Thursday, 11 March 2010

Genre + Openings : Codes and Conventions

Psychological Thriller

Memento  [Christopher Nolan] [2000]

Production companies including New Market, Team Todd and Summit Entertainment, these are shown as text on black, in the same font as the following credits, which is different to other films, as it doesn't use animation for the production companys, which creates a more simple opening, with the audience not having the distractions of productions.

The opening sequence to 'Memento' I feel, is very interesting. It starts with a close up of a hand holding a polaroid photo, of a scene with blood stained walls and what looks like could be a head. As the credits are shown over the shots, and the music builds up, from slow strings, and gradually gets louder, building tension in the audience. The text is serif, which signifies a thriller genre, along with the sound creates a eerie atmosphere right at the very beginning of the film. The take is very long (about 70 seconds), and as time goes on, the hand shakes the polaroid, and the picture fades, which gives the audience the realisation that it is in reverse.

As the picture fades completely, it then goes back to the camera, he takes the photo and puts the camera away. Close ups of the males face are included to show emotion of the character. It then cuts to a shot of the blood pouring upwards, what could be on the wall as it is vertical, or it could be a vertical shot of the floor, and the blood is pouring out. A series of close ups are followed, with the bullet, a pair of glasses and the head of the man, then the gun flys through the air back to his hand. The male kneels down, the bullet moves on the floor, the glasses move through the air in a close up, then a longshot of the mans upper torso as the glasses go back to his face and the man turns, and the gun is shot. The creativity in this sequence is what I feel makes a film opening successful. With the audience already seeing the effects, but the way in which the sequence was put together keeps them on edge.

The genres for this film are mystery, thriller and film noir. These themes are shown within the opening sequence with stereotypical conventions such as mysterious music which builds making the audience feel on edge. The film noir genre was included by the director in an interview in the special features on the dvd, and it seen as this for his play with time, narritive and audience perception.

The budget for this film was $5m, and grossed aprox. $25m in USA and £1m in the UK. Which provides a clear view on how popular this film was for such a low budget film.

Don't Look Now [Nicolas Roeg] [1973]

  • Studio Canal animation
  • Opening shot with rain on a lake/river
  • Quick zoom and close up on the water - ripples shown from the rain
  •  Cross dissolve to blinds? with male humming
  • Girl in field pushing a wheel barrow
  • Boy on bike riding across the grass
  • Girl with toy
  • A film commonly known not to follow the conventions of its type, instead breaking out and doing something more creative. The opening sequence is dramatic and does go on longer than 2 minutes but shows the audience the background to the rest of the story and gets them interested.

88 Minutes [Jon Avnet] [2007]

  • Production companies : Millennium Films, Family Room Entertainment, Equity Entertainment
  • Film Title animation - large numbers of 88, with text appearing on top of the film title.
  • Close up on newspaper - storyline of death of princess Diane - exposition into time, date and location - "Seattle Times Newspaper"
  • Point of view angle shots cut between scenes of the two girls and a person walking through a hallway - creates a tense atmosphere and narrative enigma into who the person is.
  • Lots of close ups of objects.
  • Fast cuts and change of shots, creates tension.
  • Person sleeping, loud sound is made, sleeper stirrs and moves, but does not react to the noise. The audience knows something is happening but the character doesn't.

The Prestige [Christopher Nolan] [2006] 
[Production Companies: Touchstone Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Newmarket Productions, Syncopy]
[Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures (Worldwide All Media - Non-USA), Buena Vista Pictures (USA Theatrical) Buena Vista Home Entertainment (USA DVD+Blu-ray) Warner Bros. (UK Theatrical) Warner Home Video (UK DVD)]
[Information From IMDB]

  • Production companies: Warner Brothers, Touchstone Pictures, New Market Films
  • Opening sequence - 3 mins 12 seconds
  • Title on black - fade to shot of a lot of top hats -> exposition into time period. Creates curiostiy
  • Voice over - "are you looking closely?"
  • Cut to pan of birds in a cage and new voice over describes basic magic.
  • Cuts between a basic trick and a magic show. - Creates tension as the audience doesn't know who the characters are.
  • Exposition through voice over and mise en scene -> know the film is about magicians, set in the Victorian time period 
  • Non diegetic sound - tension is created within the voice over and slow strings that gradually build up.
  • Diegetic sound is still used over the top to create verisimilitude
  • Non diegetic sound cuts out when male drops into the water tank, and then comes back stronger and more mysterious when the camera cuts back to him drowning after a jump cut to the old man and little girl.  
  • Narrative enigma is used to make the audience want to watch on
  • Ending at the beginning - Explains what the story is going to result in. After this opening it cuts to the court case, then back in time to how this all happened. 
  • Interesting way to tell the story and can set up a good twist that the audience wasn't expecting.

