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Opening sequence: ideas and summary

9 Nov

Summary

My opening sequence is about a couple who go for a picnic/outing on a haunted battlefield. They somehow manage to awaken the spirits of old soldiers as they go on november 11th. The couple are laying on a picnic blanket when the girl hears a noise. She sits up quickly and becomes really scared. It’s clear that the girl doesn’t want to be there, whereas the boy thinks that it’s all a bit of a joke and is messing around. The boy says he has a “surprise” for her; puts his hands over her eyes and disappears. The girl becomes really scared, and the sounds we hear suggest that something is coming to get her. However, it’s only her boyfriend trying to scare her.

Opening sequence: where did the ideas come from?


The idea for my opening sequence was inspired through various different things, then I just pulled them all together. As I’ve mentioned before, the location for my opening sequence came about when I fell over whilst out running. I think the field just has something quite remote and simple about it: these aspects create a certain atmosphere that makes the field look undesirable, which is -in a sense- the sort of effect I want for a horror location. I decided that I wanted to use spirits as my protagonists as I think they can really be used effectively. Spirits can be haunting, yet you don’t have to physically show them, therefore creating this unknown, mysterious effect. The idea for the spirits being dead soldiers came about through the fact that it’s remembrance day soon, and also they were the only sort of spirits I could picture being outside. I additionally think I would be able to incorporate iconography through the use of both of the characters wearing poppies.

Analyising opening sequences: Rita, Sue and Bob too

3 Nov

Rita, Sue and Bob too was made in 1986 and directed by Alan Clarke.

+Narrative context: What we first see is a shot of a block of flats and a field, this the pans down and we see a social club. A man then stumbles of out the social club, dropping his alcohol and then he’s stumbling past a block of flats, with a dog chasing after him. He tells the dog to “bugger off”, then we see two dogs fighting. A female character then walks out of the flats and along the path, the drunken man, asks her where she’s going, she tells him to “mind his own business”. The female character then walks through a very rough estate to another house, into the house round the back then out the front with another female character. The two girls then walk to a really well-kept, posh house.

+Enigma codes: The questions that I wanted answers to were simply about the characters. Who was the man at the beginning? how significant is he to the entire plot? Also about the two girls: we know their names, ( why did they walk to the posh house? What will they do there?

+ How the characters are established and represented: The first character we see is a drunken man. His unstable body langauge and his slurred dialogue displays key signs of drunkenness. The two girls are rarely established. We see very long shots of both of them, so we do not see their facial expressions. The informality when the first girl just walks into her friends’ house shows the closeness of their relationship. This closeness is also displayed through the clothes they both wear as they’re very similar. Their clothes in general give us an idea of their lifestyle, lack of money, poor area etc.

+ Locations: The locations used are very significant is showing the audience the sort of area they live in and lifestyle they have. The first high-angled shot overviewing the fields and flats shows a large area, this signifies to the audience that the general location of the film will be like that. The location also establishes the sort of people living in that area, e.g. the drunk man and the mental man.

+Editing techniques and their effects: I don’t think that there any many significant editing techniques. The only possible one I could think of is making the atmosphere look more grey and gloomy through tinting the camera lense. Also, the editing techniques we’re that advanced when this film was made.

+ Camera techniques and their effects: The is very little range of shots for this opening sequence. All of the shots are either a long shot or a medium shot. The long shots have been used to clearly establish the locations, instead of the characters. I think that the directors/producers wanted the focus to be on the location throughout the opening sequence so the audience could really understand what sort of background they have. The medium shot was used to briefly see close up what Rita and Sue look like. The camera follows the first girl as she walks along, this technique is calling “dollying”. It’s effective as it feels like we’re travelling with the character, also we see the location as well as the character.

+ Use of sound (diegetic and non-diegetic): The non-diegetic sound is a song singing about “Rita and Sue”. This music is a vital indication to the sub-culture the girls belong too. The lyrics of the song also create the image that Rita and Sue are a bit reckless and wild, this almost foreshadows the events that follow. The dialogue “mind your own business” and “I’ll be back when I want” suggests that the girl is quite rude and immature; it reinforces our preconceived opinions of her due to where she lives.

+ Iconography: There is no iconography in this opening sequence.

+ Intended target audience: I think the target audience for this is: working class, girls aged 16-25. I think that it’s intended for working class girls as it’s set in a working class environment, therefore they can relate to it. But also girls due to the fact that the entire story is about two best friends getting into form of social trouble or danger, again suggesting that young girls, around that age would be able to relate to it.

+ Titles: The title of the film appears as soon as the film starts. The fonts are yellow and white, simple, sans-serif fonts. I think these colours were used to simply contrast with the background, making it stand out and be more visable to read. The actors’ names appear throughout the opening sequence.

Analyising an opening sequence: This is England

2 Nov

This Is England was made in 2006 and directed by Shane Meadows.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a link to the opening sequence, only the trailer. The first 7 seconds are footage taken from the opening sequence.

