I posted this one over at onanimation.com, but I figured I do it here too
I wanted to show this clip from The Way Back because it does a great job showing a fight or flight response. The fight or flight response states that animals/humans react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the person for fighting or fleeing. Males and females tend to deal with stressful situations differently. Males are more likely to respond to an emergency situation with aggression (fight), while females are more likely to flee (flight), turn to others for help, or attempt to defuse the situation. This clip is a great example of someone going through the fight or flight response.
It starts with Ed Harris piecing a lie together, he has this great subtle little smile once he has figured out the girl has been lying to him, this little moment of realization before he speaks helps the audience know he’s figured something out. Saoirse Ronan’s character instantly gets confrontational, its not over the top, but her voice and pacing let you know she’s afraid/upset. Her reaction is perfect the moment he says “your parents weren’t murdered” the quick head turn, the eye blinks, you really feel she’s afraid, that she’s going into “fight or flight” mode. I love clips like this cause it really shows the battle going in within ourselves, sometimes that battle can be far more interesting than external ones. Mark my words, Saoirse Ronan will have an Oscar in 5 years or less (she’s already been nominated once when she was 13)