Film Research - Dark Water (American Version)

In the opening of Dark Water, there is a flashback to the past, in which Dahlia (a little girl) is seen being the last one left at school because her mum was late picking her up again. It then cuts back to present day, showing Dahlia as an adult staring out of a window.

Camera angles that have been used in the opening two/three minutes of the film are mostly wide or eye level shots. A lot of the shots appear to be filmed from a low/medium height, essentially a point of view shot, giving the impression that the focus of the shot is being seen through a child's eyes, suggesting that there is an important child in the film, or the main character is a child. The use of wide shots at this eye level also help develop the narrative, as the wide shots used show a lot empty space, which could show that the child in the film is very alone. The wide shots used in the opening also give a sense of mystery, as the viewer would want to know why such a small child is all alone in a large area. Eye level shots have also been used frequently in the opening, all focusing on the child, leaving the one adult in the shot only partially seen, which again connotes that the main focus of the film is a child. There is little camera movement in the opening, as the majority of the time when the shot changes it is from the use of placing jump cuts in the editing process. However, there are a few panning shots used, just to show more of the location. As the camera angles suggest, the main focus of the opening is a little girl. 

Editing hasn't been used very widely in the opening of the film, as every time the shot changes the transition used was a normal cut. Despite the fact only one transition has been used in the opening, it still works very well in terms of engaging the viewer, as it does not distract the viewer from the character or storyline in any way, which more adventurous editing techniques might do. It also adds a more realistic effect to the film, which in a way could be perceived by the viewer as scarier, as it gives the impression that it is real life and not a film. A small piece of text was also edited onto the film saying 'SEATTLE 1974', informing the viewer of the time period and location the film could be set in. Another piece of text comes up on screen about a minute later saying 'NEW YORK CITY, 2005', showing that the clip before it was set in the past, and it is now back to present day. This hooks the reader, as they would want to know what the significance of showing footage from the past is and hope to find out later on in the film.

Mise-en-scene is used effectively in the opening two minutes, setting the mood of the film and introducing one of the main features. For example, the way both locations shown in the opening were filmed in the pouring rain could suggest that water is a main focus of the film, although it's something that could be overlooked by the majority of viewers. The lighting used is moderate, although the darkness of the setting, sky and props used makes it seem quite dark, which could suggest the film its self could be 'dark'. The costume used for the characters also follows the trend of darkness, as they are predominately dressed in dark colours such as brown and grey, but never black, which shows that although they are dressed darkly, they are not evil, as black is usually associated with evil. When the film changes back to present day, a woman is shown looking out of a window. Her makeup is very minimum and understated, although there has been some attempt to draw emphasis to her eyes. I'm not sure whether this was intentional or if I'm just picking up on it because I'm some sort of makeup fiend, but the use of a very small amount of white eye shadow around her eyes gives quite a wide eyed look, which could represent innocence, informing the viewer that she is not a 'bad' character. Her eyebrows are also filled in very darkly, yet not harshly, which contrast her pale complexion. Teamed with the very faintly tinted red lips, this gives a slight 'Snow White' look to the character, also giving off the idea of innocence. 

The sound used in the opening is varied between diegetic and non-diegetic sound. There is the sound of a bell ringing in the distance, followed by the faint sound of children running and shouting which suggests that it is the end of a school day. The sound of rain is heard constantly throughout both scenes of the opening, and is much louder than any of the other sounds, which could suggest the importance of rain or water in the film. There is also music being played when the little girl Dahlia is shown standing/sitting on her own. It's very slow, with some high pitched notes, and the occasional very low pitched one. The high pitched notes seem very innocent, whilst the lower ones sound quite dark and mysterious. This contrast in pitch could represent the little girl, suggesting that whilst she looks very cute and innocent, there is something strange or unusual about her, or in her life. The lower pitched notes also linger for a long time, suggesting that there is no escape from this unusual thing. 

The title of the film or opening credits do not come up in the first two minutes, but the before the film starts the production company logo is shown. 'Touchstone Pictures' fades out of a black background, along with the logo, which looks like a shadowy sphere with some weird shiny light coming from it (not very technical, I know, but I really couldn't think of a better way to describe it). It stays on screen for around 8 seconds before cutting to black. It takes up the majority of screen space. It's centred. The font or colours used don't particularly stand out against the black background, although it does work well, as it gives quite a mysterious, eerie effect, much like the opening of the film. 

I think it is an effective opening; although nothing really happens, it does introduce us to some of the main themes of the film, and a main character. It also sets the scene for the film effectively, we know it's set in America in 2005, and we can assume that it will be quite an eerie film.

This opening isn't very similar to what we've planned for ours, as this one starts of very slowly and not much happens in the first two minutes. We want ours to be more fast paced and to start straight away with a death, which will (hopefully) hook the viewer and make them want to see more. Similarly to this one, we will introduce one (or two) of the main characters, and also introduce the main theme of our film. 

1 comment:

  1. Rather text heavy - remember the board are keen on a range of media technologies being used.
    Remember to label things (I won't post this every time, but will keep mentioning it).
    Make your blog as interactive as possible.
    Some more detail on how this has influenced your production - explain things clearly - what, how and why.