+Narrative context: The first shot’s we see are all completely different: this first is of Margaret Thatcher in a tractor, then a shot of an old video game and finally a car that looks like it was trying to be modern for its time. The next shot is of a row of garages in a rough-looking area. This shot continues then looks at a block of flats. We then see a group of men in suits walking up some stairs, after that; a picture of a concert, then an aerobics class. Then a rowdy crowd at a concert, followed by two couples kissing. Next is a few shots of Princess Diana at her wedding, followed by the crowds and her and Prince Charles waving. The next shot is of a block of flats collapsing, followed by a train crashing into a barrier, a man being blown up and a rocket taking off. Next is a shot of a riot, and various shots of the police trying to calm it down. That’s followed by: a man completing a rubix cube at a ridiculous speed, a man doing bike tricks, a boy watching tv and Margaret Thatcher on a computer. Next is: a computer game, a woman and two men stretching, CD’s being made, a violent crowd, people running through and fighting in fields, people marching, and a shot of a flat. That is followed by a smashed car window, two women talking, a smashed window, a riot, an England flag on the back of 3 men, two men getting in a fight, then a massive fight. The next shot is of sheep being herded, soldiers carrying an England flag marching through a field, then a shot of a group of soldiers. Next a shot of a boat being blown up, followed by a shot of Margaret Thatcher making a speech, then some sailors taking their hats off. Another shot of Margaret Thatcher and the American president, newspapers headlines saying “Britain’s Backing Maggie”, a shot of Thatcher again. That is followed by a shot of a soldier being laid onto a stretcher, followed by another soldier being carried away with a decapitated leg. The final shot is of an army tank carrying a soldier away.

+ Enigma codes: I think that most of the enigma codes raised are more to do with the relevance of the shots, compared to the content of the shots. All of the different scenes used in the opening sequence are either documented events of history, e.g. Margaret Thatcher, The War and Princess Diana’s marriage, therefore do not raise any questions or they are self-explanatory, e.g. a computer game or a riot. What I wanted to know was why have these shots been used? What relevance do they have to the rest of the film? I also wanted to know who the main characters in the film will be, as all of the footage so far was of loads of random people; no person has a specific focus, apart from Thatcher and Diana as they are public figures.

+ How the characters are established and represented: As I mentioned above, there is no real focus on any particular characters apart from Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana. However, there are two very separate categories of people who are used throughout the opening sequence that really stood out to me. The first being the rowdy men getting in fights and riots. These were established through their violent behaviour and angry facial expressions. Their clothing is ripped and quite dirty looking, this also establishes their character. The army men were the other type of people established. Army men are supposed to have a better, more respected status. This is shown through their normal and natural body language, compared to the men fighting. These distinct features and attributions of both different types of men foreshadow the types of people we will hear about or meet in the film.

+ Locations: The locations used in the opening sequence are either relative to the rest of the film or relative to the film title of “This Is England”. The shot of the rough looking flats and garages suggest that the film will be set in an area quite similar. The other locations used, e.g. riots in fields and concert halls, help to create a generalised view of the time period; the activities they did, what places looked like etc.

+ Editing techniques and their effects: The use of editing the title shots and the opening shots is really quite tactical. It’s been edited so that it alternates between title shots and shots of Margaret Thatcher, a computer game and a car. The alternation means our attention is grasped by the actual footage and it kept when we see the title shots. The shots have also been cleverly edited to be in time to the music. This emphasises the climax of what’s happening in the shot. The footage has also been edited to create a dated looking piece, to reinforce that it’s set in 1983.

+ Camera techniques and their effects: I’m assuming that most of the footage used had already been filmed by people other than Shane Meadows because it’s footage from events that had actually happened in the 1980’s, and hasn’t been recreated. But I think the shots were all chosen carefully for a variety of reasons. The close-up shots are used to establish key features of people or objects, e.g. the first shot of  Thatcher or the shot of the rubix cube. This makes it easy for the audience to see what is happening at a relatively quick speed. The long shots are used to establish locations (e.g. the garages and block of flats) so we can get a general view of what it looks like. There are so many different things happening in the opening sequence, I think that they made sure that the camera angles and shots weren’t too complicated so that it can quickly establish what is happening, instead of displaying what is happening in a fancy, technical manner.

+ Use of sound (diegetic and non-diegetic): The sound in this opening sequence is a non-diegetic piece. The music playing is a song called “54-46 Was My Number by Toots and the Maytals”. This song was actually released in 1968 which is before the time of which This Is England was set. It was also written and song by a Jamaican band. I would have thought that a film called “This Is England” would have used very British/English music  in the opening sequence, to reinforce the idea that it was an English film. However, the pace of music has been used to help create the pace of the film, and perhaps the pace of life in 1986. I think the music connotes happiness and creates an uplifting atmosphere which is quite a contrast with some of the nature of the footage. The music is also used to emphasise some points in the opening sequence, e.g. the “boom” in the music is played at the same time the man being blown up.

+ Iconography: This entire opening sequence is very iconic. There are various types of shots throughout this that I think all assist in creating a sense of identity in relation to the time period. I that there are four main types iconic shots. The first being the opening shot of Margaret Thatcher or in a similar sense, the shot of Princess Diana getting married; we can instantly tell what time period it is and the sort of events that had been happening at that time. The second type of shot is of the dated technology; this also tells us the time period and how advanced general life is during this particular time. The third is the shot of the 3 men and the England flag; the flag represents the country. The following shot is of a group of English men getting into a fight. I think this was deliberately done to give a representation of what the men of England were like at that particular time. Lastly, the final shot of the army truck driving away slowly emphasises the tragedy of that time period.

