The Narrator proclaims in the beginning that this is not a love story, i disagree. If there is any movie that show what love can do to a person in reality and what love actually is not, it is 500 Days of Summer. The feeling that you get while watching 500 Days of Summer is hard to describe, but it comes very close to touching that hideous feeling of love. So gear in, Let us analyze the epitome of Rom-Com.
As the narrator states, it is a story of boy meet girl, we have our boy Tom Hanson(played by Joseph Gordon Lewitt), he works at a greeting card company. He writes Taglines for Valentine Greeting cards. He meets Summer (portrayed by Zooey Deschanel) and for him its love at first site when she enters his office as his Boss’s new Assistant. The narrative is not linear, as it spans 500 days and skips and moves around the timeline multiple times. He falls for her and tells his friends that she is the one, and gets a chance in a Karaoke to talk with her. They talk about Love and have an argument whether it is real or not and they agree to disagree. So starts a relationship complex, interesting, frustrating and heartbreaking.
500 Days of Summer : The Direction and Analysis
500 Days of summer was directed by Mark Webb. In his directorial Debut, Mark Webb has created an almost masterpiece. He went on to direct The Amazing Spiderman (cool) and a not so cool sequel. Which makes me wonder, what happened to him? We would have to wait and see what he does in future.
The narrative :
500 days of Summer follows a non linear narrative, it is shown in a non chronological format. The relationship that lasted through those 500 days skips across the time. The director and writer gets imaginative and work up surprises which would not have been possible in a linear narrative. When Tom narrates in the first part of the movie what he likes most, he appreciates the way she licks her lips, the way she laughs, her heart shaped birthmark at her neck. But when she breaks up with him, his views change. The lip licking is now smacking, her smile is now crooked teeth and her heart shaped birthmark is now cockroach shaped splotch. The Breaking of heart is clear and striking.
The writing is one of the most important piece in a Rom-Com, you don’t wanna over do the cliches, and write cheesy lines, and 500 days of Summer do not even touch the line of Cheesiness. The dialogues are funny and full of wit and humor.
Imagery And Direction :
Colors and Architecture
The Subtlety of mark Webb’s Direction is evident in the color selection and use of Architecture. The movie is mostly made in dull muted color personifying as the monotonous world of Tom. His life is same everyday, he encounters the same people every day, he lives in his own world of dull browns. He wears a light colored shirt with a brown sweater over it almost everyday. His room has all shades of gloomy brown strewn everywhere. The room’s walls are brown. he always uses brown shoulder bag. The meeting scene, everyone is wearing the brown colour, but here enters Summer in her beautiful button down white dress and blue ribbon in her hair, destroying the dull monotony and shattering his own creation of the world.
We get to know soon, that Tom always wanted to be an architect but could not become one, so for money he started working at the greeting card company. So Tom lives in a world of his own creation, just like everyone else in the world. He created this boring world when he realized he could not be what he wanted to be. So Conformity took him. This point is proven in the beginning when we witness him standing in the street and the world around him sketches by itself, he is the architect of his own world.
Skip to the scene where Tom sleeps with Summer for the first time, the next morning he is very happy, beaming and looks fresh. The scene that ensues is the point when his world start to dissolve and change and we can witness it clearly.
With the Song you make my dream come true blaring behind, you witness his world changing from dull brown and black in the starting to striking blue. As he pass the fountain and in the park, dancing with everyone, almost everyone is wearing Blue (The color of Summer’s Eyes). Him scoring a homerun signifying that he has crossed the ball park and is in relationship with summer at last, He has entered Summer’s world. The Bird also signifying his metaphorical flight of love. In almost every other scene when we witness them together, the world around them will turn blue. BUT unfortunately he do not realize he is the odd one in this world, that the browns and blues do not go together and he is just not made for this World.
Le us take a step back and analyze why Blue?
Blue according to color psychology is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is the color of sky, while Brown depicts dullness and is the color of falling leaves. Unfortunately Falling leaves always reach the ground they can never fly to the sky escaping the gravity.
So we Reach to a scene which is the best in the movie and also the most famous one:
Expectations v/s Reality
The Scene in all its complexity is strikingly simple, you have the screen split and the director shows you what Tom expected in a Party where he was invited by Summer, and the reality of what happened. The Simple concept is true to its core. How many times do this happen to us in our life? We always have faced such situations.
The seemingly simple things work here, the different way of greeting, rings the alarm bells in the beginning, her way of thanking for the gift, The other people in the room not even noticing him (implying he is not important in Summer”s world now) and the climax point reaches when he witness Summer showing her friend her Wedding ring. He cannot hold it now and breaks down and run away leading to the street where this scene takes place.
The world around him transforms in to a sketch as he stands in the middle of the road.
After that, his world slowly starts to dissolve and an invisible eraser, erases his world completely. leaving behind small traces of lines which were present there at one time.
Tom has his whole world wiped out and enters a depression, until his sister Rachel (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) explains it to him in simple words.
“Look, I know you think that she was the one, but I don’t. No, I think you’re just remembering the good stuff, next time you look back, I, uh, I think you should look again. “
And that is what he do and builds up his world again from scratch after breaking down at his job and applies for Architect jobs.
Another very interesting point in 500 Days of Summer is that the story is narrated in Tom’s Perspective. Thus we witness Summer in his perspective. This lead to a very difficult problem for a writer : How to build a character?
The writer uses subtle little things to elaborate Summer’s Character. When she is talking with Tom in Bar, she tells him, that she do not understand love and does not care about it, because she wants to be an independent and self made women. Explaining the viewer that she is against society, she wants to be different. She likes to cut her hair, because everyone likes her long beautiful hair.
The point is further elaborated when she says her favorite beetle is Ringo Starr. Tom then tells her that no one likes Ringo Starr and She replies with glint in her eyes, “That is why I like him”. This Explains that she do not want to bend to the conformist society and wants to do everything differently. She will not have a usual relationship. Her definition of casual Relationship is different. She will not fall into love, she wants to be independent.
Moreover the scene in which Tom enters Summer’s room for the first time, Summer opens up her soul for first time and we see a hat and a green apple sitting at her desk. This seems strange and out of the way, so I researched on it. The scene is a nod to the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, his famous painting The Son of Man, shows a man with his facial features hidden by a green apple.
The artist explains The Son of man as :
At least it hides the face partly well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present. (link)
The scene solidifies our approach of her character. She hides behind a facade, she wants to be different not like every one else in the world. The artistic brilliance of 500 Days of Summer thus shines in the build up of Summer’s conflicting character and now the movie makes a lot more sense. As to why would she do what she did with Tom.
500 Days Of Summer : Conclusion
When Tom meets Autumn in the end, when he is waiting for his job interview, he finds a woman who is already in his world. She also wears brown and a little bit of red (For second time in movie), she is also an architect, she is also looking for a job and he thus realizes that Summer was just in a different world and Rachel was right, he was not looking carefully.
Thus 500 Days of Summer is a movie about moving on in life, and looking back and understanding where it all went wrong.