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Monday, 20 September 2010

Opening Sequence Analysis: Apocalypse Now

The opening sequence of Apocalypse Now is very interesting in the contrast of effects and music. At the very start you see the jungle which is very still and peaceful until you see a helicopter fly across the screen as this happens smoke appears to rise from the bottom of the frame. This smoke could suggest the burning of something. You then begin to see more and more helicopters pass by and music begins to play. The choice of music is fairly strange as it is quite peaceful which doesn't fit with the helicopters that are passing the camera, then all a sudden the once peaceful jungle in front is set alight and the whole mood of the film changes and music drowns out the explosions.

Next we see the faded face of a man upside down as if he is laying down. The look in his eyes shows the audience that he is remembering what war is like and the horrors of it. As the fade in begins to take over we notice and can tell more about the character such as the fact that he has some sort of alcoholic substance by his bedside table and medication as if he is trying to erase his memories, which accompanies the fade in which takes over the burning of the jungle. To help with the change of scene the constant helicopter fan is swapped with that of the fan in the room of the character as if that is what is bringing back his memories. We also see a picture of a woman who is presumably his wife and he comments on how he can't choose better life as a solider or that of a family man.

The room that he is in is very small and the opposite to the vastness of the previous scene, also the lighting is dark and blinds create bars of light as if he is trapped and wants to get back to the jungle which he also expresses in his speech. After this it moves to s seen which is set later in the day due to light outside, and the music gets much more intense as we see more extreme close ups and more of the burning jungle. This makes the viewer quite uncomfortable. Furthermore the same feeling comes over the character as it appears he gets restless and trapped as he drinks and performs training exercises. It is then clear to the viewer that he has gone mad when we see the express and anger of his movements that he has lost the plot and is desperate to escape the horrors that war has placed upon his mind. The breaking of the mirror could also signify that he is angry at what he has become and wants to destroy that side of him, and in doing his he cuts himself and therefore bleeds which then covers him in blood which adds to the assumption that he is mad. 

This opening sequence relies hugely on flash backs as it helps to emphasize feelings and state of mind that the character is in. This coupled with the lighting and smallness of the room gives the impression that he is trapped both physically and mentally. Also the camera uses a lot of extreme close ups on him and therefore makes the change of his state of mind all the more intense.    

Analysis Of Film Still

The large amount of shadow and darkest in this shot shows that the still this film is from has a sinister plot a lot of mystery surrounding what looks like a crime scene of a murdered victim. The fact that the victim is holding a rose, a flower commonly associated with love, shows that the victim was going to meet a loved one with the gift, however this is not definite as we have no idea of the genre of the hand and therefore the victim could be a woman who has just received the rose, but both conclusions point to the same genre of a romantic tragedy.


To achieve the effect we blacked out a room, so that none of the surrounding could be seen and then shown a thin ray of light onto the hand and rose. This only shows the audience the hand and keeping the rest of the victims body and identity in the dark, creating suspense and mystery as the audience doesn't know who the victim is and wants to then unfold the crime which has taken place. In order to make it look as though the victim has been murder I laid on the floor and relax my hand so it looked limb and lifeless showing that I was dead. The rose was also positioned to look as though it had just fallen out of my hand as I fell to the ground.The shot was taken from quite a high angle looking down on the victim, and the flash was taken off to not expose any of the surroundings and victims features.

What makes this shot successful is the way in which the light is position and the glow it gives off helps to show the audience that the victim was murdered at night where he/she would be vulnerable to the dangers of the dark. Also the fact that the shot is so dark helps to tell the audience of the genre and mystery of the film and I feel we achieved this effect very well.

To improve the shot I think we would have preferred to have taken it at night so that we could have got the perfect light and the ground was gravel rather than the carpet of the media classroom. Furthermore we could have used more props such as a ring, to show that the victim was in a relationship, and dressed me, the model, in a blazer or jacket to show the genre of the victim. Otherwise i feel the shot was a success.