Se7en – Research & Analysis
The opening sequence from Se7en is very intriguing and has given me some motivating and encouraging ideas and techniques that I might use within my own opening sequence. Kyle Cooper the creator of the opening sequence creates the sequence in such a way that it sends out a hidden message to the viewers despite giving very little suggestions of the location, setting or identity.
The opening scene is set out in a montage style; this is shown by the numerous clips that have been combined together that all symbolize the same theme throughout, the fact that the clips have no particular arrangement symbolizes the chaos within the scene and further suggests that he may be performing these tasks in no particular order. Furthermore, the transitions that link the slides are effective as they fade to black; this suggests that his task he is carrying out may not be for a good reason. It could also suggest that he is trying to conceal himself from the rest of the world; this may imply he does not want to be tracked down by the authorities.
The majority of the shots used within the opening sequence have a dark and sinister atmospheric tone; this is further exaggerated by the use of white and black two contrasting colours. The one particular shot that I picked out consisted of a book on two open pages that contained two hands, one black and the other white this could signify the concealed identity of the individual within the opening scene as he tries to cover his tracks from the authorities. As the scene progresses it seems that the mysterious individual uses a black pen to cross out peoples name from a long list, this gives us an indication of elimination, death.
The entire of the opening scene consisted of close ups and extreme close ups, this makes identifying the location in the opening scene complicated throughout. There are no noticeable hints of where it may be set. The fact that the location is left to our own thoughts and imagination helps to build up the tension and anticipation as the audience will want to uncover the answers to what is occurring within the scene.
Music & Sound
The music creates an uncanny atmosphere within the opening scene; this will help to build up the apprehension and expectation for the rest of the movie.
Iron Sky – Research & Analysis
I am continuing on with my research into opening scenes and I will continue it by researching into the movie Iron Sky. This movie was released on 23rd May 2012 and was directed by Timo Vuorensola.
This post modern movie has components from multiple genres and is a mixture of Action, Comedy and Sci-Fi this makes it a hybrid film. Movies that have components from multiple genres are generally the most successful as it draws in viewers that like certain genres, for example; a movie that has components from comedy and action films would intrigue the fans from the different the genres merging them together increasing the movies publicity and credibility.
The comedic genre is represented through the colloquial dialogue heard from Washington who says “I must be trippin” to the Nazis who are overwhelming him. This presents him witty and humorous even under life-threatening circumstances. The action genre is presented through the violence that is generally inflicted towards Sanders. Finally, the Sci-Fi genre is introduced and presented through the futuristic weapons and spaceships that are used during the movie.
The location and setting are clearly introduced even within the first 10 seconds as it shows us a panning shot of space and all of it vacancy. This clearly sets the scene for the audience as we can guess (with our own knowledge) that the rest of the movie will be set in space.
This picture also uses captions to straight away tell the audience when this movie was set and what is going on within the scene. The use if the date ‘2018’ identifies the time-zone of the movie so we can expect a futuristic styled movie. The use of the caption ”liberty’ – moon mission’ tells to audience what we should expect in the scene, the word ‘mission’ would insist that there will be danger and violence as it is usually associated in the army when set a difficult task. The futuristic theme is further introduced through the elaborate structure of the camp. An example of this is the spiralling road arrangement, mini-trucks and huge metal tanks containing helium (all of these creations cannot co-exist securely in the moon’s atmosphere).
The fact that there are living things on the moon, which is an idea that has yet to be conquered in modern world, therefore, this could interpret the movie to be set in an exceedingly evolved universe even though it was released in 2012 and the movie is set in 2018 only a mere 6 years away and undoubtedly we won’t be able to do this by 2018 in the real world. We are also introduced to both the protagonists (USA) and antagonists (Nazis) within the opening scene and we can clearly identify who the more advanced side are. Furthermore, we know that there have been no attempts to land on the moon from the antagonists, alternatively the antagonists have not only landed but have set up what could potentially be a deadly project over the coming years.
Sanders is seemingly the one that is in charge of the mission. This is identified by the fact that he is given the monitor and responsibility to check the surroundings and in direct contact with the commander, this shows the rest of his team depend on him to be their leader.
The antagonists (the Nazis) are presented as the superior out of the two. This is identifiable by the way they are dressed. They dress in black apparel, decorated with a Swastika armband. The Swastika alone shows connotations of death and war. This gives us the perception that history may repeat itself but in a futuristic manor, this is due to the audience’s own knowledge of the Nazis’ during Second World War.