+Intended audience: I think that the intended audience is mostly working class, males from the ages 15-30 years. I think that this film would appeal to mostly males due to its agressive and masculine nature shown through the riots and war shots. I think it would also appeal to those of a working class as the established locations are the sort of places that the working class would socialize in. e.g. the concert hall. Personally, I feel that the age would range quite drastically due to the fact that the film was set in 1986, so people from that time period would be able to relate to it. This was shown through the use of iconic moments in the 1980s.

+ Titles: The font is a white, derelict looking font on a black background. The white contrasts with the black making it more vivid to read. The production and distribution companies and also the director is shown alternately to footage. This alternation keeps the attention of the audience focused on the production/distribution companies and the director, which publicises them.

Analyising the opening sequence: Quadrophenia

1 Nov

Quadrophenia was made in 1979 and directed by Franc Roddam

+Narrative context:

The film beings with the screen being black, then fading to the first shot of a man watching the sun set over the sea. During the same shot he turns away from the sea and starts to walk towards back up the hill and towards the camera. The next shot is of him riding his motor bike through the streets; he waves to one of his friends and carries on driving. After around 30 or so seconds, we see a group of motor bikers coming towards him. They catch up with him and then surround him; shouting abuse and tormenting him. The other bikers leave, he carries on then goes to what looks like a social club/bar/pub type of place.

+ Enigma codes:

The inital questions I wanted to know were quite simply; who is this man? why is he looking out to sea; have there been any previous events making him emotional? The other questions I want to know are who are the other people on the motor bikes? Why did they torment him? How relevant is this to the entire film? In this opening sequence we are made aware of the setting and the main characters.

+ How the characters are established and represented:

Throughout the entire opening sequence, the camera barely leaves the man’s (from the cliff) face. This constant focus makes us assume that he is the main character in the film. It’s 50 seconds into shot of the man watching the sunset and walking up the hill, where we actually get to see his face, even then it’s slightly difficult to tell what he looks like. The music playing in the background sings “Can you see the real me?”. This could give us some indication that the film is to do with identity. The type of music it is also assists in establishing what the character is like. The motorbike is also a significant figure in how the character is established. When we see the other motor bikes, we see a real contrast, thus helping in creating an imagine of the first character. The language he uses also presents his character; he’s a young, typical bloke. His clothes which are -of what we can see- a long overcoat, with a jumper and tie underneath, his hair is combed to one side. This gives the impression that he’s a belongs to a certain subculture which is called being a “Mod”. The other group of people we see on the motor bikes have a different persona about them, suggesting that they are more “hardcore”. This is established through their motorbikes, dress sense and general attitude.

+Locations:

The film is based on a true story which happened in Brighton, which is where it’s set. The location is vital as it reflects the validity of the story. The opening shot is of Brighton sea; this establishes where the film will take place. When we are taken through Brighton town (when the main character is on his motorbike), we create a general picture of what the town is like through the shops we see and the overall atmosphere that’s created through lighting and music. The final location we see is the social club called “The GoldHawk”. I think this name was chosen due stereotypes/subcultures/genres that would be associated with it: Mods.

+Editing techniques and their effects :

The pace of the opening sequence is developed similarly to how 30 days of night is constructed. It begins with a single long shot, this shot shows the location of Brighton, famous for it’s beach and it also builds the tension. The long duration and length shot then cuts to a new shot. Additionally, this is quite a lengthy shot. I think the use of both of the long duration shots shows comparison between the locations that have been established. Another editing technique I think has been used is during editing, where the sunset might have been edited to make the colours more sharp and vivid, so it’s more obvious that it’s sunset, as after that it becomes night-time. The other effect used was simply blurring the background sometimes when he was on the motorbike. This emphasises and focus’ his facial expression, rather that the surroundings. The transition between the opening shot and the first shot of him on the motorbike is a quick flash. I think that this was used as the pace of the first shot was quite slow, so the flash speeds up the pace for the rest of the opening sequence.

+Camera techniques and their effects:

There isn’t a great deal of shot variation in this opening sequence. The first shot used is a very long shot of the man watching the sunset. This long shot enables us to establish the surroundings and what the man is doing effectively. The shot finished by the man coming close up to the camera, this enables us to get a first look at his appearance.  When the man is on the motorbike, a range of medium -long shots and close-ups have been used.  The medium-long shots are used so we can see the surroundings, to give us a greater picture of what is trying to be established. For example, when the bikers appear in the background, we see both the main character and the bikers; this is through the use of the medium shot. The close-up shots enable us to see his facial expression which leads us to having a greater understanding of how he feels, his emotions etc. It also creates a clearer picture of what he actually looks like.

