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Transcript of RESEARCH
There are many sub genres of drama, but the one that suites our task the most is crime drama.
Crime drama generally follows a character involved in criminal activity or in law enforcement and the justice/legal system.
RESEARCH INTO CODES AND CONVENTIONS
Examples of crime drama film openings
In the opening scene to Fargo it’s very simplistic at the very beginning we see a block of text which tells us that this is based on a true story. This immediately grabs the audience’s attention as it creates a sense of foreboding as the use of hermeneutic codes keeps audience interested.
Then a blank white screen and the credits begin to come up, but a moment later we see the silhouette of a bird flying and not long later 2 headlights appear in the background, and we see some posts on the side of the road and we realize that it is not just a blank screen but an incredibly snowy area, this is not telling us anything thus far as the car becomes closer and over the horizon we see that this car in fact has a trailer with another car on it.
In the beginning of a lot of films we are introduced to the protagonist in the opening scene but in this one we see nothing but 2 cars, it’s incredibly mysterious which is very effective because it creates a hermeneutic code which creates narrative tension and we (the audience) are more interested in continuing watching as we want to know; Who is the person in the car? Why is this person driving a car in this weather? And why do they have an extra car?
The non diegetic music begins very slowly on harp, it sounds very mysterious when the car appears over the horizon the music builds up and it sounds like the soundtrack to an epic quest.
Once the car drives past the camera the music fades out and the screen turns black and says Fargo North Dakota.
The opening of this scene does not suggest crime to us in any way really and it goes against the other codes and conventions we have observed in other crime dramas and there is nothing criminal about this from what we can tell.
In the opening scene of Scarface we are told a story about how a substantial number of Cuban criminals ended up in Miami, there are lots of what we presume to be real life shots of Cuban refugees traveling to the USA and there is also a shot of Fidel Castro, these shots are interesting as they give the intro verisimilitude, Castro talks about how these criminals are holding back the revolution and how they must leave the country, This suggests that the criminals will cause a large amount of trouble . And this is interesting because it is not telling us anything about our character and who he is but, we are given all this information about these Cuban refugees and this creates a hermeneutic code as the audience start to wonder whether the main character is one of these refugees.
The non diegetic music over the montage shots of the boats leaving the harbor begins very funky and in a major key which suggests a new life and happiness but then quickly switches to a minor key as we start to notice the poverty aboard the ships.
This is also a film opening that is not completely conventional to crime films as there is no crime at the start, there is no police involvement other than a shot of a guard with his gun on his belt and there is no other weapons or danger as none of the civilians have weapons, the criminals on the boat are potential crime forthcoming in the film.
Extreme long shots
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
From the start with a hermeneutic code.
Instantly the film begins with the man speaking and he controls the dialogue throughout the whole opening. This could suggest he has an important role in the film and could be the protagonist. Medium close up on the mans face whilst he is talking.
Credits don't cut into the scene to quickly. They start cutting about half way through scene. When the credits cut in the non diegetic sound of the mans voice is being played over the credits. The music fades into the scene when credits are being shown. The sound bridge starts and slowly increases in volume. The music is fast and tense which suggests something is about to happen.
Close up of things being thrown into the case and case shutting.
Audience wondering why the police instantly chase after the man? Does this some sort of criminal background?
Speed of cutting and music increases as the police chase starts.
Panning shot of criminal running . Cuts to a long shot of stair case.
Low key lighting.
The videoing is slowed down every time a character comes into the shotthrough editing. Whilst the video is in slow motion a non deigetic sound of a mans voice is played .
The scene ends with the title of the film.
Hermeneutic code at end of scene.
The clip starts with the credits fading into and then back out again. They fade onto a plain black background. The last text that fades onto the screen is the title of the movie.
The scene starts with a extreme long shot of a tram moving towards the camera.
The mise en scene is set at night in a mysterious place. The use of smoke adds this effect.
The music is slow in tempo and is quite mysterious.
The flow of editing is very slow.
It then cuts to another extreme long shot and the train passes past the camera.
The clip then cuts to a mid shot, and the man walks directly into the shot. Good use of different shots: Tilt, tracking, extreme shot of foot stepping on pavement.
The credits continue to fade in and out as the opening scene goes on.
CODES AND CONVENTIONS OF CRIME FILMS
Typical codes and conventions of a crime/drama film would be:
- A chase (usually car, fast editing).
- A lot of involvement with props that can be harmful such as knifes or guns. They portray power and recklessness.
- The villain (protagonist) would usually have some unidentified problems that will be revealed at the very end of the film.
- The hero (protagonist) who saves everyone will have a partner (usually very intelligent or very dopey).
- Characters will usually include someone vulnerable and gangs.
- Crimes will usually be murder/dramas will usually be to do with family of the protagonist.
- Conflicts due to difference in policing.
- Someone’s private life becoming public.
- Immoral main character
- Materialistic, success based on cars, property, clothes, women etc.
- Intelligent compared to inferior characters
- occasional dark humor
-Costume wear - suits shows professionalism and power
- Characters will usually include someone vulnerable and gangs.
The opening scene of the 2006 film “The Departed” conforms to many of the codes and conventions that we found during our research.
The scene opens with a mid-shot of the character as he is being briefed by two of his superiors.
All three characters are in some form of suit which shows them to be in a position of power without knowing that they are in the police force.
During the first half of the scene a cut is made to Mark Wahlberg’s character who is standing against a wall with is firearm visible in its holster. This shows him to be an intimidating character and perhaps in more power than the other two members in the scene. He is also seen to be the immoral character if not the “bad cop” in the film. DiCaprio’s character is also seen to be street-smart and (in terms of the narrative) is recruited due to his connections with a powerful Irish-American Gang (through a relative).
A sequence of fast paced editing then begins with loud Irish music being played over it as various forms of prison activities are shown.
Most of the inmates in this sequence are also shown to be affiliated with gangs. This shows that “The Departed” conforms to the codes and conventions of a crime drama as it includes gangs and other gang affiliated characters as well as corrupt police officers and a fair amount of action.
The camera is always zooming into the characters.
Maybe a track shot.