Thursday, 28 January 2010

Film Noir

Double Indemnity

A film released in 1944 starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, directed by Billy Wilder.

The title sequence contains the names of those who produced and worked on the movie, with the enigmatic shadow of what appears to be a man limping forward on crutches. This creates mystery towards the figure the audience see, and the shot of the character closing ever nearer becomes quite menacing. Strong non diegetic music plays over this sequence with what sounds like drums, getting louder in effect creating a climax. The sequence then cuts to a long shot of a cross roads at night, showing a car speeding and cutting off traffic, which then defies the stop sign, connoting a sense of rushing. The car comes to a halt, and the male character is shown with his back to the screen, once again supporting that of a mysterious person as the audience cannot identify with him. The male character has a costume of a hat and a long coat, suggesting already that he is professional and a business man, although his apparant limp and one word answers suggest he may be hiding something. The male character is seen in an office with the typical noir trait of venetian blinds in the low key lighting reflecting back onto, suggesting this character has committed a crime. The non-diegetic music continues, although less menacing than before, and it ceases when the man begins to talk, connoting focus on him and his 'confession' of murder. Another element that is typical of noir films is the flashback, narrated by the man confessing how he came to have murdered someone. The previous year is shown, with the bright ambient lighting from the sun contrasting with the dark current state in which the man is narrating from presently.

Overall i think that some of the film noir elements such as the flashbacks are quite effective is used appropriately, as in thriller films this proves to work in the re-telling of how events of crime or murder unravelled, and this would be something i would want to progress with when producing our 2 minute opening sequence.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Film Noir - An introduction

Film noir is a term used in the cinematic world to describe, primarily, classy Hollywood dramas based on crime. The era of film noir is associated with a low-key black and white visual that was regarded to be at its height during the 1940's to the late 1950's. The term 'film noir' meaning 'black film' in french, is said to have originated from German expressionism cinematography, and was first used by french critic Nina Frank in 1946. Movies that are 'film noir' almost always contain the element of murder, generally fuelled by a jealous or greedy character. Flashbacks are most common in this specific type of film, sometimes which obscure or disrupt from the narrative. First person narration is a typical 'noir' trait, with the voice over telling the story of past events which have lead up to their current state or situation they find themselves in when providing information of what has previously happened. The use of contrasting tones of black and white create a particularly cliche effect when objects of the mise-en-scene are inlcuded such as blinds, which may act as a connotating message of entrapment or that the character in focus will soon find themselves encarcerated in a prison cell.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Panic Room - Title sequence analysis

The title sequence begins with ambient sounds such as wind, creating an almost mystical sense before we've actually been introduced to any image. The shot fades to black before any credits are shown, with a siren off a police car or an ambulance maybe, connoting that of an inner city, which appears in the shot next. The title of 'Columbia Pictures' is shown in a silver font in front of a background of high rise buildings, and what looks to be the Hudson River, connoting that the film is set in New York. This shot lasts a few seconds however establishes the setting already, and a slight zooming in can be seen before a cut to another title of another production company. Non-diegetic music takes over from the ambient sounds, with what sounds like violins or cellos playing, suggesting intensity and drama. Behind the writing, a medium shot of old and modern buildings, with the streets and cars below, connotes a sense that we are getting nearer to the city itself, rather than looking from afar. A slight low-angle shot of the cream coloured buildings under the blue sky could suggest that of safety, as for a thriller, broad daylight with the sun shining is quite unconventional in the aiming of disturbing the audience. However, the setting could cleverly contrast with what is to happen later in the film. The main character's names appear, first with Jodie Foster, with half the typography being cast in a shadow from the architecture of the sky scrapers, connoting good and bad. The name Dwight Yoakam is centred lower, into the streets of the city, with billboards and vehicles in the background and below. As well as the non-diegetic music that takes a more sinister not when the title 'Panic Room' appears, the sound of cars and traffic can still be heard, creating a sort of realism and depth to the opening. The title of the film appears larger than the other titles, connoting its significance, and it is reflected in the window of a stylish modern block. There is the sense of claustrophobia which links directly and quite cleverly to the basis of the film, the panic room itself. When the name of 'Kristen Stewart' is shown, the non diegetic music quickens, with the sound of ticking suggesting that of intensity and suspense. The New York setting is definitely established when the image of Times Square is seen, along with a billboard of a happy man and woman, which sets a contrasting mood from the anguish in the music. A high angle shot of another title is above a street, showing the iconic New York taxis along with people and other cars. I think the way the titles appear is particularly effective as it seems as if they are actually there, but the people and traffic are oblivious, like the panic room in the film, people don't know it's there. Another high angle shot of what looks like a cathedral is seen, with the 'music by..' title in the foreground, at a tilt and in alignment with the way the building is facing. People can actually be seen walking and are much more distinguished than before, connoting the point that we are reaching nearer to the action and beginning of the film. The final shot before the opening sequence is in a park, surrounded by autumn trees and once again the high rise buildings, with the final title of Director above the peoples' heads, casting a shadow onto the grass. Just before the title sequence ends, the sound of a woman's voice can be heard, establishing the beginning to the film.

