Comparing Two Films
English Media coursework: Film languageIt is my intention throughout my coursework to compare and contrast the opening scenes of two films, namely ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ and ???Pirates of the Caribbean-the curse of the black pearl.??™ Each of these films significantly captures and demands the audience??™s attention, through using specific techniques such as the use of camera angles, sound and lighting effects. The collaboration of such techniques enables the specified films to interest the audience and to allow them to deliberate as to what could happen next. The intriguing detective film genre ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ includes a wide variety of actors and actresses with various skills and methods to enable the atmosphere of the film to maintain a realistic sense and capture the audience??™s imagination. Richard Roxburgh was selected to convey the character of Sherlock Holmes, which demands a refined image of a Victorian middle class gentleman, with observant tendencies.
As a well established book amongst the Victorian community, the vivid imagery in Arthur Conan Doyle??™s novel was communicated through film in 2002, captivating many people of a modern audience and igniting the passion for this novel once more. Holmes??™ associate, Dr. Watson, was fittingly chosen to be conveyed by Ian Hart, who portrays how exasperating it would have been to work with Sherlock Holmes, yet how important he was to the detective work. Overall, this film uses very effective devices in captivating its viewers and reflecting an excellent novel. In ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ specific camera angles are used to alert the audience and to ignite their imagination, a crucial technique during the opening scenes of the film.
Firstly, the mind is stimulated by the vivid imagery for the duration of the opening scenes of the film. For example, sharp jump shots were used to introduce the audience to the victim of said hound, leaving many to speculate as to what could have happened, and why this could be. These dramatic jump shots momentarily make the audience obliged to devote their attention to intricate details and to enrapture their minds. The camera primarily focuses on the face of the victim, before hastily revealing his torso, subsequently his whole body. This technique has a dramatic impact on the audience in that it presents them with several alarming images; however the camera does not linger to allow the audience to adjust.
These sharp jump shots merge into a slightly calmer scene of the camera focusing on the knife in the foreground as a striking close up, whilst the distorted body is softly blurred in the background. The camera fixating itself on the knife in this particular camera angle is an extremely effective device to alert the audience, as they make a comparison between the softly blurred body and the knife- an illusion to make the knife appear much sharper. As Barrymore was walking through the snow along said ???Dark Walk??™, the camera is positioned a respectable distance from him so as to zoom in and capture the extent of the situation. This camera angle is very effective as it engages the audience with the drama by making them feel as though they are in the ???Dark walk??™ watching Barrymore.
Furthermore, this camera angle appears to isolate him as he trudges along the path, creating an eerie sense of loss and confusion. As well as isolating Barrymore, the zoom shot shows him in a wider context. Following this, a point of view shot is used as Mortimer studies the yew trees- forming yet more tension. The symbolism of the yew trees and their association with death adds impact on the audience. As the butler Barrymore opens the gate to be presented with the body, the camera angle moves from a high angle point of view shot, to a close up.
This high angle point of view shot captures the perspective of Barrymore as the distorted body lay in the snow, which is very effective in revealing to the audience his emotions, thus heightening the air of uncertainty and suspense. The close up used to view the hands of the body allows the audience to picture this intricate detail, which was not visible from the high angle point of view shot. During the courtroom scene, many camera angles are used to gain recognition of the tension Mortimer was under as he attempted to lie before the judge. An apt example of this is the instance whereby he is questioned as to whether he knew what was preying on Baskerville??™s mind- a vital piece of evidence which would enable the court to speculate how he died. However Mortimer abruptly closed his eyes as if to deliberate with himself, before opening them and declaring he did not know. The jump shot used to switch to the hound as Mortimer closes his eyes gives the audience an insight into his thoughts, revealing his dishonesty and discontent with the situation. As the judge enquires as to whether there were any signs of violence about Baskervilles??™ person, the point of view shot used to divert the audience??™s attention from the matter is particularly effective in portraying Mortimer??™s will to withhold any information.
As the criminal ran away from the police, a tracking shot was used to illustrate his fear and heighten the tension, whilst creating a sense of mystery as the audience question what it is he is running away for. The tracking shot is seemingly effective in the ???Hounds of the Baskervilles??™ due to the fact that it portrays movement, and in this instance, the journey of the character. In my opinion, the tracking shot was a fitting use of camera angle in this scene as it allows viewers to feel as though they are part of the action, as opposed to the camera being stationary and the character passing by. The camera moving faster than the character communicates them moving with haste. Another fundamental device in the ???Hounds of the Baskervilles??™ is the use of both diagetic and non diagetic sound. As well as being a visual experience, the use of sound can illustrate feelings and communicate messages to the audience to induce a particular type of feeling be it positive or negative to compliment the visual scene. As the title of the film appears, the music seeps through, gradually merging into a crescendo to engage the attention of the viewers. Interestingly, this crescendo is accompanied by the images of the dead body accentuating the alarm felt by the audience and emphasizing the horror.
