Analysis – Defining space with Good Will Hunting

In Film there are from time to time in Film about genius and their flaws, some have unfortunate histories or high functioning mental disorders that plague their character in their life altering way. Good Will Hunting, the main character Will Hunting played by Matt Damon, a mathematical savant is plagued by his past as orphan and alcohol abused teenager, and under the surface trying to find peace with his life. The movie is setting in the mid-nineties in parts of Boston Massachusetts and M.I.T campus. The cinema photographer, Jean-Yves Escoffier, used a visual element that emphasizes Will’s character development through the use of space.

                Deep space in the beginning of the film is used to establish the two of the three main characters, Will and Professor Gerald Lambeau. For example, the shot of the Professor is seen in his classroom lecturing is two point perspective, with a classroom full of students. Another example is a shot of Will alone in the school’s hallway is a one point perspective of Will, as he completes the math problem on the board. The audience is given informal introduction to the characters, and that both do not know each other. Other examples of deep space can be observed is when Cinematographer wants to express isolation and psychological points of reflection, symbolic to Will’s character. An example, when there is a one-point perspective of railroad tracks and two-point perspective of buildings.

                Flat space in turn with deep space shots are used when Will and his friends have moments to reflect on their character and future in the film. There are randomly flat space shots of exterior infrastructure used, such as buildings, fences, and bridges when the director makes a mood transition and pivot to another part of film, a way of signaling to the audience that Will’s character is in a state of flux and he is unaware of it, but the audience knows. Medium shots are used with size constancy when Will interacts with friends to show that Will as character is equal and that his personality is malformed. The deep space shots of Will are random empathize a part of will’s personality that he is alone and isolates his talents for no one else to see.

                When Will Hunting starts to interact with Sean Maguire, the therapist, there close up shots to show the intimacy of their conversations they have about each other. Will’s character is extremely defensive, and ambiguous space and camera panning is used to move the audience around with Will, making the first interaction with Sean an uncomfortable one. The end of scene focuses on the therapists painting with flat space, another example that both character are a like in their own way, signaling that the characters are going to have philosophical and psychological conflict that Sean’s character eventually starts helping Will sort out inside himself. The second interaction that Will has with Sean is when Sean calls Will out on his behavior and barrios that Will has built up over the years as orphan. A wide master shot of the both characters sitting on a bench in front of pond. This is to establish that this is peaceful setting for the therapist and audience is with him instead of Will this time. A medium shot of the therapist face is used first to show that even though Will rambling on with insults about him, the therapists is going to get the upper hand on Will behavior and Will is not prepared for it. A close up of Sean with open space in the background out of focus, emphasize to the audience that this important to both characters, and that Will has not developed in his maturity and experience other harshness of life. A slow relative camera move starts to movement out from Sean to include Will. As the audience can see and feel through Robin William’s cathartic performance with aerial diffusion in the background, this allows Will to start opening himself up to be vulnerable and feel.

                There are scenes with variation of limited and ambiguous space with Will that as the audience starts see Will start to grow in his love interest Skylar. For example in her room and restaurants with friends, and with limited space in the scene with his therapist Sean. When Will goes to a job interview at the National Security Agency, Will is seen with two officials discussing math while is confronting the reality of his situation, then jump cut into Sean’s office where Will lays his exactly his feelings in his positon in life. Confronted with the reality and starting to feel alive for the first time in a long time. The conversation with Will and Chuckie in an open space of a construction site all around is metaphoric and symbolic to Will’s problem of balancing his talents and honor of hard work he so defends in the entire film, subconsciously. This pivots his character growth slightly for him to start focus on what matters to him, love.

                Consequently, when Will is confronted by Sean about his past in his office of limited space, this forces Will to confront his emotional scares head on, and by the end have Will in a peaceful place with him alone the train with one point and two point perspectives of buildings, tunnels, streets and train track show the audience is with him in good place, signaling that will is in a good place in his head, and one more change is underway in him as a character. The element of space has a significant role of metaphoric and symbolic to Will’s story, expressing in subtle ways pivotal and dynamic points the audience would underestimate.

Short Story – The Miller Estate

The day was brisk and humid with a grey sky over Mount Rainier. A mountain biker forward on down the trail, dodging rocks and deep crevasses of dirt, sweat poured from his forehead and onto his goggles. He gained traction in the sand to reach a summit. On the peak he spotted an animal of some kind headed down the trail. Curious to know what it was, he rushed down to see if he could get a glimpse of it. The biker’s body tussled at every bump, and with all his might, he held desperately onto the handle bars, but the rear tire spokes caught a branch attached to a tree on the ground. He fell off the bike onto the dirt, and his right leg scraped a branch with sharp thorns. He screamed in pain and quickly called for help on his phone. Paramedics rushed to the scene to pick him up off the trail. They rushed to the hospital. As the biker was lying in the ambulance losing some blood, and he drifted in and out consciousness.

”What is your name?” The ambulance medic asked.

”Se-Sean, Sean Miller.” He said in a quiet whisper.

Hours later Sean woke in the hospital bed, his right leg bandaged up and swollen. He saw an opportunity to leave, and got up with a slight limp reaching for his clothes and shoes in his blue and white hospital gown. He was sitting mildly upset and a little confused, when the doctor walked in.

”Hey what are you doing? I am Dr. Keneski”

“I am leaving. I feel much better thank you.” Sean replied, limping toward the door.
”Now just a minute, I am still making sure your bloodwork comes back clean. You received a pretty deep gash from a potentially poisonous plant. Sit right back down.” The doctor smiled with a professional tone.

”Ok, fine.” Sean said. He sat and waited.

Minutes passed and Sean contemplated his decision to attempt to leave again. Just as he was going to leave. The room door swiftly opened and in Dr. Keneski walked.

