Textual Analysis -Variety of Film Openings Fran Matthews
Blood Diamond The next scene is brighter, showing that it is later on in the day. The father and son are walking home together; the music is still slow and calm showing that this is their normal daily ritual. It is captured in a medium shot, which gives us an idea of where they are and what is going on around them. Suddenly gangs appear, driving in their jeeps with the music blaring. This is a large contrast to the picturesque scene in which we just saw. The backing music speeds up, portraying a strong sense of urgency; the man and his son begin running. Now the cuts between each shot are much more abrupt, showing a strong sense of fear and chaos as many people in the small town are being mown down by the hooligans machine guns. This scene is basically showing how sudden a whole town can change, a great difference to how calm and collected the town had been before their arrival. “Civil war rages for control over the diamond fields...” Genre: Action Director: Edward Zwick The shot cuts to an extreme close up of a man lighting a gas light, goes to a medium shot of the man where we are shown his habitat. It seems like a hut, has little possessions within which shows they’re quite poor. The backing music is still quite slow, showing their calm family life and how they get on with things. Cuts to an establishing shot, the sun is rising it is the start of their day. Each shot has water slowly running; this gives the audience a sense of calm. The film begins with slow music and the titles fading onto the screen, a map flashes up indicating Sierra Leone. This shows up that this particular place is of great significance within the story. A few sentences play onto the screen, giving a bit of background information about Sierra Leone and blood diamonds. The music stops at a specific line, making that particular line cause more of a shock.
The Gift The shot then merges into a close up of cards and a pack of cards on a table, a hand checks the time on the watch. The shot then cuts to a group of children walking home from school, getting on with their normal life and doing child like things such as throwing stones into a canal. The shot then cuts to tarot cards being revealed, 3 cards are turned over then the film cuts to a short clip of the river. This happens about 3 times, signifying a relationship between the supernatural nature of the tarot cards and what could possibly be in the river… Throughout this whole part of the film there is no dialogue used, we then are shown a woman doing a tarot card reading for a man. This is portraying that she is the one with “The Gift”. We are then shown her in bed at night, she is alone, and there is a close up of a family portrait. The woman wipes her eyes showing she is upset and sad; the background music is very slow which gives a sense of loneliness. The close up of the family portrait and her wiping tears away draws the audience in because we do not know what she is missing and why they have gone away. These aspects make the audience want to watch more and find out what happened to the man in the picture whom is now absent in the family house. Genre: Thriller /Horror Director: Sam Raimi Suddenly there is a clap of thunder, at this point a body appears on the screen only for a few seconds. It is out of the blue and quite jumpy, by something like this happening at the very beginning of the film it gives the audience a sense of what they have to come. Fades into a shot of the river again, but this time during the early morning whilst the sun is low and there is soft music playing in the background restoring some calm within the audience. The film begins with a black screen, you can hear natural noises such as insects showing that it is set in quite a rural area and not a town where you would usual hear noises from cars and other industrial machinery. While the peaceful noises of the country are heard the titles of the film appear on the black screen in white writing. This signifies that things are seen to be very black and white it this town, portraying maybe older fashioned views and beliefs. The establishing shot is a low level shot of a river at night; the water is flowing slowly and has a slight mist hanging over it. This makes the habitat look very eerie and causes a sense of uneasiness within the audience.