The sharp ???camera shot??™ sounding images associated with the dead body further increase the tension felt by the audience and allow them to speculate what this dead body could have been there for. Furthermore, within the courtroom scene, several musical techniques have been accomplished by the film maker to ensure the visual scene is emphasized by the particular type of music used so thus appears more dramatic. In this specific scene, the ambience is created by the music and evokes emotions amongst viewers. For example, a specific motif is played each time to indicate that Mortimer is lying, adding dramatic effect and portraying strong prevalent emotion. This salient motif reminds the audience of Mortimer??™s lies to escape the truth within the courtroom. It is possible to detect the fact that the atmosphere within the courtroom is very sinister, as the use of pathetic fallacy and the sound of the rain crashing down outside merely reflects the mood and conveys an air of anxiety.
In another instance, the sounds used evoke a particular mood amongst viewers, in particular, as Mortimer and Holmes discuss the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, the negative connotations of the hound are illustrated as Holmes lights his cigarette, appearing to imitate the snarl of a vicious dog. The sound bridge used to transform the moor scene into the warm shower room of Watson and Holmes compares their lavish lifestyle with the alarming happenings of the moor, and subconsciously the viewer makes a comparison between each scene, therefore the moor scene is presented as considerably more drastic. As the moor scene fades and the audience are introduced to the shower room, the non diagetic sound in this instance prefigures a change in mood. This is subsequently noticeable as Mortimer reveals his account of the Baskerville??™s tale to Holmes and Watson, as he reaches a crucial point in the tale, the music changes from an angelic choir hymn style to endorse the idea of devastation to a faster paced dark and hesitant sounding piece. This has a functional effect on the audience, as their fear is escalated by the music and it appears to emulate the noticeable tension. The lighting and colour in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ enacts a vital role within the film, merely to endorse a particular emotion and to convey certain ideas within the novel profoundly to liken itself with the audience??™s imagination. Low key and high key lighting can manipulate the artificial light to be presented as natural or more defined, creating a specific atmosphere.
When the audience are primarily introduced to the dead body of Sir Charles Baskerville, the tones within the scene are predominantly grey and dull, conveying an eerie sense of loss and anxiety, as his facial expression appears distorted and lacking colour. As the scene is cloaked with morbid colours and lighting, the striking scarlet incision running from Baskerville??™s neck to his abdomen is an alarming contrast and encourages viewers to become aware of this. At the inquest, the lighting is such that the doctor and butler??™s face are half shadowed, reflecting a notion of apprehension and unease. These shadows could be a visual representation to the audience that both men were battling with their conscience and deliberating as to whether they should tell the truth, or conceal some of their knowledge. When Barrymore proceeds to inform the judge about the dark walk, the scene displays a charcoal black avenue, with slightly visible yew trees lining the path.
Barrymore grasps his feeble lantern used to enable him to see the path; however the lantern from this lantern barely illuminates anything, indicating to the audience the extent of the darkness. The low key lighting creating his looming shadow adds to the image of fear and tension amongst the viewers as they are apprehensive of the situation. As the police were in pursuit of the criminal, the misty air generates a lack of visibility, and at intervals shielding the criminal from view. This choice of lighting enables the director to produce a scene whereby the viewers feel interacted with the action, as they carefully watch his haphazard trail attempting to mislead his pursuers.
The ambience is one of terror as the first policeman is engulfed by the bog, due to the fact that the light is defined and it is clear to see his distress as he grips onto the remains of his life. In contrast to this, the mist cloaks the criminal as he looks on, agonizingly torn between his conscience and the reality of the situation. Moreover, the scene is terminated as the mist overwhelms the criminal entirely, suggesting a new scene.The mise-en-scene is an expression used to describe the design aspects of the film, including composition, set, props, actors and costume. Additionally, the visual experience provided by ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ is adequately aided by such techniques, enabling the audience to understand the role of specific characters and to gain a sense of their background and the image they are attempting to depict. In one instance, the audience are able to deduce the role of the doctor and his relation to the inquest as his instruments are laid on the tables alongside Sir.
