The study of film permits an examination of connotation, the inherent meaning in cinematic images. Such a study of connotation illustrates the concept Christian Metz maintains establishes film as an art form unique from any other, the ôseventh artö (Mast, Cohen and Braudy 1992, 70). In Joel SchumacherÆs (1997) A Time to Kill, we see that cinematography is used to help tell the story, establish pacing, and convey such inherent meaning through images.
A Time to Kill revolves around a murder trial of a black man, Carl Lee Hailey, accused of murdering two white men that raped his ten-year-old daughter. Hailey is defended by up-and-coming white lawyer, Jake Tyler Brigance, whose efforts are supported by wealthy law student Ellen Roark and a former lawyer and alcoholic named Lucien Wilbanks. The images that unfold in the filmÆs first moments involve the brutal rape and attempted murder of HaileyÆs daughter. The images of violence are blunt and brutal but are used to establish the main theme of the film that focuses on the question and limits of revenge. The images of the girl, however, are shown only in fleeting and isolated glimpses. This not only spares the viewer graphic violence but underscores the theme of the film that justice is often a fleeting and isolated aspect of the justice system. As Lucien tells Jake, ôYour job is to find justice no matter how well she may hide herself from youö (Schumacher 1997).
The movieÆs plot is complex and the film encompasses a number of different characters. Schumacher uses significant amounts of dialogue to help clarify the plot and move the action along. Cinematography techniques are also used to help achieve enhanced understanding and character development. Schumacher (1997) relies on devices like quick editing and pushy camera work to add emotion to a number of scenes in the film. There are a number of images throughout the film that are symbolic of its theme