+ Use of sound (diegetic and non-diegetic):

The use of music in this opening sequence is very significant. The films’ plot is based around two subcultures; “Mods” and “Rockers”. The music reinforces the culture of being a “Mod”; being a little bit alternative in general, but also very different compared to the “Rockers” taste in music. The lyrics to the music also indicate what the film is about as when we see the first close up shot of the main character, the lyrics say “Can you see the real me”. This could imply that he is having identity issues. The music also helps to create the pace of the atmosphere; being acapella and a slow pace when he’s walking up the hill, reinforcing the peaceful, yet almost tense atmosphere. The “flash” like transition between the opening shot and the first shot of the motorbike assists in the change in pace of the music. The faster, more energetic music creates a more intense atmosphere. All of this sound is non-diegetic. The diegetic sound used is the sound of the waves when he’s stood at the top of the cliff; reinforcing his location. The dialogue exchanged between the “Mods” and the “Rockers” is rude and derogatory; this tells us a lot about their relationship; that it’s hatred instead of friendship.

+Iconography:

I think that the motorbike is quite an iconic symbol is this opening sequence. It resembles part of his sub-culture and their alternative way of being. It clearly shows his preferences of style, also how he wants himself to be represented. The significance of the motorbike becomes even more relevant as the “Rocker” motorbikes turn up. We are able to compare the two, therefore being able to distinguish the two subcultures.

+Intended audience:

I think the intended audience for females and males of working class. Part of me thinks that it’s mostly intended for male as the general culture we’ve seen so far is quite masculine. e.g. riding the motorbike. However watching the sunset is more of a female thing to particpate in. I think it’s mostly working class as the culture we’ve been exposed to would relate to it. However I think the age range has a vast range. The film was probably made for people around ages 16-25 years, but since the film was made around 30 years ago, it may appeal to people of around that generation, as they would be able to relate to it.

+Titles:

The titles appear when the man starts riding the motorbike, I think this is because it goes better with the action and music, instead of being during the scene where he’s on the cliff. The titles are a yellow, bold, sans-serif font; these all create a simple yet expressive effect.

Analyising opening sequence of horror: 30 Days of Night

31 Oct

30 Days of Night is an American horror film made in 2007 and directed by David Slade.

+ Narrative context:

This is the first horror film i’ve analysed that begins with the titles. The first shot is of a man wearing a coat with a fluffy hood. His expression looks worried but also confused, he’s staring out to sea at a giant boat that’s surrounded by fog and mist. He proceeds to walk back through the snow to a cliff edge where he stares at what looks like a little fishing village. The camera pans to sky, then fades to black and the words “last day of sun” appear on the screen.

+ Enigma codes:

This entire opening sequence has got me wanting to know what the entire film is about. It’s so misleading. The first question raised is the obvious; who is that man? why does he look so worried and confused? Why is he covered in snow? The next question I wanted to know was; why is there a giant ship just sat there? what significance does it have? The next question I asked myself was why did he walk all that way just to stare at the little town? Is this man a protagonist or antagonist? how relevant is he to the entire plot? This opening sequence leaves me wanting to know everything.

+ How are the characters established and represented?

The only character to be established is the man who was looking out to sea. He’s the first character we see, so presumably he’ll be quite a  relevant character throughout the film. His character is established through his facial expression; looking pained, worried and confused. We wonder why. I also think he’s been portrayed as quite a mysterious character; his isolation and unknown purpose for watching the boat highlights this. Also, when walking his body language is hunched yet also quite flaccid and almost dreary, possibly suggesting that he has a lot on his mind.

+ Location:

The location used is a little town called Barrow, in Alaska. The location is very significant as that’s what most of the storyline is based around; in the winter the sun sets for 30 days- therefore without the town, no story. The opening credits tell us that the town has no neighbouring villages for 80 miles all round. I think this was perhaps included to emphasise the isolation of Barrow, therefore emphasising the story. However the only thing we see in the opening sequence is the surrounding sea and sheet of ice. The sea is covered by broken bits of ice and smothered with fog and mist. The location is very isolated and seems to be that no humans have been there, apart from the man we see. I don’t think that fishing villages in Alaska are a particularly common setting for a horror film, but the fact that it isn’t a typical convention makes it all the more creepy. For example if you’re watching a film that’s set in a grave yard, it’s pretty easy to know what to expect, as it’s a common location for horror films, but as barely any, moreover no horror films are set in fishing villages, we don’t know what to expect.

+ Editing techniques and their effects:

The pace of this opening sequence is conveyed throughout the transitions between each shot. The pace of the transitions is quite slow so this builds tension for the opening sequence. Other editing techniques that have been used  is when the man is staring out to sea, the ship is covered by mist. There is a long duration shot of the ship, where the mist is uncovered and we can see the ship more clearly. This highlights the ship’s presence and creates a mysterious effect behind it. Also, I think that there was specific lighting that was used to enhance ships surroundings, again highlighting the ship’s presence.

+ Camera techniques and their effects:

This opening sequence begins with an 8 seconds long,  close up of the mans face. The long duration of the shot enables the audience to start interpreting what the look on his face could mean, whilst the extreme close up enhances those emotions. We then cut to a very long shot of the man looking out to sea, turning around then walking back, away from the boat. This long shot enables us to see the vast scale of the boat, and how far away he is; it helps us to put everything into comparison. A range of shots are used when watching him walk to the cliffs edge. The long shots used show his isolation in the surroundings, whereas the extreme close ups show the intensity of his emotions. The last shot is a very long shot that enables us to establish what he’s looking at, but also to see him looking at it. When the camera pans to the sky, it could be suggesting that they’re moving on from this part of the story; like they’re drifting away from it.

