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(Transcript): BtVS5.16 'The Body' Audio Commentary by Joss W.

31st August 2008 (18:25)

Today's challenge is to read this without getting all teary-eyed. :-)

Usual deal: I've trranscribed this as accurately as possible, but omitting ums and ahs and repetitions and so forth. Context is in square brackets.


The Body - Audio Commentary

Hi, I'm Joss Whedon, the writer and director of the episode; creator of the show; I guess people will know that by now.

[Buffy arrives home to find flowers waiting for her mother]

You probably also know that this entire scene, I shot - we used as the last scene in episode 15 as a kind of cliffhanger after a very sweet and kind of silly episode. And also used it for the teaser of this episode. Never did that before, but we felt it was a scene that was worth repeating twice.

["Mom? Mommy?"]

It's a little hard to talk during it. Especially seeing Kristine lying there for the first time. And hearing Sarah saying "Mommy?" That line very clearly written 'Mom' to 'Mommy' as she descends into, you know, small-girlhood at the thought of losing her mom.

[Opening Credits]

This episode was one that I did because I wanted to show – not the meaning, or catharsis, or the beauty of life, or any of the things that are often associated with loss, or even the extreme grief, some of which we do get in the episode. But what I really wanted to capture was the extreme physicality, the extreme – the almost boredom of the very first few hours. I wanted to be very specific about what it felt like the moment you discover something, ah, you've lost someone.

And so what appears to many people as a formal exercise – no music, scenes that take up almost the entire act if not the entire act without end – is all done for a very specific purpose. Which is to put you in the moment. That moment of dumbfounded shock. That airlessness of losing somebody.

Act One

[Flashback to Christmas dinner]

Now this scene, I put in specifically – artistically, rather – because I wanted to see what they had in happier times, and to see Joyce. Now I made a mistake, I put Joyce in the kitchen at the top of the scene. I should have had her coming back all during this and taking dishes away, so she was a constant presence in all their lives. I didn't think of that until after the show had aired. But it was an indication of how things were great, and some of the fun of what the show's like.

Also, for a more practical reason, I knew I had to have these opening credits – executive producers and what-not – and I couldn't bear the thought of having them over the shot that's about to come. The long take of Buffy first dealing with the body. So I added this scene to be the exact length of those credits, so that I could get them out of the way. So it had a practical application that led to an artistic decision that I think was really useful. It's lovely to see Kristine and Sarah together, having the fun.

[Buffy warns Giles and Joyce to stay off the band candy]

A little, even, flirt moment with Giles. Like it's 'life goes on'. It's very mundane but at the same time it's very, very sweet. Well, without being overly sweet. And... it's this.

[Sudden cut from Joyce and Buffy in the kitchen to Joyce dead]

Now this shot… this is one long take, and it bears watching exactly how long it is. Especially because Allen Easton, the cameraman, had the camera on his shoulder the whole time, and was running around with Paul Throw (??) pulling focus on a shot that just seemed never to end. And it wasn't a Steadicam, he had no harness, because I wanted the urgency of handheld. You know, that 'you're in the moment' of it. So he kept re-creating frames, re-creating frames. This is a very difficult thing to do – kneeling down, getting up; it was an extraordinary piece of camerawork.

[Buffy calls the emergency services]

And of course an extraordinary piece of acting from Sarah, where I made her do this about seven times. To go from the extremity of first finding her, the helplessness of not knowing what to do. All of the things that Sarah had to go through in this, she had to go through many, many times. And every take was extraordinary.

[Buffy attempts CPR]

This coming up, the rib-cracking experience. Again, this is part of what you'll see a lot of in this episode, which is almost obscene physicality. A little more physicality than we necessarily want or are used to, that expresses itself periodically throughout. Because death is a physical thing. There is a body. And apart from the sense of loss that you inevitably feel, there is the fact of a body. And dealing with that is, is an experience that really does kind of stop time.

[Buffy looks out of the window]

We have several instances in this scene, in this act, where Sarah– or Buffy, looks out the window. She goes to the back door, she goes to the front door, she looks out the window. She hears noises. But we never show a POV, we never shot the street outside or the back yard or anything. Because again it's almost unreal.

