Film Openings

Wall-E

Wall-E is an animated adventure/comedy movie which is aimed towards children. Animated childrens movies often have conventions such as a protagonist in a good vs evil battle and musical numbers. Musical numbers are very common in Disney movies especially as they appeal to younger audiences who can sing along with the lyrics. Other animated children’s movies that have themes like musical numbers and a good vs evil battle includes Disney’s Lilo and Stitch. This is often a typical narrative that can be seen in a number of films. Children’s movies are animated as they keep kids interested with the vivid colours and imaginative creations that cannot be made out of a live action movie. The visual appeal is incredibly important for children’s films as without these vivid colours the film would not hold their attention. The titles above demonstrate the vivid colours that are used in Wall-E and how they draw in the audience.

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The 2D and almost child like drawing of some of the scenes in the movie are attractive to children as it looks more creative to them and like something themselves could draw. 2D effects work well in the end credits to this animated movie as it contrasts against the high tech high budget animating they had the whole way through the movie. It makes the viewer more interested in the artistic elements of the scenes, which is what the designers were looking for as the mimicking of art movements is key to the theme of the credits. The below screen shot is taken from later on in the credits and shows how well the credits have recreated ancient and more modern artistic movements. The different techniques that are employed in Wall-E demonstrate how there are a number of different styles that can be used in animation. However unfortunately 3D animation seems to have monopolised the market and is currently the most popular at the cinema.

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The whole ending sequence is animated and depicts a childlike and cartoony history of human life, starting at the discovery of fire. The only difference between the title sequence of Wall. E and the true history of humanity is that there are robots present. This possibly implies that humans are re building the earth from scratch and the robots are helping them this time around. As these are ending credits it is mostly acting as a continuation of the movie, as it is giving a full insight of what happens after the movie. As the sequence goes on the form of art becomes advanced in sophistication; the first images being cave drawings, next there are mosaics, then charcoal and pencil drawings that depict humans becoming more and more agriculturally developed (farming fish and plants), the art then continues to develop through different art movements. This is signifying a rebuilding of society and going back through the motions that earth first went through.

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Using this as the end scene brings closure to the movie. The reason for this is it gives the audience some insight as to what happens beyond the movie.  You can tell that this movie is targeted towards children from its end credits as how happy and colourfully animated they are, as well as how simplistically everything has been drawn and shown so not to confuse kids who might not understand as well as an older person might. The extension beyond what has happened in the move might also lay the groundwork for a sequel. This is a common technique as it helps generate money from the previous audience who watched the first film. A good example of this is Toy Story which currently has 3 films in the franchise as well as a number of short movies which have been produced. I would predict that in the future Wall-E might get a sequel which would pick up after the events of this.

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The use of the art becoming more and more sophisticated throughout the video and then taking on an 8-bit type of theme during the actual credits makes the credits seem more modern as it brings to mind the current technologies in computers and gaming. Andrew Stanton (the co-creator of the ending credits) said ” There was a reference to Pong in the film, so we figured this would be the next step in the development of that gaming technology for them.”. The use of gaming characters in films was taken further in the Disney animated film ‘Wreck it Ralph’. This included a number of characters from video games and help draw upon the nostalgia factor. This would mainly appeal to parents but since parents are taking their children to see these films it would again help the film be more successful.

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The Last of Us

Like the end credits of Wall-E the opening titles for The Last of Us is used to show the viewer what happens over a long period of time. The Last of  Us is a thriller game aimed mostly towards those over 18 years old so the conventions are very different to those in a children’s animation, and are normally very different to that of a film as game and film have completely different audiences, narratives, conventions and purposes. However this opening scene is a great example of an opening scene that uses simple imagery and symbols in order to entice the audience. Thriller title sequences are normally used to get emotions running high before the scenes finally begin, this was used as a means of creating a ‘buffer’ between the true opening scene (which was all gameplay) and the rest of the game. This was because in trials it was found that game testers found the opening scene so emotional that they needed a break from playing, and this opening scene was thus created. This shows how the opening scenes have different purposes depending on the media that is being produced, however, they all seem to have the same conventions.

In this opening the technical effect of black and white gives an effect of ambiguity as the audience doesn’t really understand what they are looking at. This thus creates tensions as well as curiosity that makes the audience want to find out more by playing the rest of the game. The news reports being read over a quiet and melancholy guitar track has the functional purpose of expressing that what we are hearing in the minute of the opening credits is actually news sound clips from the past 20 years, allowing the audience to understand that a large passage of time has happened while updating them on the story before they continue playing. It is possible that the creators decided that these opening credits needed to have simple imagery in monochrome would allow for the audience to be undistracted from the large amount of auditory information that they are receiving, allowing the audience to focus on the voiceover instead of the images on screen.

