Removal (main project)

Preliminary Exercise

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Opening Sequence Comparison

Narrative Expectations:

Legally Blonde

The film begins with a close-up of the back of a girl’s head, showing her perfect blonde hair moving in slow motion, as curly pink writing is painted across the screen. We immediately see that this will be a largely feminine film, aimed at a female, possibly teenage audience. The fact that we see her hair first and not her face may suggest that many people judge her from her perfect appearance and ignore her personality, and we expect this to be a key aspect of the film. With everything so exaggeratedly perfect (and the lyric “Perfect Day” repeating incessantly in the background) we expect that something will happen to break this Utopia before long, and this will provide the comedy in the film. We expect it to be a very lighthearted and fun film, as everyone is having fun. Nobody seems to be miserable, and we get a sense that even if something was to go wrong, the film would still end happily.

We are introduced to the main character in several ways before we actually see her, thus building up suspense and also revealing a lot about the type of person she is. We see her hair at the beginning being combed very carefully and looking radiant. We also see her various cosmetics, showing that she takes pride in her appearance. We see the obvious pink theme of everything, revealing her to be very girly, almost comically so. We see a group of girls taking great care over delivering a ridiculously over-decorated envelope to her and find out her name is Elle. This shows that she is very popular. We also discover that she is Homecoming Queen and President of her Sorority at her College. Main characters are usually liked in films, or at least have some redeeming features, and audiences would get bored very quickly of a sickeningly perfect and popular ‘airhead’, and would definitely not support her throughout the film. So we assume that there will be more to Elle than just the typical ‘airhead’ stereotype. Perhaps the theme of the film will be her fight to overturn that stereotype. We also see her look lovingly at a photo of a very perfect-looking boyfriend on her bedside table, and expect that this will take a turn for the worse as well.


The film begins on a very different note to Legally Blonde. There is no music, and instead of a bright pink colour scheme, we have a dull, gloomy greyish lighting effect. The opening shot is of a middle-aged man going about his morning routine. Like Elle, we see that this character also takes pride in his appearance, as we see him meticulously pick a single hair off his immaculate suit. We also see him carefully pick up the objects laid perfectly out on his bedside table in sequence and put them into his jacket pockets. He does all this slowly and methodically, and we see that he is a man of strict routine.

Next we see the arrival of a second character, Mills. There is an immediate clash between these two personalities. Whereas Morgan Freeman’s character is methodical, calm and collected, Mills seems to be hot-headed and rather cocky. This is shown particularly in the street scene where Mills continually bumps into people, whereas Morgan Freeman does not. However, Mills appears to be smart nevertheless.

When the detective goes to bed, he turns on a metronome beside his bed. It is suggested that this is there to comfort him and keep him safe in his big empty room. Therefore the metronome connotes safety, showing that Morgan Freeman’s character finds sanctuary in order and routine. We see that he lives his life by those principles, and perhaps expect that something will happen soon to jeopardize that safety. This is also suggested by the shot types.

Shot Types:

Legally Blonde

In Legally Blonde, there are many over-the-shoulder shots as we follow the letter’s progress through the college. Many of the shots are in slow-motion to emphasize how good everything is. We also get many panning and tracking long shots to show surroundings, like when we see the girl on her bicycle riding through her college being jeered and cheered by the ‘Jocks’ nearby.


In Se7en, most of the shots are from a low angle, suggesting that we are seeing from the point of view of monsters lurking in the shadows. This is strengthened by the fact that many shots are from behind other objects such as doors, creating a voyeuristic feeling to the film. This adds a sense of horror. There are also some slow zooms, which create an atmosphere of creeping. When the Detective is in bed, his bedside lamp creates a small glow of protective light around him. Further back there are shadows. The camera slowly moves forward out of these shadows into the character’s lighted area. This creates a feeling of invasion, as if monsters are rising up from the shadows and penetrating the character’s defences. We also have a tracking low angle shot which follows the two detectives through the street.

Character Comparison:

In both films we feel like there is more to the main character than is revealed at the start. Elle is ridiculously perfect, almost comically so, and this suggests that something will inevitably go wrong and create a dilemma, and her character will be tested in the face of adversity, but all within the lighthearted boundaries of Rom-Com. The detective remains enigmatic in the opening scene. In fact, the only thing we learn about him is that he never seems to slip up. He is incredibly careful with everything he does and never gives away his emotions. We expect this calm and emotionless image to be tested soon, and to see the detective’s real emotions and learn about who he really is, as the film is a Psychological Thriller, and we expect the main character to go through many hardships on his way to solving the case.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Group 2 Shot Analysis

This shot was planned by Despina. It shows a young man sitting against a wall wearing a hoodie. The man has a shadow cast over half of his face with a single eye visible directly addressing the camera. He is casting a shadow on the wall behind him. The camera is positioned slightly above the subject at about mid-shot distance. This shot could be seen as representing ‘Horror’ because of the shadows cast over and by the subject, because of the menacing direct address, and because of the high angle, showing the evil nature of the character, and emphasizing the ‘good – high, bad – low’ idea.

In order to achieve the desired effect, we positioned the light below and to the side of the character, casting a shadow over half his face and the wall behind, suggesting a shady, troubled character and a split personality. We positioned the camera on the other side to the lighting, at a slight high angle in relation to the subject, in order to capture the shadows and make the character seem lowly. We placed the light near the wall to create a progression into darkness at the far right side of the wall. This shows that the character has bad things either in his past or waiting for him in the future, and creates a sense of foreboding about what is to come. Attention is drawn to the blue eye framed by shafts of shadow, directly addressing the camera. This creates an eerie quality where the viewer feels a sense of menace emanating from the character, but also maybe feels scared for him, and the shadows that are closing in.

I believe one successful aspect of this shot is lighting. The shadows on the wall and on the man’s face create a good atmosphere of menace and darkness. The way the man’s eye is lit up with shadows around it strengthens the direct address and heightens the atmosphere. Also, the way the man is looking up at the camera with wide eyes shows that he may even be scared himself, of the shadows that are about to consume him. The look he gives the camera could be interpreted as pleading, which adds more depth to the possible story behind the shot and makes it more intriguing to look at.

With hindsight, I feel that the expression made by the actor in this shot was not quite right, as he does not seem menacing enough. The expression is rather neutral, which was not the effect I wanted. However, and the lighting seemed most effective in this shot, we decided to use this one. I also believe the composition of the shot could be improved. The feeling of isolation of the character would be heightened by a longer distance away from the camera. However, there are two flaws in that plan. Firstly, the brick wall in front of which we took this photo was not very large, and not large enough to completely fill the background of a longer shot. Secondly, the character’s face would not be as prominent, which I think would detract greatly from the mood of the shot. I am proud of the eerie look of the shadows and the bright eye in the shot, and I believe a longer shot may lessen the emphasis on those features.

In conclusion, I think that although our shot is certainly not without it’s faults, it also contains many good attributes, and is nevertheless a decent first stab at a horror shot.