Monday, 31 January 2011

Research: 'Watching' Documentary on Film Openings

Thomas Sutcliffe says in the documentary "Films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible". In saying this,  he means that film openings should give a taster of whats to come in the beginning without giving away too much information to draw the audience in. For example, the film Casino instantly draws us in whereas The Shining is much more suspenseful.

According to Jean Jacques Beineix the risks of "instant arousal" is a huge problem for directors. This is because if you start off too strong without a glimpse of suspense then the questions that follow the opening will be answered; he thinks it's best to keep the audience guessing.

"A good beginning must make the audience feel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and at the same time make sure that it doesn't know too little" This means, that first impressions are everything to an audience. Therefore, a good beginning should capture us and then draw us in to make us feel as though we "Want to see more".

Critic Stanley Kauffmann describes the classic opening as: beginning with an establishing shot, then a close up of a building, then zooming into a window etc. This works because it "teaches us how to know its suroundings" which draws us in and lets us feel as though we are in the characters world.

Kyle Cooper's title sequence to the film Seven is effective because it immediately sets the tone for the audience without giving any narrative. We are introduced to the main character's twisted world instantly. In doing this,  it foreshadows what will happen in the film and sets us up for whats to come.

In the opening of Orson Wells "ATouch Of Evil" he wanted to "plunge the audience into the storyline, without giving them time to prepare themselves" Therefore,  he wanted to leave the sound track and titles out until the end. However, Universal Studios wanted their soundtrack accompanied by the logo at the start of the movie. This led to Wells writing as 58 page memo which then turned into a court case, unfortunately he lost.

The term "Film Noir" means "Dark Film" in literal translation. This means that the film is usually filmed at night with many use of shadows and is quite stylised to create tension and build suspense. The trick of "Film Noir" is to start at the end then unravel the story back; detective films often are created in this style.

The opening to the film: "The Shining" creates suspense effectively through showing us a merely picturesque setting. Then we gradually realise that the helicopter is following the car, like a vulture following its prey. The director says "Everything is telling us that these people are going in the wrong direction".  Which intrigues the audience perfectly as we anticipate for whats to come.

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