Finished Horror Opening Sequence 2010

Preliminary Exercise 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Final Evaluation on Open Sequences and Narrative Structure

Considering all the opening sequences I have seen in class and through my own research I have answered the questions below to finalise my understanding of opening sequences and narrative structure below:

i) What forms can opening sequences take? Can you list the conventional features of opening sequences?

Opening sequences can take on different forms according to the message they want to get to the audience and what type of genre the film is. Each open sequence is unique to every film and displays different messages and plots however conventionally we always have set features that we would expect to see in the opening sequence,

Conventional Features

Main Character- We will always see one character who is predominately followed and the camera will pay special attention to. This character is usually who the film will be about and is usually the hero in the film.In a comedy we might see a typical stereotyped young blonde girl e.g.'Leagally Blonde'. They would show different parts of her like hair,clothing, accessories so that the audience are fully introduced and can be attached to her.

Characters- We may also see characters who may feature in the film e.g. a best friends, a lover, or a helper. In a horror we may see a love interest who could maybe turn into the attacker they wouldn't be shown as much as the main character however are vitally important to the film

Setting- We will straight away be given the time period the film is set in and where the action of the film is given. This initially gives us knowledge of the type of genre. In a comedy it would be very light, sunny daytime giving a feeling of happiness and safety. It may be a small town which will all be friendly

Plot-In the opening sequence we do not find out exactly what will happen throughout the film instead there may be little hints to what may happen or what it may be about e.g. a murder. In a horror open sequence they may be secretive about the plot and not give much away,however this makes the audience want to find out more and builds up suspense for the audience

Music-There is usually music played at the start perhaps over the acting or there is a small bit of action and then music is played. This tells us again of the genre and gives us an insight as to what may happen. In a comedy the music tends to be upbeat this connotes and happy feeling making the film seem fun and exciting and enjoyable to watch

Shot types- There are always a variation of many different shot types e.g. low angles, pans, establishing shots, high angles and closes ups etc.These can all give different meanings. For example a close up will draw the audience in bringing them closer to the action and enabling them to feel some emotion. Whereas an establishing shot lets the viewer see the surroundings and see the sort of lighting and props

Generally the opening sequence is something that pulls the audience in and makes them excited to see what will happen and to making them want to learn new information in the film.

ii) What narrative functions of opening sequences can you identify?

  • An opening sequence never has any closure however there is tight reading involved as the audience know that it's only around 2 hours long so are reading with a likely end in mind
  • The characters that we see initially are in a character hierarchy and we get basic information
  • We immediately see a hero or a heroin they are centre focus and someone that the audience will like and support.
  • We will also gets hints of a villain we rarely get to see the villain as this spoils it for later on however we may see someone that may emotionally or physically hurt the hero/ heroine which makes us hate them.
  • Open sequences are sometimes flashbacks or flash forwards and the time has no relevance to the viewers world
iii) What do audiences gain from watching the opening sequence?

Audiences gain a sense of what the film will be about and perhaps whether they will continue to watch it. The opening sequence is usually and introduction to what is going to happen in the film. We are able to see who are playing the main characters what they are going to portray and what we may get from watching the film. Opening sequences give an inside to the film as whole we get to see give a ways of a plot e.g. a love interest, we get to see where it is set and from this we can identify and genre which then perhaps the audience are able to tell if they will like the rest of the film

iv) What do film-makers gain from including an opening sequence?

Filmmakers are able to tease the audience they need to make the opening sequence interesting unique and exciting to watch. They can use it to entice the audience in therefore building up suspense for the audience. This can be done by dropping obvious yet subtle hints of what’s still to come in the film and give clues to what is including in the narrative of the film. A filmmaker has to make the opening sequence tempting so that people will watch on.It's the most important way to draw in viewers and get a good recommendation for the film

Monday, November 2, 2009

Applying Barthes Theory

Roland Barthes was initially a structurlist thinker,as times changed and thought and philosophy about language, culture and exsistence progressed, Barthes changed his ideas and in relation to narrative theory. He said that stories had 5 same codes and that all genre signifiers can be grouped under them to create narratives

Action Code-depicts the events which take place in the narrative-the who,where,when of the story. Action codes are sequential

Semantic Code- refers to character and characterisation. The actions in the story are explained by the characters viewpoint on events

Enigma Code- Involves the setting up of a mystery, it's development and it's resoulution

Referential Code-Involoves explaning or informing. Mise-en-scene is a referential code

Symbolic Code-Involoves the reading of the connotations of signs which transforms them into symbolic representations
5 Codes in 'The Blair Witch Project':

Action Code

  • the car journey of them reaching the forest them setting up and filming eachother before the adventure
  • Interviewing people before which gave the audience a sense of what they were about to do
  • Know who the main characters are and they are introduced at the beginning
  • We see there emotions and how they feeling-excited
  • We know when it was set so we get a feeling of time and place-1999
Enigma Code
  • The title 'Blair Witch Project'- is the witch real/ do we get to see her? It makes us want to see what happens. Who she is why they are looking for her?
  • Books about this ledgend- Will it turn out to be true?
  • We get the journey there which creates suspense for the viewer

Referential Code
  • Lightness at the start of the film is reflecting the innocence of the characters and not knowing what they are about to get themselves into.
  • The darkness of the forest-this connotates the danger that they are perhaps entering.It also relates to the horror genre
  • Light vs dark
  • The handheld shots of their experiences makes it much more relistic as this film was based on a true event
Semantic Code
  • Young innoncence of the teenagers
  • Use average normal people
  • Actions all happen around the main characters and they explain what is happening and what they are going to do and then film follows their findings in the forest
Symbolic Code
  • All the books and information on the blair witch symbolises what they are about to do
  • Characters are not worried at all at the start they jus want to film a documentary however as we find out they do not know what really is in the forest this symbolises their bravery and commitment
  • It’s symbolic that they use young characters to identify and understand an old myth

Applying Levi-Strauss Theory

Levi Strauss said that story elements which give meaning will usually appear in pairs. For example a story will typically be organised into binary opposites such as: hero/ villain, rich/ poor etc.

1)Applying Levi-Strauss to the opening of ‘Pale Rider’ (Eastwood-1985)

Peaceful setting vs. loud horse riders
Still shot of town vs. tracking shot of riders
Innocent town people vs. evil horse riders
Light vs. dark
Slow paced editing vs. Fast paced editing
Town vs. country
Sun vs. snow
High angles to low angles
Innocence vs. violence
Calm vs. fierce
Survival vs. death
Miracle- Clint Eastwood
Prayer vs. miracle
Supernatural vs. everyday

2)Applying Levi-Strauss to the opening of ‘Die Hard 1’ (John Mc Tierman-1988)

Joking vs. tense
Youth vs. age
Real vs. fake
Serious vs. joke
Family vs. work
Happy vs. sad
Low and high angles
Loud vs. Quiet
Love vs. Fight
Fast vs. Slow pace
Music-happy vs. sad
Peace vs. danger
Innocence vs. danger
New York vs. LA
Prepared vs. non-prepared
Novist vs. experience