“The Circus” Film: Cognition and Neuroscience

The Circus


The concluding scene that belongs to the realistic genre will be framed in color 35 mm format (Super 35) having an aspect ratio of 1: 2.35 to reduce grain. The film stock selected is Kodak Vision-3; 500T. This arrangement will certainly enable the cinematographer to capture superior contrast ratios. Since all of the actions conceived in the scene are enacted in the night time, the film stock opted could be put into use in the day time by placing filters to create the night effect. The lens of the camera shall be spherical as it has more field depth generating wide contrast ranges. The resolution performance will be exceptional if the scene is filmed through spherical lenses. However, normal lenses will also be used if the shots demand so. The entire shots will be taken employing a single camera so that the whole process shall be exacting and methodical. The single-camera approach suits best here to avoid production delays of the multi-camera technique while depicting indoor actions within the limited environment.

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Initially, an establishing shot will be taken to capture the different actions going on in the scene after the fleeing of Thor from the cage leaving Ariel at peril. The detailed shots that range from close-ups to reaction shots are framed subsequently. The actors selected for enacting the scene are new faces. The reason for adopting new faces is that it will allow enough ‘working space’ for the director to inspire them with specific ideas about the actions they have to do in the scene. If famous actors and actresses are engaged the director’s involvement in realizing the objectives will become limited, considering their egoistic approach in the generic sense, which will jeopardize the entire filming.

Proper color temperature emitted by lights will affect the appearance of the scene. Therefore, to produce the present indoor scene at 3200 Kevin, Fresnel lighting fixtures and accessories are used. Consistency in the sound and clarity in the delivered dialogue are essentials for making a good film. As such, tiny cordless lavaliere microphones will be put into use to capture the dialogue and other important location sounds. The location film sounds are recorded simultaneously on a digital audio recorder as well as on the film to enable the audio team to work smoothly while they mix music, sound, and dialogue at the post-production stage.

The heroine is portrayed in red costumes. It is because it is seen that most of the trapeze artists are costumed in red. But such a color will irk the eyes of the viewers. Hence the background is purposefully made of white curtains. Here, the performing artists are Thor, Ariel, and Pannetone. And of course, there are Scopes and also the lion. The set is specifically a replica of a circus environment and it is set against the backdrop of blank space. The circus tent has a flexible roof made of tarpaulin and silk draperies. From the roof downwards are the trapeze strings held parallel and attached to the structures above the rings on which the performing artists play their roles. Inside the circus tent, the following actions are going on…

  1. The spectators who were absorbed in the performance of the artists suddenly scream standing up when Ariel is losing her grip and falling inside the cage of the lion
  2. Thor is running away from the ring leaving Ariel who is at peril in the proximity of the fierce lion which is about to pounce on her. The flaming hoop he swirled away moves up and down near the center of the floor and settles there creating panic in the minds of the onlookers. The music is still heard aloud from the band on the corner stage.
  3. Pannetone jumps up screaming on seeing Ariel falling, and throws his ‘bottle’ away. Scopes also stands up extending his large arms and howling…
  4. The two artists engaged in knife throwing stop their action instantly and stand stunned.
  5. Two dwarfs enacting a skit on the floor turn back in apprehension.

Shot 1

The camera is on the Round trolley placed at the center of the floor moving from left to right to cover the entire space, wide-angle mid-shot starting from the fleeing Thor who frames out instantly, the viewers, the ready-to-pounce-lion and the screaming Ariel in the cage, the stunning knife throwing artists, the dwarfs, the music band, etc., and stops at Pannetone and Scopes who are springing up in alarm, and the shot is CUT then and there at the Point of View (POV) of Pannetone and Scopes to reveal their connection to the event and especially to Ariel. Spherical lenses and filters opt here. The foreground of the scene and space beyond are focused deep by adjusting the hyper-focal distance. This adjustment will result in the creation of deep space which is an important aspect of mise-en-scene, thereby placing the actors and the props at different levels of the picture that is framed. This shot is taken to have general information about the environment and events that are going on in the scene without breaking the continuity. The whole space is covered within the hemispherical tent which is illuminated by the flashlight (inside the circus tent). The music is loud and clear and seems to be Off Screen (OS). Shot length 7 seconds.

