Cinematic Techniques Clueless

Cinematic Techniques: #

Film uses subtext to communicate often subconsciously with the audience. Everything on the screen talks to us and language suddenly becomes secondary to visual and auditory spectacle. We need to be aware of how our emotions are being subtly manipulated,

Satire and dramatic ironies abound as both Heckerling and Austen portray indulged, self-deluded manipulators.

Cher’s voice-over is frequently at odds with what is depicted on the silver screen and we are expected to take her conclusions with a large dose of salt:

She begins the movie telling us:

but seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl. I mean I get up, I brush my teeth, and I pick out my school clothes”.

Meanwhile the visuals show her choosing her clothing by computer and the sound effects play Fashion by Bowie.

Satire and irony are used with self deprecation as Cher reveals her shallow superficial posing as an intellectual. This is low brow pop culture meets high brow classical art:


That’s Ren and Stimpy. They’re way existential.


Isn’t my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972.


It’s like that book I read in the 9th grade that said “’tis a far far better thing doing stuff for other people.” (A misquote of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.)

Cher: “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May….”

Dionne: “Did you write that?”

Cher: Duh, it’s like a famous quote.

Dionne: From where?

Cher: Cliff Notes.

Heather: “it’s just like Hamlet said ,’to thine own self be true.’

Cher: “Ah, no, uh, Hamlet didn’t say that.”

Heather: “I think I remember Hamlet accurately”.

Cher: “ Well I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn’t say that. That Polonius guy did .”

On Amber’s attractiveness,

Cher replies:

No, she’s a Monet; looks great from a distance but all spotty close up”.

Cher: On Tai to Elton:

“She looks like one of those Botticelli chicks”


Also secluded but a much more open fast paced society.

Technological advances (?)

Oral communication: telephone (low shots), cellular phones, speeches.

Clueless depicts emotions via facial expressions (Josh seeing Cher dressed up to go out with Christian.

Cars replace carriages – more mobile yet parochial. Driving becomes a significant symbol for the movie-as most activities revolve around cars. Cher is barred from driving because of her lack of discipline indicating she has more to learn.

Visual Images:

Facial expressions – Josh on seeing Cher dressed up to go out with Christian.

Computer image of Miss-Match reinforces many of the issues of the movie.

Action and body language.*


Cher is very conscious of how she dresses and critical of Ms Geist, Tai and Travis.

Used effectively at the final wedding to distinguish levels of society. Cher and Josh contrasted with Tai and Travis.


Am. Anthem during Cher’s Haitian Speech

Gigi - when Josh sees Cher on staircase for date

Tenderness” during credit roll

Tai’s Make over – “I want to be a supermodel”.

“We are Young, we are Free” –exuberance of youth

Camera angles- Low Camera shot on telephone – imbuing it with status of reverence.


Cher generally in centre - Exception where Tai describing her attack in the Mall, Cher is noticeable sidelined, marginalised

At the wedding, Christian in the background, marginalised