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Thriller conventions in
The Dark Knight Rises
Opening scene
What’s that? Another Batman analysis? Why, yes it is!
The initial 35 seconds of the Dark Knight Rises focuses predominantly on establishing the scene and building suspense for
the following narrative, using conventions of the thriller genre. The establishing shot at the beginning of the scene sets the
theme of isolation for the rest of the scene; a key component of thriller movies. In doing so, the audience know that if
something was to go wrong, there would be no one around to help, showing this is a dangerous situation and therefore
building suspense.
This is followed by a long shot of a Government agent. The agent’s clothes represent him as a weaker and
vulnerable character due to the mellow connotations of the colour blue – a common representation for the victim in a thriller
movie. However, this is a sharp contrast from the middle ground behind him; the armed guards represent him as a powerful
character with a lot of authority, due to the connotations of violence and murder connected to guns. Finally, the camera slowly
moves towards the Government agent during this section of the scene, placing a further emphasis on his role in the narrative.
At 15 seconds of the way through the opening scene, the focus is placed on these three character. They are represented in
such a way that it is clear to the audience that one of these will be the villain of the movies. For instance, this section of the
scene uses darker colours than, and because dark colours have connotations of evil, mystery and a possible threat, these
characters are represented as such. This follows the thriller convention of displaying the villain in dark lighting.
The conventional thriller theme of entrapment is shown in the confinement of the space they are in – the
characters are pushed against each other due to the lack of space. They also fill the space they are in, representing them as
key characters in the narrative. For this reason, a lot of mystery shrouds the narrative because the two concepts of them
being the villain but at the same time being trapped doesn’t represent them as a threat: how can they cause any hard while
they are trapped? This engages the audience with the narrative.
Furthermore, the diegetic music during the opening few seconds gradually builds – another typical thriller
convention which this time builds suspense for when the mystery clouding these three characters is revealed.
At 0:54 seconds through the opening scene, the representation of power in the government agent is once again reaffirmed,
but this time shows the presupposed villains in the shot also. The theme of confinement and entrapment also become more
prevalent due to the small space inside the plane, raising the tension of the scene because there is it becomes more apparent
there is no escape should something go wrong.
Themes of death and murder are emphasised in this section of the scene. The middle ground and foreground
are used effectively to clearly represent the current power imbalance between the presupposed villains and the Government
agent, due to the villains being lower down in the shot. This imbalance forces the themes of death and murder due to the
more powerful character (the Government agent) holding the gun which carries connotations of violence, aggression and, of
course, death. Death and murder are typical thriller themes, following the conventions of thrillers once more.
At 2:04, the roles between the now revealed Bane and the Government agent changes the previous representations of the
characters. In this particular shot, for example, bane is now shown at a lower camera angle and is the most prominent part of
the shot, now representing him as a powerful character as opposed to the trapped on he was before. This follows the typical
thriller narrative convention of deception: the audience were lead to believe that Bane was weak.
Additionally, the reveal of Bane’s face is slow which builds tension and suspense as the audience is left waiting
for the mystery to be revealed. This also emphasises how much fear Bane puts in people, because the slow movement of the
agent could represent him as being scared or fearful of what lies underneath the bag.
Bane’s threatening representation prior to this is once again shown in these shots. His staring and tone of voice
detail him significantly as a character, certainly at 2:50 when Bane reveals his intentions to be “Crashing this plane.” The wide-
eyed stare shows he isn’t hiding anything – he wants the agent to know he isn’t bluffing and does so by keeping eye contact
all the time (which also strikes fear into the agent). The tone of Bane’s voice when he says this also represents him as a
psychotic character, which fits the conventional traits of the main villain in thriller movies. He lifts his voice slightly, as people
do when they say something with absolute certainty after being asked a question, showing his confidence in his ability that he
can and will crash the plane, reaffirming the fear the audience relates to Bane. This breaks the tension of the scene and
places the focus onto the action.
At 2:54 seconds, the audience can appreciate the enormity of the situation. The establishing shot shown above represents the
power Bane now has over the situation, represented in the size difference between his plane and that of the Government. It
reaffirms the themes of death and destruction because of how real the situation is becoming, as shown in this shot. It also
continues the deception, because the amount of power Bane had over the situation was, as previously mentioned, made to
appear minimal when actually at this point it is very clear he has a lot.
Furthermore, the diegetic music now changes to a piece with a faster pace and increased volume, with sharper
notes played on violins. From this point onwards, very quick bursts of action are shown instead of long, drawn out
monologues. When these to features of the scene are combined, the overall pace of the scene is increased, emphasising the
action and therefore danger/risk of death within the scene. This follows thriller conventions due to the typical narrative of
death.
The greatest example of Bane’s power within the scene is shown at 3:41. A point of view shot now places the audience
directly below him, once more emphasising his power and control over the scene. It also makes the audience appreciate the
fear that any remaining survivors must feel because they are in the same position that character is in, making the threat Bane
poses even greater.
A camera shake is additionally used in conjunction with the low angle shot to further the powerful representation
of Bane, because it makes him seem so much bigger than he actually is. As well as this, the music stops for this section of the
scene, allowing all the focus and appreciation to be placed upon this representation of Bane and nothing else. It is a crucial
part of the movie to foreshadow Bane’s character for the rest of the film, and is done by giving a lasting impression.

