ANALYSIS OF OPENING FILM TECHNIQUES EMPLOYED By Arfa Shah 12AEH G321 Foundation Portfolio
FILMS ANALYSED <ul><li>Secret Window </li></ul><ul><li>Cold Creek Manor </li></ul><ul><li>The Butterfly Effect </li></ul><ul><li>Perfect Stranger </li></ul><ul><li>Hannibal </li></ul><ul><li>Unbreakable </li></ul>
TITLES <ul><li>The opening titles of the “Secret Window” do not appear until the second half of the opening sequence. They are introduced whilst the remote location is introduced with non-diegetic sound in the background. The non-diegetic sound makes the audience feel uneasy and unstable. The title of the movie appears as silver at first but it slowly changes to red which suggests that the film will seem normal at first but there will be a dangerous twisted change of events. The font style of the opening title appears to be “Times New Roman” The title is presented over water and surrounding woodlands which suggests that the remote location will play a vital part in the story. </li></ul>The opening title of “The Butterfly Effect” is blue and butterflies flutter on to the screen in order to correlate with the “Chaos Theory” that was introduced in the beginning. Also, the blue image of the brain suggests mental instability as these images are used when doctors diagnose patients with medical problems related to the brain. The title appears over an image of the brain and this highlights key themes associated with psychological thrillers. The “mind” is a key theme in psychological thrillers because the story is within the main character’s mind. In “The Butterfly Effect” the main character is in what seems like a mental institution, this relates to the mind and the scan of the brain. The title is presented over an image of a brain with black in the background which suggests that the mind is the key focus in this film. The blue suggests coldness and isolations.
TITLES <ul><li>The opening titles of “Hannibal” is introduced with non-diegetic sound. The music is eerie and the title is also red which as connotations of danger, aggression, blood and murder, sin and sacrifice. It also has positive connotations of love and beauty however it’s presentation with the eerie music confirms that danger should be associated with this film. Also, the font of the title is old-fashioned, modern audiences do not understand the style of old-fashioned writing therefore it scares people because they fear the unknown, there is something unearthly about the film. The title looks as if it is written in blood which adds to the aggression of the opening sequence. Also, the title is over black which suggests further darkness. </li></ul>The opening title of “Cold Creek Manor” is simple and white which suggests that the director is challenging the psychological thriller genre. Directors often use colour to portray the essence of the film however white is the absence of colour which relates to the title “cold”. The titles evokes coldness and isolation. The Chinese associate white with death, the director could have used this cultural interpretation in order to convey the different mental interpretations people have. The title is presented over greenery which suggests isolation and dampness. The films that have been analysed show a common colour pattern associated with psychological thrillers. “Secret Window” and “ Hannibal” use the colour red which conveys death and danger. “The Butterfly Effect” uses the colour blue which suggests sadness and white used in “Cold Creek Manor” suggests coldness and isolation. The colour plays a key part in the film as it foreshadows key events.
Framing Shot <ul><li>In the “Secret Window ” the director uses a medium close up shot to focus on the character’s facial emotions. From the shot, we can tell from the character’s dark circles that he hasn’t slept for many days. Also, his pale face suggests he has problems in his life and the voiceover of what he’s thinking suggests that his inner conflicts have brought him to the motel. The framing of the shot conveys many emotions and this helps them understand the background story of the character better. </li></ul>
Camera Movement <ul><li>In the opening scene of “Unbreakable” the director uses a mounted camera tilt in order to focus on the woman and her baby and the doctor standing at the door way. The camera focuses on the reflection of the doctor in the mirror and the woman is laying in front of the mirror. The use of the mirror in the opening suggests that a blurred line between reality and fantasy. The fact that the camera is looking at the doctor through the mirror gives the doctor an unworldly image. This is not typical of psychological thriller movies as the opening scenes usually relate to the mind of the inner conflicts of the main character. </li></ul><ul><li>The opening scene of “Perfect Stranger” consists of random images of the inner body which the audience assumes is the brain. This is typical of a psychological thriller film as this sub-genre is associated with the mind. The camera is tracking the character’s movement. As she moves the camera moves with her which suggests that she is the main character and the main focus of the film. </li></ul>
Camera Angles <ul><li>In “Cold Creek Manor ” the audience is given a birds-eye view to see the change from the city to the countryside. This change highlights the enormity of the move and it also highlights the fact that this move will have a significant impact on the family. Also, this angle introduces key locations which the audience assumes will be prominent through out the film. These types of shots are typical in not only psychological thriller movies but in actions movies in order to establish the setting of the film. </li></ul>
Mise-en-scène <ul><li>The sound used in the opening of “Hannibal” is eerie and spooky which foreshadows the darkness in the film. The props used in the film are old fashioned, for example the ancient carpet and red curtains suggest an old-fashioned vibe. Also, the lighting in the opening is quite dark which adds to the mysterious and dark tone of the film. The darkness makes the audience question the significant of the characters- who are they? Why is his face like that? Where are they? The actors wear jumpers, shirts and one wears a suit which suggests a formal atmosphere and adds to the ambiguity of the film. The piano which is played in the background during the opening title of the sequence contributes to the dark unearthly atmosphere. </li></ul>The props, lighting, costumes and setting aims to create a dark, spooky and unsteady atmosphere. “Hannibal” itself is classified as a psychological horror film therefore the mise-en-scene has to be dark in order for the film to be classified as a psychological genre.