[Extreme close-up of the telephone keypad]

This is the shot for people who don’t know what a phone is, to explain it. No, again, it's– to me, that's the moment she realises her mother's dead. It's just fixating on something almost meaningless, and I thought that the phone was the thing. And that is the first cut in the entire scene, was when we cut to the phone. We had to use a special lens, and it was very difficult to get the phone feeling that real.

[Buffy walks to the front door]

Again, here she comes to look out. But all we hear is noise, because we're completely in her space.

[Buffy walks back inside and sees Joyce lying there again]

Rather arch camera-work there, as a way of saying, "Oh my God, I – for a moment I had almost forgotten she was there."

[She smoothes down Joyce's skirt to hide her slip]

And then again, unlovely physicality. The idea that her mother's underwear might be showing is gross and upsetting.

[The paramedics arrive]

Now these guys – good actors both – were there to be almost noise in the frame. Very seldom that I actually  feature their faces. A lot of quick cutting. Everything is about Buffy and her reaction to her mom. And she can't really relate to these people as people. Filmicly, the idea obviously was that they are a blur to her.

This was done in slow motion, by the way. Which you can't even tell. I just ramped the camera up to 40 frames per second instead of 24, but it didn't really read like slow motion. That was kind of an attempt that just failed. Since then I've learned that if you want to go slow motion you have to go a little bit slower.

[Buffy thinks she sees her mother come back to life]

And, well, everybody loves a happy ending. And once again, because I don’t know anybody who has suffered the panic of a great loss without having imagined it going a different way, a thousand times or more. So what feels like kind of a cruel joke on the audience is in fact just a very real moment. Within the experience of losing somebody is the "No! They're fine! It's gonna be fine! Look, it was fine!" And then you actually have to come out of the fantasy, and the silence is ten times worse because of it.

This is fun, isn't it? Aren't we having fun!

[The paramedic tells Buffy what's happened]

Again coming out of focus, because she's not really – she can't really deal with him. We're actually coming up on one of my favourite shots that I ever composed, and it's very simple. Which is this.

[Looking at Buffy around the paramedic's back, then past her at him with the top half of his head out of frame]

Very simply, it's an over where I squeezed her in the frame as much as possible. It's just like she didn't have room to manoeuvre. And then the shot of him talking which is just his mouth again. Just to say, not to call attention to itself so much, just to say this is her reality. She can't get the big picture, she's not having a normal conversation. A normal over would have been her with a tiny slice of his shoulder; instead, I let his shoulder own the frame. I took his eyes out of the frame. To show her experience of, literally, being trapped, being blocked off from reality.

It's an obvious thing, not great film-making. But when I did it on the day, when I saw the over and thought "Oh, he's a little too much in frame. Oh! Keep pushing it, keep pushing it, give her less room. Give her less room", it excited me. It made me realise that something, yeah not particularly clever but useful, could just appear on the day.

[Buffy wishes the paramedics good luck]

Her saying "Good luck" – again, it's like your priorities just become so strange. It's like she wants to be polite to those gentlemen. It's not important and yet…

[Buffy's alone again with her mother's body]

Some of this you don't really want to hear me talking over. But you're going to anyway.

[She vomits. Some wind chimes play in the nearby open window.]

Again, the physicality of throwing up; at the same time focussing on the chimes and the window and not going with her. Not playing it linearly, but her experience of hearing those chimes and of feeling that breeze at the same time as throwing up. Our experience of a frame that's not quite the norm.

[She goes to the back door for some air]

Again, this is her looking out, but it's about her face and the trappedness. Hearing life going on but clearly not seeing it. Needing the air and getting none. This show, difficult to shoot because there was a lot of walking. A lot of going from place to place. Because, again, I didn't want time cuts that let you out of the moment. I wanted to do everything like this, step by step. As it would happen. Some time things were truncated – Giles gets there pretty quickly, but we all know how small Sunnydale is.

[Giles arrives]

I deliberately kept him far away and her close up.

["We're not supposed to move the body!"]