Washington compared to Sanders is presented completely differently. This is because he is show to be unskilled; he is unaware of the danger and the unforgiving enemies he is surrounded by. Furthermore, he lacks the maturity and within the media context is unusual. He is seemingly presented as an undependable character; this is backed up and can be inferred by his commander who unquestionably calls him a ‘fool’ during the movie.
The first minute and a half isn’t particularly exciting as the movie goes straight into the opening title sequence but it continuously shows similar shots of a shuttle that is heading towards the moon. However, the movie in general was good but it was playing on a number of eccentric stereotypes and is a European view on some types of US eccentricities. The script, however, was well planned out with small bits of humour that were sort of cheesy but generally in the right places. The use of CGI and Movie FX was a great way of setting the tone from start to finish.
I have embedded a video below that shows the opening scene to Iron Sky.
I am Legend – Research & Analysis
Following on from my research on Monsters I have decided to look into the movie I Am Legend. This is one of my favourite movies and was released on December 14th 2007. I have chosen to look into this movie a little further and for the most part I will be looking at the visual style and small amounts of mise en scene.
Firstly, I will be looking at the genre of the movie, this movie is a hybrid movie as it has components from different movie genres. The numerous genres associated with this movie are:
Introduction to the Setting
Firstly, the director Francis Lawrence has used an effective way to introduce us to the setting. This is shown in the first 20-25 seconds we are shown clearly the set dressing of the movie, with multiple shots of what seems to be an uninhabited and vacant city, the shots are in Time Square which is usually packed with people and incredibly busy, this is not the case in the movie which raises concern with the audience and can automatically assume something is wrong. These shots give a good representation of the scene that is set in New York this is clearly backed up by the fact that there are abandoned vehicles by the side of the roads which makes the audience think as New York is usually an electrifying atmosphere and is packed. However, these opening shots give us a sense of space and vacancy, this is not normally associated with New York This gives us a clear perspective of what the movie will entail and will entice the audience as they will want to find out what has happened.
The camera shots that are used help show the audience a sense of space and loneliness within the abandoned city. This is exaggerated by showing us multiple locations where the camera slowly pans to illustrate more of the picture and emphasize the emptiness of the city. Although it is a very basic way of screening the opening scene it is very influential as it gives us a bigger picture of the movie and sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
Some subtle parts of the mise en scene are shown in the opening scene; one way this is presented is by the rifle that Robert Neville (Will Smith) had in his car, this rifle was within touching distance between him and his companion. This helps to set the scene as it shows that he is insecure and feels unsafe within the vacant city. The director also uses Robert Neville to exaggerate the cities emptiness, He does this by the way that he talks to and treats his companion; this is give the audience a sense of loneliness as he doesn’t have anybody human that he can speak to. This emptiness and barrenness is not associated with New York so the audience would wonder what has happened to the population and wonder why it is that he is alone.
Perception of the techniques used
Another effective and clever way Francis exaggerates the barrenness of the city is by using wild animals that seem to be lost, in this case deers. The wild deers help to represent the chaos not just in the city but the world; this is because deers are typically seen in the wild (in nature). Therefore, it is unnatural and uncommon that you would see a herd of deer in the middle of a city. This tests the audience’s conventions of how the deers would have got to the city if it was inhabited and the reasons why they have gone so far. The fact that the deers were continuously running, also in a herd makes the audience think for reasons why that would be and again exaggerates the disorder in the city.
The camera shots used to introduce and present the deers in the movie is an effective way to entice the audience. The more effective camera shot used was the Point Of View Shot (POV) from inside the car, this makes the audience feel as-if they are in the movie and are experiencing it first hand. Furthermore, as the camera follows the car behind the trees it changes from very still to more shaky which compliments the action within the scene and brings the movie to life, which contrasts to the lifeless city it is in.
The sound used within the scene helps to build the tension and also compliments what is happening during the scenes. The more effective sounds used within the movie nearer the beginning is the diegetic sound of the roar from the cars engine, this compliments the action within the particular scene well.
I have embedded the opening scene for I Am Legend below:
Monsters – Research & Analysis
In school we have been looking at the movie Monsters directed by Gareth Edwards, that was released on December 3rd 2010 and I have done some research on this movie. It is a great example of how you can use modern technologies to make a small budget film look as though it is a large budget film.