+ Use of sound (diegetic and non-diegetic):

The use of sound is used very specifically throughout this opening sequence. The diegetic sound used is only the gentle sounds of the wind which sometimes sound like a creepy whisper. This enables the audience to imagine that they are there with him. The non-diegetic sound used sounds like it could be an organ, whatever it is, it creates a very empty feel to the scene. The notes are very low, and sound very hollow, helping to create this vacant scene. The sound has a striking noise to it when it cuts to an extreme close up of his eyes as he’s walking; the sound emphasises the expression in his face.

+ Iconography:

I think that the only possible iconic symbol in this opening sequence could be the boat. We aren’t made aware of anything thats relevant to it; why it’s there, what’s on it, how did it get there and how relevant is it to the entire film. So the boats’ presence is a slight hint to what else will follow in the film.

+Intended target audience:

I think the target audience for this film are middle class men and women, aged 25-40 years. I think this film would appeal more to people who’ve had adventurous life styles, people who have possible been to places like Alaska, therefore can relate to it. I can see the appeal to this film for both males and females, as it’s starring a male actor but the plot so far is so non-descript that I don’t think either genders could dismiss it.

+ Titles:

The titles are all at the beginning of the film, which I mentioned earlier is the first horror film I’ve analysed that’s done it. The screen is entirely black apart from the writing, which is a sans-serif, thin, simple white font that fades in and out. The screen then fades to white where a map is drawn, the titles then proceed to tell us a bit of background information about the village and why there’s going to be 30 Days of Night. It then cuts of half of the sentance leaving on “30 Days of Night”, which the background then fades to black and the writing turns to blood.

Analysing opening sequences: Cradle of fear

31 Oct

Cradle of fear is an English film, made in 2001, directed by Alex Chandon.

+ Narrative Context:

The film begins with “The Man” walking on a street on a foggy night. He first walks past a girl smoking, then past a tramp and somehow makes him throw up by strangling him with his shadow. As he carries on walking, two men see that he is alone and start to follow him. One of them throws a cigarette at “The Man” and starts to brutally hit him with a chunk of wood. The other man joins in and starts tp punch “The Man”. Just when they think “The Man” is knocked out, the 1st man checks his body for cash. Then Dani suddenly grabs the man by the throat and begins ripping it with his rings. While the 2nd man stands watching, “The Man” pulls out the 1st man’s windpipe. He then tears the 2nd man’s head apart from the top and stomps on his brains. He then looks to the sky screaming, almost like a victory scream.

+ Enigma codes:

Throughout watching this entire opening sequence, I wanted to know why everything was happening, there was not one thing that was concluded or explainable. The first thing I wanted to know when watching this was what were the noises: where were they coming from? who was saying them? where they human or animal? The next thing I wanted to know the answer to was why did the tramp throw up, even though “The Man” went no-where near him, only strangled him using his shadow. When “The Man” is attacked, I think this is only partially explainable: there are people out there who will attack strangers for no reason, so asking why they did it might be rhetorical. The two men don’t seem to have much significance in the film, as they’re killed off within the first few minutes. After watching the horrific events of him ripping someones throats and brains out, I’d quite like to know if he’s mentally stable. I think the obvious is that he’s not, but I’d like to know why he’s not all there!

+ How are the characters established and represented:

The first time we see “The Man”, we can automatically tell he’s quite a powerful figure by various aspects. When we first see him, it’s all foggy, but when the fog clears we see “The Man” pounding towards us. His body language is strong and confident, this suggests that he is a powerful and almost mysterious figure. This suggestion is reinforced by the fog around him; in english literature we’d call it Pathetic Fallacy, where the weather reinforces human emotion or characteristics. The fog and dim lighting combined make it harder for us to see his face, almost so it dehumanizes him, creating this monstrous effect. “The Man” obviously is an openly violent person, the aim of his game is to murder viciously; so no time was wasted in expressing that to the audience. The voices and sounds in the background also assist in establishing “The Man”. The voices are disturbing, therefore since they are played with “The Man” walking, we’ll associate disturbing things with “The Man”. The noises he makes also adds to this monstrous effect; when strangling the tramp he groans in a very unhuman manner, he sounds almost caveman like. This again establishes the character as being inhumane, this is also reinforced through the lack of shots of his face. The first close shot we see of him is after he’s strangled the tramp; his facial expression is very calm and nonchalant, but he also looks quite pleased with himself. You’d expect a killer to look angry, so the reverse emotions being used creates a very psychotic image.

+ Locations:

The location used is a dark, damp alleyway. In actual fact, you can barely see any of the surroundings but I think this adds to the effect of horror; it’s this element of not knowing whats going to happen that makes it scary (for me anyway). So this element of suspense has been reinforced through the little appearance of the alley way. The alley is full of relatively normal objects; bins, wooden crates etc.; therefore this creates a human feel to what is happening. The location has been used to its advantages; the connotations associated with alleyways are generally that one person will get attacked by a group of people, get hurt and be left there as no-one can see them. However this was reversed, as one man attacked, survives and kills the other two. The alleyway is an enclosed area, i think suggests that the men can’t escape “The Man” because one, physically they’re trapped and two, he’s too powerful for them.

