Monday, 28 October 2013

Dont Look Now - Opening Sequence Analysis


This opening scene, directed by Nicholas Roeg, creates a very mysterious and creepy atmosphere. By using mise en scene, editing, sound and camera Nicholas Roeg creates meaning which generates this disturbing atmosphere. The audience picks up hints from small details which add to their bigger understand of the piece. 


Editing is used very effectively in this opening scene. There are some examples of match cuts which are used to showcase the link between the father and the children and that he has some connection with the children that his wife lacks. 

1.  The father throws the cigarettes to his wife, and then it cuts to the daughter throwing up her ball, and then it cuts back to the wife catching the cigarettes. This creates a link between what is happening outside to what is happening inside. 

2. Just after this, the girl drops the ball in the water, and it cuts to the glass spilling water over the slide. This shows that the daughter and father are linked, but also links the water of the pond to the water in the glass. This suggests that maybe the girl will be in the water soon, just like the slide is.

3. When the boy runs his bicycle over glass, it cuts to the father looking up. This implies that he senses what has just happened, which again hints at a special link between the father and the children. 

4. The wife throws the slide down just as the father submerges himself under the pond in search of his daughter. This shows the link between the slide and the father and that it also involves his daughter.

Additionally, at the beginning of the scene the establishing shot of rain is held for a long time. This leads the audience to question the significance of this bit of water, and makes them wonder if it will be important later on. After this, it cuts to a vague scene which may be of a window with light shinning through and then cuts to a new establishing shot of the daughter. These cuts confuse the audience as it drags them through three possible time periods. These cuts begin to create the mysterious atmosphere. 

Furthermore, other cuts help to build up the creepy atmosphere. For example, the cut from the red ink spilling on the side to the daughter half submerged in the water forms the idea that the girl in the church and the daughter are linked. This generates an obscure mood as the audience question that link and wonder how the father knew about it.

As well as this, the use of slow motion when the father brings his dead daughter out of the pond builds suspense and tension while also showing his grief. The cut from him cradling his daughter to the ink spill which is in the same shape as how he is holding his daughter again indicates a link between the two. Moreover, the shot duration on the close up of the book "Beyond the Geometry of Space" hints to the audience that this is important and makes them question what is beyond space; death?


Camera is used effectively here to showcase the difference from inside the house to outside. The first establishing shot of the pouring rain is vague and leaves the audience with questions. However the second establishing shot introduces a character. The shots of the girl and boy suggests that they are brother and sister and the fact that they are in a wide shot shows how open the area they are playing in. This conveys to the audience that they live in a rural place with no near neighbours, this automatically hints to the audience that they are isolated with no easy help. 

The mid shot of the girl indicates to the audience how young she is and that she is quite vulnerable. Also the close up of her toy, suggests to the audience that she is different from other young girls because it is quite a unnerving looking toy that would be more suited to boys. The close up shot of the ball in the water signifies the depth of the water, and hints to the audience that girl will be reaching for the ball in that deep water. The wide shot of the girl bending over into the water with the house in the background shows the audience the distance between the girl and the house. This implies that if she needed help it would take a while for someone to come. The panning in from this shot to focus on the girl bending into the water and her reflection hints that the girl will be soon in the water, as her reflection already is. 

The establishing shot of the sitting room, conveys to the audience that there is a tension between the mother and father as she has her back to him, and the depth of field shows that they are as far apart as they can be. The mid shot of the projector allows the audience to see that the girl in the church changes position in-between slides. This adds to the mysterious atmosphere as the audience questions why the girl would move and then move back. The close up of the father looking at his wife shows his distress, as it allows the audience to witness the full extent of his emotions. It hints to the audience that he does not know what is going on between them. 

The shot of the daughter running along the side of the pond, but only showing her reflection is very clever as it suggests to the audience that at some point she will be in the water. The entire movement of this shot follows her reflection so fully gets the point across to the audience. The long shot that shows a close up of the boy but then the girl in the background implies to the audience that he is far away from her. The shot becomes unfocused on the boys face and highlights the girl, showing that she is the centre part of what is going on. 

The wide shot showcasing the father running towards his daughter, the son, the ball and the house gives the audience perspective that should have been from the daughters eyes, but instead she is under the water. The close up of the young boy shows his fear and conveys that he cared for his sister a lot. 

The high angle shot used when he brings up his daughter showcases that he is being looked down on, while also giving the audience the clear idea that he is dragging his daughter up from the bottom of the pond. The director breaks the 30 degree rule here however it works, as it highlights the grief and horror the father is feeling.


Both diegetic and non diegetic sounds are used in this piece to provide meaning for the audience. 

The diegetic sounds of the footsteps of the girl and the wheels on the boys bike are heard. Also the sound of birds singing are heard in the first few shots. This creates a happy relaxed atmosphere. The non-diegetic piano music which is played also creates a relatively calm peaceful atmosphere, even if it sounds rather melancholy as well. The harshness of the girl's toys voice breaks this slightly, but does not disturb the atmosphere completely. However, when the girl is leaning over the water the diegetic sound of a crow is heard. This could suggest a bad omen and that something nasty is about to happen, as crows have the symbol attached to them that they bring bad fortune. 

The non diegetic sound of the piano stops when the audience are brought inside the house. This implies that things are not peaceful inside at all. The harsh click sound of the changing of slide on the projector cut through the silence and add tension to the scene. A few chromatic notes are played (non-diegetic) and they hint to the audience that something is not natural here. The smattering sound of the glass again cuts the silence and shocks the audience. The diegetic sound of the girls doll signifies the audience where she is, so they can pin point her whereabouts in relation to her brother. 

The deep bass notes that are heard (non-diegetic) imply a sense of doom and death which hint to the reader that some dark has happened here and that the daughter has died. The drawn out sound of the fathers cry really impresses upon the audience his horror, and the low notes behind his voice really add to this. The music gets louder and deeper, signifying that something truly dreadful has happened and that she is dead. The high notes heard as she is lifted out of the water, may represent her soul leaving her body as she dies. 


The use of costume, props and setting all add to the atmosphere of this opening scene. 

The rural background implies isolation from other people, which generates the idea that the family are quite self dependant and in closed. The house is relatively large with a cosy setting which implies that they have a decent amount of wealth and are comfortable. The white horse shown at the beginning again reiterates the fact that they live in the country but also the colour white has connotations with peacefulness and purity. This gives the audience a false impression as the events that are about to unfold are not peaceful or pure. 

The use of the bright red outfit that the daughter wears really draws the audience in. The colour red has many connotations, but is specifically linked to blood and violence. This already leads the audience to believe that something bad is going to happen to her, and the bright red contrasts heavily with natural surroundings. It also contrasts with the costumes of the other actors who are all dressed in muted colours, which again hints to the audience that the girl should be their main focus. The colour red is also used a lot in other areas which may imply that blood and violence are going to be key features in this film. The brightness of the fire, and the clearness of the red ink spilling all adds to the idea that death is a big part of this scene and is linked to the little girl. 

The use of the toy and the bike show the children's age and that they like to go outside and play with things. The fact that the boy can ride a bike by himself may imply that he is the older of two. 

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