Removal (main project)

Preliminary Exercise

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Opening Sequences

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

Opening sequences can take the form of a simple window into the life of the protagonist. We see them in their own environment and observe how they act and react to others in order to form our opinion of them. Then a problem is usually hinted at or appears. We discover the type of film it will be, eg. Back To The Future, being a science fiction film, begins with a complicated gadget operating.

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

Opening sequences can be used to introduce the main dilemma, or set up a situation that is simply too perfect to last for long, and make the audience anticipate the disruption in the equilibrium. The dilemma, or villain, can be introduced right at the end of the sequence in an enigmatic fashion to make the audience want to watch more.

iii) What do audiences gain from watching the opening sequence?

They gain an idea of the style, genre and tone of the film. They are introduced to key elements of the narrative and meet some or all of the main characters. They observe the setting and are able to establish where and when the story takes place. From these discoveries they are able to create a rough idea of the story of the rest of the film and anticipate what will happen next. This could be either what they expect, creating a sense of comfort, or what they do not expect, creating a sense of unease. In this way, opening sequences can have a big effect on the audience.

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

Film-makers are able to make their audience anticipate the rest of the movie with an opening sequence. This can be useful, as they can go against the expectations and shock the audience. This is especially useful in horror films where one of the most important factors is the audience's sense of unease. Opening sequences also hook the audience and make them want to watch the rest of the film. This is a good thing for film-makers.