Friday, 18 September 2015

Film opening 3: Love Actually (2003)

Director: Richard Curtis

Actors: Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson

Production companies: Universal Pictures, Studio Canal, Working Title

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Budget: $45.000.000 (estimated)

The opening scene is in slow motion and begins with a pan shot from 42 seconds to 55 seconds where there is a shallow focus on a woman with a backpack on her back. The pan shot follows her until she reaches a man who then kisses her, while the camera is zooming in on them. The mise-en-scene of her and the greeting in the airport denotes that she could have been on a long backpacking trip and that she hasn't seen the man for a very long time. Meanwhile there is a non-diegetic sound of very slow music in the background. Moreover, the mise-en-scene immediately helps the audience to establish a setting.

At 55 seconds there is a scene in slow motion where the camera zooms out creating a mid-shot of a woman opening her arms at 56 seconds.

At 58 seconds there follows a shot where she embraces a small girl with braces, big glasses and a bow in her hair. The entire mise-en-scene and the way she has been dressed, is used to emphasise on her youth.
Meanwhile the camera is zooming in again creating shallow focus and establishing a close-up of the girl hugging the woma. This close-up focuses on the girl's face and wants to emphasise on how happy she looks, but also show the audience the relationship between mother and daughter.

All of a sudden, there is a male voice over, that says the following:

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but ir's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of  love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around"

When the voice over hinted that the camera shots were from Heathrow Airport, we looked up whether they had been staged or not. It turned out that the director had decided to hide camera's at the arrival gate for a week in order to catch real emotions of people from all around the world on camera. We found out that after filming them they asked the people for their consent to add them to the movie.

During the time from 1.04 seconds to 1.53 seconds where the voice over keeps speaking there are several close-ups of many different people. These are all in slow motion. In addition the voice over is linked to what the audience is seeing on screen.

For example when the voice over is saying "fathers and sons", this is the camera shot that comes up:

And when he is saying "mothers and daughters":

And when he says "old friends":

Each and everyone of these shots is a medium close-up in shallow focus being shown in slow motion, just like every other picture we see in the first 2 minutes. In addition, the voice over creates an interlink between what he says an what the audience sees throughout the different camera shots. Furthermore, the speech of the voice over is meant to create an introduction to the movie and hint to the audience what it will be about. Throughout his entire speech the voice over keeps repeating the word "love" and keeps ellaborating on it by also referring to the terrible tragedy "9/11" that happened in America.

The last cut before the film jumps to another scene, is a shot of three people embracing eachother. This shot is again a medium close-up shown in slow motion.

The words "love actually is all around" show up the second the voice over says the exact same words. As the name of the movie is love actually, we could interpret that it was a certain word play that the director wanted the audience to link with the title. However, it was also a very clear and strong denotation that the movie would be about love.

In the next scene, there is a man singing the song "Love is all around". This is seen as an intertextuality since this song also emphasises on the word love and what the voice over has just said.

The mise-en-scene is in a music studio with a man singing together with his back-up vocalists. There is the diegetic-sound of the music he has to sing too. The entire scene is shown from an eye-level perspective. Through this shot the audience is involved and the director let's the audience feel as if they are part of the movie.
This entire setting is used to introduce the audience to one of the main character's. You can tell that he is a main character, since the camera is always focusing on him with shallow focus, followed by a master shot in deep focus of the entire music studio and the back-up vocalists.
In addition, there is a panning shot around the lead singer in order to show the audience the character from different angles and again introduce him as one of the main character's.
Lastly, we can see that all the names of the actor's playing in the film (such as the two names on the shots above) have their first letter written in red. This could again be a clue given from the director that the movie will be about love since red is the colour of love.

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