Editing directions <ul><li>In “The Butterfly Effect” the director uses cut shots, fade ins and reverse shots in order to establish the foundation of the film. In the beginning, the director uses quick cut shots to show the character's quick movements in the office. The fade in introduces the suburban neighbourhood where the main character used to live when he was a child. This lets the audience know that his childhood had a huge impact on him. The reverse shots between the mother and son establishes the emotional connection between the two characters. The editing techniques allow the film to run more smoothly and it adds to the quality as well. </li></ul>
Sound techniques <ul><li>In the opening sequence of the “Secret Window” dialogue is used in order to add to the intensity and confusion of the atmosphere. The main character keeps on saying “turn around” to himself which suggests further inner conflicts and confusion. Later on in the sequence, eerie non-diegetic sound is used to introduce the secluded remote location where most of the story will take place. The sound makes us question why is the character here? What is the significance of this location? </li></ul>
Actor’s positioning and movement <ul><li>In “Perfect Stranger” the main character is always in the centre of the shot as we see her walking to an office. Her walk is cool and confident which suggests that she’s a high flying career woman. Also, she is walking quickly which suggests that she’s in a rush and does not waste time. The mixture of diegetic and non-diegetic sound adds to the mystery that’s surrounding the woman. The fact that we know nothing about her makes the audience want to know more which adds to the anticipation. </li></ul>
Who is the Hero and Villain? How do you know? <ul><li>In psychological thrillers, audiences can never be sure on who is the hero or villain as the director aims to mislead the audience and confuse them. In the “Secret Window”, the main character is portrayed as the “hero” because his wife cheated on him therefore the audience sympathize with him more because of his distraught reaction and position. Because the main character is hurt, the audience conclude that she is the villain. However, if you watch the whole movie the audience discovers that Mort is the main villain as he kills his wife in the end. Hero’s and villains only exist in genres such as horror and action. Psychological thrillers aim to play with the mind and mislead the audience into believing one thing then surprising them with a twist in the end. </li></ul>
Where is the story set? What does this tell you about the genre of the film? <ul><li>In “The Butterfly Effect”, the story opens in a mental hospital. The opening establishment signifies that it will be of a great importance and a key part in the main character’s life. Also, in the first 2 minutes, an American neighbourhood is introduced, this is where the younger Evan lives. It is evident that the neighbourhood plays a huge part in the story as this is Evan’s childhood home and a child always remembers their childhood home. Also, the fact that the fade in introduces two children riding down the road hill makes the neighbourhood appear as cozy and familiar-Evan’s safe harbour. The two settings introduced in the first two minutes alternates between normality and insanity. Normality being the neighbourhood and insanity being the mental hospital. </li></ul>
How many principal characters? <ul><li>In the "Secret Window” the principal characters appear to be the man as he is the first character who is introduced and the movie opens with his dialogue. Also, the camera continually focuses on the character and tracks his movements which lets the audience know that this is his story . Also, the couple in the bed seem important because as they are introduced the editor uses the slow motion editing technique to signify the impact this discovery has on the main character. The audience assume that the woman is Mort’s wife as he is clearly distraught by this discovery. </li></ul>
How is the story told? Chronologically? What is the effect of this? What questions do you have left in the end? <ul><li>In “The Butterfly Effect” the whole story is about time travelling and changing events which means that the whole story is told in flashbacks and current events. There is no chronological order to the film as Evan continually travels back and forth in time in order to change events that have caused huge changes in his life. In the opening, the audience are watching Evan’s actions in the mental hospital then we are taken back 13 years to see him as a child. The fact that we are taken back exactly 13 years signifies to the audience that his childhood had a huge impact on him and possibly changed his life forever. Whilst watching the opening clip, these questions came to mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Why do we rewind back exactly 13 years? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is he in the mental hospital? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is he trying to save? Her refers to girl whilst writing in the office. </li></ul><ul><li>Why is he in a hurry? </li></ul>
Narrative <ul><li>Tzvetan Todorov’s narrative theory suggests that there are five stages to a narrative: </li></ul><ul><li>Equilibrium </li></ul><ul><li>A disruption of equilibrium by an event, </li></ul><ul><li>A realisation that a disruption has happened </li></ul><ul><li>An attempt to repair the damage of the disruption, </li></ul><ul><li>A restoration of equilibrium which may be a new equilibrium </li></ul>In the “Secret Window”, Todorov’s narrative theory is evident. Mort is sitting in the car, there is a sense of balance. When Mort walks into the motel room, a disruption takes place and this event causes great stress to Mort. The couple in bed realise this disruption and you can see from the woman’s face that she is pleading to Mort to calm down. The audience cannot determine whether an attempt has been made to repair the situation from the first two minutes of the film however the audience assume that this discovery is the key that drives the plot.