Charles Baskerville. As he handles the knife with such caution, we cannot help but wonder why he may be withholding something at the inquest and what it is he discovered at the post mortem examination that he is not unveiling. His reflective facial expression at the inquest is indicative of the fact he is torn by what he saw however he only appears to confide in Holmes and not to the judge before the court. Moments before Barrymore was to discover Sir Charles??™ body, the use of the gate creaking as he gingerly pushed it open is a notably cogent device in that it immediately heightens the anticipation experienced, and reflects Barrymore??™s alarm at the sight.
Due to the fact he still grasps the gate as he looks to the surrounding area, we are given the notion that he is filled with panic as he struggles to comprehend the state of affairs. The body??™s face is hidden so as to conceal his identity, making it possible for the audience to speculate the extent of his injuries, thus drawing them in. As soon as Barrymore declares he found Sir Charles??™ body at the far end of the avenue, we understand that the discovery of said body is imminent, and the use of the camera focusing on his black coat captures the audience??™s attention as they become expectant and anticipate viewing more. The body is positioned carefully in front of where Barrymore stood in an unnatural defensive posture which is suggestive of his death. It is clad in formal attire, adding to the impact of his unexpected death.
It is visible that his hands are withered and bitten with cold, seemingly grasping the air in a lifeless motion. His hair is saturated with the fresh snow, and a shadow forms from the underside of his body. These features displayed create a surge of emotion amongst the audience, inducing a wave of sympathy at his inert state.
The director has appropriately chosen not to juxtapose Barrymore with the body so it is not feasible to observe his reaction. This technique enables the audience member to feel as though their reaction is likened with Barrymore??™s- they feel as if they are the role of Barrymore placed in front of this body. At the inquest, certain images used by the film maker illustrate the thoughts of the characters which give the audience insight into what they may be thinking.
The audience at these moments feel superior to the judge, as certain characters withhold information from the judge, yet we are made aware of this information through their vivid thoughts. One example of this is the instance whereby the doctor declares he did not know what was preying on Baskerville??™s mind; however a vicious hound appears to lurch forward and snarl savagely at the camera, which is indicative of the truth. ???The Pirates of the Caribbean: curse of the black pearl??™ was created as a film in 2003, which entails an eccentric pirate and a loyal blacksmith searching for the daughter of the governor, Elizabeth Swann, of whom Turner loves dearly and risks his life on several occasions in order to rescue her from the wrath of several pirates and their curse. The genre of the film could be deemed as a fast paced action and an adventure tale, with love as its principal motive. Interestingly, this film became based on a Disney ride at the theme park situated in California, and so the ideas in the film are orientated around specific aspects of this ride. The well established Johnny Depp was chosen to convey the part of Captain Jack Sparrow, an eccentric pirate noted for a slightly drunken swagger, accompanied by slurred speech and flailing hand gestures.
Within the Pirates of the Caribbean, techniques such as the positioning of the camera, sound, lighting and mise-en-scene enable the audience to be captured by the content of the film and their attention is grasped as the plot is unveiled. To introduce the film, a mid shot is used to zoom in on the bow of the ship before zooming in steadily on the young Elizabeth Swann as a low angle point of view shot whilst she stands on the edge of the boat singing softly. In my opinion, this camera angle is very effective due to the fact that it looms onto the scene gradually, both setting the scene and introducing us as an audience to one of the most influential characters within the film.
In contrast to ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™, it allows time for the viewer to speculate as to what may be looming through the mist, rather than using sudden jump shots to startle the audience and not give them a specified amount of time for contemplation. As the camera focuses on Elizabeth??™s back, a slightly faster zoom is used to give the impression of someone approaching behind her, of whom is unidentified. This captures the audience??™s attention as they feel engaged with the action and feel as though they are the person fast approaching. A similar technique is used in the ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™, enabling both films to engage with the audience and create an illusion of their involvement. As the young Will Turner was taken onto the ship from his raft in the water, a high angle point of view shot was used to air Elizabeth??™s interest in him and to visually represent her higher status. Using a camera angle to represent status within society is a visually absorbing technique adopted by the film maker of the ???Pirates of the Caribbean??™ and allows the viewer to speculate as to why Elizabeth may hold such an interest for Will, and why he is of lower status. The opening to ???The Pirates of the Caribbean??™ is more effective in this respect as it displays to the audience who is of higher status creatively using camera angles without primarily necessarily using words as in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™.
