Friday, 2 November 2012

Children of Men (2006) Opening Scene Analysis

(Study opening sequence of 0:00 to 3:04)
The story begins in future London during the year 2027, however, the opening also represents life not just locally but globally; this is shown through the news report at the opening featuring Seattle (a state in the Americas situated far away from the UK). From the beginning, the audience is immediately introduced to the collapse of the world through the news report aired in a coffee shop in central London. The future of the world is represented through this news report as the audience is introduced to the issue of infertility worldwide (infected on a universal scale for 18 years), sieges in Seattle, armies occupying mosques, 8 years of lost borderline controls and continuation of deportation of illegal immigrants. London is represented through this influence of immigration through the use of Tuk Tuk vehicles on the road (commonly used in Asia). The world is represented as having a collapsed state and government and undergoing a turmoil of destruction; portrayed through the bombing of the coffee shop. This representation of the future world is wholly negative; with no hope of curing the infertility of the current generation there is no hope of future generations to continue human life. The negativity of the current affairs is also reflected through the cinematography and atmosphere; the dark colours (pathetic fallacy), crying from other characters (general public) and destruction all contribute to the negative representational aspect of the opening sequence.

 We are introduced to a male at the beginning who is the main character being represented; we know this as the camera follows him from the coffee shop upon exit using a long take, and then cuts to him in his work place. This opening could establish his ability to be a 'hero' and foreshadow the events for the man as a character as unlike everyone else in the coffee shop he appears apparent to have little interest in the death of the youngest human on earth since the start of infertility for the human race. The audience can see this as he makes his way through a crowd shaken from hearing about Diego's (the youngest humans) death, apparently ignorant and upon receiving his coffee he leaves unlike the rest of the crowd who are drawn to the television to hear more about the news of the death. This could represent his character as being different from the rest of the public and stronger; a quality that could be used to become a 'hero'. He also escapes the coffee shop just before it explodes pursuing this 'hero' idea as he escaped a devastating fate due to a character of luck and fortune, reestablishing the idea that he is unusual compared to others.  Despite having perhaps possibly the physique of a hero, the character is fairly normal which conflicts with the typical stereotype of a hero. Although the character at first appears to have a fairly hard exterior during the receiving of the news in relation to the death of baby Diego, we later see he is so moved by the bombing and the death he is excused from work for the day. This also conflicts with the idea of the character not being a typical 'hero' as he is obviously easily affected and not as strong and emotionally inapt as a normal hero. This could appeal to the audience and intrigue as the character raises questions for the audience that desire to be answered by continuing to watch the film.

 Woman have endured 18 years of infertility, representing them now as having no use to current society without the ability to reproduce and continue the cycle of human life. The inability to reproduce is  represented through the repeated announcements which are broadcast through the news, concerning the infertility of the present state. This may be why the most effected people seem to be woman, as they are now facing the prospect of having no use to mankind.

 The future is represented as being a place of destruction and collapsed society; this is shown through the news broadcasts and the events shown in the opening scene. The audience straight away are introduced to this representation through the news report of the current affairs, the bombing, strict security regulations (shown when the main character enters his work place) and the melancholy touch to the atmosphere during the opening through expression of emotions in characters. The audience knows the film is set in the future as text is shown over the opening clip announcing the present date (16th November 2027) to add context to the film. Despite the film being set 15 years from now, technology has not hugely advanced; screens have become thinner and buildings are more adorned with monitors, however transport is dated (Tuk Tuk's and recognizable London red buses). This advances the idea further that the world has experienced great turmoil and collapse as the ability to advance has been withheld. 

 It is apparent throughout the opening scene that there is a great ageing population due to the infertility endurance and this is represented through the characters shown besides the main character; all generally middle aged. The population also seems to be generally middle class which is perhaps due to the fact that there are more jobs available due to the lack of a younger generation and access to a larger economy. This representation is reflected through the aesthetics of the people and behavior which is obviously in juxtaposition to the destruction and drastic events taking place alongside.

Media Language
 The lighting throughout the opening is dim and fairly low-key yet natural. This establishes the mood and atmosphere to be expected during the film, as the issues risen in the opening are unsettling and melancholic, so therefore the lightening further establishes this. Even the clothing worn is dark reflecting ideas of mourning and depression. The weather in the opening sequence is overcast using 'pathetic fallacy' to re-illiterate the mood set up to imply to the audience and foreshadow following events.

 The camera work almost in some parts (just before the bomb explodes) carries a feel of being filmed using a hand-held camera shot due to the long takes and not complete steadiness, however, this varies through the sequence. The filming would have been done on a Steadicam to achieve the feel of this. Despite this, expectations of a normal feature film are exceeded due to the greater perspective the audience is allowed than the majority of films through the use of long takes in comparison to short cuts. Long takes allow the audience to see how events evolve straight after others with no spaces in between. A wide range of camera shots are used throughout the opening sequence which keeps the audience interested and the pace of the opening quick. At the beginning, the scene opens up using a 'medium close-up' shot; this shows the crowd from shoulders up; this allows the audience to clearly see the reactions of the people when being informed of the news. The next shot is a 'low angle shot' looking up at the screen as if from the perspective of the people, allowing the audience to relate to what the characters are seeing. The next shot is a 'long take' which follows the main character out of the coffee shop, pans around the environment outside to establish the scenery and then focuses on the bomb exploding and the main characters reaction. This long take lasts 52 seconds which is a very long take. The effect of this is that the audience can get the whole idea of how the events took place and the reaction of the devastation caused. The next shot is 'wide angle' and pans around to follow the man walking into his workplace. The following shot is again a 'long take', followed through by a 'medium close-up' reaction shot of a woman colleagues receiving of the news of baby Diego's death  and then a 'wide angled shot' which follows the exit of the main character. The next shots are 'medium close-ups' to illustrate a conversation between the main character and his boss.

