Main Task: Research on film openings

S7ven

I will especially focus on mise en scene for the opening sequence of S7ven as it is a very prominent and effectively used feature. The opening sequence features repulsive acts; such as cutting off tips of finger and washing off blood in water. These disturb the audience and provoke thought of a disturbed, possibly mentally unstable character. Extreme close ups add intensity, as they show a certain aspect in great detail disregarding what is around it/outside the shot; this also illustrates the idea/theme of obsession and mystery, demanding interest from the audience therefore creating intensity. Rapid cuts are also used for this effect, as the audience are given less time to observe the shots, once again demand attention from the audience; creating intensity. The sense of mystery the audience is supported by the fact that throughout the sequence many shots are obscured by distortion or a block (for example lighting, a book page that creates a shadow). This all also eludes to the idea of a psychopath as not only is their a lot of mystery surrounding a psychopath (we don’t know why they behave the way they do) but they are also commonly characterised to be intense and obsessive. The idea of a pyschopath is also supported by the mise en scene of planning; this includes the book he writes, the writing he edits and all of the pictures, everything is very messy and distinct; therefore suggests a disturbed mind. Predominantly the colour’s beige, red and black are used. These colours are significant because they bring in certain connotations, for example beige has quite a homely feel suggesting privacy and non-professionalism, black connotes mystery and darkness(reflecting on protagonist’s disturbed mind), and the red is used add hints of extremity, evilness, passion and vengeance as it is associated with blood, love (as a cause for actions) and anger. The removing of identity is also eluded to massively, there is constant visuals of crossing out of sexual identity and face/eyes, also the removing of evidence and the cutting out of fingerprints. All this suggests he does not want to be identified; the audience cannot help but think why? Inferring the idea that the character is planning something illegal. Finally at the end, the last sigficant act was the cutting out of the word God, this is done to suggest either the abandonment of God or the embrace of God through radicalism.

Whiplash

I will primarily be looking at narrative for the opening sequence to this movie but first I want to talk about the drum snare at the very beginning. The drum snare has inherent military qualities to it whilst building up tension, it communicates the idea of hardship and dread, as you wait for it to finish. This opening sequence is essentially a microcosm of the entire plot, it tells the story in the first few minutes just by establishing the setting, the characters of the boy and the teacher and their relationship. The setting is established to be a school, but one of hardship, it is dark, bare and barren, perhaps reflecting on the atmosphere of learning. The boy is set up to be passionate and talented, the audience infer this as he is in school working hard when all the others have gone home. The teacher is set up to be harsh, cruel and unforgiving, largely by his attitude with the boy. Their relationship is then established to be dysfunctional, with high expectations from the teacher and mistakes made by the boy.

Shutter Island

The soundtrack to shutter island is used very effectively. In the opening scene the audience hears the water and occasional foghorn. It creates an unsettling atmosphere and builds tension; as soundtrack is so thin and impending. Sounds such as rattling chains support this. Quiet strings also start to play in minor key to help establish the dark, mysterious tone. All this is done to reflect on the protagonist. By having disturbing horns amongst constant ripples of water creates a disturbed feel, this reflects directly onto the protagonist’s mind state. This is because the water sounds are rapid and random, they allude to a mentally unstable mind by using aural imagery.The sound of rattling chains is used to connote imprisonment, correlating with a central theme of shutter island, but also alluding to imprisonment of the mind; i.e. the protagonist’s mental state ( as he has essentially imprisoned himself in his own fake reality). A flashback is featured in the opening, higher pitch monochronic music is used to allude to that reality not being real. An interesting choice made by the director is to feature a shot of a record player playing music but too not actually include this diegetic sound, this helps establish the flashback as fake; as the audience isn’t truly taken there. A wave crash interrupts the flashback, once again creating the idea of a disturbed protagonist because it creates the idea that the protagonist is preoccupied, therefore if the water sounds reflect on his mental instability, this could be used to signal that he is aware of this or at least the cause; what he was having a flashback of: his wife. Therefore he is trying to help himself get better by telling himself it is not real by reminding himself of where he is and that this is a problem of his.

Inception

For inception I will primarily consider audience. The primary target audience of inception was young men between the ages 16 to 37, as it is an action packed movie. However a secondary audience is both genders as the plot and the idea; as inception is a lot more than just action, appeal to both. This is evident in how its successful campaign platforms are targeted at the male market; for example Empire Magazine with 574,000 men reading it, in 2010 when the movie was published. Another reason inception appeals to both men and women aged 16 and older is because of audience pleasures. Inception focused on cognitive and sensory pleasures, followed by emotional pleasures. On top of this, I found when I watched inception; especially the ending, gave me cathartic pleasure as well. The cognitive pleasure is achieved through a complex yet engaging plot; it makes you want to understand it. Already in the opening; just like all good thrillers, many questions are being asked, the contemporary ocean shot followed by the traditional Chinese room seems unreal, who/and to what purpose are the children? etc. The visual pleasure was attained by the use of epic action sequences; hinted at in the opening by the use of the protagonist carrying a gun, and stunning mise en scene. Stereotypically, visual pleasures appeal more to a male audience; another reason why the film was more targeted at men. There was also the engagement of emotional pleasures; for example in the opening there was the shot of children playing, immediately images of care and innocence are being brought to mind. Stereotypically speaking, emotional pleasures appeal more to a female audience.

 

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