Directed by Maaz Khan, The Most Beautiful Thing is one of the finest short films beautifully portraying the inexplicably beautiful relation between a shy, withdrawn boy, Brandon, and a disabled girl, Emily. Once the movie starts, the audience finds a young teenager, wandering aimlessly over the corridor of his college, unable to strike connection with the young students of his age, and by the middle of the story, when Brandon has already met Emily, he transforms into a content, smarter and confident person. This is one of the most essential themes of the story- the magical spell that love casts on Brandon; even though he cannot verbally communicate with his beloved friend, he can sense every iota of happiness arising out of his blissful union with Emily. The effective use of artificial lighting in alternate scenes, and non-diegetic music is highly consistent with the mood and tone of the story, and helps the audience understand even the most subtle emotions felt by the characters.
Against the backdrop of a clamorous class corridor, where the young students are too engrossed in talking with each others, or indulging in sensuous activities, the short story The Most Beautiful Thing starts. The audience, in the very opening scene, is being made aware of the ugly scenario of the present world, where most of the people engage in conversations for the sake of it, and lack depth of any emotion. Brandon, a teenage boy, is intimidated by the indifferent attitude of his classmates. On the one hand, the Prom Night is coming up, and people are trying to find new partners, and on the other, Brandon is too shy to ask anyone to become his companion. Brandon clearly belongs to another world. Brandon is perplexed, and he fails to understand if his friends are too desperate or he requires brushing up his social skills. However, no matter how despondent Brandon feels, pitying his own condition, he soon finds a girl, and tries to woo her, by greeting her. However, the girl shows no sign of interest, and apparently turns a “deaf” ear to his call, and walked away. However, nevertheless, Brandon is fortunate enough to accidentally meet her on the very next day, and as he approaches her for a second time, to his greatest dismay, he discovers that the girl is deaf and dumb. She cannot greet back verbally, and cannot hear a word, in the first place. Nevertheless, they exchange words by simply using a notebook, and employing the use of signal language. As days are passing, Brandon is becoming more confident, and feels drawn towards Emily. While finally the day arrives, when he decides to profess his love for the girl, and ask her out for the Prom Night, he is shocked to find Emily, with another boy, where the latter is trying to kiss her. Repulsed by the very sight of it, Brandon flees from there, deciding to severe all his ties with Emily. However, Emily, finally confronts him, and explains how the boy tried to kiss him, but she hit him, and the unknown facts were disclosed by Emily, in her own words. Although earlier, she said that she prefers not to try speaking as she fears to be ridiculed, in the last scene, she tries to communicate with all her heart, so as to embrace the love of her life.
As far as the short story is concerned, the characters of the two protagonists, Brandon and Emily have been portrayed in much detail by the writer.
Brandon: In the opening scene of the story, it becomes evident that Brandon is more of a recluse, who stays mostly detached with people around him, as they intimidate him. He is a teenager with much depth of feeling, and cannot hang around with anyone, for temporal pleasure. He is shy and withdrawn, and fails to make friends easily. He easily gets perplexed, when he finds his other classmates, are able to find partners, while he is still left alone. He sits on the right of a bench, instead of the centre, despite being the protagonist. This shows he tries to stay detached, and cannot easily connect with the people around him. He is very sensitive to the external environment, and easily gets despondent when he finds the girl, Emily, not responding to his greetings. However, as he discovers she is deaf and dumb, he quickly understands the situation, and embraces his new relation with her. Brandon has a big heart, he is generous and he starts loving Emily, despite her revelation of disability. He does not stop himself from loving the disabled girl, and puts all his soul, in loving her.
Emily: Emily is a disabled girl, who can neither hear, nor can communicate. However, despite the physical disability, Emily is a friendly, charming girl, with a pleasant personality. It is only her, who helps Brandon find a friend, and feel at peace with his life. Just like Brandon, Emily also finds a companion in him, and impacts his life. Her love for Brandon becomes evident when she forces herself to speak, regardless of what others say, just to resolve the misunderstanding affecting their relation, and voices her love for him.
Though the revelation of Emily’s disability is a major twist in the plot, the climax of the story occurs when Brandon decides to profess his love for Emily, and is repulsed by the sight of her being kissed by another boy. Brandon is thrilled when he finds Emily’s text stating how she has been missing his absence, and gets reassured that she does love him. He realizes this is exactly the time to finally declare his love for her, and after hours of practice before the mirror, he goes to visit her in the park. However, finding them in an intimate situation, Brandon loses all his hope, feels crestfallen, and comes back.
The falling action occurs, when the misunderstanding between the two protagonists is resolved. At the last scene, as a disenchanted Brandon walks out of his classroom, for going to the washroom, he meets Emily. Emily always feared speaking, in fear of being mocked at, but this time, she explained how the boy forcefully tried to kiss her, and how she prevented any further advancement from him. As Brandon realizes his mistake, he admires how she speaks, and the story happily concludes with their happy reconciliation.
The opening scene rightly engages the attention of the audience by presenting a world that is at once intimidating for the protagonist as well as for them, and the way the camera has been focused on different angles and different parts of the corridor, at the very same time, brings in a sense of instability in the lives of the characters. Again, the mise en scene strategy is used, whereby the camra brings in a close up shot of the “Who wants to go to the Prom” poster, and again in a while highlights the protagonist standing alone, which clearly explain his loneliness in w world where he fails to connect, even though he can verbally communicate with each of them. However, as soon as Emily is introduced, the camera is not sifted here and there, and is more focused, showing how the protagonist feels content, being able to connect with Emily, even though they cannot verbally exchange thoughts and ideas. The music sets the tone of the story as well. In fact, the music at the begining is consistent with his feeling of loneliness, whereas by the middle of the film when the two characters are able to connect with each other, the music is very up-beat and happy.
The most beautiful message that the story conveys is that one should always listen to his heart, and should love regardless of differences, if his soul can connect with the soul of another individual. The very fact that the best feelings in the world, such as love and happiness, can only be perceived within the heart, has been briefly summed up by Helen Keller’s words in the end.
Covell, C. (2017). The Most Beautiful Thing. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP8psM4LWXk
Malin, J. J., Vine, V. J., Stanton, A., Cannava, K., Bodie, G., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2014). The arc of narrative: Using language markers to identify stories. In Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Austin, TX.
Rohrbach, A., Rohrbach, M., & Schiele, B. (2015, October). The long-short story of movie description. In German Conference on Pattern Recognition(pp. 209-221). Springer, Cham.
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