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    Opening scenes of films Essay

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    As the first scene shows motorcycle officers followed by police cars with sirens blaring rushing to a mansion in Beverly Hills the second scene shows the camera panning across with the third car from the pack of cars at an every fast speed to give us an idea of what speed they are going at. There are a lot of vehicles running at a high speed which indicates that somebody important has been involved in an accident. And also when the voice-over say “You’ll get it over your radio and see it on television because an old-time star is involved – one of the biggest”, indicates somebody important is involved.

    This is when the word Homicide Squad is mentioned, and you know that there has been a murder of some sort, “That’s the Homicide Squad . . . ” The next shot to follow was a scene of a bunch of tall trees which are most common in LA this to give you a better clue of where the location is. The screen shot shows a few Palm Trees. Many other clues indicates its Hollywood, like the big houses, tall trees, big roads – all features of Hollywood. The vehicles head to the mansion where they find a dead body floating face down in a swimming pool.

    As the cars reach the big house, the speed at which the officers and news reporters jump out of their vehicles, shows the eagerness of them wanting to know the facts of the murder. The camera from an overlook shows the size of the house and police running to the pool of the mansion, where we see a dark object floating. The camera pans at this moment, from the shot of the officers and reports running to the pool, to them overlooking the pool. Also at this point he say “maybe you’d like to hear the facts, the whole truth”, which suggests that he knows the facts/story. The camera then moves from an over view to a closer view.

    When the camera does get closer, we get a shot of the officers and reports noting and taking pictures of the object in the pool, and the camera focuses on the item as the speed of everything slows down. Out of two shots of the object, we first get a reverse shot of object – the detectives and reporters view of the incident (a view as if we are where they are standing). The object in the pool is a man floating face down in the swimming pool of a luxurious mansion. The man, Joe Gillis, is a screenwriter who has been shot and is dead. We then get a second view of the man, which is a front view of the body from inside the pool.

    We see a blurry image of the police and the reporters taking pictures of the man, along with a few flashes. As this all happening the voice-over is feeding us the story as well, to give us added information. He starts the voice-over as the credits end. He posthumously narrates the events of the last six months, the events that have lead to this tragic conclusion. The narrator’s voice sounds amused – he promises to tell us, in a unique flashback structure, the real story of young screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) and how he ended up face down (with his eyes open) in the villa’s pool – his watery grave.

    As the scene dissolves to an earlier time, the voice explains: “Let’s go back about six months and find the day when it all started. ” From the shot from underwater which changes to the next shot changes, the shot is called a ‘Dissolve’, because a dissolve is a blurry image. A dissolve is a convection used to indicate that it is a flashback, to back this up; the voice-over says “Lets Go Back”. The story flashes back to six months earlier at the interior Alto-Nido Apartments, when Joe, a struggling, film screenwriter, finds that he is unable to sell his scripts (“I seemed to have lost my touch”) and are behind three payments on his car.

    He changes from ‘He’ to ‘I’ as the flash back takes place. Working in his one-room apartment house, he is interrupted at his typewriter by the door’s buzzer and two repo men at the front door with a court order to take his car, a 1946 Plymouth convertible, California license 40 R 116 and who are demanding a $300 payment on his car. Wearing only his bathrobe, he had to think fast and he lied to the men and telling them that a friend borrowed his car (it’s actually hidden around the block). They threaten to return the next day by noon.

    From the dissolve from the previous scene we get an ‘Establishing Shot’, which is used to tell us where we are. It is also used when an image is blurry (focuses out) and then becomes clear; this shot then shows a long road which is quite similar to the one at the start of the film. From showing the long, busy, city road, the camera pans across to the right, showing the block of flats. As the camera shows the apartment from a distance, we see one window open with the curtains blowing out, this is to indicate to us that somebody is home and we are going to visit that room.

    The following shot changes to a studio shot from the busy high road. As we see the block of flats the camera zooms in to the room with the open curtain, but the camera doesn’t go right into the bedroom. The camera stops by fading out a few metres away from the windows and this is when the studio shot is used with a fading in from the fading out. Finally the camera goes through the window in the studio shot. As this is all happening, the voice-over starts a new paragraph from where he left of before. He describes how he ended up on a hot, sunny day inside a small flat, typing.

    The music played in the background is a calm, olden day song sound without any words, just music. The voice-over and the music come to an end when somebody presses the door bell. This is when a ‘Break’ is used, when the bell rings, it means its real time as he stops the voice-over. At first he tries and ignores the door bell and tries to continue typing but the buzzer is pressed continuously which indicates that the people on the other side of the door are in a hurry and want Joe urgently. When we see the screenwriter (Joe), opening the door for two men, we get a ‘Mise-en-sci?? ne’ (everything you see in the shot).

    We see the two men enter through the door with their hats; this is part of the Mise-en-sci?? ne. The two men push in through the door, without asking, and their voices sound is like a bad guys type (as if it’s a warning), which gave us a clue of what they are like within the few seconds of seeing them. The way they walk in is another factor of what they are like. They look like repo men looking to take some things, but all they see is a type writer, bed and a few other items. Facial expressions, body language, hands in pocket are all signs of what they are like and their personalities.

    Their body language towards Joe is threatening. Towards the end of the confession, Joe shows no signs of fear, towards the two men. He just leans against the wall rolling up a paper given to him by the men about his payment for the car. He even talks back when the men threaten him to show he isn’t scared by saying “You say the cutest things” The final shot shows the keys to the car. When the men leave we get a shot of Joe’s foot with an item dropping out of a pocket, it’s a bunch of key which looks like it belongs to a car.

    He retrieves his car and heads off to Paramount Pictures, to try and sell a script he has written to Sheldrake, a producer. After watching the opening scenes of Sunset Boulevard, I think this movie attracts the audience’s attention, because of the questions put into our heads. Who, what, why, where, when & how, are all used as questions. All of these questions are intended to attract us, and make us carry on watching the film. The opening scenes show a person who has been murdered and is floating in a swimming pool.

    This leaves us with all these questions, like who killed him, why, how etc. We also get an introduction of the movie from a voice-over by a man who we don’t see, until the movie begins, this is another example; we want to know who this man is. Pukar Bhattarai Assignment 3 1 Media Studies: Sunset Boulevard Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Film Studies section.

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