“I have your results. How are you feeling Mr. Miller?” Dr. Keneski slowly approaching Sean

“Thanks, what do you have on me? I don’t like it here. I’ve got things to do, and head to work at Carter’s Diner.” He said in frustrated tone.

“Well the blood results came back clean. You were lucky not to get as big as gash as you did. The tendons are intact and you have just surface wounds. I would not do any running for the next week or so. It needs to heal.”

“Ok can I leave now?” Sean asked.

Dr. Keneski looked down at her clipboard with results and eyes the blood type that said “B Positive.”


“I will send you over to be discharged.” She looked at him with a smile.
“Great, thanks!” Sean replied in a mildly sarcastic tone.


On crutches and lightly limping his way to front outside of the hospital. Sean called for his girlfriend Jessica to pick him up. Arriving there with a concerned expression, she asked,

”Are you ok? What happened?” said Jessica

“I am fine. I fell off my bike. I have a minor gash. The doctor prescribed me some antibiotics for a few days. Can we just go home? said Sean.
“I am tired and not going to make it into work tomorrow or the few days.”

“Ok, I have to leave in a few days to conference for work,” said Jessica
“Then we have our three year anniversary to go to.”

“I don’t know. We’ll see. I am upset now because I am not going to play football with my friends this weekend and my life seems pathetic.”

Sean spent the next few days, feeling bitter. The day came when he needed to go back to work at Carter’s Diner, still with a slight limp, but refreshed body, and content about his accident. A regular walked in. Mr. Elgan, a man in the finance industry, a little dressed down than usual from what Sean is used to. He wore brown khaki pants and green polo shirt, and walked over to Sean.

”Hey there, buddy remember me? I always come in asking for your specials and best drinks. Yes, “Mr. Elgan, What can I do for you? Sean said.

Mr. Elgan put his hand over to Sean’s shoulder like they were friends.

“Walk with me for a moment.” Elgan said.

Reluctantly Sean did so.

“You see I received this invitation for two in the mail to a house party, and can bring another. I thought you since you are pretty good with math. Showing off how fast you calculate our dinner total and percentage of tips. I could introduce you as my accounting intern, and you could maybe meet some people there.”

”Why would I want to be around those stuck up types?”

“Hey, humor me. What do you have to you lose?”

“Ok, I’ll go. As long as there is free food. Give me the invite.”

Mr. Elgan handed it over with a smile and left.

The day of the party came, and Sean was and full of anxiety in his barely worn navy pin stripe suit. He asked Jessica to drive him over in her car, since it was better looking and a newer model than his old Chevrolet Blazer.

Jessica agreed as she couldn’t wait to get him out of the house for the evening. She had planned for a night on the town with her friends.

The two left Seattle to where the party was located in Bellevue. They pulled into the driveway of a suburban house. There overarching oaks and redwood branches hung blissfully swaying in the wind. A valet came to open the car door. Sean enters the house and Mr. Elgan quickly came over to welcome him.

“How are you doing? I would like you to meet someone over here who a friend of mine.”

“Ok.” Sean said.

Both entered a large office with a minimalist touch. Near the window, overlooking the white lit town stood a man in suit and tie with black leather Oxford shoes.

“Mr. Wheeler, come meet this fine gentlemen. Mr. Miller, I’d like you to meet Mr. James Wheeler; he is the founder and C.E.O of Wheeler Industries which is the parent company of Carter’s Diner.” Elgan Said.

”Hi. Nice to meet you.” Sean Said

“Hi. Come sit here and Mike can you give us few minutes?” Wheeler replied.

“Sure, sir.”

“So Sean, how long have you been working for the diner? Wheeler asked.

“Well about two years or so. It’s an ok job with tips. It’s good enough for now.”

“How much do you know about who and where you came from?”

“As far as I know my parents gave me away when I was a few months old after I was born. I spent a few years in and out of foster care, and made it through my teen years with a few good school instructors that really inspired me to go into computers. I received my associates in computer science. I tried getting a job and heard a close instructor of mine passed away. I really didn’t know what to do after that, so I settled to be a waiter.”

“Well, you’re still young to make it right”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“I have a proposal for you. I would like you work with Mike for a while. Hourly pay of course and maybe get you back into school for finance”

“Excuse me, but why should I go into finance? Sean asked.
”Forgive me for being suspicious.”

“There is no easy way to tell you this. I am your biological father. Wheeler replied.

 “What?” said Sean, the shock evident in his voice.

“I am going to need you to become an owner of the business in a few years. My business partners have made it clear in a contract to keep things in my name with controlling interest. I need a blood relative.”

“How long have you known I’ve worked for you? Have you been spying on me?” asked Sean.

“I only suspected you might be there when Mike told me you looked like a younger me.”

”No, I am not going to be apart a part of this. Do you realize what you put me through?”
Sean asked with watery eyes. A look of disgust and anger came over him.


In that moment, Sean realized how sad, empty, and pathetic Mr. Wheeler’s had been life since giving him up for Wheeler Industries. All this time something inside Sean had been growing, and saw through the Wheeler’s selfishness.

“No, not entirely. I just need someone to be ready to take reins one day and keep my company where I envision it to be.” Wheeler replied.

“No. What entitles to do this to me? I’m leaving now. Goodbye” Sean quickly walked out of the house.

Sean found peace in his failures and failed relationships with others. He understood better than his father it is never fun to have something go wrong, and to end up losing and to realize you wasted your time. If he could fail and say to himself and believe this was an important step into the journey of getting where he wants be. If Sean could say what the lesson was, and not wallow in it then there was no penalty in that. A lot people never try anything, because they are afraid to fail.

Sean called for Jessica to pick him up, and when she arrived. Sean was smiling, and got into the car.

” Let’s go home. I’m going to get my life together.”

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