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justin hall
february 18, 1998
film: form and signification
t. kaori kitao

sequence analysis:

Cher, the young woman protagonist of the film and her best friend Dionne are in physical education class when a new student, Tai, is introduced to the school. They decide to take her in and show her the ropes. After class they give her a social tour of the campus along the main outdoor stretch of pathway.

This comes after some matchmaking by Cher has created a new romantic relationship between two professors - she is feeling excited by "good works" and wants to use her popularity "to help humanity." We are approximately one quarter into the movie.

script by paul, see below

SEQUENCE I. Courtside

1 steady pan L across high school girls at tennis courtside
camera tightens in as it moves - first knees to head finishing with a waist shot
with cheerleaders behind cyclone fence in BG
end on Dionne and Cher, Dionne sneezes

CHER V.O.: I felt so satisfied, I wanted to do more good deeds.

(Dionne sneezes)

CHER: Dee, when your allergies act up, take out your nose-ring.

2 distance shot of unknown girl with coach L FG hitting ball then walking towards high school girls in BG, coach calls to Cher

MISS STOEGER: Follow... through! There you go, there you go. All right, Cher. Earth to Cher! Come in Cher!

3 cut to girls, Cher and Dionne and Amber from the L end of the along the fence line up of shot 1.
knees to head
voice over coach calling
4 head to toe shot coach exasperated calling

5 cut back to 3, Cher hands cell phone caddy to Dionne
camera pans L with Cher walking L towards coach
camera bends down with her en route as she picks up racquet
she turns her back to the coach and addresses the camera
knees to head

CHER: Oh. Miss Stoeger? I would just like to say that physical education in this school is a disgrace. I mean, standing in line for forty minutes is hardly aerobically effective. I doubt I've worked off the calories in a stick of care-free gum.

speech!  speech!

6 distance shot of girls line clapping at Cher's remark.

(Class cheers)

7 back to end of shot 5, Cher and coach
coach orders Cher

MISS STOEGER: Well, you certainly exercised your mouth Cher. Now, hit the ball.

8 cut to ball machine medium length shot,
it shoots

9 head shot of Cher
ball flies by her face
she makes a lawsuit comment

(Ball flies by, inches from Cher's nose)

CHER: Miss Stoeger, that machine is just a lawsuit waiting to happen!

10 cut to head shot of coach
saying thanks for legal advice

MISS STOEGER : Thanks for the legal advice.

11 return to scene 9, Cher turns and walks R

(Cher returns to line)

12 return to shot 10, coach calls for Dionne

MISS STOEGER: Dionne? You're up.

13 return to shot 3, without Cher
Dionne takes out a note excusing her from participation
girls in BG behind cyclone fencing do cheerleading jumps and arms in the air
Cher comes in from L

DIONNE: Uh, no, Miss Stoeger? I have a note from my tennis instructor, and he would prefer it if I didn't expose myself to any training that might derail his teachings.

14 return to 10, coach replies, fine, calls for Amber

MISS STOEGER: Fine! Amber?

15 return to shot 3, Cher Dionne Amber,
Amber excuses herself from tennis because of plastic surgery
Dionne makes witty rejoinder.

AMBER: Miss Stoeger. My plastic surgeon doesn't want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose.

DIONNE: Well, there goes your social life.

16 return to shot 10, coach, sighs.
17 voice off screen invites camera to cut to principal walking R to L
camera tracks along with him,
he's center frame, oddly dressed girl is in R side of frame
he walks to meet coach, L, new student is behind him
he addresses the crowd introducing Tai

(Girls giggle. Principal walks onto the scene)

PRINCIPAL: Miss Stoeger? Got another one. Ladies, we have a new student with us. This is Tai Frasier.

18 shot like shot 3 except now back a little,
shoes to head shot, Cher Dionne and Amber flanked by two other girls
5 total girls in frame, leaning against the fence
regarding the new girl

19 return to the end of shot 17, minus principal
coach directs Tai to play as she is

MISS STOEGER: Tai, you don't have time to change, but you could hit a few balls in those clothes.

20 return to shot 18, Amber says mean thing

AMBER: She could be a farmer in those clothes.

21 close up of Cher and Dionne with thrusting cheerleaders BG behind cyclone fence

CHER: Dee, my mission is clear. Would you look at that girl? She is so adorably clueless. We have got to adopt her.

22 foot to head vertical pan of Tai clutching her notebook, self conscious
same cyclone fence behind her, no cheerleaders
voice over Cher and Dionne

DIONNE: Cher, she is toe-up. Our stock would plummet.