+ Editing techniques and their effects:

The editing techniques that they have used tries to reinforce this idea that “The Man” isn’t mentally stable and is very dangerous.  During the opening shot, “The Man” is walking towards the camera, but during editing they’ve slowed him down. This is slow approaching effect could create a sense of “he’s coming to get us, run away”. Or it could suggest that he walks with authority and power. Lighting is has also been used to reinforce the power of “The Man”. The very first shot we see is the shadow of “The Man”, which makes him a lot bigger than he actually is. This creates the visual effect that he is a strong, powerful character but also makes the audience think that he is a powerful character. The fog and lighting also creates a general freaky look for when he’s walking, to enhance his characteristics. When changing from shot to shot, they use quite a few fades instead of a simple cut. I think this is because fades suggest a more creepy transition; that everything isn’t quite natural and normal.During the bit where “The Man” kills the other two men, the cuts actually aren’t that fast paced. I think this is because the director really wanted us to see him killing the men, to add an element of shock and reality to the killing.

+ Camera techniques and their effects:

The piece starts with a shot of the fog with his shadow coming through. I think this is an effective way to start a horror film, as the first thing we see is a total mystery, so we’re instantly intrigued to what it is. The next shot is a very long shot of “The Man” walking towards us. I think they used this shot to establish his body build; to see how tall and broad he is, giving us more of an idea of what/who he is. It also shows his isolation, which could suggest that he doesn’t really interact with other humans, again reinforcing this idea that he is a monstrous person. The next shot used is a close up of his feet stomping along; this close up enables us to see his big, clumpy shoes and makes us, as the audience, wonder what type of person/creature this is. The shoes slightly humanize him. One technique that I found particularly clever, as it really creeped me out was the panning on his face as he approached the other two men. It was a very close-up shot so we could clearly see his misleading expression, but the panning made it feel like he was just drifting past quite smoothly and humanly; the contrast with his expression made it all the more scary. When the other two characters were beating him up, they used shots from “The Man’s” perspective, creating the effect that we can almost feel whats happening. They use a range of close-ups and medium/long shots to create an overall perspective of what’s happening, so we can see the action and the expression on their faces. There is a very unusual medium shot of the two men, where the light suddenly flashes and zooms closer up to one of the other man’s face. I think this could be interpreted as maybe “The Man” picking his victims to kill, almost like he’s had an automatic selection, like some programmed robot. Again, this effect dehumanizes him. When “The Man” starts to kill the other two men, the shots are quite close up, but they don’t cut from shot to shot that often at all: there is one main close-up shot of him pulling out his oesophagus. I think this really enables the audience to see what is happening clearly, with all deceiving techniques aside. The shots are similar when he rips the other man’s head off; it is a clear simple shot of whats happening. I think these shots were specifically used to create a simple, almost normal aspect to his killings. The method of killing is extreme enough, I think if they were to have used lots of varied shots it would have over-complicated an already complex scene. I think the simple shots actually emphasise the method of killing as you can see everything that happens very clearly.

+ Use of sound (diagetic and non-diagetic):

The use of sound in this is very significant as we hear no dialogue between any of the characters. Throughout the entire opening sequence, we can hear very ghostly, muffled voices or noises. The collected sounds sound like a mixture of someone whispering, hissing, howling wind, people moving through trees/bushes, people crying and almost robotic movement sounds. All of those sounds could be associated with an aspect of horror. We are unsure as whether “The Man”  can hear the sounds too, so whether it is diagetic or non-diagetic. I personally think that the noises are diagetic in context to “The Man” himself, but I don’t think that the other two characters can hear him, but obviously the audience can hear it. I think these sounds help to create the mental instability of “The Man”; we are aware of these sounds but unaware of how significant they are. “The Man” himself makes some very animal like noises; groaning and growling at his victims; creating this idea that it’s like an animal hunting for its prey in the wild. I think the director wanted to create a real life sense to this piece in a way, he has not used any music at all to build any tension. The tension is built through the use of the noises changing in pitch when getting nearer to another human. He used some random scat beats when “The Man” had finished ripping his head off, but I can not think of a reason of how those beats are relevant.

+Iconography:

I don’t think there is any iconography in this opening sequence. Everything is pretty straightforward, there doesn’t seem to be many hidden meanings behind anything we’ve seen. All that has happened so far has been straight forward and, in a relative context, justifiable.

+Intended target audience:

I think the target audience for this piece is mainly working class, white males aged 18-30 years. I think this because the actors in the opening sequence are white, and between the ages 20-30 years. They also seem to be working class, possibly even underclass due to their surroundings and behaviour; you wouldn’t really expect someone of middle class to mug and beat someone up. I think this film is also mainly intended for males due to the amount of blood and gore we’re exposed to. Generally males are more attracted to films like this; this was proved when talking to my friends. All the girls decided the film sounded disgusting, whereas the guys really wanted to watch it as it sounded “awesome”. I also think that titles would disinterest females as they’re all various pictures of dead girls.