Shot 2

Static camera-Eye level mid-shot, including the roaring ready-to-pounce-fierce lion, and the frightened screaming Ariel who is trying to crawl away from her antagonist (lion). POV from Pannetone and Scopes. This is to register the alarm of the sequence onto the minds of Pannetone and Scopes. Shot length: 3 seconds.

Shot 3

Low Angle Camera set up-static. Close shot. Normal lens. POV of Ariel. Her scream is heard OS. This shot is designed to reveal the fright of Ariel in the cage. Shot length: 1 second

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Shot 4

High angle Camera set up. Close shot of Ariel who is screaming and crawling away from the lion at the POV of ready-to-pounce-lion. Short length: 1 second

Shot 5

Handheld camera. Mid shot. Normal lens. From the mid-shot, we move along the rushing Pannetone and Scopes towards the cage from right to left of the screen. On his way, Pannetone glances at the knife stuck on the wooden board next to the performing knife throwing artist. The camera tilts up wide-angle and tilts down along with the action of Pannetone who is pulling away from the knife while running towards the cage with a loud cry. While the camera tilts up and tilts down, some of the viewers and one or two artists are captured unknowingly. Scopes are close behind. The shot cuts at the entrance of the cage. Shot length 5 seconds.

Shot 6

Crane shot. The camera is placed on the low crane. The crane moves forward a little to capture the fierce lion that tries to pounce on Ariel, and then the camera comes down and pans a little to capture Ariel who is screaming while crawling, and the shot is cut. Shot length: 2 seconds.

Shot 7

Counter shot. The crane moves from behind the lion and Ariel (Over a shoulder shot) and captures the reacting mood of Pannetone holding the knife and pans a little and tights on Scopes who is standing on the left, snarling at the lion on the right. Shot length: 2 seconds

Shot 8

The camera is static. Extreme close shot of the eyes of Pannetone. Shot length: 1 second.

Shot 9

Zoom in to the extreme close shot of the lion’s eyes. Then an instant Swish-pan onto the face of Pannetone who is about to charge with the raised knife and zooms back, and the shot is cut. Shot length: 2 seconds.

Shot 10

Handheld camera. Mid shot of Pannetone pouncing on the neck of the lion with the knife in hand. Shot length 2 seconds.

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Shot 11

The camera is static. Close shot of Pannetone trying to hold the mane of the lion. Shot length 1 second

Shot 12

The camera is static. Close shot of the lion snarling at Pannetone who is atop. Shot length 1 second.

Shot 13

The camera is static. Mid shot of the struggle of Pannetone with the lion. Pannetone is trying to thrust his knife on the neck of the lion. But the lion turns fiercely and swirls him down near Ariel who screams aloud. Shot length 5 seconds.

Shot 14

Pan shot. The camera is panned from the close of the face of the snarling Scopes, too wide. During the transition from close to wide, Scopes moves forward and jumps on the lion. The shot is cut. Shot length: 2 seconds

Shot 15

The camera is static. Close shot of the sudden reaction of the lion due to distraction. Shot length: 1 second.

Shot 16

The camera is static. Close shot. The reaction of Scopes. Scopes tries to slip away from the mouth of the lion. Shot length: 1 second

Shot 17

Crane shot. The camera is placed outside the cage and it shoots up capturing the struggling Scopes and the lion, and Pannetone who is holding Ariel tries to sneak towards the open entrance of the cage, crawling. Extreme mid-shot. While these actions are going on the camera shoots down capturing the struggle of the lion and Scopes. The lion raises its forepaw to strike Scopes. But Scopes slips away teasing the lion by springing and hanging on from one bar to another and going round and round making the lion fiercer. On seeing that the lion is distracted and its attention is on Scopes Pannetone slips away from the cage and gets out of it crawling, and at the very moment the camera reaches the ground and the shot is cut there. Short length: 25 seconds.

