Blackadder Goes Forth

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Consider the ways in which ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ not only teaches us about the history and conditions of World War One, but also makes us share the character’s feelings, and also so sympathise with the soldiers involved in the war. ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ is a very funny comedy that was very popular at the time of release. It also has a very serious side and helps the audience to understand what the conditions where like in World War One. In the episode I studied, ‘Goodbyee’, there were many techniques that the Director used to make us think in depth about World War One.

I thought Blackadder was a good comedy, easy to watch and also make the audience share the same feelings as the characters in the show. However it was only at points, for example, when Blackadder and his men are about to go “over the top” they realise that they are could be about to die. In “Blackadder Goes Forth – Goodbyee”, there are 3 main characters (Blackadder, Baldrick and Darling) that are in their quarters getting ready for the German Attack.

They go through many different phases from acting mad and trying to get sent home to accepting that they will probably not make it back from the German Attack alive. The programme taught us the disgusting conditions the soldiers lived in. The film uses a humorous example of trench live being hard when Blackadder asks Baldrick to make him a cup of tea. Baldrick explains that they run out but of tea but he will use mud as a substitute of mud and dandruff as sugar. The programme teaches us that World War One was very different to previous wars.

This is because Captain Darling says “the battle of Umberto George involved the killing of hundreds of peace loving pygmies”, meaning that in previous wars they didn’t carry guns and fought people who where 2ft tall, armed with dead grass. The enemy never fought with guns and so were an easy defeat. This is taken as a joke but really many men would have died. The programme taught us that many people died needlessly (needs to be finished) The programme shows that the normal solider didn’t know what a real war was going to be like when he signed up. Read about the film Saving Private Ryan

He was badly trained and ill prepared for war because when Baldrick signed up he was not given the correct training to be able to deal machine gun firing at him and having to fire a gun back. The training they received was more of a joke than a serious matter and when they got out to the battlefield they were clueless in what to do! I am now going to closely study the last ten minutes of “Goodbyee”. I will focus on how visual images, sounds and special effects make us feel a certain way about the soldiers who died and the people who lead the wars.

In the scene where Melchett gives Darling his orders to advance to the front line, this is very appealing and effective to the audiences’ emotions because the room was dark and gloomy which gives the impression of depression and death is near, with a very grim time ahead. The camera zooms into Darling’s face as he is given his order’s that he has been advanced to the front line, I think the director did this because it shows Darling’s real facial impression.

The audience may feel that it is cruel to advance Darling to the frontline because they have learnt Darling’s personality and may feel close to him. When the driver arrives to take Darling to the front line, there is a very intense bright light, this normally signifies an escape or heaven, in this case it is a way out but not a very good one and also show that his death is near and he will be going to heaven soon, as Darling walks out the camera shot is changed and we now look down onto Darling, this is meant to make us think that he is small inside and trying to make us think what is going to happen.

When Darling exits there is a slow, regular drumbeat this sound a very close match to funeral music so this must mean that Darling’s death is very close. The setting and props in the Field-Marshall Haig’s office are very effective and showing the audience what Haig is like because as we see Haig thoughtlessly knock down big group or model soldiers, this is an imitation of the battlefield and many men dying, by Haig doing this it shows he doesn’t care for the men out there fighting for their country all he is worried about is where the next batch of soldiers are going to come from.

The soldiers Haig has knocked down are cleared up by a dustpan and brush as if it was a clean up operation and then he throws them over his shoulder, this has a massive effect on the audience it shows that the soldiers that are lost are easily replaced and he has no respect for the men fighting. Blackadder then calls and asks if he can be left out of the “big push”, Haig replies “yes” and picks up one of the knocked down soldiers and stands him back up.

Haig’s office is luxurious and brightly coloured but this is juxtaposed with an image of the dull and dingy trench bunk room this would make the audience feel that the men are being unfairly treated because the is a man who is living in good conditions in a dry area whilst they are in waterlogged and muddy trenches freezing cold and catching illnesses. This also signifies Haig is safe, secure and that the men at the front are disposable and live in dreadful conditions.

The final moments of the film are very effectively put together by the director and are very depressing and moving, as you have got to know the characters through the series, you feel close to them at this time and feel sorry for them. The soldiers are waiting to go over we hear a constant shellfire as the background noise this symbolises that the men have a no chance of survival and add to the realistic effect of war, which is millions of men living in poor condition and then ending in death.

The background noise of shellfire and gunfire stop for a moment as the men prepare to launch the attack on the Germans. Some of the men think that the war has ended, when in fact the only reason to stop shellfire is so that they don’t kill their own men. Blackadder was the only one who knew this, that shows us (the audience) that Blackadder has been in many wars and knows the “routine” by now. As the men advance over the top it is shot in slow motion, this is meant to show the audience that the men’s lives are slowly but steadily coming to an end and it is also a sign of respect.

The Blackadder theme tune is slowing playing in the background this sound very similar to funeral music and is a sign of respect for the men’s lives, the music isn’t jolly or happy sound as it is at the start of the episode it is mournful and makes us think about all the men who lost their live to wars. When the men had come out of their trenches the constant sound of shellfire and gunfire is back, the picture becomes very hazy and almost impossible to see through. I think the director did this so that we do not see the men get shot, the director may have also wanted us to use our imagination and wonder what happened to them.

The picture gradually turns from colour to black and white; I think that this signifies death and respect because black and white are the colours you would wear to a funeral. If the director didn’t change the colours from colour to black and white then it would almost be normal, everything is happy and jolly. The colour then comes back and we see a large empty field of poppies, this show the audience war is over and even though many men lost their lives, the world is peaceful. In the final scene there is total silence for several seconds and we are left with the view of the field full of poppies this showing respect and peace.

Every poppy represents one man’s live lost to war. This is the reality of the show whereas we only see the funny side. As the final credits appear to end the show we hear a peaceful bird song. I think that I have learnt how hard fighting a war is and how depressing it is, and what it would have been like for the people who fought in the war and then watched this. The Directors use of sound and visual effects make us think carefully about the soldiers who fought in the war. As we get to know the character and laugh at them and what they do, we become more sympathetic towards them and stop laughing at them and start caring for them.

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