The Stylized Worlds of Breaking Bad

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This episode of Breaking Bad was the first time I have ever seen the show.  After my viewing it it is very apparent that the great lengths are taken to visually distinguish the world of Walt’s legitimate life and the secondary world that he occupies with Jesse.  I don’t know if the differences are always as pronounced as the crack den-esque house allowed them to be.

Walt’s legitimate world is much brighter, there is more use of open space and daylight.  These scenes took place in middle to upper class areas, be it a neighborhood school or restaurant.  The camera movements in the legitimate world were much smoother compared to the world of crime.  There were for fewer hand held shots.  Most of the time the camera slowly rotated in an arc around the focal characters of the scene.  I noticed that the camera was uncomfortably close to Walt and his son in the car scene.

The gritty world of Jesse’s story had a completely different quality.  In juxtaposition to the bright natural daylight of the legitimate world, Jesse’s story was bathed in a greenish yellow glow.  The effect was so prominant that it reminded me of the visual difference between the real world and the digital world in The Matrix.  The smooth movements of the camera have become raw jerky hand held movements in this part of the show.  I found the two altered state effects that Jesse experiences to way to cheesy, first being the jump cuts as he is using in the car, and the second being the focus shifting blurryness when he was knocked out.

I look forward to watching the rest of Breaking bad and seeing if these two highly stylized worlds mix if they do at all when Jesse and Walt have scenes together.  I wonder if as the show progresses the styles will reverse as Walt embraces his “dark side” and as Jesse tries to become a good person.

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