Monday, 5 March 2012

Toy Story - psychological gestures

I actually watched WALL.E first but as there is no dialogue and the main characters are robots, I thought it would be too difficult to demonstrate psychological gestures using a clip from that film. That's not to say that there's none in it, there are plenty but it would be much more difficult for me to explain as I'm still not confident I have it completely down. My understanding of it comes with dialogue too.

So I looked at Toy Story, thinking that Woody is bound to have lots of psychological gestures when he tries to hit the fact that he thinks Buzz has replaced him as Andy's favourite toy.

Before this scene, the audience know that Woody was Andy's favourite toy. His 'spot' was on the bed, a place that a toy is privileged to be as a favourite. It is established that the toys are fearful of being replaced, though Woody reassures them that this won't happen, and are even more so around Andy's birthday and Christmas. Andy gets a Buzz Lightyear for his birthday and crash lands the spaceship box on the bed, shoving Woody aside (who falls off the bed). The toys are impressed with Buzz's high tech features and think Woody has been replaced. Woody brushes it off but immediately feels threatened by Buzz. A montage shows Andy playing more and more with Buzz and the Woody merchandise around the room being replaced with Buzz Lightyear merchandise. At the end, we see Andy deciding which toy to take to bed with him between Woody and Buzz (while putting his toys away in a toy chest). The montage cuts to Andy sleeping with Buzz by his side and Woody peering out of the chest, rejected. This scene takes place the morning after. Woody has just come out of the box and watched a conversation between Buzz, Rex and Slinky where Buzz shows Andy's name on one of his soles.

It is clear that Woody does not like Buzz, it's not hidden from the audience. However Woody does hide it from the other character, particularly his love interest Bo-Peep.

Woody is very unhappy when he enters the scene and watching the conversation where Buzz reveals his 'branding' in permanent ink (new, fresh, up to date), he feels that he has really been replaced. He looks at his own branding (old, scuffed, dirty).
The bit I want to talk about in my presentation is just after this, when Bo-Peep enters the scene. She tells him not to let it 'get to him' and he becomes flustered. His voice tries to remain calm but he can't get a sentence out before he asks what she means and who. His hands go everywhere, trying to decide what pose would look best. His right (his right, not ours) hand first goes to place on his hip but doesn't get there, he shrugs and goes to fold his arms but doesn't complete that gesture either. He finds himself, puts both hands on his hips and asks what she means and who. I believe, though I'm honestly not certain, that the hands fluttering about is the psychological gesture. He's not just feeling awkward, he's trying to cover it but instead of doing so, he's revealing his thoughts are frantic and trying to find where to be.
Putting his hands on his hips makes him take up more room, an authoritative pose. He wants to be the bigger person and he certainly wants to be better than Buzz, he especially wants Bo-Peep to think so. He turns and looks around as if he hadn't seen Buzz, breaking eye contact with Bo-Peep because he doesn't want her to see him nervous about it. However when she mentions Buzz, the very name makes Woody cross his arms and roll his eyes. He's not interested and is fed up of hearing about Buzz. He shifts his weight a lot, looking restless.

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