Eves Bayou is an American drama film that was directed by Kasi Lemmons and released in 1997. The film is about an African American family's encounter with a Voodoo entity in Louisiana in 1962.
The family members include a ten years old daughter , Eve Batiste, her older sister Cisely, their young brother, Poe, the father, Louis, their beautiful mother, Roz, and Eve's Aunt Mozelle. The story centers around the father, a successful doctor in their community, who is also a womanizer who is unfaithful to his wife. He possesses certain qualities that tend to make him very attractive to other women.
The film began with a party in the Batiste family home. The Batiste’s family and their guests were dancing and having fun, until an incident occurred in which Eve became angry and went to the carriage house where she eventually fell asleep. Suddenly, sounds in the carriage house awakened the young woman, who then witnessed her father with a family friend engaged in an embrace. Eve was disappointed and hurt, even after father's explanation that nothing untoward happened between him and the women.
In the film, Eve’s aunt is known for possessing a mysterious metaphysical power that allows her to foresee the future. Eve is portrayed as being close to her aunt. She witnessed many people consulting with her aunt who would subsequently foretell their futures.
Feeling frightened and confused about her father's betrayal on the night of the party, Eve turns to a Voodoo entity to seek revenge toward her unfaithful father. The filmmaker choses the use of the flashbacks, close up shots, and specific sounds to effectively portray the superstitious Louisiana ambiance. The director uses these particular devices in the film, to show the audience the fear, the weakness, and the risks typically inherent in these Louisiana residents’ lives.
This Eve’s Bayou film introduction is a black and white scene of the father and his mistress in passionate embrace. The use of black and white film effectively gives viewers a feeling of fear, and also effectively portrays the taboo inherent in the clandestine encounter. The use of non-diegetic sounds and the use of the asynchronous sound of a woman narrating the film gives the viewers an uncomfortable foreshadowing of Eve’s possible impending doom. Using an extreme close up shot of Eve’s eyes effectively portrays fright, and the upcoming risk that unfolds in the plot of the film.
The filmmaker's use of a mellow voice in the opening scenes, represent the helplessness and daily risks that are a part of these Louisiana residents' lives. Both the tracking shot of the town, and the dissolve shot are used to make the viewing audience become a part of the community and experience the fear . The appearance of the entity associated with Voodoo that occurs between the trees, is to give a feeling of the danger that belies the Batiste’s family.
Eve’s Bayou Film opens in media res (in the middle of the story). The camera effectively captures a black and white image of the mother and the aunt in a way that shows the vulnerability of those two women. Next, the camera captured a black and white, medium shot of Eve to represent the trepidation that Eve is suffering about her father’s continued betrayal. The close up shot that the director uses when Eve wakes up to discover her father in an embrace with a woman in the carriage house, portrays Eve's the fear, shock, and betrayal.
The sound effect that used in this scene amplifies Eve’s Fear. The flashback scene that is used when Eve is telling her sister about what she saw in the carriage house represents the fear and disdain that Eve is feeling about her father 's cheating on her mother. When Cisely tries to convince Eve that her father was not cheating on the mother, the use of the asynchronous sound demonstrates the fear, confusion and frustration that Eve feels.
On the night of the party, while Eve is dreaming, the camera portrays the dreamlike images inside Eves head by means of a black and white image. Flashbacks about the night in question, graphic match images, sound effects, and a frightening Voodoo-like voice are used as devices to show the risk and the fear that Eve suffers. The sound effects and ensuing close up shot when the aunt was standing in front of the mirror with Eve, portrays the sadness, vulnerability and the fear that she suffers from the previous deaths of her her three husbands. The flashbacks and the sound effects used when a women consults with the aunt for prescience about her son, conveys the weakness and the fear of the women who live in this environment.
The following shot, when the mother and the aunt were slowly strolling and talking to one another, represents their weakness and vulnerability. The Voodoo entity appears in a closeup shot with eery, white makeup on her face as a device to instill fearfulness in the audience. The sound effects used when the Voodoo entity and the aunt were talking gives a risky and fearful feeling. The close up shot of the aunt while she is talking to the Voodoo entity shows her own weaknesses and fearfulness toward the Voodoo entity.
The flashback of Mozelle’s deceased husband is used, again, to evoke fear and the risk inherent in her marrying another man. According to the Voodoo entity, the act will result in his death. The foreboding sound effect used to create Mozelle's dead husband's voice is to show the fear and the risk she has suffered. The sound effect of Mozelle’s dead husband represents her vulnerability and susceptibility to danger.
