and the ugly, we find all the codes of the american plan. Clint Eastwood’s character is aligned to the height of thighs to let appear all of the constituent elements of his “range” as a cowboy.

Here, we are not in a western but the duel between the two characters is obvious, and the american plan reinforces this feeling. Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer face each other and are ready to come to blows to settle their differences. The framing at the level of the thighs allows you to show enough of both characters to understand that they are both ready to fight. If the plan had been larger, we would not have seen the expressions of the characters and therefore not as well felt their opposition. On the contrary, if the plan had been closer, we might not necessarily have had enough information about their posture and would not have necessarily understood that there was a “duel” between the two. The choice of the american plan here was the best.

With Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino wanted to pay homage to the Western. It is therefore not surprising to find many american plans in his film. Here, the framing allows to see the weapon that holds the character in its entirety. The feeling of danger is there and is more enhanced by the angle of view, against dive.

To go further

If you want to deepen your knowledge on this subject and develop your expertise, you can purchase the books “plans for the cinema : the big effects movie that every filmmaker needs to know” and “Carry out his films shot by shot“.

Keywords: plan, american plan american cinema

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