Opening Sequence Textual Analysis’

October 20, 2009 at 9:47 pm (Uncategorized)

Now we have completed our preliminary Tasks it is time to get ready for the real thing. Our actual coursework task is to produce a 2 minutes Opening Sequence to a British Movie. So we make the best opening sequences possible, we need to thoroughly research opening sequences of different genres of film. I have therefore done a Textual Analysis of 3 films from different genres, two of which are British.

  • Pride & Prejudice – A British Period Drama based on the famous Jane Austen Novel
  • Hot Fuzz – A British Comedy starring comedy genius’ Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and made by the same people as Shaun Of The Dead and Spaced
  • Runaway Bride – An American Romantic Comedy from the director of Pretty Woman which also features a similar cast

Pride & Prejudice 2005

Directed by Joe Wright

Genre: Costume Drama

Summary of Opening Sequence: The film opens with a shot of the countryside with the sun rising behind the trees while the titles play. The shot then changes to a young woman walking through a field whilst reading a book, before cutting to a shot of the same woman walking across a small bridge towards a house. As she walks through hung up laundry and pass a doorway into a house, the camera begins to move down the corridor, where a girl is playing the piano and other girls and young woman are running around laughing. The shot pans to show outside the house, where the young woman is walking past chickens being fed, and into the house after pausing to listen to a conversation between an older couple through a window of the house. The young woman finds the other girls listening at the door to the same conversation, about the man who has let Netherfield. The man walks out of the room and the conversation is continued as everyone walks through the house into another room. The girls are very excited and start jumping around and laughing happily. The opening sequence finishes with a zoom out shot of the front of the house.

Pemberley-played-by-Chatsworth-House-in-Pride-and-Prejudice-2005

Pemberley Estate, depicted by Chatsworth House in Derbyshire

Locations: Outdoor shot right at start shows time of day and that story set chiefly in countryside. Houses surroundings show it is obviously farm-house and interior of house helps portray time period narrative set in and busy family life. House set as chief location of film because of how camera explores house thoroughly and zoom out shot at end of opening sequence.

Characters: First character seen is young woman reading, setting her as main protagonist as followed to her home. Here more girls around her age, sisters, introduced in happy family environment. Parents also introduced happily. Introduction of all characters and environment around them portray them as very keira_knightley_in_pride_and_prejudice_wallpaper_1_800happy family with good relationships and sets them as central family of narrative.

Enigma Codes: Audience wishes to discover what will happen to family during film, especially young woman from beginning, also whether and how relationships will change.

Cinematography and the effects: Tracking shot that shows main protagonist walking to house and interior of house makes audience feel as if they’re actually walking along with her and then through house exploring family’s lifestyle. Panning shot of room and tracking to outside continues feeling of being there yourself. Final zoom out shot of house brings opening sequence to conclusion, showing house in full so audience knows this is central setting and family of narrative.

Editing Techniques and their effects: All shot changes straight cuts. Shot/reverse shot used during conversation, as is match on action.2005_pride_and_prejudice_wallpaper_002

Use of Sound: During opening shot there no sound except birdsong in background, further setting countryside location. Gradually piano starts playing soft music over top, setting atmosphere for opening sequence. Thought to be non-diegetic until enter house and can see piano music being played by one of sisters. Music stops briefly during conversation before continuing non-diegetically over last shot of house. Along with music are animal noises faintly in background showing live on farm. 

Genre Characteristics: Costumes worn by characters conventional of Costume Dramas, along with hair styles and interior of house.

When, Where and How Titles are presented in relation to the action: Titles played over very beginning during shot of pride_and_prejudice_sizedcountryside with sun rising over trees.

Font, Colour and Positioning of Titles: All titles written in same simple font in white. Positioned in centre of screen, all same size accept title of film slightly larger.

Intended Target Audience and Signifiers: Opening sequence sets film as mainly targeted towards females, because of amount of female characters and lead protagonists appearing to be young women. Because of period and therefore language used, target audience probably not young children despite U certification, but 14-year-old girls and above.

Ideas you could transfer to you own opening sequence: Because I would like my opening sequence to be Romantic Comedy, I could take some ideas from this opening sequence. Establishment of main female protagonist very well done, as is establishment of main location and genre.

 

 Hot Fuzz 2007

Directed by Edgar Wright

Genre: Comedy

hot-fuzz-poster-1Summary of Opening Sequence: The film opens with police sirens and whistles playing over the Universal and Working Titles logos. It then cuts to a set of automatic doors opening and a very long shot of a police officer walking towards the camera while the camera slowly zooms. The police officer stops when he is in a close up shot and stares into the camera before holding up his ID Card. Upbeat music starts playing and a voice over begins, telling the audience who he is and about his career. The action keeps cutting from the officer walking through Scotland Yard to him doing things that fit into the dialogue e.g. taking part in training and tests. It becomes clear that he is a very successful police officer having graduated top of his class and now has the highest arrest record in the Metropolitan Police. The opening sequence ends with the officer saying he has been injured 3 times in the last 12 months, most recently in December when he was stabbed by a man dressed as Santa Claus, as he knocks on a door, then cuts to him being stabbed in the hand by Santa Claus and freezes as the song ends.