Over the last 10-15 years technology has rapidly improved in a number of different ways, one massive way is the increase of media platforms that people have access to, such as; gaming, social networking and magazines. This means it competes with these alternative platforms to produce content in order for the particular company to remain within the competition, as it were. During the creation of Monsters (2010) the director Gareth Edwards did this with the remarkable results of this movie he created in his bedroom on a strict budget of $500,000. This meant that the movie wasn’t going to be perfect and he had to persevere as he only had the software After Effects and Adobe Photoshop to use whilst editing this film, this made it a hard task in itself to make the movie what he wanted.
Gareth Edwards illustrated his CGI skills within the film, he made it possible to create a movie that seemed although he had a large budget and team to make it with, however this was not the case. Monsters was produced within 6 weeks with only a maximum of 6 people, furthermore, he had chosen the filming locations accidentally, this however complimented the particular genre of the movie well. Gareth Edwards saw the film to be more of a documentary and only used paragraphs for each particular scene, and no scripts.
The Movie monsters is a hybrid film as it has aspects from numerous different genres, such as; action, sci-fi and romance. This makes for a good film as it means that there can be more than one ‘problem’ linked to the narrative at once which will make the move attention-grabbing for the viewers.
The setting for the movie is in San Jose, Central America and is set in real time, we know this by the caption shown as ‘Now…’ at the beginning of the movie. Using captions at the beginning of a movie is effective as it can help the viewers to find out where it is set, what time-zone it is set in and depending on the genre (and knowledge of…) help them predict what might happen nearer the end of the movie. This will intrigue them as they will want to know what will happen. ‘The Computer Generated Imagery (CGI)’ help saves companies money when editing movies as it can be added after shooting the movie, whereas, post CGI meant that they had to add it in whilst recording which meant they could lose money if they constantly re-take scenes. So CGI is beneficial when creating movies effectively and efficiently.
In the opening scene we are shown buildings that have been damaged, this gives us a clear indication of what the rest of the movie will/may entail. Furthermore, this is also shown with the use of helicopters and guns these give us a perception that constant damage will occur within the movie, this also helps us with the time-zone of the movie as guns and helicopters are relatively modern and 19th century technology
The story (narrative) of the movie was also clearly shown in a caption ‘aliens come to earth…’
The story begins six years after Earth suffered an alien invasion a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico (where there was a quarantine) to safety in the USA borders.
The journalist has to get his bosses daughter to safety, with knowledge from the genres associated with the movie we can guess that these two people will fall in love with each other. Even though the knowledge of the genre would help us distinguish this, so will their looks and similar age as they are both similarly attractive.
These two characters are protagonists as we (the viewers) want them to be safe in the end and want them to fall in love.
The Andrew Kaulder’s (journalist) character is created by his visualization e.g. clothing and hair as he looks like the typical journalist. This is because journalists usually wear clothes that are reasonably formal yet not too formal (not overdressed for particular job). However, his personality differentiates from what he started with as he becomes closer to Samantha Wynden (tourist) also as he gets closer to completing his difficult task.
On the other hand Samantha Whyden’s character is portrayed slightly different… at first, because her personality changes from being curious and weary and as the movie progresses she becomes more open and less weary of everything that is happening, maybe because she feels safer around Andrew Kaulder. Also her fashion tells us that she is a tourist/ traveler as she wears comfy but formal type of clothing this suggests that she is a frequent tourist.
The visual style of the movie is first created effectively by the use of a number of different camera angles, such as; close ups, long shots and tracking shots to name just a few. The director differentiated between these shots in the movie to help give us the full aspect on the mise en scene and setting, this gives us a sense of space due to the devastation caused in the movie.
Mise en scene
In Monsters we can identify the mise en scene relatively early in the movie. As the movie progresses we are open to the destruction that the monsters caused in the ‘infection zone’. The captions at the beginning of the movie help us to determine the setting too as it tells us the location of where the movie is based. In this movie it is set in San Jose, Central America.
The set dressing is presented clearly to the audience as we can clearly see in the background that the landscape had been completely obliterated on what used to be buildings are now rubble. Basically, the locations in the movie show us homes, schools, businesses and shops that have been destroyed by the ‘aliens’ some more recently than others. This gives us the perception that the aliens that the movie is based on are vast creatures that tear up anything that gets in their way. Furthermore, that that human race is under threat because of these creatures. This creates tension for the audience as they will want to know how this destruction occurred and will want to see what happens to the main characters (protagonists) nearer the end of the movie.