CHER: Dee, don't you want to use your popularity for a good cause?


23 same as shot 21
Cher invites Tai over

CHER: (Motions to Tai)

C'mere. Yeah, c'mere.

24 return to the end of 22, head shot of Tai,
moves R out of frame

TAI: Oh, thank you.

25 like 21, two girls, but back further - knees to head shot
Tai enters from L
Cher invites her to hang

CHER: (Motions to Tai)

Hang with us.

26 same as 21
Cher makes pleasant conversation

CHER: How do you like California?

27 head shot of Tai L in frame,
behind cyclone fence in the distance runners on a track far BG
Tai says she is having a hard time and wants some drugs

TAI: Man, I am freakin'. I could really use some sort of a herbal refreshment?

28 return to shot 25, Dionne checks her beeper
misses the drug reference, offers coke instead of tea
Tai thinks she means cocaine

DIONNE: Well, we do lunch in ten minutes. We don't have any tea, but we have Coke and stuff.

TAI: No shit! You guys got Coke here?

DIONNE: Well, yeah.

CHER: Yeah, this is America.

29 return to 27, Tai is laughing, incredulous

SEQUENCE II. Promenade

1 camera moving L to R and forward through crowd of students headed towards camera
students first head L off camera, then R
camera rises a little towards their faces when they get close then back down
voice over Cher decided to show Tai around

(Scene changes to the girls walking down main path)

"Unknown song and artist"

CHER V.O.: So, we decided to show Tai the ropes at Bronson Alcott High School.

2 shot of school tv station staff in grass off path L
camera from above down on them moves L to R and tightens in
over over Cher

CHER: That is Alana's group over there. They do the T.V. station.

3 knees to head shot
three girls Tai L, Cher center, Dionne R
with school facade behind
camera tracks backwards at same speed as them walking
students pass by behind
Cher is speaking

CHER: They think that's the most important thing on Earth.

4 Persian mafia
camera move R to L along path tracking some slick looking dudes on a bench and standing talking
leafy trees BG

CHER: And that's the Persian mafia. You can't hang with them unless you own a BMW.

5 camera tracks R to L, getting closer
scene R homeboys sitting on a bench back
slick looking elton on a cell phone, scene L
buildings behind trees, BG

CHER: And there's Elton in the white vest, and all the most popular boys in the school.

6 return to shot 3, girls walking
long take
two pairs of students walk along behind, random students walk across the path in BG
Dionne points offscreen to R, talking about her boyfriend Murray
(doesn't quite mesh with scene 5:
R to L tracking in that scene implies the most popular boys are on the other side of the path)
Murray enters R, camera pulls back for him asking Dionne for 5 bucks

DIONNE: Including my boyfriend. Ain't he cute?

TAI: Yeah.

CHER: If you make the decision to date a high school boy, they are the only acceptable ones.

TAI: Cher, which one of them is your boyfriend?

CHER: As if!

DIONNE: Cher's got attitude about high school boys.

CHER: It's a personal choice every woman has got to make for herself.

(Murray approaches the girls)

MURRAY (to Dionne)

Woman, lend me five dollars.

DIONNE: Murray, I have asked you repeatedly not to call me Woman!

7 head shot of Murray talking with Dionne
1/4 her face visible, frontal shot of Murray
students in BG
he defends his verbiage, sticks out his tongue, leaves L
Dionne's head turns CW towards us smiling broadly

MURRAY: Excuse me, Miss Dionne.

DIONNE: Thank you.

MURRAY : OK, but street slang is an increasingly valid form of expression. Most of the feminine pronouns do have mocking, but not necessarily in a misogynistic undertone.

(Murray hops away)

8 head shot Tai and Cher
1/4 Cher's head visible, frontal Tai
tai comments on mature talk
Cher praises the school

TAI: Wow! You guys talk like grown-ups.

CHER: Oh, well, this is a really good school.

9 return to 7, head shot of Dionne center
tilted head nodding at Cher
10 return to 8,
Tai announces a soda purchase, leaves R
Cher turns CCW towards us, frame centers on her

TAI: I'm gonna go get a soda. You guys want?

CHER: Sure.

TAI: Alright.

11 return to 9,
Dionne pronouces Tai nice

DIONNE: She's nice.

12 Cher squeals, leaves toward camera screen R

CHER: Oooh, project!

Many thanks to Paul for his labour of love, repeatedly watching the movie and typing in the entire Clueless script online, with pictures. Truly a devoted fan!

My use of his script begins at his notation "SCENE XIV - SCHOOL P.E."

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