+Titles:

The titles begin just after “The Man” screams after killing the other man and walks towards the camera. The titles have been very cleverly done. It starts with a split screen of “The Man” screaming, either side of him is a face covered in blood. Some parts of title sequnces have been split into 5 part on the screen of what looks like, what the rest of the film is about; we see women screaming, cars being driven, people at premieres and a couple being intimate. Also during the titles we see various body parts of dead girls covered in blood. The use of the footage in the title sequence could either foreshadow events or they’ve been used to show the audience what had happened previously, to keep them up to date. The fonts used to present the titles are sans-serif, they vary from being a cut out of the footage behind to being white or orange; I think orange was used to represent the blood and the white to represent the innocent of the girl’s’ deaths.

Analysing opening sequences of horror films; The Descent

30 Oct

To help develop our understanding of film conventions, it was decided that we should analyze 3 opening sequences’ of horror films. It was also suggested that at least 2 of them must be British. To decide which films I wanted to watch, I googled British horror films where it came up with a list of all British horror films published in 2009, then I chose what I wanted to watch.

The Descent


The first opening sequence I’m going to analyse is from a British horror film called The Descent, directed by Neil Marshall, made  in 2005.

+ Narrative context:

The opening sequence starts with a quite a nondescript long shot of the tree tops of a forest and the sky, it then fades to a shot of 3 women water rafting down a river.  The women struggle for a little bit, going through the rapids, but then complete the rafting, and are reunited with one of the women’s daughter and her husband. When the women are coming out of the raft, we notice slight tension between one of the women and the others womans’ husband. Then, the woman who has the daughter and the husband there, are travelling back in their car, the mother is talking to the daughter, then she turns around and senses that something is wrong with her husband; she asks him, he says he’s fine. He stops looking at the road, a van is driving towards them with poles on the roof; they have a head on collision. The poles go straight through the man and out the other side of the chair. The next shot is of the mother in the hospital bed, she’s dreaming of her daughter blowing out her birthday candles, when she blows the last candle out, the mother wakes up. She panics, then detaches herself from the machinery, and runs into the corridor. She then sprints down the corridor where she falls into the arms of one of the other women who went water rafting, who tells her that her daughter is dead.

+ Enigma codes:

When watching this opening sequence, there was only one question that I really asked myself was: why was there tension between one of the women and the other womans husband? All other actions that took place were either quite neutral, i.e. waterrafting hasn’t raised any questions or the actions were justified, i.e. they had a car crash and it was announced that the daughter had died (it was obvious the husband would have been killed)

+ How the characters are established and represented: 

Within the brief time of meeting the characters before they get killed, we are able to establish who they are through their actions and dialogue. To begin with, all of the women are presented as being adventurous and out-going: we see this through their expression being eager and happy when going down the river. Also their dialogue which when going down the river mostly consists of “Woooooooooo!” and “Aaaaaahhhhh”- reinforces this. However, once they’ve come into safe water all of the women’s’ personalities are revealed a bit more. There are quite a few close-ups of the eastern looking woman; possibly to show that she has a very sly, sneaky look upon her face when she’s with the mother’s husband. Whereas the other women offers to tie the boat up so the mother could go with her husband and daughter; this establishes that their friendship could be a lot closer and easier than the friendship with the eastern looking woman.A moment where the asian women is isolated is when the mother discovers her daughter is dead. Whilst the other two women are hugging, she is stood on her own; perhaps this again signifies the distance of their relationship. We learn that the mother is a very devoted, loving and caring towards her daughter. The close up shots of their interaction help to represent their affection towards each other. The dialogue exchanged also reinforces their affection. The husband’s character is established through him physically being there, but seeming very vacancy and distant. This is reinforced through the relationship between the husband and wife during the car scene; the wife realises that her husband is distant and asks him what the matter is. He seems very uncomfortable and awkward; this is presented through his body language. All of these characters’ are established through their relationships between each other and they are represented using dialogue and actions that are fitting for their character.

+ Locations: 

The first location used is an English (assuming English, as when they drive away from the river, the cars’ number plate is English and they’re driving on the left side of the road) forest with a river running through it. The first location doesn’t seem to have a big influence on the rest of the events so far. However the connotations associated with forests is that they are places full of danger and nasty surprises. But perhaps the production team wanted the film to begin with a conventional horror location, to keep the viewers suspended, and then for the drama to unfold on the road: this is something that I would say isn’t usually a typical convention of a horror film. The next location is of the hospital. Hospitals can be a setting that enlightens the mood in films; something good can come out of it or it can make everything worse.  I think the location of the hospital was chosen so that you could see the mother being alive and finding out that her daughter was dead, so we could possibly feel her emotions, in contrast to perhaps there being a shot of the daughter dead on the side of the road.

