#7 Deconstructing The Diner Scene from Natural Born Killers

For this prompt, I will discuss and deconstruct the diner scene from one of my favourite movies Natural Born Killers, directed by Oliver Stone. NBK follows two messed up lovers, Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis), on a murder spree through America. It´s a psychotic satire of how the mass media romanticise and glorify serial killers.

In the diner scene, the camera tracks the characters at a canted angle and there´s constant floating Dutch angles. Throughout the entire movie, there not a single perfectly angled shot. Special effects used in the editorial technique such as repeated action and distorted faces is also seen throughout the entire movie. The switch from black and white to colour gives a sense of parallel worlds. Reality and imagination. It could also represent a right versus wrong in how the media portrays serial killers.

The first scene is shot in colour outside the diner, with a high angle wide shot and Dutch-style angle tilting down. The truck breaking down might symbolise no escape. The music switches from Leonard Cohen´s waiting for the miracle to a more upbeat tone.

Wide shot zoomed into a medium wide shot from a low angle of the two rednecks entering the diner. The camera switches over to Mallory from the rednecks´ POV. She´s dancing in a Medium wide shot which zooms out a bit. Next shot is a MS from a low angle and Mallory dances out of the frame. The angle is canted in every scene. Next shot is in black and white. The Camera zooms out and back in from a MS to a close up in a Dutch angle. Mallory is still dancing and there is a lot of camera movement. Next frame switches back to colour and is a MS which zooms in on the rednecks checking out Mallory while making sleazy remarks. The rednecks face gets distorted before it cuts to next scene.

New frame the rednecks are walking towards the camera. A dirty over the shoulder with a Dutch tilt shot from behind the counter. Next frame takes us back to Mallory dancing. It´s a MS which zooms out a bit when one of the cowboys joins in on the dance. The angle is canted.

Next frame is a MCU of the other redneck sitting at the bar. The camera tracks out and to the right and stops at Mickey who is holding up a newspaper. We cannot see Mickey´s face which creates a sense of danger. At 00:48 one can read the front page of the newspaper “Mickey and Mallory Kill Six Teens During Slumber Party”.

demon.gifZooms out to a MS where Mickeys face is revealed. The angle is tilted. Bright toxic green is contrasted against some of the action within the scene. The next shot is an extreme close-up of Mickey in black and white cut to a red filtered glow MS flashing glimpse of Mickey looking demonic covered in blood. Cuts back to a black and white close-up in slow-mo.

Cuts to a Dutch angled B/W close-up of the redneck dancing. Cut to a MS of Mallory and the rednecks lower bodies where he is sexually harassing her. Cut to colour shot high angle MS of the toxic green pie. cut to a tilted close-up of the jukebox, also toxic green. A cut between the pie and the jukebox In the next shots one can see the toxic green colour of the key lime pie and the jukebox. Oliver Stone and cinematographer Robert Richardson used green in the film to denote sickness of the mind. It´s also seen in the drug store scene and in the prison riot.

Next shot a black and white close-up of the redneck laughing while swinging his beer in the air. Extreme close up of the record in the jukebox stops spinning. Cut back to black and white a wide MS of Mallory and the redneck. The music stops and there´s dialogue between the two rednecks commenting on Mallory.

Cut to a close-up colour shot of Mickey taking a bite of his pie. He seems to be following the situation closely. Next shot is black and white a dirty over the shoulder wide shot of Mallory and the redneck standing in front of her from Mickey´s POV.  She puts on a new record. Cut to a close-up colour shot of the jukebox.

Cut to a black and white mid-close up of the redneck taking a sip of his beer. Music starts playing “L7‘s Shit List” synced with him getting a bottle smashed in his face. Cut to a wide colour shot of Mallory hitting him in the face. Again and again.

Next shot a mid-close up of the redneck at the bar watching the fight taking a sip of his beer. Cut back to a canted wide shot of Mallory and the dancing redneck. Next shot is in black and white. A Dirty over the shoulder MS tracking Mallory into the next shot, still B/W where she keeps on hitting and screaming in a variety of unusual angles and close ups.

Next frame in colour a wide shot of Mallory beating the shit out of him. cut to an extreme close-up in B/W of Mickey following the situation closely.