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Dark knight rises opening scene analysis

  • 1. Thriller conventions in The Dark Knight Rises Opening scene What’s that? Another Batman analysis? Why, yes it is!
  • 2. The initial 35 seconds of the Dark Knight Rises focuses predominantly on establishing the scene and building suspense for the following narrative, using conventions of the thriller genre. The establishing shot at the beginning of the scene sets the theme of isolation for the rest of the scene; a key component of thriller movies. In doing so, the audience know that if something was to go wrong, there would be no one around to help, showing this is a dangerous situation and therefore building suspense. This is followed by a long shot of a Government agent. The agent’s clothes represent him as a weaker and vulnerable character due to the mellow connotations of the colour blue – a common representation for the victim in a thriller movie. However, this is a sharp contrast from the middle ground behind him; the armed guards represent him as a powerful character with a lot of authority, due to the connotations of violence and murder connected to guns. Finally, the camera slowly moves towards the Government agent during this section of the scene, placing a further emphasis on his role in the narrative.
  • 3. At 15 seconds of the way through the opening scene, the focus is placed on these three character. They are represented in such a way that it is clear to the audience that one of these will be the villain of the movies. For instance, this section of the scene uses darker colours than, and because dark colours have connotations of evil, mystery and a possible threat, these characters are represented as such. This follows the thriller convention of displaying the villain in dark lighting. The conventional thriller theme of entrapment is shown in the confinement of the space they are in – the characters are pushed against each other due to the lack of space. They also fill the space they are in, representing them as key characters in the narrative. For this reason, a lot of mystery shrouds the narrative because the two concepts of them being the villain but at the same time being trapped doesn’t represent them as a threat: how can they cause any hard while they are trapped? This engages the audience with the narrative. Furthermore, the diegetic music during the opening few seconds gradually builds – another typical thriller convention which this time builds suspense for when the mystery clouding these three characters is revealed.
  • 4. At 0:54 seconds through the opening scene, the representation of power in the government agent is once again reaffirmed, but this time shows the presupposed villains in the shot also. The theme of confinement and entrapment also become more prevalent due to the small space inside the plane, raising the tension of the scene because there is it becomes more apparent there is no escape should something go wrong. Themes of death and murder are emphasised in this section of the scene. The middle ground and foreground are used effectively to clearly represent the current power imbalance between the presupposed villains and the Government agent, due to the villains being lower down in the shot. This imbalance forces the themes of death and murder due to the more powerful character (the Government agent) holding the gun which carries connotations of violence, aggression and, of course, death. Death and murder are typical thriller themes, following the conventions of thrillers once more.
  • 5. At 2:04, the roles between the now revealed Bane and the Government agent changes the previous representations of the characters. In this particular shot, for example, bane is now shown at a lower camera angle and is the most prominent part of the shot, now representing him as a powerful character as opposed to the trapped on he was before. This follows the typical thriller narrative convention of deception: the audience were lead to believe that Bane was weak. Additionally, the reveal of Bane’s face is slow which builds tension and suspense as the audience is left waiting for the mystery to be revealed. This also emphasises how much fear Bane puts in people, because the slow movement of the agent could represent him as being scared or fearful of what lies underneath the bag. Bane’s threatening representation prior to this is once again shown in these shots. His staring and tone of voice detail him significantly as a character, certainly at 2:50 when Bane reveals his intentions to be “Crashing this plane.” The wide- eyed stare shows he isn’t hiding anything – he wants the agent to know he isn’t bluffing and does so by keeping eye contact all the time (which also strikes fear into the agent). The tone of Bane’s voice when he says this also represents him as a psychotic character, which fits the conventional traits of the main villain in thriller movies. He lifts his voice slightly, as people do when they say something with absolute certainty after being asked a question, showing his confidence in his ability that he can and will crash the plane, reaffirming the fear the audience relates to Bane. This breaks the tension of the scene and places the focus onto the action.
  • 6. At 2:54 seconds, the audience can appreciate the enormity of the situation. The establishing shot shown above represents the power Bane now has over the situation, represented in the size difference between his plane and that of the Government. It reaffirms the themes of death and destruction because of how real the situation is becoming, as shown in this shot. It also continues the deception, because the amount of power Bane had over the situation was, as previously mentioned, made to appear minimal when actually at this point it is very clear he has a lot. Furthermore, the diegetic music now changes to a piece with a faster pace and increased volume, with sharper notes played on violins. From this point onwards, very quick bursts of action are shown instead of long, drawn out monologues. When these to features of the scene are combined, the overall pace of the scene is increased, emphasising the action and therefore danger/risk of death within the scene. This follows thriller conventions due to the typical narrative of death.
  • 7. The greatest example of Bane’s power within the scene is shown at 3:41. A point of view shot now places the audience directly below him, once more emphasising his power and control over the scene. It also makes the audience appreciate the fear that any remaining survivors must feel because they are in the same position that character is in, making the threat Bane poses even greater. A camera shake is additionally used in conjunction with the low angle shot to further the powerful representation of Bane, because it makes him seem so much bigger than he actually is. As well as this, the music stops for this section of the scene, allowing all the focus and appreciation to be placed upon this representation of Bane and nothing else. It is a crucial part of the movie to foreshadow Bane’s character for the rest of the film, and is done by giving a lasting impression.