 Obvious editing used in the opening sequence is placing text over footage (London, 16th November 2027) and running a sound bridge over the opening  credits. Also, a title has been edited in between cuts. By adding text, credits and a title, the audience is given information that is necessary to receive; whether in relation to the film context or the production. Continuity editing has been acknowledged as all cuts interlock with one another and follow through continuously. Also, clips have been cut which speeds up the pace of the opening. There are not many apparent transitions used however by having subtle transitions between clips there is no waiting or pauses - just a continuous smooth transition from cut to cut.

 There is ambient sound throughout the opening sequence eg. traffic noise, crying which creates the atmosphere essential to create realism to the situation. There is also a sound bridge at the beginning which is spread over the opening credits to the first cuts which gently introduces the context to the audience without it being a great shock revealed in one clip. There is also conversation throughout between the main character requesting coffee and then between his boss and himself. By having less conversing of dialogue at the beginning, the clip lets the news report and the sound effects create a more dramatic, realistic feel. Also, the silence of the crowd echoes the speechless reactions.

 The locations are created as being very typical but at the same time have a little twist to give an insight into the change that has occurred from the present to 2027. For instance, we recognize that the first location is London; reflected through the renowned red London buses and skyscrapers, however there is a twist with the use of Tuk Tuk's on the road. This suggests to the audience thing's have changed quite a lot from the current times that we live in; possible influence from rise in immigration. Also the work place is typical; desks lined up, yet there is an update in technology with hi-tech computer screens replacing what we would expect to see as computers on a desk. All of this represents change in the future.

 I feel that the genres involved are Action/Adventure and Drama. This is because there is action through the use of explosions and destruction (the bombing) and there is drama through the use of emotions and the story line behind the film. There is foreshadowing that there is more action to be expected because things can only get worse due to the turmoil of the world. This is a good mix of genres as it ensures the film to be quick paced, bold and exciting.

 The film opening sequence succeeds what I feel a typical film opening should include; context, opening credits, introduction to character, title and suspense leaving the audience to carry on watching. The narrative aspect of the opening sequence is the news report as it gives this essential context to the audience. Without the co text it is harder to get into a film and takes more time for a film to start properly so this narrative context used in this particular opening sequence is essential. Normally a narrative will appear once in a film opening however the news report is repeated throughout, reinforcing the audience with the context and unsettling current circumstances.

 I feel that the film would appeal to adults and young adults of all genders who are interested in politics, action/drama films or the future. The film itself has a certificate 15, so therefore ages up would be interested in this film. Already, in the opening sequence, the film jumps straight into action and an exciting storyline/context which enthrals the audience and withholds the watchers interest.

Values and Ideologies
 As the main storyline is this idea of infertility and the end to the human race, the film makers may want to pursue the idea of living life to the full because the hope of future generations could end at any point; this is shown in Children of Men. The film makers may want to get across this idea that life is precious and should be valued to allow future generations to thrive as well. Because the world has collapsed (which could be due to numerous reasons) we should all come together to ensure the world continues to thrive and be a safe place. We can gather this information from the opening sequence because life has become destructive globally due to social issues and loss of hope.

 Universal Pictures is one of the six major movie studios which means the content in the film will universally appeal. It also means that the film can be globally distributed, backed by a bigger fund and able to produce a more expensive film; global locations, special fx, movie stars etc. Universal Pictures are able to fund more advertising and ancillary products to pursue the films ability to receive global interest, critical acclaim and profit.

 The posters are generally hard/dark colours reflecting the general mood to the film. The posters are quite masculine so this could reflect the target audience; features the main character who is male, bold font and dark colours. The genre of Action is clearly represented in each of these posters; broken glass reflects some sort of destruction, scars on the male characters face and this idea of 'hero' - 'he must protect our only hope'.   There is a narrative structure introduced by laying out the context on the poster for the reader to view and be intrigued to go and see the film; 'In 20 years, women are infertile, no children, no future, no hope, but all that can change in a heartbeat.' This withholds the audiences attention and leaves them questioning about the film. The film may contain ideas to value life, 'all that can change in a heartbeat' - if one heartbeat is precious then every heartbeat should be. Women may be represented as weak in the film as now they are infertile they don't stand a chance against the strong men that 'our only hope'. Overall, these are effective film posters as they sell the film well and intrigue the reader to go and pay to see the film or purchase it.


  1. The story begins in future London during the year 2027, however, the opening also represents life not just locally but globally; this is shown ...

  2. Very well written, very interesting ideas about such a short scene


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