Cut to a coloured Dutch tilted medium- wide shot of Mallory smashing a bottle in the redneck’s head. Next shot a close up of the waitress with a tired-of-this-shit look in her face. Cut back to Dutch tilted wide shot of the fight. Next frame is again B/W a canted close up of Mallory with a perfect cut to the next coloured wide shot of the fight. The colour and angles change wildly and rapidly throughout the scene. It´s a continuously shot which switched to a B/W MS when she kicks the redneck and he falls back towards the camera. The fight continues in B/W and there´s a lot of camera movement. Cuts to different MS shots with Dutch tilt and canted angles.

Cut to colour shot of the other redneck drinking beer while eagerly watching the fight. Cut to a high angle B/W of the fight to an extreme close up to a low angle MS when she kicks him cuts to a coloured extreme close-up of blood being splattered on table and walls.

Next scene is a B/W medium-wide shot of Mickey and the redneck at the counter. Red neck gets up Mickey follows. The camera turns and the next shot is a low angle MS of the redneck calling Mickey a son of a bitch. Cuts to a MS dirty over the shoulder of Mickey and a sound of a knife slice.

Cut to low angled close up of the redneck cut to an extreme close-up of Mickey looking down. Next is a high angled colour shot of a bloody finger on the redneck´s shoe. Cuts to B/W eye level of foot shaking the finger off. Next frame is a close up of Mickey cuts to a low angled colour MS off Mickey going at him with the knife again. Black and white close of when he slits his throat and face.

Cut to a canted wide shot of the action in both fights. Cut to B/W close up of the waitress´ shocked face. Next scene is a low angled close up of Mickey and the redneck in colour cut to a canted moving B/W wide shot of the whole situation.

Next shot is also B/W a Dutch tilted long shot of Mickey facing the cook behind the counter. Next is a Gunshot followed by the BULLET’S POV Heading fast toward the cooks face. The audience is the weapon. The bullet stops a floats right in front of the cook´s eyes cut to MS of blood splashing up against the wall and a scream.

Cut to a close up of the redneck being pushed through the window. Mallory grabs him and drags him back in wide shot low angle she´s standing up screaming: “How sexy am I now?” Cut to eye level medium-wide shot of Mickey.

Next MS from Mickeys POV is the third redneck standing outside looking in. cut to Mickey Dutch tilted shot of Mickey throwing his knife towards the camera. A Wide shot following the knives POV in Slow-Mo companied by the voice of a female opera singer.

Next is a MS to an extreme close up with the camera tilting down when the third redneck falls to the ground. Cut to a low angled coloured wide shot of Mallory jumping on the redneck lying on the floor´s POV. Cut to B/W. the action shifts dramatically between B/W and full colour and the angles are shifting intensely between high and low, canted and Dutch tilting, MS and wide shots, Cross-cutting and parallel.

Next shot is a canted medium-wide shot to MS of Mickey taking a bite of his pie. Cut to wide shot tracking Mallory. Back to a wide shot of Mickey emptying the cash register. Next is a Dutch tilted low angled side shot of Mallory shouting. MS of Mallory leaving the frame. Wide shot with Dutch tilt of Mickey. Mallory enters the frame. She jumps Mickey. He spins her while the camera also spins. She starts shouting pointing down the right of the frame. The camera tracks out to where she was pointing. A wide shot of the waitress trying to escape. The camera is canted and tracking the waitress as she moves further back into the diner.

A tilted wide shot where Mallory is playing a sick version of Eeny, meeny, miny, moe to see who gets to live to tell the tale of Mickey and Mallory. The camera is now switching between MS of Mallory´s fingers POV and the waitress and the cowboys POV. The cracking sound of the teapot about to burst adds more suspense to this scene. MS from Mickey´s POV. He shoots the waitress and the squidling sound of the teapot stops. Next shot is also from Mickey´s POV is a medium-wide shot of the Cowboy with his hands in the air. MCU of Mickey blowing the smoke off his gun, which gives the viewer an American vibe. Back to a MS of the cowboy. Cut to a MS of Mickey and Mallory from the cowboys POV walking towards him. Close up to extreme close up of the cowboy. Repeated shots. Mallory´s talking. Camera tracks to Mallory and back to the cowboy. Follows the dialogue. Cut to a MS of all three of them. The camera zooms continuously in and out. And the shots shift between Close ups of the cowboy and MS of Mickey lifting Mallory and spinning her around. The image switches from black and white to colour and from there the scene is romanticised. Low angled MS of Mickey and Mallory kissing and dancing. The lights are dimmed and a romantic song starts playing. Like they´re the only people in the world. The light is red and glowing and the scene ends with fireworks on the wall which is probably showing their imagination of it all. Could the colours represent two realities?

 

 

 

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