The co creator of the game stated that he wanted opening credits to allow the player to recover from the death of the playable character the scene before, though normally games do not have opening credits, this is because as games are much more interactive than film, players would prefer to get on with playing rather than watch a film-like opening, although some games will include cut scenes mid game in order to give information, which happens to be the same purpose (or one of the many purposes) for this games opening scene. The melancholy guitar track works well after following this scene as though the cut scene into the credits is to allow the gamer to have a break after the emotional scene that they just encountered. The soothing guitar track helps for the audience who are playing the game to take a break from the gameplay and become observers for a moment. However the effect would be completely different without the background music as it creates a sense of peace, without it the news report would sound intimidating or demanding, however it doesn’t distract from the important sound (the news report) but rather compliments it so that the audience can listen to what they need to without being distracted by the background music.

Edward Scissorhands

The opening credits of Edward Scissorhands has all an all out creepy vibe. From the use of dimmed out blue lighting and the panning camera up the stairs. Theres lots of use of the camera panning close up to random steampunk type trinkets that brings a sense of disorientation as instead of seeing the overall image of the room or places these things are in we just get little snippets of information. The scene where the camera pans up a flight of rickety old stairs gives a sense of direction but this is broken up after the random cut scenes of trinkets and other abstract items come into the scene. Theres a real sense of abstractness throughout the who scene, the iron gates being followed by the blue lit human hands is one and it just gives a really unsettling vibe to the audience.

The snow over the opening title for 20th Century Fox (the institution that produced this) has connotations of winter, a fairly dismal time in terms of the weather conditions and how winter time is usually darker than the rest of the year. This links in with the ‘creepiness’ created by the music and the blue lights that create a ‘cold’ feeling. However, the snow is also used to connote to Christmas, a more festive time of year that is also signified by snow, we see this continued throughout the opening with the Christmas cookies being shown also. The contrast in the signifiers gives the audience a clue that the film may not be as creepy as the opening may suggest. As well as this we also get a sense that this might be a ‘Christmas film’, however unconventional it may be, Edward Scissorhands has been considered a Christmas movie since it has came out.

The music also adds to this effect, although at the start it is completely downbeat in minor, as the trailer goes on it picks up some more enthusiastic aspects while maintaining a creepy feel. It begins to sound more like a church hymn than an unsettling piece as it begins to include the singing voices and the delicate piano undertones which adds to the unsettling theme throughout the opening scene while also adding to the Christmas imagery, such as the snow and the sugar cookies I mentioned earlier.

The technical use of blue lighting gives the whole opening a creepy sort of vibe and puts the audience in a more disorientated state of mind for when the movie starts. This fits with the genre of the movie as it is a dark fantasy movie with undertones of romance its title scene should represent this. This also leaves the audience feeling confused and solemn which allows the movie to continue to influence the viewers emotions. As blue connotes to calmness and sadness, this being used along with the melancholy music in the background makes the whole opening credits very downbeat and dismal.

The use of close ups on random inanimate objects gives them a sense of importance and makes each item that has been seen in close up in the scene a personal closeness that couldn’t be achieved with a further out shot. When each item is in close up they are also either perfectly on centre and fit the framing or slightly off centre and a little out of frame. The mix of the two makes for a perfect variation and keeps the opening scenes interesting to watch. the use of bringing items on and off centre while still keeping them the item of focus using the rule of thirds further builds on the sense of disorientation these credits are creating. Having the items of focus switch over seamlessly gives the audience lots of things to focus on at once, one after the other and means they will not get bored while watching. The transition of focus items is always interesting, such as the transition from the off centre, out of frame stairs to the door. How the camera is canted and gradually turns to put the door perfectly in centre and in frame is the start of the opening credits and gives the audience a sense of confusion from the very start as the stairs are shot at a very awkward angle it means that the audience are trying to figure out what they’re looking at from the very start.

REFERENCES

Websites:

www.artofthetitle.com –  ‘The Last Of Us’ (The Art of the Title – The Last of Us) – accessed 1/12/15

www.makeuseof.com/tag/x-of-the-best-video-game-opening-scenes-of-all-time (Make Use of) – accessed  1/12/15

http://uk.complex.com/pop-culture/2011/06/12-best-video-game-openings (The 12 Best Video Game Openings Of All Time) – accessed 1/12/15

www.writing-world.com/fiction/opening.shtmlWriting-World.com (Components Of A Good Opening Scene) – accessed 1/12/15

Filmography:

2008 – Wall-e (Director)

2013 – The Last of Us (Director)

2002 – Lilo and Stitch (Director)

1990 – Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton)

5 thoughts on “Film Openings

  1. Bianca, this has some interesting points and is a good start however there are some improvements to be made:

    1) All paragraphs should be a minimum of 6 lines
    2) You have not references correctly – please see the blog review matrix provided.
    3) There are a few SPaG mistakes – please proof read your work.

  2. The first post for Wall-E is excellent as it included a good level of explanation and print screens to support what you are talking about.

    Please do the same for the the Last of Us and Edward Scissor Hands.

    You als need to complete the references correctly.

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