Reflexiveness in Ferris Bueler's Day Off

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, September 1996

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Reflexivity In Film

Awareness of film as a process and not just a finished product seems to have been around

since the very beginnings of film. Buster Keaton, for example, used this idea in his films, therefore

making the audience aware of the illusion of film. His somewhat unconventional methods included

looking directly in the camera, playing with the two dimensionality of the screen, etc. However,

most Hollywood features didn't use such methods, but would rather stick to creating a complete

illusion, whose purpose was just the opposite of Keaton's, to keep the viewer completely involved

in a film, so all the work and the technology behind it stays hidden. This Hollywood style is still in

practice today in most commercial cinema, while the style associated with Keaton (which is

termed reflexive) is used rarely: in experimental films and off-beat comedies, still. One of these

comedies that use reflexivity is Ferris Bueller Day Off, a typical 80's film by content, but very

original by style.

The film's style becomes obvious early on, when as soon as the other characters are off

screen, Ferris addresses the camera. The viewer is drawn in and spoken to, so as to feel as one of

the characters and not a mere spectator. This technique which is used through out the film also

makes the audience, aware that these are not events from real life, but rather scenes form a movie,

meant to entertain, not show a 'slice of life.' The understanding of the illusion is enhanced very

early on, with the use of titles to compliment Ferris' words on 'Faking out Parents.' As he gives

his tips to the viewers, they are typed on the screen, as in an educational video, once again,

reminding the audience that this is 'just a movie,' that...