Shot 18

Handheld camera. Close shot. Spherical lens. Pannetone moves towards the opening of the cage and tries to press down the shutter. When the shutter moves downwards he holds it for a few moments and shouts to Scopes: “Come out Scopes, come out!” Shot length: 5 seconds.

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Shot 19

The camera is outside the cage. Handy cam. Close shot of Scopes. Scopes shifts its eyes from the lion and fixes them at Pannetone and Ariel outside. On seeing them outside, Scopes jumps from the farther corner of the cage and frames out at the left. The shot is cut. Shot length: 3 seconds.

Shot 20

Handy Cam. Close shot. Normal lens. The reaction of the lion. The shot is cut. Shot length: 2 seconds.

Shot 21

Static camera. Mid shot. Scopes enters from the right and jumps towards the entrance and slips out of the cage. Shot length: 2 seconds.

Shot 22

Eye-level camera set up. The camera tilts down close and moves along Pannetone’s hand pressing the shutter downwards speedily and stoops with the shutter that makes a screeching sound. The very moment the camera shifts to shallow focus and zooms on his face. The reaction of Pannetone. Sudden but sustaining relief. He falls backward and calls out: “Oh Scopes….” Shot length: 8 seconds.

Shot 23

Crane- high angle midshot. Spherical lens. Ariel runs towards Pannetone. She embraces and kisses him saying: “Oh my darling…I’m so sorry…My love…” Scopes moves fast towards them grinning and sniffing. And on reaching their side he embraces both of them with his long arms and they roll away together from the cage in pure joy and the camera moves down on them. When the rolling stops, the camera is tilted up slowly in their POV and the very moment loud cheers are heard around. There are applause and laughter above them and when they look upwards the camera captures the cheering crowd encircling them.


A movie must take its viewers through a unique experience that is built over time by grabbing their whole attention and perception creating some sort of cognitive and psychological transitions. Ever since the film making was originated the filmmakers all over the world have been contributing their will and brain to develop viable cinematic devices or techniques in the form of different types of shots and camera movements to influence the minds of the audience while they watch the movies. These techniques in their entirety constitute the structure and aesthetic elements of the given film text that evolves responses from the viewers. This fact that the movies can manipulate the thinking processes and mental state of the viewers has been inadvertently accepted by people who are engaged in the film making. The present scene of ‘The Circus’ creates this mental exercise with its narration style and design of shots. The environment and the plot of the scene are unveiled dexterously by the different shots that flow connected from one to the next without any lag and executing sharp editing. For example, see the shots numbered from 1 to 23 in Part I of this paper.

Here in the scene, the events and the related physical environment set up following the fleeing of Thor are framed in one shot that establishes the whole mise-en-scene effectively without losing any relevant physical elements present, though they are vague. But the succeeding shots elaborate on each aspect revealing the interaction of the characters between themselves and also between the characters and the elements of the environment. The mental attitude or stance and the reflex action of Pannetone and Scoops are effectively exhibited in Shots serially numbered from 2 to 5. These shots also draw the viewer’s attention to the intense love and affection generated in Pannatone and Scopes. Pure love will never make a person feeble or coward and such a person will ever risk his or her life for the sake of love. And above that, it is empathy and compassion.

The crane shots 6 and 7 give a detailed depiction of the state of mind of the lion as well as of Ariel. They also bring in equilibrium or balancing effect on the character movements and timing. The application of the crane and its movement is building up emotions in the viewers while expressing the potential action in the characters. The suggestive shot 7 offers a realistic approach to the action and captures the whole action profile of the hero, whereas, the extreme close up in shot 8 denotes the fierceness of the lion and the Swish pan in shot No. 9 effectively proclaims the intense reflex action of a common human when confronted with the alien environment. Shot 13 is a live example of willful creation of a situation to help the hero to rescue the heroine. Though nothing verbal is said in the context, it is enough to promote the intention of the hero.

