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.