Whilst the men rowed through the water to approach the ship, the camera remained stationary as they left, as opposed to tracking them and allowing the audience to feel as though they could have been on that boat accompanying the men. It is my opinion that tracking devices as used in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ are more useful in capturing the audience??™s attention and creating a false conception of their involvement with the action. As Elizabeth studied the pirates??™ medallion, an extreme close up of her eyes was used to portray her reaction at her discovery of the pirate flag as the truth dawned upon her. This device is useful in that it juxtaposes her discovery of the pirate flag, and her reaction towards this. On the other hand, an extreme close up does not allow us as an audience to put her in the context of the whole scene, and visualise the happenings surrounding her and beyond the flag. We cannot visualise neither the reaction of the other men on her ship, nor view the action neighbouring the pirate ship.
Comparatively, in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ , as the doctor is put under scrutiny as to what he knew about the death, the camera is positioned so as to enable the audience to view the reactions of each of the people surrounding him, for example his wife??™s disapproving glare as he battled with himself to tell untruthful accounts. In this instance, we can comprehend the feelings of the character in question and are given insight into the feelings of the characters nearby. To indicate the transition between her younger self and her in the present, a jump shot is used viewing her eyes alone as she snapped them shut with apparent fear.
In comparison to ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™, this jump shot used was slower paced, enabling the audience to clearly detect the difference between the two sets of eyes and distinguish between her in the past and the present. In my opinion, ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ captures the audience??™s attention in that the jump shots are hurriedly displayed, alerting the audience and encouraging them to delve into the images and strive to notice the diminutive details.Throughout ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™, sound is a crucial device, and it is also fundamental within the ???Pirates of the Caribbean??™. Both films use a similar technique of raising the music in a crescendo to alert the audience and to illustrate the imminent fear through the arts of music, manipulating the fear experienced by the audience and projecting it as music. As Elizabeth stood on the edge of the boat, her voice rose to crescendo as the camera drew nearer, exhibiting our fear as an audience as the man behind her approached. In contrast this, in ???The hound of the Baskervilles??™, a crescendo was used as Barrymore discovered the body, however I believe that the use of Elizabeth??™s voice getting louder is more effective than using music as in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ as it is more realistic and reflects her personal fear with the tone of her voice as music cannot depict.
Her sharp gasp is a natural representation of her sheer alarm, which leads the audience to speculate as to why this man may have interrupted her singing. It is evident that in particular intervals of ???The Hounds of the Baskervilles??™, the words of the character relies solely on the music to amplify their meaning. For example as the doctor dictates the post mortem examination, the non-diagetic sound we hear is intended to create an impact on the audience however in contrast in ???The Pirates of the Caribbean??™, as it is declared that it is bad luck to sing about pirates in relation to Elizabeth??™s signing, the music is only slight and the impact felt by the audience relies solely on said declaration rather than the effect of the music. In both ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ and ???Pirates of the Caribbean??™ sound through pathetic fallacy is one of the most influential techniques on the audience throughout the film. This device likens the weather to the mood within a scene, and alarms the audience. In both films, when this technique was used it immediately captured their attention and outlined the dejecting mood reflected. Overall, making use of the weather to epitomize their mood is used aptly in both films to fabricate a sense of suspense, terror and anguish. As Elizabeth traces her thumb over the medallion, the sound used appears to remind the audience of the significance it holds, and inflicts a reminiscent state upon her.
We as an audience do not understand this significance as of yet, however the personification of this medallion is reflected in Elizabeth??™s face as she puts it around her neck. Using music to propose the importance of props held by certain characters is additionally indicated in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ as the doctor sweeps his hand over the knife. His grave words are amplified as the camera zooms in on the knife, and the sound used is sharp and definite. It is my opinion that this technique is comparatively used more adequately in ???The Pirates of the Caribbean??™ due to the fact that the audience have recognition of said medallion and the sound accompanying its presence is reflective and suggestive of its dominating power. Furthermore, using voice within film to indicate stress and tension is a fundamental element which could have a dramatic impact upon the audience.
As Elizabeth??™s father opens her door without warning, the intonation in her voice depicts fear and alarm as she attempts to conceal the medallion. This device heightens the dismay felt by the audience as they apprehend what could happen regarding such a significant object.During a film, the lighting and colour used can be largely influential upon the audience and can dictate a certain ambience amongst the viewers. An apt example of this is the instance whereby Elizabeth proceeds to place the medallion around her neck and the room is shrouded in darkness, amplifying the negative connotations associated with it. In contrast to this, as her father abruptly knocks on the door, she hurriedly conceals the medallion under her garments and light immediately floods the room. This use of dark light reflects the negative connotations associated with the medallion, which when concealed, the brighter light suggests the fact that it should remain unmentioned as it could have hazardous consequences. Within ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™, dim lighting is too used to fabricate a sense of unease and weariness as the butler approaches the body along the dark walk.
