When I watch a short film, its typically because I don’t have/want to give up the time it takes, to watch a feature length movie. While a nice long movie can have a wonderful pay off, there’s nothing quite like a quick, poignant short to revitalize ones love of film. Tune for two was directed and written by the Swedish filmmaker Gunnar Järvstad. The short opens with a shot one might not have expected. It starts on a black screen, with a high pitched frequency playing in the background (a sound that can be acquainted to one being discombobulated). The black cuts to a first person shot. In addition to the shot being a first person POV, Järvstad uses black borders to show blinking over the shot, literally putting the viewer in the shoes of the mysterious character. The shot has the character seeing his limp legs in front of him, suggesting he is being dragged. Already the viewer knows two things. 1. This man is alive (because he can blink) and 2. that theres another character we haven’t seen yet (dragging him). This beginning is a fantastic hook to hold the viewers attention.
Some things I really enjoyed about Tune for Two. The editing. The editing was great. As the two men sang their lines, the camera would cut back and forth between them. The edits, played off the rhythm of the singing, and this choice gave the short great flow. With no distracting cuts, the two minute thirty second running time flew by in a matter of seconds for me. As I think about it, it was probably easy to edit these shots because of the shorts simplicity. The short is set in a wide expanse, covered with snow. This is a simple, non-distracting background. Additionally, there are only two actors, with two props (the gun and the shovel). Not one line is said during the duration of the short. All of this adds up to a film that is very easy to follow and one that allows the actors to grasp the viewers with every small nuance (watch how the assassin acts with his eyes and breathing) Speaking of breathing…the sound design is also incredibly simple and well done. There are only a few distinct sounds, allowing us to take in and appreciate each individual one. The ambient noise is that of a light but sturdy wind. The shovel digging is crisp. The assassin breaths, hesitating to shoot. The assassin grips his gun, ready to fire, we hear the leather of his glove squeeze the gun. The quiet and simple soundtrack makes the gun fire at the end that much more startling. Color wise, Gunnar Järvstad uses the snow and sky to his advantage. Whites, grays, blacks and blues drown each shot. Furthermore the cinematography often frames the characters heads in the white background which really makes their heads pop (pun absolutely intended)
The final shot of the short is cut to as the assassin kills the man. We get a new shot the viewer hasn’t seen yet. An extreme wide. While we were very close to the subjects throughout the film we are now at a distance. This takes the viewer out of the action. To a safe place, where we witness the murder of the character.
Overall Tune for Two is an incredibly memorable, classic feeling short film. It’s simplicity and uniqueness set it apart from a lot of the overstuffed stuffs out there, and i truly appreciate its freshness.
I give it 5 out of 5 dead guys.