This next part very difficult for Sarah, because she had given everything in every piece, and we shot this sequentially. For her to get back to that level of intensity, to say that line "the body" and realise what it means, that she's just called her mother 'a body', was very difficult. And that was my fault, because after the first shot we just went on sequentially. We should have gone straight to that, because she was at that fever pitch.

And let's end with another nice shot of Joyce.

Act Two

[Joyce is put into a body bag]

Some people began to suspect… oh, by the way. She blinked here once. The only time she did, and they digitally removed it. It's unbelievable what they can do. Kristine was amazing. Eight days of lying around, and she was an incredible trouper and lovely to be around.

[Dawn is crying in the school toilets]

This, a classic misdirect. We think she's crying about her mother and actually she's crying about the stupidest thing imaginable. That was simply to show that you think what's important in life is important, until you're actually confronted by something that is. I did this shot as a oner because again, I always as much as possible wanted to keep the experience of being in their moment. Even in this little mundane story.

What's interesting about this act, I think, is this, for me, was the biggest risk. Because it's not about Mom. It's not about what's going on. It's about something we couldn’t care less about. You know, will that boy like her? Will she get along in school? These little things. I'm telling a little teen high school short story from the point of view of a fourteen year old girl, when there's a dead person in the narrative.

But I think part of what I wanted to get at was the complete ridiculousness of that, at the same time the importance of it for the person going through it. And this act then becomes about, later on, the revelation of the fact that, you know. The telling. This is the only time we actually see somebody have to be told.  And so I wanted to spend an entire act building up her life, before I tore it down. But for an audience, I don't know. They could easily go. "Hey! We're bored! What's going on?" And yet, I don’t think anybody was particularly anxious to return to the story. Because it's not exciting or fun, it's a horrific kind of a thing. And there's a sort of relief in having this little romance going on instead.

*Slurp*
That's the incredibly loud sound of me drinking my tea. Which now you're a part of. You, the audience, have experienced my tea. Isn't that beautiful? Isn't DVD amazing?

[Dawn flirts with a boy in her art class]

So the idea is basically, the nice cute boy…

[Her friend holds up a sign behind his back saying "He wants you"]

'He wants you'. The nice cute boy, the cute story, the kind of resolution, just… And I liked telling their little story, and how they're in their world, and she's being all intense about the pain she's been through. They've got that teen thing of "You know, I'm fourteen, I'm too hip for the room. I've been through so much." Which nicely counteracts that you know what's actually going to happen.

Well I won't lie, I'm drinking more tea, because they're standing there. But at some point, Buffy will appear and change everything.

[Dawn laughs, just as Buffy walks up. Dawn doesn't notice her at first.]

Oh! It should be right when she's at her happiest! That would be my signature.

We're back to Buffy. Now, we're out of Dawn's POV there. That is to say, we're not in Dawn's experience though we have been for the rest of this scene. The way we generally are for every act. There's this thing coming in, she's not aware of it.

But watch her face when Buffy says her name. She knows. She doesn't know *what* she knows, she just knows something. In that moment, she gets older.

All of these cut-aways. Her experience is becoming, like Buffy's, very specific. We hear the chalk, we see the statue. We know everything that's around us takes on a different kind of significance, and is almost like a statue because we know something's going on.

[Buffy takes Dawn out of the class to tell her the news]

Now this next scene I shot in close-up, overs, singles, two-shots, just every which way I could. I shot this part of this scene on the Monday, because it was the end of the day on the Friday and I didn't want to put Michelle and Sarah through that on the end of the day on Friday. So we shot the rest of it, and then we got to it on Monday. But on Friday we did shoot one long shot from outside.

These, as you can sort of tell, were shot slightly slow motion. People watching her.

Michelle did just an extraordinary job. Every take. And Sarah did every take, every time-out, she went to the place, the extraordinary place. And then at the end of the day I decided not to use any of it. I fell back here, into the classroom, using the stuff we had shot on Friday. I realised I didn't need to see Buffy tell her, I didn't need to hear, I didn't need to be directly in the moment. That after what had happened here in school, that what I wanted to show was the environment that it takes place in. And not the actual moment.