It is my opinion that this technique was used considerably more adequately in ???The Pirates of the Caribbean??™ due to the fact that the transition between dark lighting and brighter in contrast reflects the importance of the medallion and its Elizabeth??™s life whereas the lighting used to accompany the dark walk merely portrays a sombre atmosphere. As an audience, we are given the notion that young Elizabeth??™s experiences on the ship have an obscure imprint on her future, and the dark grey colours used for the ship can be compared to the sapphire haze of the ocean by her house, a visual representation that she is being forced to forget her past life and connections with pirates. The plush green shrubbery visible from the window further hint at new life and beginning, thus terminating her thoughts of piracy and her connection with it. This atmosphere deliberately forces the pirate scene to appear more dramatic and indicates that her new life is desirable and perfect.
The use of mise-en-scene within ???The Pirates of the Caribbean??™ is used also to depict social status, and to ignite certain memories held by influential characters. As Elizabeth takes the medallion from Will??™s neck, this is indicative that she held interest for it, and it may have been significantly important within Will??™s life. This scene is connected with her in the future, as she takes it from her draw and lingers momentarily before placing it around her neck. It is then that we realize the importance is such that it must not be revealed to others as she hastily stuffs it under her dressing gown in order to conceal it from her father. This prop is individual to Elizabeth, and the fact that we are reacquainted with it as she is older re establishes it importance. In this instance, ???The Pirates of the Caribbean??™ is more useful in capturing the audience??™s attention as it is not widely noticeable that props unique to specific characters are used in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles.??™ When she catches sight of the pirate ship, Elizabeth??™s eyes are flecked with fear as the pirate flag is blown by the wind, heightening its significance and capturing the audience??™s attention as they ponder how this may have such a drastic impact on her life.
Using props and images to radiate fear onto the audience through a character or to establish its importance is a device additionally used in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ whereby Mortimer is torn between lying as the brutal hound plagues his mind. It is my opinion that this device is more effective to portray Mortimer??™s horror due to the fact that the imagery is more vivid and gives the audience more of an indication as to how Baskerville could have died, whereas Elizabeth is only made aware of the flag for a minor moment before reverting to her present life. The audience may be more captivated by this startling image of a malicious hound rather than Elizabeth??™s horror at the flag, and this hound gives the audience a further insight into the death thus involving them more within the actions of the film. After having noticed Will in her home, Elizabeth quickly descended the stairs to notify him of her enthralling dream regarding their past on the ship and the moment they first met. In this instance, the placement of the characters is interesting in that it displays Elizabeth??™s fathers desire to keep her and Will separate due to their social status and his lowly image. He physically stood in between them so as to discourage meaningful conversation and protect Elizabeth from Will. The audience are notified of the fact that Elizabeth??™s father is very condescending towards Will due to their difference in social status, and this affects how he interacts with Elizabeth. The difference in their social status is thoroughly expressed in their sense of dress, meaning Elizabeth??™s extravagant attire is to compared to Will??™s humble garments, however I am of the opinion that this difference in social status exhibited in characters costume is more notable in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ as the criminal escapes, it is possible to compare his ragged clothing to that of Dr Mortimer??™s for instance.
Social status represented through costume is more subtly used in ???Pirates of the Caribbean??™ however I think it is more effective in capturing the audience??™s attention in ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ due to the fact that it makes the criminal appear more dramatic as he gasps for breath and stumbles over the moor. Overall, I believe that each film was particularly effective in capturing the audience??™s attention by utilising techniques such as the placement of characters, camera angles, lighting and sound. When combined, these techniques produce an enthralling piece which is inviting and promising, allowing speculation and contemplation as to what could happen next. Although the ???Pirates of the Caribbean??™ makes use of a plethora of well executed techniques, I believe that watching Arthur Conan Doyle??™s novel transformed into film ???The Hound of the Baskervilles??™ consisted of many useful techniques in capturing the attention of the audience in a more effective manner. Such techniques were precise and well performed, enabling the audience to feel interacted with the characters and to assess their emotions.
Using these techniques further heightened the terror and tension felt by the audience as they empathized with characters during certain scenes, and we were filled with compassion as the vivid images of the hound represented the mental scarring Baskerville would have encountered. On the whole, said techniques enabled the film to become an excellent visual experience for viewers, providing them with challenging illustrations and alarming scenes.