Analysis Of The Opening Sequence OfPresentation Transcript
Analysis of the opening sequence of… Silence of the Lambs 1991 Directed by : Jonathan Demme Genre : Crime Thriller
Summery of Opening Scene The film starts with some shots of a woman running through a dark, misty wood. It gradually becomes apparent that she is running an assault course. An F.B.I. man tells her that a Mr. Crawford wants to see her. At this stage it is made clear that she is working for the F.B.I. because we see her making her way through corridors full of guns and agents. She then enters some offices where she finds some newspaper clippings and pictures about a murderer called ‘Buffalo Bill’. She is set an assignment by Crawford and the scene ends there. The audience only get some basic information at this point in the film.
Locations Part 1
The first part of the opening is filmed in some dimly lit woods.
This shows some isolation and gives the shot a creepy feel. We are not sure if she is running away from something or not.
The bare trees and the wash of blue colour adds to this. It is also misty and seems to be set in the early hours of the morning.
As it reveals that she is running an assault course, the audience start to think that this woman is not as feminine as is usual in films such as this.
Locations Part 2
As she goes indoors, the masculine blue theme continues. The walls and tables are lined with technology and male orientated items such as guns and gadgets.
In the office, the blue theme still seems to continue but we get a lot more brown. This gives a more serious tone to the shots. We see files and folders and the newspaper clippings on the walls.
The first character we see is obviously going to be the main character, Clarice Starling. She is the main focus of the majority of the shots in the opening few minutes.
She stands out like a sore thumb in the corridors of the F.B.I. base because she is the small, female among the large men. This is shown in the shot with her (in blue) and the men (in red) in the lift.
Compared to typical female film characters, she is unglamorous, sweaty and almost masculine in her ways.
We can tell by the way her boss talks to her that she is respected and is successful in what she does.
There are four main enigma codes throughout this opening, these being:
-Why is she running at the very beginning?
-Who is Crawford and why does he want to speak to her?
-What are all of these pictures of murder victims in the paper?
-And finally, who is Hannibal?
These will get, or have got answered during the film.
Camera Work and Effects
The camera work is mainly used to show that she is a woman in a mans world. The rope shot seems to show this, as well as the lift shot, as mentioned in a previous slide.
The point of view shot of the clippings on the wall shows us what she is looking at. This is cut from to reaction shots of her reading and studying them.
There are not many fancy effects and transitions to comment on. It is mostly just invisible editing.
Use of Sound
The music and speech is the focus of the sound within the opening scenes.
The music is orchestral, in a minor key and has a looping bass line to build the tension. The music was clearly written to give a sense of worry and unease in the shots; especially whilst she is running. The music fades out to speech but comes back again when she goes indoors.
However, the music is less tension building and more serious when it comes back in from the fade. It fades slightly and lingers whilst her and Crawford are talking, again giving a sense of unease.
There is a heavy use of diagetic sound as well, such as heavy breathing, gun shots, running through leaves, helicopters and birdsong.
The main genre characteristics, within this film introduction are as follows:
-Lone characters, often becoming victims or heroes.
-Shots of photographs and clipping stuck to the wall.
-And finally, eerie and tension building music.
How the Titles are Presented
The titles are simple, white and relatively small.
They just come and go, without any flashy editing.
They come up all through the introduction in the woods, and carry on into the film a little way.
Intended Target Audience
This film would be aimed at adults, due to some graphic content. The main signifiers being, the creepy start and the photographs on the wall. (not to mention the age rating for the film)
Also, the mentioning of the F.B.I. would appeal to the film illiterate people that recognise and like police based films.
Ideas That we Could use in Our Production
We have already used a similar idea of the woman running through woodland and countryside, but instead of doing an obstacle course, she is running away from something.
During this, we will play some suspense building music, like in this film.
And finally, we will use speech and body language to pass important plot information to the audience; just like Crawford did during his dialogue with Clarice Starling.
We could use some similar camera angles, but our plot needs a different feel to it that this one, as she is being chased, not running around a course in the woods.