Sin City - opening sequence analysis (up to 4 minutes 39 seconds)

The opening of Sin City actually begins with a male voice over from actor Josh Hartnett, suggesting he may be a main character in the film, whilst a setting of a balcony in a high built area is shown with a woman, wearing a red dress, which is contrasted with the black and white 'film noir' image. She appears to be a typical 'femme fatale' again which looks to be influenced by film noir elements and the setting, mise-en-scene, and dialogue connotes that of a previous time, maybe the 1940's. The non diegetic music of saxophones can be heard, linking with the old style that has been initially created, although before this, the ambient of the setting can be heard, with what sounds like wind, traffic, police or ambulance cars, suggesting a high crime area is beneath them, as well as the sound of car horns. A completely black and white shot of the two characters kissing is shown, an unconventional trait for any film made in the 21st century, however it reinforces that of a previous era. A close up shot of the two portrays the event that occurs next, with the male shooting the woman, connoting an immediate mystery as to why, and only the ambient sound of the rain can be heard.
Title sequence:
  • The camera zooms out from the balcony showing a view of a large built up city, establishing where the film will be set.
  • Non diegetic music can be once again heard, this time it appears to be more of a modern style, although still with elements of the 40's and 50's as the saxophones and other musical instruments associated with this era are still playing.
  • The title of the film 'Sin City' is shown layered upon the aerial city view, with the same bold colour of red (perhaps connoting blood and death) pouring onto the actual words, creating a much clearer, more visible typography for the title. The font looks to be that from a comic or a dated magazine. The strong red is contrasted with the completely black background.
  • This is then again connoted when the actors and actresses name's appear, continuing with the them of black and white with the same colour of red used for the credits, aswell as a bright white which outlines each of them.
  • Along with each name appears a character, of what looks like a character that would be in a comic book, however most connote the image of a villain, rather than heroes, linking in with the theme and basis of the plot.
  • Each shot only lasts a few seconds, with the image of the character fading out, just before that of the writing.
  • The title sequence ends with the credits and the creator/director of the Sin City novel and now film, Frank Miller.
  • The shot cuts to a black background.

Thriller Film Research - Title and opening sequence analysis

The Interpreter

A film directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn.

The opening sequence begins with an air of mystery connoted by the diegetic sound of the wind, we hear this before we see any of the film. A long shot shows what appears to be smoke or dust masking the setting, again creating caution as for what is to come. What looks to be figures of people approach out of the dust, creating an enigma for the various shadows that are shown. The fact that it is broad daylight with glaring sun suggests the opening sequence will be set in a foreign country to the one we assume from the movie cover. This is later established by the use of the title 'Africa'. A long shot then dissolves into the next shot which abruptly cuts to a landrover, connoting a sense of significance in terms of the vehicle and the people inside it. The non diegetic music that accompanies the shots is an importance choice of music as it sounds tribal, which effectively suits the landscape in which the opening of the film is set. A quick shot of a notebook connotes that it may become important as the film unravels. A variety of shots is then used as a shot reverse shot shows to male characters to be conversing, with the focus on them, it appears that they will be dominant in the film, however as later events unveil, this is not to be true. Ambient lighting creates more of a juxtaposition when two of the three male characters enter into what looks like an abandoned stadium, where there is very little low key lighting, and in some places, there is no lighting.
Overall, i think in terms of a thriller, the opening to this film suggests an unforeseen event, with the close up of the notebook, and the killing of two characters leads onto the title sequence which looks to be set in the built up city of New York, away from the setting of Africa which we have just witnessed.

se7en analysis


Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star in this thriller based upon the seven deadly sins and is directed by David Fincher.

The opening of the film begins with a low angle medium close up of a black male character, who is shown to be in bed. The lighting is low key with only the lamp acting as a source of artificial light. From an establishing shot of the room, in terms of mise-en-scene, the books that are seen would suggest the male character is educated and quite intelligent. The sound of the diegetic environment becomes more apparant from the slow zooming in shots. Traffic from outside can be heard aswell as the the ticking clock on the bedside table that gets growingly louder until it cuts to a series of short shots, effectively a montage which gradually reveals the underline sense of the plot as time goes on. The title sequence consists of a multiple short shots with the font showcasing the actors and name of the film. The typography that is used appears almost child-like as it is quite scruffy, aswell as what looks like carved writing, suggesting an unveiling of psychological tortoruous events, supported by the rapid sepia shots of sharp instruments, the cutting of skin, various photographs of children and droplets of blood. An enigma is created as the killer is not shown, only his/her hands that appear to be stitching thin sheets of paper together, that includes alot of handwriting, almost like a diary. The use of this creates a puzzle for the audience as the shots only last a few seconds each, most of them not even that, which effectively doesn't give away the plot of the film. Non diegetic music can be heard as the montage of clips is showing. The music sounds as if the record is being scratched, with a scream-like quality added for effect.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Media film brief

We were given a task of creating a 2 minute film containing just the title and opening sequence. The genre we choose to orientate our film on is our decision, however the option of thriller seems particularly popular. For the production of our short film, we will be rewarded a mark out of 60, with 20 marks for the research, and 20 marks for the final evaluation, via a podcast.