A Role of Setting and Staging Play in Moonlight
In the motion picture “Moonlight,” setting, as well as presentation, plays a significant role in the development of the film, and assists in informing certain aspects of the story. Three areas of setting, which are pivotal in the film, include the school “Little” attends, the community he lives in, and the beach. The staging of the film reveals that Little gives up when he is under pressure or feels uncomfortable in specific situations he is in. The school Little attends reflects the community he resides in, which appears to be a low-income African American neighborhood. In this neighborhood boys are expected to act tough, show interest in masculine activities like sports or fighting, and assume heterosexuality. Little is precisely the opposite of these expectations at this part of the film. Little is shy and does not fit in with other boys his age. He is an easy target because he appears not tough enough and does not stand up to defend himself until much later in the film
Lastly, with establishing the beach as a significant setting, the movie uses it as a space of freedom and a place where Little expresses himself. At the beach, Little has an intimate conversation and opens himself up to his friend Kevin, leading to their first kiss. Little tells Kevin about struggles he wouldn’t dare express or act upon back in the neighborhood they inhabit. Later on in the film, when Little and Kevin reconnect, they retreat to a motel by the sea where Little reveals his lack of sexual experiences. This further underscores the intimacy and revelation the beach setting conveys in the movie. All of this transmits the film’s message regarding living an insincere life and the anxiety of being different. When Little can finally be himself at the beach with Kevin, he seems happier than at any other point in the movie, for he can momentarily shed the facade he consistently maintains. If they were seen kissing in the neighborhood they live in, they would likely face ridicule and physical harm.
How it works
Staging also plays a unique role in the unfolding of the film. There are several examples of this, like Little’s mother reaction when she asks for money, and Little retaliating after being attacked by Kevin after school. Little and his mother do not seem to have much of a relationship in the film due to her drug problem. She initially appears to be a nurse, shown in scrubs, but is later typically seen at home in regular clothes. At one point, her drug addiction escalates to such an extent that she has to ask Little for money to buy drugs. The conversation starts routinely, but soon escalates to her battering the door, frantically searching Little for money. She grows increasingly aggressive towards him until he gives her the money she wants.
This episode conveys Little’s submissive personality and his tendency to surrender when pressured. He appears to be very sad and compelled to conceal his emotions. Ultimately, Little retaliates and lets his pent-up anger and frustration overtake him after being attacked at school. Little, frequently bullied in elementary school, does nothing to retaliate. However, as he grows older and after sharing an intimate moment with Kevin at the beach, Kevin is pressured to beat Little up by a group of bullies. After Little is assaulted, he retaliates by striking one of these bullies, the orchestrator of his beating, in the back of the head with a chair.