[Close-up of Dawn's sketch of the statue of a woman]

And then of course we get to the female body that she's drawing. Which again represents a kind of physicality, a kind of trying to see the reality of a thing. And the teacher talks about just the outline of it and not the thing itself.

Act Three

[The morgue staff undress Joyce]

We start every act with Joyce. And some people accused me of being morbid because we shot so much footage of Kristine lying dead. But again, the body; this is what it's about.

[Xander and Anya drive to Willow and Tara's dorm]

Now this we shot on a rooftop. We faked the window and the blinds to get back on our set. And then the rest of it is back on our set. But I wanted to tie in the car. Again, I wanted to see the physical reality of the place. And I wanted people to understand that everything was happening simultaneously, so they didn't have that feeling of being let out of what was happening. Everything just takes a little too long.

[Willow has a clothes crisis]

And then of course there was this. I shot Aly's side of this handheld, again because she's kind of frantic. And Tara's side I kept more static. And Aly's cute in this, and absolutely heartbreaking. And this was the sequence that was the hardest thing to shoot for me. Not for her, because she can do this. I don’t know how, but she can just do this. But every take that we did, she made me – and pretty much everybody around me – cry. The two of them are extraordinary in this.

I don’t want to talk when I see her like that. I get too upset. I know I'm supposed to. And I will.

[Willow can't wear purple because she'll look royal]

The jokes in this episode come from the ridiculousness of perspective. I went to nine stores looking for a black tie, because I thought I had to wear a black tie to my friend's funeral. And I became obsessive about it. I was like, "It's not real if I don't wear a black tie."

[Tara kisses Willow]

This contains the kiss, which was the first time they had kissed on screen. And instead of doing a big "They kiss on screen!" episode, we stuck it right in the middle of this show. Which again, the physicality. And they talk about being "strong like an Amazon". That's a reference to the Phranq song, which I don't know if a lot of people got. A song that I really like, and one that I thought would be appropriate. Not just because she's gay.

Again, getting back to the kiss, that's the thing I was talking about, where what's real, what's physical, is what I'm attuned to here. Later on, when Dawn says, "I need to pee", I had her say that instead of "I have to go to the bathroom" because I wanted everything to be a little too much. And of course we'll see more examples of that, because we'll see lots more shots of a dead body. Of Buffy's mother.

[Xander and Anya arrive in Tara and Willow's room]

Again, to go from the hall to the room, physically, to see how people take this moment. The various moments that happen in the first few hours. The telling, of Buffy and Dawn.

Another reason I dropped back in that Buffy and Dawn scene was that I knew I had Willow coming up, where also we'd be in her face with the tears. And to do it with Dawn as well felt like the same beat. Following a banjo act with a banjo act.

[The camera pulls back to show the four of them standing there]

The inevitable high and wide Hitchcockian we're-all-tiny-and-life-is-terrifying shot.

This was a horror to shoot, in the sense of, I had to shoot in four directions. It's an entire scene, practically, with no blocking. Everybody is just in their spot, in their place. And that, too, was deliberate, because you can't really move. And this whole scene is about their helplessness. They're the Scooby Gang, they're supposed to be on top of it, helping out – and they got nothing.

Everybody that I spoke to when I was writing this has lost someone, has a story about it, has an attitude towards it, and it all fed into this. But a lot of this came from my own experiences of losing my mother, and of losing other people, and not just of my own grief but of watching everybody else's.

 And everybody here deals in a different way. Tara deals the best, because she's been through it before – which is a revelation we'll get to later. Xander gets angry, because he doesn’t know what else to do. We see Tara reacting to his anger and his desire to make it right. We see that specific push in on Tara because, as we'll later learn, this is something she's been through.

Willow, of course, wearing her heart on her sleeve and completely at sea. The clothing thing becoming just something to latch onto. And then his anger allowing her to be cogent enough to become the grown-up, to comfort him. And, of course, Anya.

Anya – her part in this is something that most people remember best of all. Because she just seems to be Anya, asking horribly inappropriate questions every five seconds. Emma's performance here is lovely. When she goes into her speech, coming up, what people are responding to besides the performance is the fact of it is kind of a plot twist. That is to say, nobody expected that much sensitivity from Anya. And so when she breaks down and expresses really the heart of the experience, the very very basic, "I don't understand", it moved people. Even more than I had predicted. And partially because it was a plot twist. Because you think, "Oh, she's just insensitive", and then this happens.

