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How Micro elements Are Used In Opening Sequences To Create Meaning
Mise En Scene- SettingIn the opening sequence of the film Memento, there arethree main settings. One of which appears to be in an old,run down room which is evident from the bloody, plasticcurtains and unclean floor- it could perhaps be anabandoned house or a hidden location. This createsmeaning towards the audience as they will wonder whatthe room has been used for because it is looks secretiveand would make them want to continue watching to findout more.The second setting we see is in a hotel room, which, eventhough he has hardly any personal items in the room, weget the impression that he has been there for a while. Thescene is in black and white which portrays sad anddepressing emotions towards the audience.The final setting in the opening sequence is at a hotelcalled ‘Discount Inn’ . It looks fairly run-down because ofthe dirty windows and location and the inside is quiteplain, all of this could suggest that the town is not verywealthy. It is not a typical looking hotel that wouldappeal to that many people.These settings are important to the opening of the film asit sets the mood for the entire film. Immediately we areaware that there is a secret or accident involved becauseof the bloody room and it influences the audience towatch on as they would be intrigued to find out more.These settings are clearly important towards the rest ofthe film and so set the scene.
Mise En Scene- Costume In the opening of the film of Memento the main actor is seen wearing two main costumes. The fist is a suit which looks quite dirty and worn out. This could create meaning towards the audience as they would wonder how an expensive looking suit came to look so run down. It could also create curiosity towards the viewers. It is effective in the opening as it gives the impression that the actor must have gone through a tough experience in order for his appearance to look as such and the only way to find out is by watching the rest of the film.The second costume that the main actor is seenwearing in the opening is an over sized shirt. Thiscostume could have been used to show comfort;he is sitting/lying on a bed and would want to becomfortable. But it could also tell the audiencethat he has little clothes with him in the hotelroom and this is the most comfortable thing towear. This could emphasise the fact that he isconstantly on the ‘go’ and has little clothes withhim, making the audience want to find out more.
Mise En Scene-Figure Expression • FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: In both of these screen shots you can see that the actor looks serious and focused for what he is about to do. This gives the audience the impression that it has been planned an thought about carefully. The facial expressions are good for this thriller opening as it shows the mood that will be portrayed throughout the film and shows that it will be an intense film. You can also see from his eyes that although he looks determined, he also looks worried- so perhaps he is scared to do what he is about to do- this gives an insight of the type of character he is. • POSTURE: In the screen shot you can see the actor standing tall with his back straight, looking down on someone. This posture shows authority and power and gives the impression that he is the main character and the main focus of the film. • Both the facial expressions and posture used in the opening are important as it introduces the main character and allows the audience to develop an understanding of who he is. In this case the actor is portrayed as a serious, revenge seeking man and it would encourage the audience to continue watching as they would want to find out more about him. They are also important as they allow the film to look more realistic because a person in that situation would react in the same way allowing the audience to be able to relate to him more.
Mise En Scene- PropsThere are quite a few props used in the opening of this film. The main three, i think, are the photograph of a dead man lying on the floor with blood all around him, a bullet, and a pair of bloody glasses. The reason i think that they are the most important is because the camera has a close up shot on each of them and this emphasises their importance within the film as the audience would focus on them. They are also important as they symbolise death which tells the audience that death is involved in the film and it sets the suspicious mood towards the audience.The photograph is the very first thing we see when the film starts and it is shown for the first 00:01:53 minutes.The glasses and bullet are important as they give an insight of what the film is about and what might happen. It also sets the mood of the film.
Extreme Close Up:This extreme close up gives a shot of part of the main characters face. It alows us to see his eye, nose and eyebrow. From this we can see that the character looks serious and focused ; we can tell this by his intense stare and stern eyebrow. This suggests that the character is quite stern and it emphasises his importance within the rest of the film.
Close Up:This close up of the main character allows the audience to see the emotions which he is feeling. He does not look happy but instead looks deep in thought and also a little bit worried/nervous. This sets the tone of the film and tells the viewers the type of emotions that will be portrayed throughout the whole film.
Medium Shot:• This medium shot allows us to see the costume which the main character is wearing and it tells us the type of person he is. The character is wearing a suit which suggests that he is formal and well kept, but the suit looks worn out and unclean. This could suggest that there is a lot of action in the film and it is also at a fast pace. It could suggest that he hasn’t changed his clothes for a while and the rest of the film will tell you why.
Long Shot:• This long shot gives information about the location of the main character. We can see that he is lying on a bed in a hotel room. We can tell that it is a hotel room because of the layout of the furniture. A normal bedroom would not usually have a table and chair besides the bed and so this indicates that he is at a hotel. It is important for the opening as the location could be important in the rest of the film and when it shows later on in the film we will remember it.
