55 – The Exorcist Film Opening

The film opening that I am currently planning is very reminiscent of the Exorcist and shares a similar genre and story elements so it seemed very relevant to have a look at the film opening and look at the mise en scene, camerawork, editing and sound design but also specifically how the title’s appear and their design and the sound that accompanies them. The following is the opening.


First of all the production companies logo’s appears accompanied by the beginning of the soundtrack that continues throughout the opening. These logo’s then cut to a black screen where quite thin red text appears with the directors name. There is also a piercing high pitched sound effect that occurs at the same time, this sound effect and the red colour are very symbolic and common features of the horror genre. The colour red is particularly effective as it conjures images of blood and danger. Similarly the high pitched sound effect also feels like a common genre feature of the horror genre as it is a high pitched sound effect that shocks the audience and sounds unnerving which is all part of the directors aim to frighten the audience watching.

The actual main title of the film appears with the muslim call to prayer in the background. This music is significant as faith and the attempt to save someone with an exorcism plays throughout the film and by starting with this call to prayer in the background it introduces this major theme. The title is also slightly larger than the titles before it which gives more emphasis to this title which is a given as it is the name of the film and carries more importance for the story.


There are a number of wide shots that first help to establish the setting but then later establish the large amount of people who are all at work in this area. A wide shot is obviously very effective at introducing settings and large amounts of characters as it can show a large area.

These wide shots are cross cut with a variety of close up of shots of the tools and the people working and shots that pan across the area and follow a young boy as he runs between them. As the shots follow this younger character it puts focus onto the character and suggests that this character has a significant role within the story.


The titles appear at the start of the clip rather than after a sequence which was much more common with films made in this time period (The Exorcist was released in 1973). Most films made in the present day feature an introductory sequence and after this sequence the title’s will then appear. It has become almost a convention now that if a film as a title sequence then it will be almost always preceded by a sequence so when it comes to our own film task it would be much more appropriate and relevant to have the titles towards the end.

Screen time is mostly given to the young boy at the end but as a collective group more focus is on the workers. In reality the screen time is fairly balanced as it is a very early scene of the film and no clear main character is being introduced at this stage. More focus is on the environment and the events taking place in it and then towards the end this event becomes the child running through the environment.

Sound Design:

In addition the call to prayer continues past the titles and acts as a sound bridge. The way it is sang feels very mysterious especially to a western audience who the majority of which will not be fluent in Arabic. Also the setting is Northern Iraq where the dominant religion is Islam so the soundtrack helps to add to the introduction of the setting.


The rising sun which is the first shot in the film changes from black and white to orange which seems quite out of place but may add a sense of mystery and disorientates the audience.

Also the location is a large desert that would almost certainly feel unfamiliar to a western audience and adds to this disorientating of the audience which could open up for more of an opportunity to scare them as they can’t relate to the location and it arches back to the fear of the unknown.

Much of this clip is used to introduce the location and by doing so just like the music the costume design which shows people with headdresses and fairly basic robes adds to the information that shows that this is an area where there are many workers in a desert and they’re all doing hard labour. The costume helps establish that this a warm area as obviously the clothing is quite light and that possibly these workers are quite poor and cannot afford more expensive clothing. The labour is seen through close ups on the tools and wide shots showing many workers all hard at work. Throughout this minute spent in the desert a young boy runs through the area at some pace which suggests that he, for whatever reason, need’s to get somewhere quickly which will inevitably lead into the story in the film.

What to take from this film opening:

The titles for our task needs to adhere to the common features of similar genre’s. So like in the Exorcist opening there is a clear red colouring and quite a gothic look to the text. However as our film opening’s genre is basically horror meet’s sci fi and there’s some subverting of genre features it would be best to include possibly just the colour red and then put a more science fiction spin on the title’s.

There is no dialogue in this scene at all (aside from singing but that is basically the soundtrack). All that is included is an introduction to the setting and the title’s. This may be useful as it shows that film opening’s actually show very little and don’t need dialogue to introduce certain characters and settings.


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