The camera setups and the shots from 14 to 16 draw the picture of action and Shot 17 paints it much more in detail. Here, the shot is designed to vide the movement of the crane from one point to another without effecting a cut or break revealing the entire risky indulgences at the mouth of death and the fast and fruitful rescue operation without involving any casualties. The handheld camera used in shot 18 provides a clear-cut translation of the panicking mind of Pannetone. When Pannetone spells out the first utterance “Come out Scopes, come out!” in the scene, holding the shutter downwards, reveals his anxiety over Scopes who is his friend and sidekick. With this, the scene is about to reach its climax placing the viewers in anxiety, suspense, and mental agitation. Shot 18 to shot 21 and the related camera movements paint the escape of Scopes from the cage. These shots are designed to avoid the complexities inherent in the mode of the escape of Scopes.

The eye-level Camera set up in shot 22 gives a detailed picture of the relief of the heroin having rescued Ariel and Scopes. While Pannetone falls back, he calls out again, “Oh Scopes…” He expects only the nearness of Scopes at that time being his friend and does not think of Ariel or anticipates any offer of thanks or love from her. To him, the rescuing of Ariel is only an empathetic approach and attitude that run in every good human soul. But in the concluding and climax shot 23, his call brings him the never expected longing -the beautiful Ariel- who comes running in with blissful kisses, atonement and love, showering him the words: “Oh my darling…I’m so sorry…My love.”. To heap joy over happiness, Scopes also joins in, and together they roll away from all sorts of anxieties and dangers to the serenity and beauty of life. The camera movements and the prolonged shots depict every detail without giving a feeling of break or discontinuity. And at the end of the shot, they open their eyes to the world outside and them everything, and every human being around them becomes the symbol of mirth, love, happiness, and tranquility.

According to Germany’s and Dydewalle, every film consists of a certain progression of shots that are edited together to make a consistent visual tale (1). But simply putting together some shots will not make a scene or a movie. A good film or scene will have the shots designed concerning the mental transactions between the characters and the environment to the characters and in anticipation of the response or psychological feeling the viewer may develop during the process of watching the movie. Per Persson argues that “spectators perceive, think, apply knowledge, infer, interpret, feel, and make use of knowledge, assumptions, expectations, and prejudices when viewing and making sense of film” (Persson 118). Addressing the means of psychology along with anthropology, Per Persson elaborates about how the close-up shots, conventional editing, character psychology, and other related film techniques perform and how the mode adopted to influence the viewer. Considering these viewpoints it can be seen that the shots designed in the short film ‘The Circus’ are a model of psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive action. In other words, it is an embodiment of transactions of a human mind.

Works Cited

Germeys, Filip, and d’Ydewalle, Gery. The psychology of film: perceiving beyond the cut Springer -Verlang, Metapress.com.

Persson, Per. Understanding Cinema: A Psychological Theory of Moving Imagery. Cambridge University Press, UK, 2003. Print.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, March 6). "The Circus" Film: Cognition and Neuroscience. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-circus-film-cognition-and-neuroscience/

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""The Circus" Film: Cognition and Neuroscience." StudyCorgi, 6 Mar. 2021, studycorgi.com/the-circus-film-cognition-and-neuroscience/.

1. StudyCorgi. ""The Circus" Film: Cognition and Neuroscience." March 6, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-circus-film-cognition-and-neuroscience/.


StudyCorgi. ""The Circus" Film: Cognition and Neuroscience." March 6, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-circus-film-cognition-and-neuroscience/.


StudyCorgi. 2021. ""The Circus" Film: Cognition and Neuroscience." March 6, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-circus-film-cognition-and-neuroscience/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) '"The Circus" Film: Cognition and Neuroscience'. 6 March.

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