Locations: Location centred around Scotland Yard, where officer walking through to an office. Cuts frequently to other locations where officer taking part in police activities, including field exercises, riot control, examinations, graduating, working on streets of London, presentations, advanced driving and cyclinghot-fuzz2 courses, fencing, chess and gun raids. Locations used to introduce main protagonist and what his life is like.

Characters: Only character introduced Police Constable Nicholas Angel. Introduces himself in-depth, but only talks about career. This and action taking place, shows audience that police and work is his life, and he doesn’t seem to have personal life or many relationships.

Enigma Codes: Audience wonders what’s going to happen to characters career during film, as obvious something is going to change. Also want to know if he has any relationships outside work.

Cinematography and the effects: Lots of different shots. First shot slow zoom in creates tension and intrigue. Lots of zoom ins and close up or extreme close ups to increase excitement and pace. Several fast pans also to keep pace and excitement. Mainly at eye level through out, occasional high angle hotfuzzto show pressure. 

Editing Techniques and their effects: Lots of interesting editing. Lots of very quick cuts and pans to increase pace and excitement, mostly done to match beat of music to keep pace. Several jolted transitions to cause slight confusion, e.g. when doing riot control. Freeze frames at end of certain shots to show facial expression of male protagonist. Cross fading of shots at end to show numerous arrests, support dialogue. Overall very complicated and intense editing to create atmosphere of excitement and tension and to keep very quick pace.

Use of Sound: Non-diegetic sound from very beginning over production titles. Sounds connected with Police such as whistles, bells, sirens played and cut out when film cuts to first shot. Portrays that film related to police some way. Then no noise except for police officers footsteps, causes suspense and tension. When he stops there is silence for second to increase suspense, before raises ID Card. Whooshing noise as raises and lowers ID Card makes it more exciting and also adds humour. Upbeat music starts playing with voiceover, to keep action quick and fast-moving. Diegetic sound from numerous clips played during voiceovers played so action more intense and adds meaning. Noise added when ticking test especially adds comedy to action.   

Genre Characteristics: Out of context, opening sequence could be seen as very serious and not really humorous. However, taken in way it’s meant to be, opening sequence very funny. Main genre characteristic is everything very over the top with emphasis on points to make them funnier. Last part with man dressed as Santa2007_hot_fuzz_wallpaper_002 Claus especially characteristic because takes something serious makes it funny.

When, Where and How Titles are presented in relation to the action: Titles played over beginning when police officer walking towards camera.

Font, Colour and Positioning of Titles: Titles positioned at bottom of screen in centre in white, simple, blocky font.

Intended Target Audience and Signifiers: Intended audience mainly males above age of 15. Film probably appeal to some females as well, but because of police and action theme portrayed in opening sequence and main protagonist apparently male, most likely mainly targeted at male gender.

Ideas you could transfer to you own opening sequence: Could take way main protagonist introduced and possibly transfer ideas to own opening sequence, because way done quite straight forward and well done. Get in-depth look into his life and character, and well explained character important in Romantic Comedy.

Runaway Bride 1999

Directed by Garry Marshallrunaway-bride

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Summary of Opening Sequence: The film opens with “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2 playing while the titles begin. The shot fades from black to show a corn field. A horse is galloping through fields , rivers and woods, ridden by a woman wearing a wedding dress. She stops at times to find where to go and looks very worried and distressed. As the title of the film shows, the woman is shown riding into the distance.45503570 The film then cuts to show shots of New York city, where a man we can’t see is talking into a phone. The man is then shown walking through New York, talking to several people quickly before entering a bar.

Locations: First location shown is countryside where female protagonist shown. Story then cuts to city where male protagonist is. Because countryside shown first but not really explained, makes audience think we will return to country for most of narrative.

Characters: First character introduced female protagonist on horse in wedding dress. This makes us think this is runaway bride from title, and also shows she apparently lives in countryside. Male protagonist is introduced within city where other characters talk to him, showing has many different relationships within city, and obviously very at home there.   

Enigma Codes: Audience want to know why female protagonist riding horse in wedding dress, and also how she and male protagonist linked.

Cinematography and the effects: Second shot is shot of horses hooves running down corn field. Creates tension and beyaztuval_julia_roberts_runaway_bride_1intrigue, as can’t see rider. Tracking camera to follow female protagonist, establishes her as lead.

Editing Techniques and their effects: All straight cuts, no special effects or transitions. Match-on-action

Use of Sound: Film opens with non-diegetic sound, U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Once location within city, traditional city sounds like cars and workers to further determine location. Also when in bar there is diegetic music playing on radio in background which makes atmosphere laid back and relaxed.

Genre Characteristics: Song played over beginning of film conventional of Romantic Comedies.

When, Where and How Titles are presented in relation to the action: Titles are shown over very beginning when female protagonist riding horse through country.

Font, Colour and Positioning of Titles: Titles positioned centre screen in white coloured font. Font posh and slightly intricate, like kind of font used for wedding invitation etc. Supports title that film about weddings.ho_Runaway_Bride

Intended Target Audience and Signifiers: Target Audience for Romantic Comedies – including this one – usually females. Runaway Bride’s target audience older teenagers and woman, as age of lead protagonists around 30 years old, not in high school like some Romantic Comedies targeted towards younger audiences.

Ideas you could transfer to you own opening sequence: Could take a lot from opening sequence for my own, as want to do romantic comedy, especially how to establish two lead protagonists.

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