5 Observations From Someone Who Just Watched The Breakfast Club
I ’ve been in the film industry for over 8 years. I’m caught up on (almost) every popular Netflix, Hulu, and HBO series. I used to think that I knew a lot about movies…until I married my wife, Cara. Cara has seen everything (and I mean everything) under the sun. From Casablanca to American Beauty, from screenplays by Sofia Coppola to movies directed by Baz Luhrmann. She’s seen them all.
I grew up in a more conservative family than Cara, so I didn’t have as many opportunities to watch “the classics” as she did. Now, on a weekly (if not daily) basis, we discover yet another classic I haven’t seen. Not surprisingly, this always sends Cara into an immediate frenzy. “WHAT? YOU HAVEN’T SEEN [insert movie title here]?!? BUT IT’S A CLASSIC!”. This usual conversation occurred a few weeks ago when it came to light that I haven’t seen…(gulp)…The Breakfast Club.
As usual, Cara rectified this absurdity instantly. Thus leading to the topic of this post…5 observations I had while watching The Breakfast Club (for the first time) in 2017.
My typical set-up when watching movies at home = comfy blanket + bowl of popcorn.
1. CHARACTERS, CHARACTERS, CHARACTERS
As every great film should be, The Breakfast Club is built upon the foundation of good character development and simple but perfectly executed storytelling. Barring the parents, there are only 7 onscreen characters shown in the entire film. We start the movie disliking some of these characters, but through powerful storytelling techniques and impeccable character development, we grow to love them all. By the time the end credits roll, almost every viewer can identify with one of the characters in some way.
2. BUILDING TRUST BETWEEN STRANGERS
Going into detention, the students were amongst strangers. They may have passed each other in the halls, or heard rumors about one another through high school gossip, but none of them were even remotely friends. By the end of the film, that same group of strangers proclaimed to be a unit, a “breakfast club.” What changed amongst the group to cause this shift? Vulnerability. They learned to listen to each other and became vulnerable with one another. In my (and Brene Brown’s) opinion, this is one of the biggest factors that leads to healthy, trust-building relationships.
3. LET THE WRITTEN DIALOGUE RESONATE
As a DP and editor at MAKE, I couldn’t help but focus on a few technical aspects of the film. For instance, there was hardly any music during the dialogue. In the film industry today, that is rare. Editors will rely heavily on music accompanied with dialogue to shift the mood, thus shifting the “tracks” of the viewers’ emotions. Instead, John Hughes, the director of The Breakfast Club, silences the music and lets the writing and passion of the actors speak for themselves.
4. MINIMAL CAMERA MOVES = MAXIMUM IMPACT
Throughout the whole movie, there were minimal amounts of camera movement. In the times they did use movement, it very intentional. Focusing in on the camera movements clued me in on which moments they wanted to make more impactful.
For example, an hour and 10 minutes into the film, there is a scene where the students are sitting down on the floor venting about their lives, and how they ended up in detention. The character Andrew, portrayed by Emilio Estevez, is the first one to be vulnerable and open up to the group. In this scene, you can tell Hughes was extremely intentional with the camera movements to heighten the stakes of the situation. There was a very long dolly shot all the way around the students. I feel like this was intended to make the viewer feel more empathetic with the fact that he was opening up to everyone and dramatized the scene.
5. DO TEENAGERS REALLY DO THAT IN FRONT OF THEIR PARENTS?
During the last scene, a couple of the characters kiss each other goodbye, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR PARENTS’ CARS…WITH THEIR PARENTS INSIDE! Is it just me, or does that not happen in real life? Then again, does detention really last 8 hours and a group of five kids come in as strangers and leave as friends?
Maybe these dreams live and end in this teen classic…but I’m happy to have been a part of their world for an hour and thirty-seven minutes. Be sure to share your favorite “Breakfast Club” observations with us!