Other people’s words: Bodily Adjustment

          Image            Bodily adjustments are a type of external, that is “a physical adjustment made by the actor that either aids in the telling of the story or illustrates an imaginary circumstance of the play.” (Bruder, p. 48) Examples of bodily adjustments include posture and voice. In this blog I will be reviewing three blogs which identify bodily adjustments as a technique to aid an acting performance.

            Jaspreet Johal gave clear examples of Hopkins’s bodily adjustments, for example “… Lecter’s body posture for the character is strictly confident; shoulders back, head up high, which evidently expresses an affluent upbringing.” She also mentions “…his movement of his hands that are always moved with a purpose of some sort, which is odd as it is very much controlled. This evidently reflects his overall personality, controlling and dominating.” I found Jaspreet`s interpretations to be unique (especially the one about the hands) and I liked that she did not merely list the bodily adjustments but took time to explain how they enhanced his character. Jaspreet mentioned his physical performance being inspired by cats, this was brought up in discussion after the film and I appreciated that she incorporated this. She also quoted Bruder’s chapter on externals and listed the three types, in addition she mentioned Michael Chekhov and physical gestures which shows she has done the readings.

            Dajana Zeqo did a great job of listing specific examples of bodily adjustments made by Lemmon. She stated “…his exaggerated bodily adjustments that include a more straight posture, pursed lips, head straighter, feminine smile, bigger eyes, hands held in a more feminine manner.” She indicated how exaggerating feminine characteristics enhanced his comedic performance. She explains “These adjustments are amusing to the audience; we all know he is exaggerating feminine characteristics for humour. This is what makes him amusing to watch because he is amazing at being a terrible woman!” Dajana also referenced Bruder, and quoted part of the definition of externals that I did in the beginning of this blog. This shows she has done her readings, and her examples show she has a clear grasp of the concept.

            Alessia Antonucci explains that “externals within the film are used by Swank to portray masculinity in Brandon.” She gives clear examples of Swank’s bodily adjustments, she lists “adjustments like altering posture, deepening her voice … or sitting with his legs open and his torso upright and stiff created masculine body language for Brandon.” Alessia uses excellent examples however I believe she could have made her blog stronger by expanding on some of these points. For example, although Swank deepened her voice, I felt that she made sure not to lower it too much because she was mindful to the fact that Brandon was still physically a female. However she did a great job considering this blog had other requirements to be fulfilled. I thought her use of terminology from the book (i.e., externals, bodily adjustment, ornaments) made it evident that she read the book and her clear examples show she had a good grasp of the concept.

Charlize Theron: Total Transformation in Monster

ImageUntil the movie Monster, Charlize Theron was known for her striking beauty and work as a model. Her role as Aileen Wuornos catapulted her acting career, and enabled audiences to take her seriously as an actress. As can be seen from the photo above, Charlize went through a major physical transformation to make herself look as identical as possible to the real Aileen Wuornos, and the resemblance between the true is truly remarkable. Charlize shaved off her eyebrows, colored her hair, wore contacts and prosthetic dentures, and through the use of make up, her skin was made to look aged and blotchy. One of the most impressive transformations include her weight gain of 30 pounds. In an interview with Stumped Magazine, Charlize explains that she refused to simply wear a “fat suit” because she wanted to transform her own body so she could feel that she was physically in Aileen’s skin. She explains that this weight gain enabled her to move “the way she moved in her body” and truly feel like she was Aileen. In “A Practical Handbook for the Actor” it is stated that ornaments – external costumes and make up, can help an actor get into a role and embody the character they are playing. I believe this was certainly the case with Charlize in her role as Aileen Wuornos.

Furthermore, I believe that the physical transformation Charlize Theron undertook for this role was the single most important step that was driving her performance. Evidence for this stems from an important note that Melanie mentioned in discussion after the film, Melanie mentioned that the voice overs throughout the film were not as convincing as the actual performance in the film itself. When listening to Charlize’s voice overs, her accent drops, the deepness in her voice falters, and we do not hear Aileen, we hear Charlize. But why is this so? Melanie reminded us that during voice overs, actors do not typically get into costume, they simply walk into a recording studio and read lines in their regular attire. Thus it could be proposed that Charlize needed all of the make up and prosthetics to truly feel like Aileen and do this role justice.

Nevertheless, Charlize Theron’s depiction of Aileen Wuornos was brilliant, and she truly deserved the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award she received for this performance.