A police officer knocks at her door and informs her that her husband has been killed in a car crash, a series of over the shoulder shots are used and close ups on the woman’s face, which is portraying a lot of emotion. Once again a shallow depth of field is used, the police officer is very out of focus and his conversation turns to just noise. This is showing the event from her perspective and how she is in a state of shock. During this point I noticed that the background noise turns into what sounds like a steady beat of a heart, which fastens as the sad news is told. Finally a low level shot, as if it is again from the woman’s perspective, is taken of a cluster of crows that are circling above her house. Crows are notorious for being a sign of bad luck… Premonition “I hate surprises…” Genre: Psychological Thriller Director: MennanYapo Compared to the other opening sequences of films which I have analysed this begins with quite a fast pace, it makes the film appear to be more gripping. Once again the text is white against a black background, we hear numerous diegetic sounds such as car keys rattling etc. The screen then fades into white, then to a shot of the woman in bed. The children jump into bed with her and they all go about their normal day, she drops the children off to school. On the drive home once again an overhead shot is used, in both car scenes so far overhead shots have been used, this turns out to be quite ironic. For the rest of the sequence all of the shots have the woman as the main focus. This gives quite a strong sense of uneasiness, it makes the audience aware that something is about to happen and her day is going to change for the worse. The film then fades into an overhead shot of a woman in a car. She has her eyes covered with her hands, she says the words “ I hate surprises” substantially surprises seem to be a bit of a theme within the film. Still with an overhead shot a man gets the woman out of the car, the lighting is quite bright making it seem heavenly and pure. It has been edited on quite a low saturation, which gives it quite a grainy effect; a shallow depth of field has also been used. This makes the main 2 characters stand out against the out of focus background, making them the main focus of attention.
The Strangers The film begins with a black screen, the titles grow from the centre of the screen, and the text is in quite a light red colour. This colour has a lot of connotations, but in this particular case I think it could be signifying blood because it is very relevant to the film. In the same text and editing style, writing appears on the screen with a voice over saying the words at the same time; the text is basically saying how the film has been based on true events and some facts and figures about violent crimes in America. As we approach the house in which they are staying at, the screen fades into a black screen, a sound clip is being played, and it is a 911 call reporting that there is someone in the house. The voice sounds terrified, as this is playing the shot pans onto a cars back window that has been smashed, there are 2 young boys in the background they are dressed in very traditional clothes and are wheeling quite old-fashioned bikes. This could give some idea of where they are situated? The shot cuts to the 2 boys entering the house, the front door is open with everything looking a mess, and the police recording is still being played. A series of close ups are shown, firstly of a record player and then of a wedding ring box surrounded by rose petals then of a knife covered in blood, of a blood spattered wall and finally of a shotgun. The series of close up shots are all of significant objects; they all have a great meaning and give a very strong idea of what has happened in the house. Generally the lighting at this point is quite dim, we get the idea that it is early morning after all the horrific events have happened within the house. The police call is from the 2 boys who have entered the house; the sound clip fades out as the shot fades into black. Finally the main titles appear on the screen the same way in which the beginning text had done at the beginning of the clip. This same clip is shown at the end of the film, this is a particular technique used to draw the audience into the film making them have questions about what has happened and therefore making them watch the rest of it to find out all of the answers. The reason in which I chose to look into the opening sequence of this film was because of its genre, it’s genre is thriller as you can see therefore it is similar to the film as I am going to produce. The film is generally quite violent, our film contains violence also but not quite to the same extent as The Strangers, it is a far more dark and chilling film and you can tell that from the very beginning of the film. The first set of shots is a tracking shot of houses, fading into black and then onto more houses, the shot gives the feeling that it is being taken from a car, this could perhaps be showing the scene from the passengers view. Giving the audience an idea of the location, but as more houses appear the sun is gradually going down telling us that it is nearing night time, creating a strong sense of fear because bad things generally happen at night in horror films.