[Anya's "But I don't understand!" speech]

I was very specific with her about going up on "Why?" like a little girl. I wanted that to reflect all the vulnerability of a child. And that gives her a new understanding of – that gives Willow understanding of what she's going through.

[Xander paces up and down]

And again, they're all separate.

[Anya fishes out a soft toy that's tangled in a blue sweater in her chair]

My wife and I are enormous fans of a little Japanese fellow called Burnt Bun Boy. And when I got a Burnt Bun Boy, a stuffed Burnt Bun Boy, I had to put him in the show. That, of course, is the blue shirt, sweater she's been talking about the whole time. Just the life's little irony thing. And then the Burnt Bun Boy cameo is exciting.

[Xander punches the wall]

And then sudden noise. Rather than showing what Xander has done, just hearing it and seeing the result. Because it's not about the cool action of punching something, it's about the startlement of having somebody punched it or the realisation that you just did.

So I had the wide shots of the girls, everybody very much in their own space; and then all of a sudden you hear this thing, and then Xander is apologetic – and everything changes at this point in this scene. Because now they have something physical to latch onto. And they get to become the Scoobies again.

The whole thing – and some people didn't get this, which is my fault – but the whole thing of him looking at his hand with the blood, and being better when he sees it. Again, physicality as a living thing, not just as a dead thing. But it making him feel better, it making them feel like they're the Scoobies again, because they had a little crisis to deal with. And Tara understanding that. The fact that it hurts is a good thing, because it hurts less than… the other thing. So now they can get their shit together.

The other thing about the scene is that – I believe it was the plaster that Alyson was allergic to; but when we shot the part where he punches and she goes up to him, her right eye swelled up enormously. Luckily I was shooting her left eye, so we could get most of what we needed done, and then we could shoot the rest another day. But she actually had to go to the hospital, and they gave her steroid pills and all sorts of things. We figured it was the plaster because it started to happen again when we went back there. We didn't know, the whole time, what was wrong with her. Her face, her eye just started swelling up at the end there. So we figured later it was the plaster.

[Willow dashes back to grab another top as they leave]

And of course one more beat of "No, wait, I need to change clothes one last time!" And then out to getting a parking ticket. Again, connecting the physical space and saying very mundanely, "Life going on". Not stopping for your grief.


Act Four

[The surgeon finishes the autopsy on Joyce, then walks down a hospital corridor]

Hey, it's Kristine again! Now, I have to confess in this next shot that I am a huge Paul Thomas Anderson fan, and that I had been watching 'Magnolia' obsessively before I shot this. So these endless tracking shots probably owe something to that. What can I say? I'm a hack.

But what I was really trying to get at here was again the reality of the space. I wanted to see Joyce very clearly, and then I wanted to walk all the way over to where Buffy was, where her loved ones were. So that you understood she was down the hall, she was really there, she was in a shot with them. It was not a cut, we weren't on a different set. Carey Meyer and everyone, they did a great job building sets that connected, because they knew I wanted that very desperately. That I wanted to build into those connections.

[The Scoobies try to comfort each other]

These dissolves representing part of that process again, the formal version of it.

[Anya hugs Giles, rather to his surprise]

And again a moment of humour, which Emma Caulfield, God bless her, will always give you. The moment of humour when no other character seems appropriately to be able to.

[The doctor tells Buffy and Dawn the cause of death]

I shot Dawnie– I shot Michelle with a Steadicam when I was on a dolly for the rest. So everybody else would be slightly more solid than she was. Because a lot of this act has to do with her alienation, and her feeling of the unreality of it. Buffy has been through the reality, she has dealt with the body, she broke her mother's ribs, she called it "the body". She went through a very terrifying version of a loved one's death. What Dawn is going through… see? See a slight drift there? She's on Steadicam.

What Dawn is going through is different. What she's going through is the disbelief, because she hasn't had that physicality.

