Monday, 7 November 2011

The Holiday - Opening sequence analysis

The film opening I chose to analyse was The Holiday. After completing the 39 shots shot list I regretted this choice of film! I never realised how many different shots are used in a 3 minute sequence! 

1) CU of couple kissing and smiling - body language and expression immediately establishes the romance genre
2) Cuts to: MS of them kissing with river in background and high key lighting to add warmth, this connotes         happiness
3) Zooms out to: CU of hands playing piano - the sound is now diegetic as he is playing what we hear
4) Zooms out to: MS to show the man is writing music for the first 2 shots
5) Cuts to: CU of person. Non diegetic speech starts as person slowly looks up with a smile and look of inspiration in eyes (links with light heartedness of romcom genre)
6) Cuts to: CU of girl smiling while on phone
7) Cuts to: CU of original person still gazing at her (genre is clear as we see he lusts after her)
8) Cuts to: Wide POVS of girl walking towards camera (the camera is positioned where the man is sat)
9) Cuts to: MS of both people
10) Cuts to: CU POVS of woman's hand being kissed by man
11) Cuts to: CU of woman giggling
12) Cuts to: CU of man winking - his expression and body language show us already, without any speech, that he is interested in her. We also assume from her expressions that she likes him too. Therefore the conventions of the genre are still true to form
13) Cuts to: MS of woman laughing while walking away
14) Cuts to: MS of man smiling and watching her leave (the deep intake of breath and the sigh are more conventions of the genre)
15) Cuts to: LS of women walking upstairs
16) Cuts to: CU of man smiling and playing piano once more
17) Tracks to: The title of 'The Holiday' and continues tracking to CU of woman sat in car
18) Cuts to: CU of man sat on other side of car
19) Cuts to: OS of man - man and woman's faces are both still seen - facial expressions connote something emotional has just happened in the sense of a break up they both knew was coming?
20) Zooms out to HA ES of cars on road at night with Christmas lights on a tree (establishes time of year)
22) Cuts to CU of an old man's hand on photo frame with a picture of who we assume is his wife - the fact he is old and the bride in the picture is young connotes she is now dead and he hasn't stopped loving her as 'true love lasts forever' (links with genre)
23) Tracks to: MS of his face so we clearly see his age
24) Cuts to: MS of man at party, tracks him walking forwards towards and beyond camera , focus swaps to MS of woman gazing after him
25) Cuts to: OS of man - turns around and smiles at camera (woman)
26) Cuts to: MS of woman smiling
27) Cuts to: CU of man smiling
28) Cuts to: LS of woman sat in chair in an office with her back to the camera
29) Zooms in to: MS of her wrapping a present - the red wrapping paper, the party and the Christmas lights seen earlier make us assume it is a Christmas present for someone she cares for. The crowd of people is still visible through the office window
30) Cuts to: CU of present being concealed in top drawer - this seems strange as we assume the gift is for someone at the party - makes us assume she is nervous/ashamed/scared which implies the gift is for someone who she feels she shouldn't care for, maybe an ex. This fits with the heartbreak side of the romance genre
31) Cuts to: CU of woman
32) Cuts to: MS of back of woman's head and her opening the door and entering the party - given that she's walking straight from an office to a party, we convey this is an office Christmas do
33) Tracking MS of woman walking amongst party guests
34) Cuts to: MS of man talking and socialising with friends
35) Cuts to: Close up of woman staring into camera (looking at the man she is clearly interested in)
36) Zooms in then tracks her across room with OS camera angles which makes us feel amidst the action at the party as an audience and therefore engages us as viewers
37) Cuts to: MS of man socialising
38) Cuts to: CU of woman still staring
39) Cuts to: MS tracking woman walking

How are character types established? 

Dialogue is only used through the non-diegetic speech of the character named Iris (Kate Winslet) in the opening sequence. For the whole speech she speaks of love and mentions Shakespeare - whose famous plays include love story's - which establishes not only the genre of romance, but also that her character is a bit of a bookworm! Jack Black's costume shows he plays a cool, laid back character.

How is location established?

We can see it's cold and therefore the Winter season is established as the characters are all wrapped up in warm clothing. We also see it's Christmas time from the decorations and warm lighting. 

How is narrative constructed?

We can see the romance from the repetition of characters gazing at their love interest then cut shots to the person they're watching. An enigma is created from these shots, making us question: will the characters end up with their interests? Will they live happily ever after?

How does the opening reflect genre of film?

It is clearly a romance from the conventional Christmasy setting; the uplifting romantic music; the non diegetic speech of Kate Winslet talking about love and also the multiple couples seen. The smiling facial expressions reflect happiness and the high key lighting looks natural and realistic to our eyes, the warmth this effect creates conveys the romance genre. 

Is this opening appropriate for a film of this genre?

Yes because romance is very clearly established and sets up the audience for the rest of the film. This means they are assured that they have selected the genre they hoped to see and therefore won't be disappointed if it turns out to be something they had no interest in. 

How have titles been used?

Titles have been used sparingly and don't distract from the scene yet all the relevant and expected information is still there.

In your view is this an effective opening?

I think it is very effective as lots of information is given. Heartbreak and happiness are portrayed which are the key aspects of a romance genre so it is necessary that they are seen from the very beginning in order for the audience to see they are watching a film of the genre they enjoy. 

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