Drawn in Manga Studio EX4, Colored in Manga Studio 5

So over the weekend we saw Star Trek: Into Darkness for the second time. It’s a fun move, the acting in it is great, but the second time through I realized just how awesome one of the early scenes is, from a cinematic and story-telling point of view. And just how cleverly it was constructed. It’s not really a spoiler since I believe that the entirety of the scene was used as a trailer, but I’ll put this under a cut just in case. If you want to read my thoughts about Into Darkness, hit up the Read More.

So after some thrilling heroics from the Enterprise crew, we’re treated to two scenes that are important to setting up the major plot of the movie and introducing Benedict Cumberbatch’s sexiness character. And, aside from a few lines of dialog from John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), they do this brilliantly and with nothing but the visuals.

First, we see a shot of London, stardate some-string-of-numbers. Then, inside a bedroom as a great big dog comes up to a bed and climbs up on it. A man and a woman are both in the bed, and the man gets up and leaves the shot. She watches him, petting the dog. Then they are in a car and pulling up outside of the Royal Children’s hospital. We see them talking to a doctor, and then they are in a child’s room. She replaces one stuffed animal in the arms of a little girl with the new stuffed rabbit that she’s been holding. The man looks on, trying to hold it together before we see him walk outside and Harrison comes in- which is the first bit of dialog in this particular scene.

What I love about this is that they tell you literally everything that you need to know about these characters without bogging anything down with talking. There’s a scripting rule that goes “Show, don’t tell” and this scene- and one other with the same hospital setting- does just that.

First of all, the couple in their bedroom. We see them sharing a bed so we can infer that they’re together in some way, romantically. There’s a dog, and the woman gives a long look to watch the man after he’s left the frame. Dogs usually imply family (how many family movies start with the kid wanting/getting a dog? Usually a large dog, not some tiny yappy one). And the look that she gives as she watches him leave the frame, and the length of the gaze as she pets the dog, signify that this isn’t some one night stand. There’s feeling here. So we can infer that it’s some sort of long-term domestic situation.

Then we see the outside of the hospital as they pull up. Okay, it’s a Children’s hospital, we can see that plainly on the sign out front. So this couple must be there to visit a child. They’re talking to a doctor and since regular guests would not be having an intense discussion with the doctor, we can now assume that they’re here to visit their child.

It’s just a gorgeous sequence of shots that tell you literally everything that you need to know about these minor characters and the desperation that they’re feeling. The loss over their child who is sick and dying in a hospital bed. I love this scene, and the other one at the Children’s Hospital not long after this one. I really am glad that I got a chance to study it, because I hope to be able to use these lessons in my own storytelling later!

Have you seen Into Darkness? What did you think of it?