Awake The film begins with a black screen, small white text fades into shot in which some facts are being given about the number of surgeries a year in which people are not entirely asleep whilst they are under anaesthetic, this gives the audience a slight idea of what the film is about. Whilst this text is on the screen, there is background music playing which is soft and building a fair amount of tension within the audience. The scene fades to numerous close up’s of pictures mounted on the walls within a doctors office, the pictures are of fellow workers and his doctoring certificate. A close of a doctor’s certificate takes up the entire screen, we then see 2 hands pick up a picture from the wall and he then proceeds to carry it to his desk. At this point a panning shot is used to give a bit of an idea of the environment that he is in. The music continues to play, as credits of the director and producer appear on the screen once again in small white text at the centre of the screen. A medium shot is of the doctor at his desk, he is examining the picture, and a voice over of who we presume to be him is playing. He is telling his story of how he has had patients die whilst he has been performing surgery; he then begins to talk about his friend Clay. Who he performed surgery on and he died, at this point we are being shown the doctor during surgery and a close up of his friends face fills the screen. The shot of his friend lasts approximately 7 seconds, the Doctor sounds full of remorse as he tells the story of his friend Clay. The scene then cuts again to the doctor in his office, during this time there is still piano music playing softly in the background. Quite a narrow depth of field is used in this part, signifying that all of the attention is on the Doctor and his possessions around him that are blurred are insignificant. Genre: Thriller Director: Joby Harold I decided to analyse this film further because it is of the thriller genre, but through seeing it before I knew that it wasn’t like Strangers that is another film that I have researched, even though they are very different films. The scene then cuts to an overhead shot of Clay in the bath; you can see his face and his torso as he is holding his breath under the water. He is centre of the shot showing that he is the main character, also that the beginning part of the sequence is taken from the end of the film and that everything which is going to happen now was prior to his operation.
Signs After the titles it fades into a black screen, the establishing shot is of the family’s garden. The swing set and barbecue signifies it is quite a family orientated garden, with the children’s toys and communal eating area. This shows that they are quite a close family. This shot then zooms out so that it is then shown through the perspective of looking out of a window onto the garden, then a close up of a family portrait. All of these shots are showing the objects from someone’s point of view. Then an abrupt cut of a man in bed, it is an extreme close up in which he suddenly sits up. Something has woken him, this fear of the unknown frightens the audience slightly because they have a feeling something is about to happen but they are unsure what it is. The film then smoothly cuts to a long shot, of the man at the centre of the screen sat up in his bed. He looks frightened and aware. We then see the man walking around the checking his daughter is still in bed and tidying things up as he goes, all of these shots in this short sequence are long shots to signify quite tedious daily tasks and to show us the environment that he is in. The man is brushing his teeth in the bathroom, when he hears a scream. The shots are all cut abruptly from this point on to show panic and haste. We hear the scream again, in which another man is alerted and jumps out of bed, the 2 men run out of the house into the garden where they hear the scream again. Then there is a tracking shot as the 2 men are running through the cornfield, during this point there is no background music just the diegetic sound which is being made by the 2 men. The scene then cuts to a long shot, of his young daughter amongst the crops, it is shot as if it is from his point of view, then from his daughters point of view as her father comes running towards her. This is good use of match on action and looked really effective within the film. The next shot is of the father and son amongst the crops; quite a shallow depth of field is used, signifying that they are only of importance within the shot. We then see a sequence of close ups, first of all the male characters face, then his feet as he is walking over the bent over crops. The shot then smoothly cuts to a long shot, showing the audience what has really happened. We are then shown the fields from a bird’s eye view, showing the full pattern of the crop circles. Finally the shot fades to black. “Are you in my dream too?” Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi Director: M.NightShyamalan The beginning of the film starts off quite jumpy, the credits create a strong sense of tension within the audience. It starts with the titles appearing, the background music is quite creepy with a very significant science fiction feel to it. This is all featured on a black background which fades into a blue circular centre, the actors name appears within the circle and very much so in time with the music. The music is very slow, building up making the audience feel uncomfortable, then the music begins to speed up as main characters names appear on the screen. The music suddenly gets loader, making the audience jump. The titles create a sense of fear within the audience; it sets the scene for the rest of the film.
