Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Usual Suspects - Opening Scene

The opening sequence for 'The Usual Suspects' starts with a close-up shot of a set of matches being lit. The room starts of dark, giving the impression to the audience that something may of happened; or that there's a form of evil in the area. Both diegetic and non-diegetic audio is used, the sound of the match sticks being lit and a leaking sound are both coming from the world of the story. While a background melody is being played, bells are used for this non-diegetic soundtrack & the volume is very low. The genre is exposed to the audience as tension is built through enigma codes. This film is a thriller.

The following shot is a medium shot, of a man using the matches that he lit to light up his cigarette. The room is still dark while the characters face is lit by the flame. This shows the importance of the character and keeps the audience aware of his presence. Only half is his face is on show at this point of the shot, the camera then tilts up giving full exposure of his face to the audience. Eventually the camera stops and we are able to see  a fire set behind this character. Instantly it shows the audience that this man isn't our protagonist, he's dangerous & is definitely a fire starter. He also sits comfortably with the fire set behind him, this shows the audience he is experienced and this isn't his first time doing bad.

Another medium shot appears of a liquid leaking from a tank, to me it looks like an oil tank. the camera tilts from the top of the tank to the bottom showing the oil leak onto the floor. The room is very dark, restricting the audience to know for sure if it's an oil tank. This was done effectively as i personally found it difficult to know for certain what it is in the shot. This shot also creates meaning through cross cutting as the audience will instantly know that fire and oil do not get along very well; & if they meet it can cause a very serious problem. Diegetic audio is used for the oil leaking down onto the floor.

The shot then changes into a long shot of this mysterious smoker, his face and his right hand is more lit then the rest of his body, bringing the audiences attention to the two body parts. The male character then uses his cigarette to set fire to a piece of paper, he then casually drops the paper onto the floor. At this very moment disaster occurs as the fire grabs hold of the helpless oil on the floor; creating a action code as this action leads to another (fire being set). Diegetic audio occurs once the flame is set. The audience should now be sure that this mysterious character is the villain of this film due to the fire he just started. The character doesn't seem to have any intention to move away from the flame or leave the building before it gets burnt down, this shows the audience that this character may be attempting suicide.

A medium shot takes place right after, following the flame as it travels down the oil, it then quickly changes to a close/medium shot of the flame going past a dead man. The man is laying helplessly on his stomach with worn out clothing and blood all over his face. This brings up an enigma code as the audience question who killed this man? Did he deserve to die or is he innocent of his death? These questions are yet to be answered as the shot quickly changes to another medium shot of the flame.

In this shot diegetic audio occurs of a liquid hitting down on the flame. The camera tilts up towards the leakage to show a male urinating onto the flame. This mysterious character manages to stop the flame from burning down the entire place. It's unclear to see what type of character he is but the darkness around him shows that he's mysterious and most likely a villain despite the stoppage of the flame. He is higher up then the first character that we have been shown, this represents his power as he stands tall above the other character. non-diegetic audio occurs as we see this new character appear, a low key melody is being played, representing the darkness within this mysterious man.

In conclusion the opening sequence to 'The Usual Suspects' manages to build a lot of suspense through enigma & action codes; as the audience are left questioning many things. Edits are normal paced until the camera follows the trail of the flame; the editing gets quicker, building tension on what's going to happen. Darkness represents power in this sequence as the more mysterious and shady character we meet (second character) is put above the first character we meet. The audience should be left biting their nails as this movie builds tension & suspense at every given opportunity.

No comments:

Post a Comment