Pan• Pan was used once within the opening of the film Memento and it was to show details of the hotel room. This particular use of pan showed a mirror and a set of drawers. It gives movement to the scene instead of making it static. Most pan shots are used to show movement of characters which is good for thriller films as they can be fast pasted and chaotic at times. but this one was effective towards the audience as it showed that this particular location/setting was important and so they are told this in the opening.
TiltThis tilt shot was used to show part of the hotel room and give detail of the surroundings. It is used to add a dramatic element to the film instead of a straight-angle shot. Some directors use tilt shots to show inferiority or superiority of characters, but the director of Memento, Christipher Nolen, uses it to show detail of locations an settings. This could be to emphasise the importance of this particular location to the audience. It makes the scene much more enjoyable an interesting to watch as it gives variation of the shots used. Using shots like the tilt shot in the opening of this film was good as it gives the audience an insight of the types of camera shots that will be used and shows that just straight angled, boring shots will not be used.
CutThe opening scene lasts 2 minutes and 25 seconds. At the end of it, it quickly and abruptlycuts into the second scene of the film. This is shown in the two shots above. As soon as thevictim is shot, the film cuts into the second scene which is much more slow and calm. Thisact of abruptness shows us that it will be a fast pasted film which is common for thrillerfilms. It also gives the audience an indication of how long each scene will last throughout thefilm.
Performance-speechIn the opening scene of Memento there is very little dialogue between the characters because there is only one little scene which has more than one character in it. In the little bit of dialogue ,between the main character and the owner of the Discount-Inn hotel, the main character talks in a calm, collective and quiet voice, he does this even though he is asking about a man in which he plans to kill. This would give the audience the impression that he is a patient man and gives him a likeable characteristic.
Performance- Body LanguageIn this screen shot you can see that the main character is stood up straight, showing a strong posture and suggesting that he is a condident man. He also has his arms by his side showing a formal posture. If he was more awkward or unsure of himself, he might have been fiddling with his hands or leaning down a bit.The second screen shot shows very relaxed body language. From it we can see that the character is at ease and is calm. We can see this by the way in which he spreads out his legs instead of tugging them together. His arms are also spread apart. To show that he was a little bit more relaxed he could have leaned his head, but because he does not do this it could suggest that he is thinking about something.
Performance- Body language (continued)• In this screen shot we can see that the main character is leaning on the counter with one arm and has the other in his pocket. He has turned his neck instead of his whole body to talk to somebody who has just walked in. This also emphasises his easy-going and relaxing characteristics. A more formal person would probably turn their whole body around and put their hands to their sides.• All three of these screen shots show importance towards the opening of the film as they give the audience an insight of what the main character is like in order for them to make a judgement.
Performance- facial Expressions • In both of these screen shots you can see that the main character looks very intense and focused. You can see this by the rigid eyebrows and open mouth, showing that he is in full concentration. His eyes are staring at something beneath him and so he is looking down on something, showing his superiority in this particular scene. This is important to the opening as it is an interpretation of the main character.
Performance- Facial Expressions (continued) • In these two screen shots we can see that the main character, again, looks focused. His eyebrows are frowning which indicates that he is concentrating and thinking about something important. In both shots he avoids eye contact with the camera which suggests that he is not a friendly character. • All together we can establish that the main character is a serious man who tkes things seriously. We can see this all by the screen shots taken.
Diegetic• The diegetic sound in the opening of this film begins low pitched and both slowly and very quietly, gradually getting slightly louder as the scene is taking place. The sound is calm, reflective and sad sounding. The pitch then gets higher slightly and it also begins to sound more dark and serious.• the diegetic sounds in the opening are good as it sets the mood to the audience. T starts off very low and quiet, suggesting that it will not be a happy, fun and lively film, nut instead will be intense. When the music gets more dark and serious it is evident that the film is a thriller and that dark, scary scenes will take place in the film. The music in the opening allows the audience to feel the emotions that the film wants to portray and allows them to maintain these emotions throughout the film.
Non Diegetic• The are also many non diegetic sounds within the opening of the film. For example, at the very beginning, the main character shakes the photograph in his hand and a sound is heard with it. The sound for taking a photo is also made audible and also a gun shot is heard.• These sounds are shown in the opening to make the acting and situations more realistic. If these sounds were not made then the effect would be very different and the audience would not feel as engaged towards the film as they would not be able to relate to it.
This analysis of micro elements in the thriller filmMemento will help me in my own production as it givesme an insight of the types of shots i should be includingin my own film opening. It also shows me the types ofstandards I should be aiming for in my film. For examplethe performance of the actors that I use should be of ahigh standard and I should use appropriate music to helpset the scene/mood. Analysing these micro elementsallowed me to understand how the audience should feelwhilst watching my film opening; if I want to portray acertain emotion in my film i need to ensure that it canalso be portrayed by the audience.