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Conventions of a Thriller Opening Title Sequence

A pictorial analysis of three film openings: Sherlock Holmes; I, Robot; and Se7en.
by

Isaac Webb

on 9 October 2012

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Transcript of Conventions of a Thriller Opening Title Sequence

Conventions of a Thriller Opening Title Sequence By Isaac Webb Known for high-speed photography action sequences, good for thrillers. Director Low-key lighting and greyscale colouring is reminiscent of Thrillers. Lighting/Colour Introduced as partners. Suits are a convention of Thrillers. Key Characters The action shown here is common in Thrillers - action that isn't as aggressive as huge gunfights. Action and Era Suggestions This suggests that the movie is set in the past, which is common in Thrillers. Note the blood stains made with ink. The movie title is written in calligraphy style, which (when linked with the character's suit) connotes that the character is a detective.
This is another convention of Thrillers. Movie Title This character is assumed to be the antagonist, as he is the only sketched picture to have very dark tones.
Generally Thrillers will have a strong protagonist and antagonist. Antagonist All the way through, orchestral music relevant to the era is heard, and this scene reinforces the setting. Music These conventions all add up to tell us this movie is a Thriller, as with the next two examples. The title is in a computer-like font, connoting to the viewer that the film involves technology. Movie Title The titles burst into bubbles, along with water sound effects. This foreshadows later events that are pivotal to the main character's motives, and this is frequent in Thrillers. Foreshadowing The 'Three Laws of Robotics' follow, which tells the viewer that robots will be a strong element in the movie. This also tells the viewer that the movie is a hybrid of Sci-Fi and Thriller. Themes There is often some form of death in Thrillers, and this swift but temporary pan to a drowning girl suggests such an event. Death Costumes Again, we see a suit, implying that this character is a professional and that the movie is a Thriller. A robot leg is glimpsed here, but it is so fast that the viewer is confused. Such situations, where the true natures of plots and characters are revealed later on, hint at the Thriller genre. Curiosity An uncomfortable, sharp tone plays as this text appears, alerting the audience that its meaning is important. Although it is normal for all movies, such use of music here has helped to tell the viewer that there is a threat. Music The low-key lighting in this shot, and most of the title sequence, is a convention of Thrillers. Here it also emphasises the robot's eyes, darkening its body, which subtly implies that it could be a protagonist. Lighting After a dramatic build-up of music, creating tension, the camera cuts to a close-up of a person's eyes. The audience saw this character in the previous sequence, and so this gives him the role of the main character. Characters David Fincher is known for using low-key lighting and silhouettes, two conventions of Thriller movies. Fans and knowledgeable audiences will recognise this. Director The first shot of a character we see, followed by the name 'Brad Pitt' (whom we assume is the character we see), is an extreme close-up of a pistol. This tells us that the movie is set in the past. Furthermore, sidearms are a convention of Thrillers. Character The title is in an eroded, capitalised font, with a poorly-printed effect. It flashes around the screen, and this abnormality suggests the movie isn't a 'pleasant' one. Movie Title Dark, strong shadows are projected against the wall from a hand, enveloping the paper on the desk. The hand also seems to target the viewer, creating an unsettling atmosphere. Such low-key lighting is common in Thriller movies and can create an element of mystery. Lighting Thrillers most often involve some form of crime. In this shot, a finger strokes a photo depicting a crime scene, suggesting the genre. It also implies that the owner of the finger (who, as of yet, is unknown - creating a secrecy about them) is a detective. Crime Throughout the opening sequence, the music contains beats similar to heart-beating, sucking sounds, and other psychological sounds. This connotes that the movie involves a psycho of sorts, particularly as blood-red overlays and disturbing images are repeatedly thrown at the screen. Music In one of the conclusive shots of the opening sequence, the word 'GOD' is removed from a dollar bill. This suggests that faith is being cut out, and that the movie will have a dark tone. It also creates a sense of vulnerability. Other notes... Conventions of a Thriller Opening Title Sequence By Isaac Webb
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