Film opening Analysis – Fury

 

 

 

This title sequence is from Fury(David Ayer). The film is an action/drama film, as well as the action sub genre of war. The film focuses on a tank commander and their battle to ‘strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.’ The film cost an estimated $68 million to produce and worldwide brought in around $212 million. On RottenTomatoes the film got a rating of 77% from critics as well as 84% from the audience. Fury was released on the 22nd of October 2014 and is considered a successful film, this can be attributed to its use of genre conventions such as the setting and the life of a soldier/group of soldiers during war. Furthermore I think the film successfully shows the pain and terror that war causes whether it be a soldier or a civilian.

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Genre and Genre conventions

An action film usually consists of a hero having a mission to complete, in the film Fury this would be the tank commanders mission to destroy the Nazis from the inside. Furthermore there is almost always a motive for the mission, this being to win a war and stop the Nazi’s from taking over Europe. Another common theme among action films is the necessity for big fights and chases that always end in huge explosions and death, mostly being between the protagonist and antagonist . These fights usually occur across a wide area, sometimes across various countries, also there are usually people that are directly and indirectly involved that are killed. In the film Fury these fights happen between the allied, and axes tanks. The tank fight in this film doesn’t happen over a wide area like in other films but it happens in a wide, open area. Furthermore the fight follows the convention of multiple people loosing their lives during the fight.

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Death is also a convention of action films, more so in war films. This would definitely be true for this film as their was certainly a lot of death in the film, although most of the body count was made up of the Germans. Scenes of death make the audience feel sad because death isn’t usually a good thing, also with their own knowledge of the world war they would know that a lot of innocent people died, mostly in the gas chambers of the Nazi’s. As their is always death in every war that has taken place, it is obvious that it would be included in a war film in someway, otherwise the film would be less realistic and would appeal to as many people. Furthermore most war film’s main focuses is on the death that occurs during the film. This can seen in Steven Spielberg’s 1998 film Saving Private Ryan which has received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of history, this is mostly for the scenes on the Omaha beach landing, where over 2000 allied troops, and an estimated 5000 German troops died.

Symbolic codes and connotations

The entire sequence of moving images is masked in a dark, blood-like red colour. This, I think, is the main symbolic code as it is constant throughout the entire sequence. Red signifies death, blood and war.  It could also signify warning, this is because red is the colour used on stop signs and traffic lights. This tells the audience that there will be a lot of bloodshed in the film, which they should already know considering its a war film. This prepares the audience as it tells them that the film is going to involve a lot of the things that happened in the war such as death. It could also tell the audience that there could be a love story as red is the colour of the heart and in the western world is commonly the colour associated with love. Even if there isn’t a love story in the film making the audience ask questions like this will keep them guessing so they are still interested in watching the film to see what the plot actually is.

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The red used in the sequence is very dark. A darker red, like the one used in the title sequence of Fury could signify leadership and courage. This would be true for this film as the focus of the film is on a tank commander.  This would tell the audience that their will be a strong character in the film, which would probably be the hero. On the other hand it tells the audience that as well as a strong character the film may have a weak character, this brings in Propp’s theory of binary opposition. Black is also a key colour in the sequence. Black mostly signifies death, this can be seen at funerals in western culture where people tend to wear black. On the other hand countries in southeast Asia wear white to funerals as white is the colour that symbolises death. Black also signifies fairly negative things such as enemies and secrecy. Secrecy is signified as secrets are not meant to be known or seen, much like the colour black.

From what we can tell the setting in the title sequence of the various scenes are either a large open area or a built up area, although the majority of the scenes are in open areas. Therefore the audience would be led to believe that these scenes are in battlefields and that is where the majority of the film will take place, and this is true in the film. Again this allows the audience to gain an insight into what the film will include without revealing any details of the characters or the storyline. Furthermore the majority of the audience would know a fair bit about WWII and therefore know that it took place across Europe, both in built up areas and in the countryside of various countries. The audience would hopefully be able to work out the similarities between what they are seeing in the title sequence and their knowledge of WWII.

Technical codes and connotations

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Throughout the credits low camera angles were used quite often, I counted around 22, and that is high considering the credits are only two and a half minutes long. Although the high use of low angles is typical among action movies, which this is. Low angles are almost always used when a soldier or a vehicle is in view. For example the first shot we see is a low angle of soldiers running, this is to make the soldiers more prominent, and therefore more noticeable to the viewer. Furthermore it makes the soldiers look taller and dominant over the viewer, this paints the soldiers as the hero’s. The fact that the background of the scene is just sky also makes the audience a little disorientated. Throughout the credits medium shots and close ups are used. They are used mainly when there is someone in the shot, showing their upper body. This is so the audience can see the characters facial expression as well as some detail of action. The shot is also neutral, meaning the characters in the shot are not seen as more dominant as they do when a low angle is used.