[Buffy has another fantasy that she was able to save Joyce]

And of course the inevitable fantasy, that will just keep coming back, and coming back, and coming back.

But Dawn's problem here – that Buffy doesn't understand, of course, because she's in her own space – is that it can't possibly be real. Whereas for Buffy it's all too real. And those are two different experiences, both of which are very common in death.

Are you depressed yet? 'Cause it's not getting any better. There'll be a vampire later! That's good.

[Giles goes off with the doctor leaving the Scoobies alone]

I loved the lights they had in this place. They had exactly the coldness that I wanted. There is something almost… it feels like a Stanley Kubrick frame when I look at that. Just because of the way those lights are, the way everything is just a little too big, a little too wide, a little too harsh. At the same time the light is very sweet on the people, because they're sweet people.

Dawn just unable to connect. And Buffy unable to connect with her.

My experience of death is that, apart from a lot of hugging at funerals, it seldom brings people together. It actually tears them apart. And I had always learned from TV that a death made everybody stronger and better, and learn about themselves. And my experience was that an important piece had been taken out of the puzzle, amongst my family or friends or whomever it was, and that that piece would never be replaced, and people would never be the same. And that there is no glorious pay-off. There are sometimes revelations, and lessons that are useful. You have to take something out of it, because it's inevitable. None of us getting out of here alive.

You know, this is why at this time a lot of people turn to, as Tim Minear would call him, the Sky Bully. But since I don’t believe in the Sky Bully, and don't really have that to fall back on, I haven't really found any lessons in death other than "I wish it wouldn't".

[Willow, Xander and Anya go off to find food, leaving Buffy with Tara]

Their desperate need to help, and get food, is a classic thing. And the uncomfortableness of being left with the person who you don't really know very well, in your moment of extreme grief. Who really doesn't want to be there because it's your moment of extreme grief. Holding this two-shot for a long time. Waiting a long time before Tara's last line was again a kind of a plot-twist moment, and I held the beat for much longer than I would have normally.

[Tara tells Buffy her mother died when she was 17]

I was surprised, I would say, when people saw this how many people actually did gain comfort from it, and a kind of catharsis. People emailed and wrote and said that they had suffered a loss. Sometimes their mother. And it had either been concurrent with, or it had happened years before, and they had never been able to deal with it until they saw this episode. Which moves me more than I can say. It surprised me though, because I really was after that feeling when, in the first few hours when there is no solution, catharsis or anything else. And just to capture those moments.

And for people just to see that and to take something from it because it's happening to people they love and understand, I think is what worked. And that was a lovely revelation – that just finding a moment and expressing it, and expressing human behaviour at this time without drawing any grand conclusions about it – was enough. Was enough. It was communicating enough to people that it would give them comfort. That to me is… well, it's pretty much why I'm here.

Not that every episode that I make is going to be this depressing. Sometimes we have jokes and all kinds of things on the show. It's really very exciting.

[Dawn sneaks off to the morgue]

A long walk down the hallway. Different than the walk for the doctor. For the doctor it's a completely run of the mill experience; for Dawn it's a horror. Literally. We're dealing now with death. We're dealing with the reality of her dead mother. And so all of a sudden what was a very brightly lit episode – too brightly lit, too much light in the faces of people who wanted to be in darkness – turns into what appears to be an episode of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'.

Not much light; the light there is very cold, very blue. Ray Stella, the cinematographer on this one, did a great job with that. And then we colour-timed it even bluer.

[Dawn reaches out to the sheet covering her mother's body]

Notice how we pulled the sheet down so you could clearly see that was a face. And this is something she needs to do. And other people I know have expressed this need. "I need – I can't quite, but I need to know what it is. I need to see it."

[A vampire rises on one of the other tables]

And then that. That's not helping anybody. Now, some people were like, "Why a vampire in this episode?" But I was very specific about it. I wanted a vampire, first of all, who looked more like a corpse than anything else. And here's young Dawn confronted by, not only a vampire but a naked man. It's an intrusion. It's offensive. And completely physical. And that's what I…

[The Scoobies return laden down with food and drink]

And then of course they're so cute with their food. And believe me, the giving of food is a huge ritual of death. It's usually not vending machine food but it often is.