+ Editing techniques and their effects:

The main editing technique used was the use of lighting in the hospital. The lighting in the hospital was really stingy with almost a green tint to it: this creates an uneasy and unpleasant atmosphere. I think green coloured lighting was chosen very specifically, however I have thought of many interpretations and their effects. Green is often associated with aliens; so it could give an indication that the mother feels alien and out-of-place in the hospital. Green is also associated with being ill; so it could represent the mother being sick  and/or being sick with worry. However it could also represent life. The lighting in the corridor is similar to the lighting in the hospital room, except it starts flashing and fading from green to black. I think that the lights fading as she runs down the corridor has quite an obvious meaning to it: as the light fades from green to black, the daughter dies a little more. When it cuts straight to black, the daughter is dead. When it cuts to normal lighting where she is embraced by her friend, its signaling to the audience that she’s been thrown back into reality.

+ Camera techniques and their effects:

The first shot is an establishing shot of the women in the river, so we can automatically see whats going on. The water-rafting scene has a range of shots to really emphasise the extreme movement down the river. The camera isn’t steady so we can really feel the motion of being on the raft, this creates the effect like we’re there with them.  There are fast pace cuts between the shots to really emphasise the how rapid they were actually going  on the raft. They’ve used many close-up shots when trying to highlight the relationship between the mother and daughter, and the husband and the eastern woman; it creates a more personal effect and enables us to really form an understanding of what their relationships are like. During the car scene,  one of the shots when the mother is talking to the daughter, we hear her speaking but the focus is on the husband. His facial expression is pained, and the shot focus is on him creates the effect that there really is something bothering him, regardless of how happy is wife is. When we the husband and wife are having a conversation, the camera angle is facing the direction of the oncoming car. The effect created through this is that as viewers, we’re able to see and anticipate what is coming before the actors do. The final shot before it cuts to the hospital is a birds-eye-view of the two cars that had crashed. The camera zooms out of the crashed engines until we see the entire damage. It zooms out very slowly and almost in a broken, fragmented manner, instead of a smooth and steady way. This could be interpreted as the women’s’ life is going to slowly spiral out of control into disaster. When she steps out into the corridor, ‘ medium long shot. I think this shot was chosen so we could see the space around her, showing her isolation but so we could also see her facial expression, so we know how she’s feeling; the two combined create an effect of confusion and worry. It then cuts to a very long shot of her still in the corridor on her own. The next shot is a medium shot of her face, but it then zooms in closer, almost creating the effect that she’s starting to come closer to reality, realising what is going on.

+ Iconography:

I don’t really think the iconography in this is too vivid at all. There i only one thing that I noticed that could be slightly related to iconography. When white water rafting, the eastern looking woman is wearing red, whilst the other two are wearing blue. The colour red connotes danger and is usually associated with the protagonist and blue connotes peace and innocence. It might well be coincidence, but I’m basing my judgements from simply watching the first 6 minutes of the film before the title comes in.

+ Use of sound (diagetic and non-diagetic):

The music that has been created for the opening titles has very long, low notes in it with various high-pitched notes over the top of it, creating an atmosphere of anticipation and suspense. It then slowly fades into the laughter and screams of the women, we also hear the sounds of the water; all this sound is diagetic as the characters can hear it too. The music used when the women tie the boat up is all very high-pitched notes that goes nicely together, creating an uplifting atmosphere. The music stays pretty much the same through that entire scene, except for a brief moment when the husband and the eastern looking woman exchange glances: the music has a slightly lower note, quite similar sounding to a musical organ. This quickly fades as the father makes a quick exit. This music is non-diagetic, to help the audience create the effect that the relationship between the husband and eastern woman is an awkward/unstable etc. When the cars crash, the non-diagetic sound is barely there: an extremely high-pitched noise which fades out to the rumbling of some drums. The high-pitched noise doesn’t sound particularly natural, creating an effect of danger and suspense. This suggests that however bad it was, the worst of it isn’t over. The diagetic sound is very quiet crunching of the remainder of the engine, possible to just keep suggesting that everything just happened was a real event (for the film obviously). The sounds that accompany the dream of her daughter blowing out the candles sounds almost alien like, creating the effect that whats happening on-screen isn’t real in relative context to the mother’s life. When the mother wakes up, the diagetic sound is beeping from the life support machine, so the audience know that the mother and themselves can hear it. The sounds we hear as she runs down the corridor could be interpreted as either diagetic or non-diagetic. The sound we hear is almost like a “whooshing noise”. This could be interpreted as her daughter drifting in and out of consciousness before she dies; accompanied with the lighting fading from green to black it could be a possibility.

+ Intended target audience:

I think the target audience for The Descent are white, middle class women in their late twenties to early thirties. The activity of water rafting is a relatively middle class activity to participate in, therefore could appeal to women who do activities such as that. It would be slightly different if they were at Henley Regetta (royal social event): the film would become instantly not relatable to most people. The characters in the film seem very normal, relatable people; therefore women of similar ages and background would see the appeal and want to watch it.

+ Titles:

The titles begin with a black screen, then it seems like a spot light shines onto the words to make them readable. I think this is supposed to signify a torch, as the rest of the film is set in a cave, so they might be foreshadowing the idea of discovering things with a torch. The titles are placed randomly all over the black screen, I think this signifies that whatever they discover in the cave, will be moving all the time, and they’ll discover it using the torch. The font is very simple; a white, classic serif font, perhaps not to mislead the audience from what the titles actually say. When the mother falls to the floor crying in the hospital corridor, it fades to black then the title appears in the same manner as the titles did at the beginning of the film.