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The sound for the title sequence is very important as it is one of the first thing the audience would hear from the film. Having the right sound is important as it allows the audience to work out what genre the film is. In this film the title sequence consists of an undertone soundtrack that adds tension to what the audience is seeing, this is done by the instrument used as well as how slow the music is. Furthermore in the title sequence we start to hear what sounds like a German marching song, this again tells the audience the genre is war and it somehow involves there Nazi’s. This allows the viewer to find out what the film involves, without ruining the storyline. Without the sound of a German marching song the audience wouldn’t know the film involves the Nazis until the film has started.

Expectations

The sequence tells you that the film will be about war, with no doubt. This is due to the ever present scenes of soldiers, tanks, weapons and general destruction. This is the reality of war and it tells the audience that film will not hide from reality. Furthermore all of these scenes are masked in a red tint, telling the audience that the film will most probably include bloodshed and a lot of deaths. Which is again a reality of war, confirming to the audience that film will most likely involve most, if not all, of the realities of war. This also tells the audience that the lingering fear of death will probably be a major point in the films plot. On the other hand the atmosphere and style of the opening sequence would leave the audience slightly confused and asking a few questions. This would lead them to think that either there will be a lingering unanswered question until the near end of the film or there will be a plot twist during the film.

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There are also multiple scenes of tanks, both working and destroyed. This hints to the audience that the film includes tanks, and the destruction they cause from both sides of the war. These scenes also make the viewer expect the plot of the film to be about the bloodshed that the tanks cause, again due to the red tint that masks the entire sequence. On the other hand the scenes of working and moving tanks make the viewer expect there to be an outcome where a tank comes out to be successful. In the sequence there is a scene where a soldier throws a dart at a portrait of Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany throughout WWII. This indicates to the audience that the point of view of the film will be that of the allies, who are fighting against the Nazi’s. This again leads to an expectation for the allies to be the hero, and ultimately win in the storyline as they did 71 years ago.

Target audience

The target audience for this film is adults. This is because the film is indicated to include a lot of death and destruction. This is obvious as it is a war film but also in the inclusion of scenes of bombs, explosions etc. indicates that the film is not suited for a younger audience. The title sequence also indicates that film is serious in the way that it deals with factors such as death and the viewpoint of an allied soldier. Furthermore the effects that the war caused to the soldiers that fought in it. This is indicated by the use of real, stock footage from WWII in the title sequence, as well as the ever apparent red tint that covers the footage. As I have previously said the title sequence suggests that the film will deal with the reality of war head on. To be involved in war, apart from terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State which have child soldiers, the youngest you can be to join the army is 16, which is ironically the age in the United Kingdom. Whereas in the rest of the world you have to be 17 or 18. This shows that to be involved in war you legally need to be 16 or older. Therefore, to watch a realistic film about war, you should have to be 16, or older.

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Much like The Conjuring, Fury is  set in the past, although this is set further into the past. The film doesn’t include any modern day technology or gadgets, this would hint that the target audience is for older people as the majority of older people don’t use technology. This would mean that they wont be missing out on anything like younger people would as younger people stereotypically use and understand technology on a daily basis. Furthermore younger people wouldn’t feel as invested in the film as they wont connect with the characters as much as older people would. This would mean that older people would be more interested in the film and therefore would care about the characters more. On the other hand the film would appeal to a small selection of younger people that are interested in history and especially WWII.

References 

Filmography

2014 – Fury (David Ayer)

1998 – Saving Private Ryan (Stephen Spielberg)

2013 – The Conjuring (James Wan)

Websites

http://www.artofthetitle.com/title/fury/ -accessed 14/12/15

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2713180/ -accessed 14/12/15

http://thescriptlab.com/screenplay/genre/action -accessed 14/12/15

http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Fury-(2014)#tab=summary -accessed 15/12/15

http://www.slideshare.net/simsimma/conventions-of-action-films -accessed 15/12/15

http://symbolism.wikia.com/wiki/Red -accessed 15/12/15

http://www.elementsofcinema.com/cinematography/camera-angles-and-composition/ -accessed 1/1/16

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fury_2015/ -accessed 5/1/16

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2024.html -accessed 26/1/16

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