Scene Punctuation in THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
Scene punctuation is an effective tool that you can use to enhance a scene. Instead of shooting a small beat or moment with sparse coverage, you can choose to temporally stretch it out with embellishment of music, sound design, sequencing, or other methods. Peter Jackson uses it effectively in THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING multiple times.
The first example is Bilbo’s decision to leave the ring behind. Here’s the scene in the script –– just a brief paragraph:
And here’s the scene from the movie (starting at 2:52):
Here’s another example from later in the film, again just a few short sentences in the script:
Here’s the scene from the movie (starting at 2:10):
Notice how Jackson illustrates a few sentences in the script with unique camera angles, sound design, and music. This could have just been a throwaway shot, but Jackson saw each of these moments as an opportunity to punctuate the atmosphere and conflict with cinematic craft.
Ignoring punctuation completely and shooting with simple coverage is a huge missed opportunity. Choosing which moments in the script to embellish is one of the most important duties of a director. It may be more manipulative than other techniques, but when executed correctly, it’s very powerful.