The Distribution of the Sensible in The Grand Budapest Hotel

by Nicole Rothwell Guerra
2848 words



Distribution of the Sensible

Film Techniques



Distribution of the Sensible

            Society and governments are dominated by a specific social order (Rancière, 2001, thesis 2). This social order determines what is recognized as correct or, in other words, what is shared between the individuals who are a part of the dominant group and the factors which determine which individuals can claim a part in this sharing.  The distribution of the sensible is precisely this, it explains how time, spaces and forms of activities are distributed and which of these is visible, audible, thinkable or sayable by individuals who partake in a specific social order (Rancière, thesis 7). Furthermore, it determines who has the right and the capacity to speak and who will be listened to and take part in the sensations of society (Rancière, thesis 7). To give a concrete example, in minute 2:00 of TGBH, we are shown the author of the book which the movie appears to be based on (figure 1). The author is presenting us with information, speaking to us from a position of authority, making it clear that his voice must be listened to since he will be the narrator for the upcoming story (Barsam & Monaham, 2016).

Figure 1

            What is interesting about the distribution of the sensible is not how it explains the current status quo but how it provides us with the tools and necessary knowledge to disrupt the social order enabling us to bring new voices into the existing social order (Rancière, 2001, Thesis 4). In minute 2:12, Anderson breaks away from the established distribution by making the sound of a door opening listenable which takes the attention away from the author’s voice. At 2:18, by using a pan-shot, Anderson brings into view a boy with a fake gun who shoots at the author, completely disrupting his speech. The pan-shot continues to follow the boy revealing a painter in the adjacent room at work. A reverse pan-shot then returns our view to the author where he continues with his narration. Although this scene lasts mere seconds, it has disrupted our senses and has brought our attention to characters that would normally not be given the space or screen time to participate in the creation of a story. Anderson’s main point of disruption occurs through the character of Zero Mustafa.

Figure 2