The filmmakers employ an understated, mellow voice as a device when when the aunt tells Eves her story. This effectively portrays her fearfulness. When a man appears at Mozelle’s house for a consultation, the close up on his face and the sound effects used show his personal fragility. A flashback is used during the session to portray specifically what the man is afraid of. After the mother slaps Cisley on her face the close up on the mothers face shows both fear and anger toward daughter.
The thunder and rain, as well as the diegetic sounds used when the mother and the father fought at the night , demonstrated the tension and foreboding mood and fear that the Batiste family suffered. Eve 's loud screaming during her fight with Cisley, shows Eve’s fear of her sister. The extreme closeup shot on of the Voodoo entity's eye portrays an unmistakable evil presence. Eves reflects this by her own fear of the Voodoo entity's eyes. The sound effects and the Voodoo entity's loud and evil laugh shows the fearfulness of the other characters. The closeup shot of Cisley in the garden portrays tension and her own vulnerability in the form of a genuine fear for her life.
The director uses sound effects when the mother and the father are talking with Cisley about her decision to leave them, to emphasizes their fear of losing their daughter. The sound effects used in this scene also show Cisley’s weakness. In the following scene, the long shot of the Batiste’s family house with the same sound effect of the last scene, further shows the family’s weakness and fear. The closeup shot of Cisley and Eve while they are talking about the reason that Cisley want to leave the house further emphasizes the trepidation that they are feeling.
The flashback and the diegetic sound effects of the storm, when Cisley confided in Eve about the incident with her father, effectively portrayed the fear and the risk from which they suffered. Consequently, sound effects and drum rhythms increased in volume when Cisley told Eves what her father did to her. These devices were used, both to instill fear, as well as to emphasize risk and to evoke a sensation of fright within the viewing audience. The closeup shot used when Cisly and Eve were crying, were employed to show the sisters' emotional pain and fear. The sound effect that used in this scene helped the audience to experience empathy for Cisly’s and Eves .
Closeup shots of Eve crying were used by the filmmakers to evoke a further empathetic response from the audience, because Cisley’s is leaving the house shows separation anxiety and fear. The mellow sound effect used in this scene was chosen to cause viewers to experience the sadness and the fear of the family. The flashback used when the aunt was speaking with Eve about her three dead husbands shows the women's weakness to a greater degree, as well as their sensitivity. The aunt's calm voice and the close up shot of her face cause the audience to relate to the aunt and to share her feelings of trepidation.
The closeup shot used when the Voodoo entity was talking to Eve emphasized and even greater risk and is employed as a device to evoke dread and fear in the audience. Flashbacks are used when the Voodoo entity spoke to Eve foreshadows the great danger that Eve is facing. This also helps draw the audience into the scene to and evokes fear, while holding the audience's interest. The use of another closeup shot of Eves face, again portrays her fear. The use of the backtracking while the Voodoo entity was speaking with Eve, portrayed the risk and the fear that she felt . The menacing laughter of the Voodoo entity easily conveys her propensity toward evil and her threatening nature.
The film's director used the sound track when Eves was running from the Voodoo entity's house to save her father’s life, was employed to portray Eve's sense of urgency and tremendous fear. The use of the closeup shot of the father and Mr. Morrow at the bar, was used to warn the audience of danger to come. The train soundtrack was also used to represent the inherent risk. The loud screaming by Mrs. Morrow in this scene dramatically conveyed her fear. Eve’s loud scream was also used to convey fear of impending danger. The black and white image of the train and the loud soundtrack was used to illustrate the risk, as well as to and to evoke fear and empathy among viewers.
The director used the closeup shot of the family at the father’s funeral to emphasize their sadness and their vulnerability and to evoke empathy among audience members. The Voodoo entity's appearance with the extreme closeup shot of her eyes, as well as the scary sound rack is utilized as a means of showing her evil nature and her dangerous risk to the family. The use of the flashback when the Cisly was telling Eves the truth about her father, was employed to show Cisley’s fear and personal vulnerability.
In conclusion, the use of the asynchronous sound and the soundtrack that the director uses during the last scene, effectively conveyed the fear, the risk, and the vulnerability of the entire family. The director closed the film with a zoom out shot of the sisters standing in the river to show their weakness.