The opening fades in from black, it is an extreme close up of what looks the windscreen covered in rain but shot from the inside of the car. Whilst this image is on the screen the titles are appearing, they are an icy blue colour which look faded and cracked. This shot then fades into another extreme close up, this time of skid marks from a car on the road, the shot then fades into blurred car lights. The shots seem to change as titles on the main screen appear, this sequence of blurred lights goes on for quite a long time with titles appearing the whole way through. At this point the once steady music then begins to slow, the car lights fade to black but the titles still appear on the main screen. We then hear a voice over, of a man and woman having a conversation. The shot then fades from black into the blurred car lights again, but time it is shown from the inside perspective. Then slowly the shot fades into an extreme profile shot of the man speaking, it looks as if he is speaking to the camera. A shallow depth of field is used within this shot, signifying that he is more important. On the black screen we again hear a voice over, this time it is an Asian woman’s, she sounds very agitated as if she is arguing. Slowly the shot fades into the screen, in which you can see the Asian woman arguing with a police officer. Another woman in the crash walks over to the pair arguing, we see a low angle shot of the approaching woman signifying that she dominates the conversation and is an authority figure. The shot zooms out as the women start arguing, again showing their surroundings, it is dark and rainy night. A tracking shot is then used as the man from the beginning of the sequence walks out of the car, over to the bank on the edge of the road in which he begins talking to a man which is when we realise that he is also a police officer. They both light a cigarette, as the shot fades to black the men are joking around with each other. The talking fades into music, which are slow and steady signifying tiredness and a feeling of calm to the situation. Crash “Moving at the speed of life, we’re bound to collide with each other.” Genre: Drama Director: Paul Haggis This film consists of several stories interweaving during 2 days in Los Angeles and a car crash that changes all of their lives. The shot begins to focus and we see a woman sat beside him, the man and woman blur as a policeman puts his head through the window and asks if they are okay. Once again the policeman is in focus because he is the centre of attention within this shot and that he is important. The scene then fades into black and titles slowly appear, the shot fades again into scene of the crash then fades back into black, this small sequence happens 3 times. During this sequence a range of medium and long shot s appear, showing the audience the damage, which has occurred due to the crash.
This is the opening sequence to a film in which a man performs a bank robbery; he then takes hostage of everyone inside the bank. The scene begins with a medium shot of a man; he is talking into the camera making the audience feel as if he is taking to them personally? It is just he in the shot against a dark background; the shot cuts abruptly to this man in a cramped cell. You can still hear him speaking to the audience; during this part the camera cuts quickly to show him sitting then lying down and finally to him doing press ups. The shot changes back to him again in a medium shot, this time the background is cell like bricks. Suddenly very loud Middle Eastern music kicks in, the shot of the man fades into an establishing shot of a roller coaster. Still focusing on the roller coaster the shot then tracks a man who is walking along beside the ride, still keeping at a long shot. The shot then changes to a low level shot of the roller coaster, showing us that it is great importance somehow. With the roller coaster still in shot, white military style titles appear on the screen, the shot then changes to a high level shot in which we then see the main film title appear in the same text. The van is shown driving around the city, collecting 2 people who are also dressed in decorating overalls. We are then shown another sequence of shots revolving around the van as well as close ups of other American trademarks. The scene then cuts to an extreme close up of all the men in the van, as they are going on their journey. Quickly again the shot cuts to a low angle shot of a signpost directing people to Wall Street, this particular shot is used to show importance because it is quite a famous street. The van pulls up, all of the men get out of the van taking in their decorating equipment. The shot cuts to inside of the bank, small sequences of people going about their daily life, setting the scene for environment which they are in. We see the man from the very beginning walking up the stairs in the decorating clothing; this is when a sense of fear arises within the audience because now they have a bit of an idea concerning what is going to happen. This shot finishes by fading to black with the Middle Eastern music also fading out. Inside Man “A heist thriller like you have never seen…” Genre: Drama, Crime, Thriller Director: Spike Lee We are then abruptly shown a close up of a symbol found on the wall of a bank, the symbol takes up the entire shot and is entirely in focus, then the shot cuts to another close up this time of the banks title. The scene then cuts to a van; the man who is driving the van is wearing distinctive painting overalls. There are numerous shots of the man driving the van and the van itself from many different angles, all with very abrupt transitions between them. There are then a sequence of the bank symbols and then a shot of the van, this continues for about 30 seconds.