And I'm explaining death, like anybody who's watching this hasn't experienced it. I'm just explaining why I did that.

But the idea of the vampire was partially that it is an intrusion, it doesn't belong here. The way Tara finds herself being the only one sitting with Sarah and feels she doesn't belong – but then actually has something to offer. The way they're getting a parking ticket. Life goes on. And on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' that means horrible things happen.

[Buffy goes looking for Dawn, sees the vampire attacking her]

And this fight was done differently than any other fight I'd done before. I made it as much of a gross wrestling match as I could. Hands in the face. And then of course pulling the sheet off of Joyce in the worst way possible. But rather than a great, cool kick-boxy fight I made this like a genuine struggle. Because again I wanted to stress the reality of it and killing the guy.

[Dawn sees the sheet has been pulled off Joyce's body]

Dawnie is getting what she was looking for. Again, she can't quite – the frames are never as clean as we want them to be in this show.

[Buffy fights the vampire]

You see, we really painted him up to look dead. And when I kill him again I do it the worst way imaginable, because I wanted… ugh… to be in your face with it. If I say "physical" again, or "real", you guys are just going to turn this off, so I won't.

And then we're into the end.

[Buffy and Dawn look up at their mother's body]

This was a very difficult shot. We didn't have room for dolly track but we had Bill Brummond, cameraman– Steadicam extraordinaire, basically aping a dolly shot by walking up onto a ramp so I could get the three-shot that I desperately wanted. To go from Buffy, to Dawn, to the three.

["Where did she go?"]

The fact of death being physically real and physically unreal is expressed here… this isn't the last shot, it's expressed in the last shot after Dawn says those words – words that cannot be answered by anybody – and reaches out to touch her mother. In a show that's been all about physicality, this girl who needs to know, to understand… never touches her.

[The show cuts to black just *before* Dawn touches Joyce's body]

And that was done very specifically. And some people said, "Oh, that means next week, Dawn's going to heal her with her Key powers!" And I was like, "What show were you watching?" No. It meant "We want to touch it, but there's nothing there." And to go out just before she touches her was to express that. To express what I've been talking about the whole way. There is no resolve, there's no resolution, there's no ending, there's no lesson. There's just death.

Well, I hope you've had a good time. I know I have. Bye!



Next is 'Restless'.

Comments

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 31st August 2008 20:28 (UTC)

*sniffle*

Yeah, I totally teared up. Gotta watch the show now and make a proper cry out of it.

Thanks again for these. They're fantastic.

Posted by: jess (soapygirl)
Posted at: 5th September 2008 05:14 (UTC)

Thank you for sharing the Joss commentary.

I really loved Tara's line where said her mother's death was both sudden and not sudden, like even when you can prepare yourself nothing really prepares you for it.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 18th October 2008 18:40 (UTC)

Aww. *passes you a hanky*

Thanks!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 6th November 2008 22:13 (UTC)

I've actually been reading your stuff for a very long time (around the time the Buffy Season 8 comics started) but I've never really commented but I just felt like I had to. Now I realise you may never see this comment because you posted this ages ago, but I figure it's worth the time to show my gratitude.

Thanks a lot for posting this. I don't have the DVDs so it was really great to be able to get Joss' input on this.

I actually run a site called TV Notes where I annotate episodes of TV shows and I was thinking of doing this episode since it's such a huge part of the Buffyverse but then I realised nothing I ever write will really be as good as what Joss commented on. So, I was wondering, would it be possible for me to use what you've posted on my site?

If you do agree, I will give you full credit for transcribing the episode and I'll also add your LJ to the affiliates section (even though that's not what I usually do).

It's a fairly new site with a lack of material so I'm trying to build it up as much as I can and I always love your input on pretty much everything (like I said, I've been lurking for over a year now) so it'd be really great if we could come to some sort of agreement.

So, if you do read this and you are interested, please either...

1. Leave a comment in the shoutbox on my website (http://www.tvnotes.bravehost.com/)
or...
2. Email me at nailazmn@yahoo.co.uk

Looking forward to any reply, even if it's not what I'm hoping for

NJZ

4 Read Comments