At the beginning of his short study on Nicholas Winding Refn’s use of framing for his 2011 hit “Drive,” editor/narrator Tony Zhou says “one of the best compliments you can give a movie is that it feels alive. There’s something in there that has a pulse.”
Zhou’s quadrant analysis zeros in on a couple of seemingly unimportant sequences from “Drive.” By splitting the frame into four equal sections, Zhou effectively describes the importance of economic storytelling within a single frame. In the sequence where Ryan Gosling’s driver walks out of the elevator with Carey Mulligan’s Irene, each half of the frame manages to visually communicate two distinct pieces of information concerning each character without the use of unnecessary separate exposition, ending up with a shot that creatively condenses the basic necessities of storytelling.
Some of Zhou’s observations reach a “Room 237” level of superfluous scrutiny, like the section where he points out the distinct performances of the actor’s hands, which while necessarily untrue seems broadly applied (though as Refn would show in his later team-up with Gosling in “Only God Forgives,” hands play a very important role). Regardless, the brief video on the popular amongst cinephiles YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting should at least allow viewers to further appreciate the intricacies of visual storytelling. You can check out the video below: