Thursday, 19 November 2009

Shooting Schedule

Click to enlarge.

This shooting schedual was made a lot earliear on, before we decided to change the male character of Eddy Butterworth to that of a female character, Mildred Butterworth

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Synoptic treatment for Judgement

Horror has dramatically changed over the years, going from classic films that have deep meanings that the audience can connect with, to gruesome ‘slasher’ films that now dominate the market. One of the things our movie will aim to do is bridge the gap between the old and new style, creating a gruesomely violent movie with a meaningful storyline which will inspire the audience and stay with them for long after they have watched it, making them want to watch it again.

Alex Winchester was a normal teen age girl with good friends and a great life, until the sudden and mysterious death of her best friend changed everything. Following Barthes' enigma code theory we will see Alex desperately try to find answers for her friend’s death but it becomes obvious that no-one will talk to her about it; in fact to her it appears that they are too caught up in their grief to even acknowledge her existence, but she refuses to give up. In the night time Alex will be plagued with terrible dreams of a car crash which she can’t ever remember happening and at the very end she will see the face of an old woman. More and more of her friends will start dying around her and she will be witness to one of these deaths where she will see a mysterious evil figure that she cannot make out completely. She then will realise that the car crash from her dream is real and everyone who was in the car is being killed off. She starts to believe it is the ghost of the old woman, who we find out died, and realises she’s next. She will get chased into a grave yard by the evil creature and trip over a grave but when she turns round to look at the tomb stone she will see that it is her own. She realises that she also died in the car crash and is killing off her friends because she blames them for her death. She will turn round and see herself and they will get into a conversation before she finally accepts that she can’t change what she’s done and, following Todorov's theory of equlibrium being restored after a moment of harmony, both versions of her find peace.

This movie will be a horror/ psychological thriller taking inspiration from two different styles of film. The idea that the main character is dead but does not realise it will be taken from classic movies like The Sixth Sense (1999) and The Others (2001) where both the main characters have dealings with the supernatural but do not realise that they are dead themselves. The idea that the main character will have multiple personalities and not realise it is actually them committing the crimes is like that of Fight Club (1999), an old movie, and The Uninvited (2009), a reasonably new movie based on an older Japanese film. In these movies both characters have split personalities, however what will be different in this movie is that the main character never interacts with their split personality as a friend, they will only have one encounter and that will be at the very end of the movie. The movie will take a few different aspects from a few well loved films but it will put its own unique spin on things so that it will remembered in its own right as movie unlike others out there.

Two directors that could be used are Charles and Thomas Guard. They are brothers who direct movies together and all though they are fairly new to the movie business they have directed some good movies. They actually directed The uninvited so they would not be strangers to this type of movie genre/ style. Another good director would be M. Night Shyamalan as he is good at creating a sense of tension and terror in all his horror movies; he has directed movies like The Village (2004), The Happening (2008) and The Sixth Sense. Both these directors would be good for creating the type of dark, depressing and creepy undertone appropriate for this movie.

There will be a few underlying themes in this movie. One will be social alienation, trying to find out if humans need friends and physical contact, after all the main character will feel alienated from her friends and need them in her time of grief, or are human beings better off alone; are we smarter, stronger and better at surviving without attachments and things to drag us down. Another theme will be is there life after death? This theme will be explored by Alex before she finds out about her own death, whether or not it is a ghost killing her friends or if it is just some deranged killer, and if things that are dead are defiantly evil or just misunderstood.

The title Judgement is a working title however it fits the movie well, Alex will be effectively be the judge, juror and executioner to all the people she believes killed her. It could also apply to her misjudgement of whom/ what is killing her friends and the reason behind it, or even the misjudgement of herself and what she is truly capable of.

This movie will be released on October 13th 2011 as it gives plenty of time to shoot and edit but. The time of its release is close to Halloween but far enough away from the day so that it will not be a typical Halloween style movie that is only good for cheap thrills one night a year. Because this movie does not centre around Halloween it should be watchable all year round but Halloween is a good time to release it as it is peak time for horror movies. The movie will have a certificate of eighteen to account for the gore, violence and terrifying psychological elements in the film.

Sounds and Effects of horror films

Information researched by Toni Simmons:

For the sounds and effects of horror films, the music is sometimes used to create a particular atmosphere or even some forms of tension, such as someone murdering someone, making someone happy, watching someone cry and more, for the audience to witness. Some horror films may not need to actually use music, but to use special effects to also create tension or to get a reaction from someone or something, in a particular scene, like using lighting in a certain way, certain noises to show the particular person off of how they need to be portrayed as well.

The first film that was made.

Information researched by Toni simmons:

The first movie made was called The Great Train Robbery, as this was the first made with a story- line in it. The first feature length film was called The story of the Kelly Gang, the actors who starred in the film, were Godrey Cass, Nicholas Brierley, Elizabeth Tait and John Tait.

Secondly, the first colour movie was The World the Flesh and the Devil, in which it made its debut in 1914, and the actor was called H. Argar Lyons, who played the devil.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Horror Films From The 1990's-2000's

Scream (1996)
Budget: $14,000,000
Gross revenue: $173,046,567
Release Date: 2 May 1997 (UK)
Genre: Crime, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Staring: David Arquette, Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox
Production Company: Dimension Films
Plot:A psychopathic serial killer is stalking a group of teens just like in the movies (from IMDB)
Tagline: Don't Answer The Phone. Don't Open The Door. Don't Try To Escape.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Budget: $500,000-$750,000
Gross revenue: $248,639,099
Release Date: 22 October 1999 (UK)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Staring: Heather Donahue and Joshua Leonard
Production Company: Haxan Films

Final Destination (2000)
Budget: $23 million
Gross revenue: $112,880,294
Release Date: 19 May 2000 (UK)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Staring: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter and Kerr Smith
Company: New Line Cinema

The Others (2001)
Gross revenue: $209,947,037
Release Date: 2 November 2001 (UK)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Staring: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan and Christopher Eccleston
Production Company: Cruise/Wagner Productions

The Ring (2002)
Budget: $48 million
Gross revenue: $249,348,933
Release Date:21 February 2003 (UK)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Staring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson and David Dorfman
Production Company: DreamWorks SKG

28 Days Later (2002)
Budget: £5,000,000
Gross revenue: $82,719,885
Release Date: 1 November 2002 (UK)
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Staring: Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris
Production Company: DNA Films

The Grudge (2004)
Budget: $10 Million
Gross revenue: $187,281,115
Release Date: 5 November 2004 (UK)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Staring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr and William Mapother
Production Company: Senator International
Plot: An American nurse living and working in Tokyo is exposed to a mysterious supernatural curse, one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim (from IMDB)

The Uninvited (2009)
Gross revenue: $40,563,148
Release Date: 24 April 2009 (UK)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Staring: Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, and Elizabeth Banks
Production Company: DreamWorks SKG
Plot: Anna Rydell returns home to her sister (and best friend) Alex after a stint in a mental hospital, though her recovery is jeopardized thanks to her cruel stepmother, aloof father, and the presence of a ghost in their home (from IMDB)

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

The Movie starts with a title sequence. The writing is grey and smokey, the font is like that off of a grave stone. From the writing style we can already tell its a horror film. The non-diegetic music is ominous, sad and classical in style.

Then music changes, it becomes more orchestral, as we see a red liquid drop on to parchment paper. The shot is an extreme close-up. The shot then fades into two people's hands holding each other in a loving way, we can see that they are wearing old style clothes, the shot is also in close-up.

The dramatic music then changes as the shot changes. The shot is that of paper with writing on it, it says "the last will and testament", there is then a slow pull back to a pan across of a different text. There is then an extreme close-up of someone signing a will.

There is then the same shot that we started with, the red dripping on paper, but this time the audience is shown that it is wax which is going to be sealed. The entire sequence is in close-ups to create mystery. The music gets more intense which makes the signing of the document seem like a bad thing.

There is then an extreme close-up of the seal. The scene then changes to a crest on the door which is the same as the seal. The shot then tilts up to show a man in a carriage which makes the audience realise that he is Van Gerrat. The atmosphere is foggy and dark, there is lightning in the sky, this mise-en-scene is a typical genre convention used in horror. The action then slows down and the tension stops, fooling the audience into thinking that there is nothing to be worried about.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Analysis of Film opening: 28 Days Later (2002)

The film starts with mixed clips from the news; images of violence, panic and war. Here some sort of editing was probably used to create the lined, fuzzy look tat the clips posses, which is why the audience can tell they are from TV. The sound matching the clips is that of multiple broadcasts. It is safe to assume that the audio matches the visual media as each time a news clip changes their is a sort of tuning noise and the audio changes too. The fast jump cuts between the news clips creates a sense of confusion in the audience which continues throughout the first few minutes of the movie (and most of the film).

Then the camera zooms out from the clips and the audience finally understand that the clips are not just there for some random reason, they are being played on a TV screen. The camera slowly pans to show a chimp watching the monitors. There is a strange sort of beating noise in the background which slowly fades into a long, low, creepy non-diegetic note as the shot changes. The next shot is an establishing shot which shows the chimp strapped to a table and wired to machines as it is forced to watch the violent images on screen. We cannot see the chimps face as the camera shoots from the back of him but the high angle shot creates the idea of the chimp being an innocent victim, to weak and small to break free. There is another shot of the chip form behind, only this time closer, which shows the animal turning its head from one TV screen to another, showing its confusion over the images.

Next comes a long shot of the chimp, from it's side, which pans across the room allowing us to see more of the chimp and it's surroundings. The mise-en-scene of the room is dark and simplistic looking, with an over head light shinning down on the chimp it seems almost like some sort of operating theatre or or science lab. The shot continues to pan until we see another monitor, in far away from the chimp and pointing in the wrong direction so obviously not for the animal to watch, which shows people in ski masks walking along a corridor. The indexical reference of ski masks tells the audience they are people breaking in, we also know that we are watching them through a security camera, the audience can tell this by the writing "Cam 3--- Cambridge Primate Research Centre" which is across the top of the monitor. The camera seems to be old or not very technologically advanced because it takes less frames of the people than a normal camera would which males the people appear to be in one place one second and slightly further on the next without having actually walked there. Most of the people continue to walk until they have gone out of frame but one them walks behind and puts something over the camera so we cannot see the people anymore, this adds to the confusion.

The shot changes to a tilted angle view of a door, through its window we can see on of the masked characters approach. The shot is deep focus as in the foreground we can (barely) see the bars of a cage but in the background we can clearly see the door. The way the shot has been done makes it seem to be a P.O.V. shot, perhaps from an animal in a cage. The fact that there is diegetic noise of a monkey banging on its cage and screeching also helps the audience to reach this conclusion.

There is then two eyeline match, close up shots of two different people in ski masks looking through two different windows in a door. The glass appears to have been embedded with a wire mesh which helps the audience to build up the idea that the building is probably high security. There is also a flickering light but most of the time the entire scene is quite dark which lends to the theme of confusing the audience. There is then another shot, this time through a wire mesh window, again in deep focus so the things in the background are in focus and the things closer to the audience are out of focus, which further adds to the confusion the audience is feeling and creates a sense of separation from the scene, this is a subtle use of dramatic alienation. The shot is that of a man swiping a key card to gain access to the room with the chimp in. The fact that a key card is needed adds to the idea that the building is high security but it also forces the audience to start thinking about things like "Why do they have a key card? Are they supposed to be there?" The shot then changes back to a close up of a person in a ski mask looking in through the window, they then turn to the side to walk through the door. The three people then walk through the door and the fast jump cut editing continues.

We then see a long shot of what appears to be a dissected chimp. We can also see see more of the room, which appears to be cluttered although it is still obvious it is used for scientific reasons. At the back of the room there is a light source, coming from the open door, and we see the people slowly coming in the room, out of darkness, taking their masks off as they go. Their faces display obvious shock from what they see and their speech also shows the shock. There is then a jump cut to a chimp in a glass cage, illuminated by light and baring it's teeth in a savage way. There is a flash and the monkey stops in mid-screech, like a picture has been taken . The banging, screeching noise that has been back for a while, stops as a camera noise/ click occurs. The shots switch from the people to the animals for a couple more times and as we see the humans display shock and take photos, there is a bridging camera noise and it jumps to the next shot.

This next shot is a high angle, long shot which shows in the animals in dirty glass boxes as the people enter the room. There a more shots of the monkeys' and people, including match on action shots and shots that follow the 180 degree rule. There is not much dialogue which makes the audience feel confused, as they do not know whats going on, an alienated because obviously the characters do. I am finishing my editing here as I have gone into a lot of detail over each shot and feel like if i continued writing i would write to much. The reason i picked this scene to analyse is because it has the right amount of confusion and audience alienation, my group are trying to incorporate this into our final piece.

History of Film

Research and informatrion provided by Charlotte Radford:

The birth of film began in the late 19th century, the Frenchman Louis Loumiere is credited as the inventor of the motion picture camera in 1895. To be precise, he created a 'cinematograph' which served as a film projector and developer as well as a camera. For the first 20 years in the beginnings of motion picture, films were silent and lasted for only a few minutes. However in 1927, after years of experimentation, a means of recording sound that would be synchronous with the moving imagery was discovered. Before this there would sometimes have been live musicians or a commentary spoken by a showman in the cinema as the film played. The first movie containing dialogue was The Jazz Singer. The first Academy Awards ceremony took place in 1929.

After this technological breakthrough a high majority of films were shot in sound from the 30s onwards, exceptions to this are the films of Charlie Chaplin, who refused to conform to this new era of non-silent films. Famous movies made during this period include: The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Dracula, Frankenstein, King Kong and The Public Enemy (beginning of 'gangster' films). This time was also the beginning of Disney's animated motion pictures when they released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937.

After the introduction of sound in films the industry continued to grow in popularity. Going to the cinema was becoming less of a luxury and more commonplace amongst western society. Hollywood was now becoming the principal producer of films to large audiences. Several major studio corporations were beginning to form such as Paramount, MGM, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Universal and Columbia. This all led to what is now known as 'The Golden Age of Hollywood' during the 40s. American cinema was at its peak of emitting an image of glamour and appealed to international viewers. The first classic 'movie stars' during this period include Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and Shirley Temple.

Due to the industry's success it was not much affected by the Great Depression, World War Two brought on a proliferation of movies as both patriotism and propaganda. Well-known films released at this time include: Casablanca, Citizen Kane made by Orson Welles, It's a Wonderful Life, Great expectations and Oliver Twist.

The 50s Cold War era zeitgeist led to a series of near-paranoia themed films, such as some with plots based on invading armies of evil aliens (War of the Worlds). After this period there was a revival of 'epic' movies, to entice audiences, including Ben-Hur and Spartacus. The fad for 3D only lasted 2 years (1952-1954) and helped sell films such as House of Wax and Creature from the Black Lagoon. During this time a turning point commenced in society of questioning the establishment and societal norms as well as the Civil Rights Movement, this reflected in some films such as 12 Angry Men and On the Waterfront. Other notable movies throughout this decade include Oklahoma!, Around the World in Eighty Days and Cleopatra.

In the early 60s Hollywood films were still aimed at family orientated audiences with box office hits like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady. However as the decade progressed more violence and nudity was allowed to be shown on screen. This was the time when the James Bond films were first introduced. The nuclear paranoia at this time prompted the making of films such as Stanley Kubrick's Dr.Strangelove and Fail Safe. By the late 60s however more revolutionary and groundbreaking movies were being made including- Bonnie and Clyde, The good, the bad and the ugly, The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy and documentary films including one about the Vietnam War called In the Year of the Pig.

The 70s onwards is now seen as 'New Hollywood' or post-classical cinema, story lines contained more shocking twist-endings and 'noir' tones. These include Rebel Without a Cause, Hitchcock's Psycho, A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection and Dirty Harry. A new group of filmmakers emerged: Steven Spielberg (Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather trilogy) and George Lucas (Star Wars movies). Disaster films were also popular including The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure. Other cultures were now starting to create popular films such as Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon which inspired many martial arts films after it and the Australian Mad Max films.

Blockbuster films made in the 80s include the Indiana Jones films, E.T, Scarface starring Al Pacino, Terminator and Tim Burton's Batman. In the 90s special effects were more widely used in movies like Titanic and Pixar's animated Toy Story, but more independent films were still popular such as Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

Today in the 21st century movie makers continue to entertain and amaze audiences. Notable achievements of modern cinema include The Lord of the Rings based on the novels by JRR Tolkien, The Matrix, Gladiator and The Dark Knight featuring the late Heath Ledger's portrayal as The Joker and the first film to be filmed at least partially with IMAX technology.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Overview of Genre's


The horror genre aims to create panic, cause dread, alarm, and to invoke our deepest hidden fears and emotions, while captivating and entertaining the audience. This genre, like others, continues to develop in new or improved ways, with thing such as special effects improving helping to create a more realistic and limitless world. Horror has recently moved away from stories with a religious or supernatural basis, which used to dominate the genre, to ones making use of medical or psychological ideologies.

Horror films effectively center on the dark side of life, including taboo, strange and alarming events or actions. They deal with our most primal nature and its fears: our nightmares, our vulnerability, our alienation, our revulsion's, our terror of the unknown, our fear of death and dismemberment, loss of identity, or fear of sexuality. Their plots frequently involve themes of death, the supernatural or mental illness. Many horror movies also include a central villain. Most dark, primitive, and revolting traits that fascinate and revolt us are featured in the horror genre. Horror films are often combined with science fiction when the menace or monster is related to a corruption or advancement of technology, or when Earth is threatened by aliens which are terrifying and evil in nature.

A classic convention of modern horror is to include young beautiful teenagers, often played by well known celebrities at the time e.g. Paris Hilton in House of Wax (2005), who get brutally killed by some supernatural creature. This convention is used a lot now as it appeals to a wide audience and makes film companies a lot of money at the box office. However beautiful young women have been used since
the beginning of horror as a way to portray everything that it innocent and good in the world.


The Fantasy genre includes films that usually have themes involving magic, supernatural events, make-believe creatures, or exotic fantasy worlds. The genre is considered to be separate and distinct in its own right from science fiction and horror, although the genres often over lap.


Mystery is a sub-genre of the more general category, Crime film. It focus's on the efforts of the Detective, PI or 'armature sleuth', who must solve the mystery behind a terrible crime that has occurred; by means of clues, investigation, persistence and clever deduction.

Mystery films often follow two plot types, Open and Closed. The Closed story type conceals the true identity of the perpetrator until late in the story, adding the element of surprise during the suspects apprehension as the audience never truly know who it is, this causes the classic 'edge of the seat' feeling that mystery is so well known for. The Open mystery story type is in direct contrast to that of the Closed. As the title suggests, from the beginning of the film, the story is "Open" about the true identity of the criminal. The audience usually follows the 'Perp' throughout the movie as they commit the "perfect crime" and continue to elude the police, usually through clever planning or just plain luck.

Mystery usually follows either Todorov's Theory; where everything starts in harmony but then a crime is committed and everything is thrown into a "disequilibrium" and the hero/ main character has to solve the mystery for the equilibrium to be restored, or the follow Barthe's Enigma Code; the story starts with a problem, the "enigma" will then be establish as time goes on and in the very end the problem will be solved.

Horror and Mystery

Suspense is often maintained throughout out these movies as an important plot element. This can be done throughout the use of camera angles, sound track, mise-en-scene and surprising plot twists. Many directors, such as Alfred Hitchcock, use all of these techniques, but will sometimes allow the audience in on a pending threat and then draw out the moment for dramatic effect, however the time this is done for has to be precise; too long and the audience looses interest, too short and they expect it and are not half as surprised as they could be.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

History of horror

The horror genre goes back as far as the beginning of films themselves, over a 100 years ago. Some of the earliest horror films were Gothic in style which meant that they were usually set in spooky old mansions, castles, or fog covered, dark and shadowy locations which created an air of mystery as usually what the audience can't see is the thing that is the most terrifying. The main characters were usually 'unknown' humans, supernatural or grotesque looking creatures. This included vampires, evil madmen, devils, ghosts, monsters, mad scientists, demons, zombies, evil spirits, Satanic villains, demonic possessions and werewolves. Horror films at that time were developed out of a number of sources: folktales, fables, myths, ghost stories, melodramas and Gothic/ Victorian novels from Europe, such as the work of Mary Shelley or Bram Stoker.

The first horror movie, only about two minutes long, was made by imaginative French filmmaker Georges Melies, titled Le Manoir Du Diable (aka The Devil's Castle) (1896) - which contained some elements included in later vampire films.

By the early 1930s, horror entered into its classic phase in Hollywood - the 'true' Dracula and Frankenstein Eras. The studios took dark tales of European vampires and undead aristocrats, mad scientists, and invisible men and created some of the most archetypal creatures and monsters ever known for the screen. Universal Studios was best-known for its pure horror films in the 30s and 40s, horror's classic characters (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, the Invisible Man, and the Wolf Man) and its memorable horror stars, such as Bela Lugosi.

Many of the films in the horror genre from the mid-1930s to the late 1950s were B-grade movies, inferior sequels, or atrocious low-budget 'gimmick' films. In the atomic age of the 1950s, 'modern' themes like effects of radioactivity exposure, toxic chemical spills, or other scientific accidents were explored.

Horror films branched out in all different directions in the 1960s and after because the Production Code disappeared and film censorship was on the decline. Directors began to portray horror in ordinary circumstances and seemingly-innocent settings, which made the movies both more realistic and terrifying.

Alfred Hitchcock, whose early silent film The Lodger (1926) explored horror's themes, brought out some of horror's most 'horrific' films. His films changed the face of all horror films ever since. He created the idea of horror that could be found in the dark shadows of the human soul itself. That the murderer was not some horrific supernatural being, but rather a disturbed person who could easily be your next door neighbour, an idea that has horrified audiences ever since.

In the 1970s, the horror genre was subjected to violence, sadism, brutality, slasher films, victims of possession, and graphic blood-and-gore tales.

In the 80s and 90s many of the more successful horror films from previous decades spawned inferior, low-budget, slasher films. Most of these sequels or 'imitations' were exploitative and featured gory violence, graphic horror, 'teens in peril,' along with computer-generated special effects and makeup. A common storyline through out these decades was that of a homicidal male psychopath committing a string of gruesome murders on pretty, female victims. Many of these films told the tale of a vengeful murderer motivated by revenge and/ or sexual reasons, movies of this storyline include the Scream (1996-2000) franchise.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Film opening techniques

There are many techniques available to film makers which immediately help set the tone for the movie and capture the audience's attention. In Sleepy Hollow (1996) shot composition is employed through a series of close ups and extreme close ups which are used to create a mysterious and ominous feel to the movie. This along with the sound: which is tense, atmospheric non-diegetic music, helps the audience to realise that the movie is mysterious, strange and will keep the audience guessing for a long time.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) and City of God (2002) both have scenes which have been edited to include shot lengths which are fast paced jump cuts, this creates a sense of tension and excitement. In City of God narrative devices are also employed , a split narrative is also used along with a framing scene to create a sense of violence which appears to be part of the characters every day lives.

In The Last Samurai (2003) the narrative device, prolepsis, is used to show a mans premonition; this gives the audience insight into what will happen further on in the movie. A hue of blue colour is also employed to create a mysterious cold feel to the clip, as well as making it obvious it is a different time frame to the rest of the movie. The scene is also misty which just confirms it is a premonition. In the scene a metaphor is used but the audience will no realise this until later on in the film. Flags of our Fathers (2006) also employs a narrative device in the form analepsis, looking into the past. The scene is distorted with muffled sound and a strange mise-en-scene of a desolate war torn landscape. All these techniques tie in together to emphasise that this is a dream which is not only confusing to the audience, but also to the dreamer himself.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Last Samurai - analysis of the opening three minutes

The Last Samurai (2003) - directed by Edward Zwick
staring Tom Cruise

The film opens with a fade in on Japanese landscape. We can tell that the landscape is Japan because the music in the background is a classic oriental wind instrument which is a non-diegetic bridging sound, the reader can then make the link between the music and the landscape just as the narration starts, which is also non-diegetic, and confirms that the place is Japan as the narration is describing how japan was formed. The establishing shots of Japan start off as primarily blue toned and in the few changes of scenery the colour slowly changes to a coral/ red tone, both these colours are very peaceful and along with the wind instruments they lull the audience into a sense of calm.

In the second scene the camera tracks up to a man who appears to be sitting down on a hill. The camera keeps coming up and we see over the mans shoulders that there are people working the land, it is also clear to the audience that the man is wearing oriental robes and the two things together make it apparent that this movie may not be set in our time. When we get to see the man's face it is from a long shot and we can see that his eyes are closed, his legs are crossed and his hands are clasped together, this position connotes meditation. Just by the man's clasped hands we can see a sword sticking out of the man's robes, people with a more in depth knowledge of Japans history would know instantly that this is important as only people of nobility carry swords in Japan. from this we can tell that the man has will most likely have a fair bit of land and is probably a warrior.

Here there is a fade from one scene to another, which is blurry and blue toned creating a dream-like feel and letting the audience know that it isn't real. From this we are able to make an educated guess and say that this dream like Forrest is only in the meditating man's mind. The scene then changes back to that of the meditating man, only the shot is a close up of his eyes which only confirms are belief that this is all in the mans head and not entirely real. As in the previous shot of the dream like woods there is a tiger fighting samurai who are circling around him, however the tiger is not just any ordinary tiger, the tiger is an incredibly rare white tiger which could be used as a metaphor for Tom Cruise's character. Like him the tiger is white and different to the samurai in the way it thinks and fights, however it doesn't stop fighting even when all hope is lost and it is surrounded, it is wild at heart and a unique creature, like Tom Cruise's character who is rare in the fact that, even though he was brought over to fight the samurai and create a new army for japan, he opens his mind to the way of the samurai, a task which not every normal man can do, for his character learns what would take most men years in a matter of months. Over and over again in the same scene we see this flag waving with the same white tiger on it, this will become more important as the movie goes on because we learn it is the same flag that Tom Cruise's character uses in battle and it later solidifies the idea of the white tiger in this 'vision' is him. There is then a close up of the tigers eyes, a close up which is mirrored later on in the movie when tom cruise is fighting the samurai. There is a parallel bridging sound which occurs as the movie switches back to the meditating man who finally opens
his eyes as the scene fades out.

The scene then fades into the title which is in English is red, which connotes war and pain but also love. There is ghostly Japanese writing underneath to show the bridge between the two languages and cultures that is a constant theme in this movie. The writing then fades out.

There is a fade in to the next scene which is a close up of a wooden beam. The camera gradually zooms and pans towards a man, which we can see is Tom Cruise, who is drinking from a flask. This is an old film trick which connotes alcoholism in the character who is drinking, because they can't go anywhere without a drink. The room the main character is in is dark and gloomy. There is an American flag in the background and we can hear diegetic sounds of a man talking about a true "American hero" who we realise is the main character, however the fact that he is drinking leads us to believe that maybe he is not a hero or that he has seen some bad things in the war. The scene then changes to a colourful crowded room where we are told that it is 1876 in San Fransisco. The bright bold colours and amount of people in this room are a direct contrast to the room where Tom Cruise's character is hiding, this could also be considered a metaphor between what war is really like and how the people who have not fought a war perceive it to be, all glory and killing the bad guys, not painful and dangerous.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Welcome to my blog

My name is Iona English.
I'm in class PES1/ media studies