Natural Born Killers – Research & Analysis
In school we have been researching opening sequences and how important they are to have within a movie. Researching into opening sequences will help me decide how to make my 2 minute opening sequence better when it comes to recording it.
- Establish setting
- Establish genre
- Sets up narrative
- Introduce characters
Based on what the opening scene entails we(the viewers) can anticipate what is going to happen during the movie as we already have knowledge of he genre (sets up narrative) this is a hybrid film as it has aspects from multiple different genres, this means it cannot be precisely pinned to one genre . The genres associated with this film are:
- Action Thriller
- Crime Thriller
Mise en scene & Setting
The director of Natural Born Killers Oliver Stone uses mise en scene to help establish the setting in the first scene. Firstly, We are shown a wide angle shot of the landscape then we see a scorpion get run over by a car that were typically used in the 1990’s this helps us to determine the time-zone the movie was set in. Furthermore, the perception we perceive from the wide angle shot is that the movie’s opening scene is set in an arid, barren desert landscape away from the city and anything humane apart from the diner. We can also perceive this message from the scorpion as these creatures are usually associated with desert backgrounds. Another thing we can get a perception of is the car, it seems to have broken down and the smoke presents threat. It also makes the audience think as this means that they cannot get away (escape).The director Oliver Stone also uses mise en scene well to introduce us to the setting (the diner) as it has a jukebox and booth seats that are typically associated with American styled diners this is also shown by the music and accents. As the scene progresses we are slowly introduced to Mallory Knox, where she is dancing in the diner alone. A group of rednecks arrive at the diner and one quickly starts to sexually harass her. This is an effective way to show us what men thought of women (e.g. strippers or spare meat) in the 1990’s. Mallory briefly encourages the redneck before she beats him up and kills him.
Sound & Visual Style
The fighting scenes are made more intense and slightly shocking with the blood that splashes up the walls; this shows the audience how barbaric the fighting is within this scene. However, before Mallory beats the redneck up she subsequently changed the music on the jukebox; this is a coincidence because the music matches the flow of the fight scene. The message we get from this is that she can use her fighting skills effectively which makes us think that she has been practising to perfect her skills. However, we haven’t been shown this in the movie, but it makes the audience think. The music in the scene is diegetic as it is intentionally put into the fight scene. However, on other violent Hollywood movies the music is typically non-diegetic. The camera shots used in this scene alter between colours to black and white mixed with extreme close ups and close ups this helps to establish the visual style and this is a valuable way to show us the world from Mickey & Mallory’s eyes (point of view). Ultimately the black and white shots are used in the violent scenes, this tests the audiences conventions, also this hides the cruelty within the movie, Stone has done this intentionally. This makes the audience think what would be considered to be right and wrong in terms of violence.
As the scene precedes Mickey and Mallory Knox then murder the rest of the diners patrons together, proceeding into a morbid game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe which then decided the fate of the remaining survivors. This gives us a clear indication of what the two bloodthirsty killer’s feelings were during the killings and that they were not there for any particular reason, it was almost like it was fun and games to them. After Mickey executes the waitress we get an insight on their undying love. The camera shot that is used within this scene is effective yet comedic as it follows the flight of the bullet and makes it appear as though it is hovering before her eyes and before the waitress’s premature death. Although we do not see her get hit by the bullet, we see another example of the barbaric fighting in the movie as blood splats onto the wall again. This is called match on action. This gives us the message that the producer wanted to use different aspects (differentiate between genres) from multiple genres to illustrate the movie in an effective way to get certain events across differently to the audience. The two killers then precede the last remaining survivor ensuring that he remembers their names; this gives us the perception that the killers (Mickey and Mallory) want everyone to hear about the mass murders that took place, to remember who did it and to fear their names. This is shown clearly as Mallory forces the survivor repeat their names so he knew exactly who they are.
Representation & Love
In the final part of the opening scene they embrace their undying love for each other. The camera shots used are an effective way to show us how much they love each other, as the lights fade and makes it seem although they are in a dream when they are together. This gives us the representation of love and that is love is the strongest emotion and can change people’s personality, thoughts and feelings. This helps us determine what the rest of the movie will be based around as the opening scene (prologue) has given us a small insight on their everlasting love for one another.
Below I have embedded a video of Natural Born Killers opening sequence.