Not a psychological thriller - but follows a non linear opening sequence, in which the opening is the ending, or even middle of the film.

[Trainspotting] [Danny Boyle] [1996]  
[Production Companies: Channel Four Films, Figment Films, The Noel Gay Motion Picture Company]
[Distributors: The Criterion Collection (USA Laserdisc), Channel 4 DVD (UK DVD+Blu-ray) [Information from IMDB]

  • 5.40 mintues until the titles, but 1.40 of main opening.
  •  0-35 seconds -> scene from later on in the film. Includes tracking of 2 characters running away, various angles used. -> mise en scene signifies running from security men - suits- because of being caught shoplifting - objects falling out of pockets.
  • Focused on central protagonist - gives insight to the character as a little crazy as he laughs in the camera when he is hit by the car. Exposition of the character as his name is subtitled on the screen.
  •  Fast paced non diegetic sound - well known song of the time; signfies the kind of people and time period.
  • Voice over - "Choose Life" speech - starts basic then goes quite deep & bitter, then changing scene he goes on to say how he chose not to - instead choosing heroin. -> exposition into the way he lives and thinks about life.
  • Football scene - introduction into other characters with the way they individually act. Expostion of names with subtitle on screen.
  • Jump cuts to him getting high - basic story to his life. Mise en scene - run down house/flat. 

[Mr Brooks] [Bruce A. Evans] [2007]
[Production Companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Eden Rock Media, Element Films, Relativity Media, Tig Productions]
[Distributors: MGM (USA Theatrical), Element Films (Worldwide All Media - Sales), Verve Pictures (UK Theatrical)]
[Information from IMDB]
    • Opens with text on black screen
    • Voice over - Man praying + other mans voice. - the other mans voice sounds sinister, and what he is saying is urging the character to do something.
    • Production Company Produces... titles.
    • Central protagonist by a sink - mise en scene restroom in a posh place.
    • Diegetic sound - speech in the background
    • Non diegetic sound -> pulse beat, dramatic atmosphere.
    • Shot through champagne glasses -> Social class and status. (Non diegetic sound cuts out)
    • Panning through crowd
    • Close ups
    • As speech fades. non diegetic sound builds up again
    • Titles of film on back drop of city night lights.
    • Dialogue of speech gives exposition into central protagonist, but voice over expositions something is wrong and the first bit of text signifies mental issues, and other mans voice in voiceover signifies split personality.

    [The Machinist] [Brad Anderson] [2004] 
    [Production Companies: Filmax Group, Castelao Produciones, Canal+ Espana, Instituto De La Cinematografia y de las Artes Audiovisuales, ICF]
    [Distributors: Paramount Classics (USA Theatrical), Filmax International (USA TV), Paramount Home Video (USA DVD) Palisades Tartan (UK All Media), Tartan Video (UK DVD) [Information from IMDB]

    • Opening shot through window - Reflection in focus (City scene - exposition into location) Inside the room out of focus -> switches focus as central protagonist comes into frame. 
    • (As the room is out of focus, can make out a man wrapping a body in carpet - out of focus signifies a secretive nature about what's happening)
    • Cut to very long shot. Man driving + Parking. Carrying carpet body -> signifies murder
    • Facial expressions signify something has shocked the character, even though the viewers don't actually see it. Narrative Enigma.
    • Production logos on top of black screen - audio bridge of diegetic sound.
    • Titles of Actor,  Writer, Director over the opening shots.
    • 1.35 seconds until the Film Title.
    • Another example of a film with the end at the beginning.
    [Seven Pounds] [Gabriele Muccino] [2008]
    [Production companies: Columbia pictures, Relativity Media, Overbrook Entertainment, Escape Artists]
    [Distributors: Columbia pictures (USA All Media), Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (USA DVD+Blueray), Sony Pictures Releasing (UK Theatrical), ]   [information from IMDB]

    • Titles on  black screen
    • Audio bridge -> heavy breathing and dial tone
    • Shot of man on the phone - Diegetic sound of the other end of the conversation - 911
    • Male reporting his own suicide
    • Very close up
    • Dramatic opening - engages audience.

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