The reason I am here today, is to write my response on my analysis of the Woman in Black opening scene. This is in order to present my ideas on the mise - en - scene, editing, sound, cinematography and representations of the characters and the actual opening of the scene. The point of this is for my planning on creating our own thriller with my new team, therefore analysis is key in making sure you reach the target audience needed and meet the right codes and conventions. The Woman in black is a thriller, that was released in 2012 and is screen played by Daniel Radcliffe. In the opening scene though the 3 characters you see are of 3 young girls. The scene is set in a play room. The opening I watched had the duration of 1 minute and 45 Seconds.
Mise - en - Scene
Analysing the mise en scene is key in order to make sure you fit the correct codes and conventions. The opening scene is set in a play room. This is easily conveyed by the props in the room being china Dolls, China tea sets and small wooden dolls and furniture. Therefor fitting the stereotypes of a child's play room. The room also holds very old furniture with wooden chairs and tables. The interior of the set is very pale, The room is painted with pastel colours which looks old and faded and large beams going through the ceilings connote an old house. When the opening scene progresses, we see a large window which is tall and sits on top of a large window seat. The window is key in the opening scene, as it not only establishes the shot but also defines what happens to the children. The 3 young girls are of a young age, around 10 years of age and are wearing long dresses, they look very old fashioned and emotionless. This is shown by their non verbal communication of facial expressions being very blunt and not showing happiness.
Caption: : The 3 characters associated with being sisters in their play room.
Mise - en - scene analysis
From analysing this opening scene, mise - en - scene, it has become very clear on what the directors intentions were and what he wanted to put across for the audience. Firstly the use of characters, being 3 young girls all with the stereotypical representation of being innocent, care - free and gullible, are now being portrayed as being possessed and 'Evil' The word 'evil' being used loosely as this is only due to the story line of the thriller. This is what makes the thriller more intriguing as by using characters that go against their common stereotypes, it causes the audience to be more engaged and this is once of the examples when this happens. There is also an importance in props when shooting a thriller movie. Props also uses the conventions of a thriller, this is because a china doll is the most commonly used prop in a horror or thriller,this is because they have their own connotations, some being that they 'come alive at night' meaning by using props like this, it adds to the tension for the audience.Thirdly the establishment of the scene is key when trying to achieve as much tension as possible, from the opening scene being a large room with beams and a large window, it is clear the room is at the top of a house, it also creates more of an impact for when the 3 girls jump out of the large window. The room is in the shape of a loft also showing hight.
In the opening scene of the woman in black, non diagetic sound is instantly playing in the background. The soundtrack being played is of a creepy music box. This instantly fitting the conventions of what a horror is meant to sound like, this non diabetic sound is played throughout the whole of the opening scene and builds tension right until the scream at the end of the scene. There is also church bells in the background which add to the affect. The director also uses pleonastic sound to build more of an impact, this is when one of the characters stands of the china dolls head, the china smashes but it made to sound louder to build tension and fear. More pleonastic sound is used when the windows are opened, they make a screeching sound making them sound old and not used, the screeching commonly used in thrillers as it is a main convention. Lastly the only bit of dialogue in this scene is when an unknown character uses diabetic dialogue of a high pitched scream saying the line "my babies" suggesting all three girls are sisters.
Sound is one of the most important aspects of a thriller, this is because it can be done very easily to create fear for the audience. From watching the opening of this clip many times, it has occurred to me that there is practically no dialogue in this scene apart from a scream, this comes to my attention that by only using non diegetic sound, it causes more of an affect than actually using speech. Secondly by using particular sound affects of church bells and a music box, it can give the audience an image of clowns or childhood memories that from growing up have a huge impact on society changing the characters such as clowns to be scary. Thirdly the scream is also key, due to the silence in dialogue and the only sound you hear is from the music box, the scream comes to more of an impact as it comes from silence. It also shows fear from the character which is passed onto the audience.
Cinematography consists of edits like shot reverse shot and angle shots. This are important when trying to create an atmosphere. The woman in black use various shots to enhance the tension. First of all they use an establishing shot to let the audience know where the children are sitting. Most of the shots in the opening scene are extreme close ups of the girls hands and the dolls faces. Creating an impact and more on detail. High and low angle shots are also used, this is beneficial when creating a horror as it can come across as them being watched, creating more tension for the audience. The use of high and low angles also can be seen as more intriguing to the audience when the characters react to the shot, making the angles come across as a point of view shot. The 3 characters also use direct address, this is one of the most important aspects of this opening as it intensifies the tension and connotes the girls as being possessed.The 3 girls also taking prevalence, this is shown by focus pulls on the door handle and one of the girls hand and a focus pull on the feet which tracks the shot to a wide shot of a window. (Motivational shot).The director also uses slow motion when the girls jump out of the window and a zoom out at the end of the scene.
Using cinematography allows the impact of fear to be increased, this is due to the camera angles.
Establishing shot of the mugs, sets the scene and allows the audience to understand the meaning of them.
Low & High angle shot allows the audience to see a different angle on the characters and mise en scene, gives the impression of the characters being watched.
Direct address is important in a horror but isn't commonly used, can give the impression of these particular characters being helpless and venerable.
Focus pull can get the scene and make more props or body parts more important than others, also gives the affect of being in danger.
Slow Zoom can provide a tense element of waiting or someone following a character. A zoom out can also connote danger or loneness.
The edits in the opening scene of the woman in black were simple and the director followed the main coded and conventions of a thriller. The editing skills used were cuts when changing angle, continuity editing as all of the cuts were made in one mise en scene, they also always involved at least one of the characters and weren't obvious by the cut. The selection is important as to that is necessary and what isn't as it can quickly change the mood on the audience if something doesn't fit right. All 3 characters have prevalence in the opening scene as nobody talks meaning no character dominates the scene, Also nearly every cut is motivated by one of the props, which shows to me that toys play a big part in this scene to draw attention.
From this analysis, I was able to take away certain things from this thriller the woman in black and provide myself with more knowledge when planning my own thriller. Things that have helped me in the mise - en - scene is to make sure my scene set is correct and fits the right codes and conventions for the target audience, this is because if the scene isn't right it can throw off the audiences attention from the story line. From Sound, is to not use dialogue, this is because it breaks the tension and music is better to build the atmosphere. Cinematography is to use slow motion and high/low angles to attract the audience into thinking another character is in the scene. Editing is to you simple cuts and dissolves so the edits aren't too obvious and to also make sure that every cut is motivated by another prop or character. Choice of character is also important when representing the codes and conventions of a thriller, they need to make sure they fit the particular representation of the thriller.