Friday, 16 October 2009

Film Opening Techniques

There are many techniques available to film makers when creating the first opening minutes of their movie. The desicions they make can dramatically affect what impact their introduction has on the audience.
The Last Samurai uses a prolepsis in its opening, changing the colouring to blue/violet along with the image of a rare white tiger to accentuate the surrealism of the vision. It also splits between two different stories set in Japan and the USA, giving us the impression that they will eventually somehow combine. The sound and mise-en-secene in these places signifies where they are, such as the traditional Japanese music and kimonoes or the 19th century dress and American flags.
In Flags of our Fathers on the other hand an analepsis is used for a dream sequence. The seemingly diegetic sounds of screams and explosions are muffled and almost ghost-like; indicating that what we are seeing may not be directly happening. Also the colours are quite muted, using the technique of screen colouring to seperate the scenes from whether they are fantasy or reality.
Compared to this slow-starter The Bourne Ultimatum opens with a greatly fast pace. All the action shots are edited to have quick flowing jump cuts whilst the playing soundtrack is very rythmic, increasng the veiwers excitement and anticipation.
City of God also starts with a bang. The camera shots start out as very close-up as we see a scared chicken, with image-flashes of a knife. There is then a chase scene between the animal and a group of boys, during this mostly long-shots are used so we have the best veiw of the situation and its surroundings, with the occasional point of view of the running victim. To add to the energetic atmosphere upbeat Spanish music is used which also gives an idea of the setting.
The horror flick Sleepy Hollow also uses the technique of changing from extreme close-ups to long/mid shots. It shows us what appears to be dripping blood, which sets the theme and disturbs the veiwer. Then we see the pre-murder victim go from the close-up safety of his carriage to the long shot danger of the cornfields where he will meet his doom. The music playing throughout this begins very loud and tense until slightly slowing down, the man is then attacked when you least expect it, adding to the shock. Furthermore the mise-en-scene of a pumpikin headed scarecrow with a creepy facial expression adds to the audience's fear.