56 – Close Encounters of the Sherlock Kind

As the title suggests in this post I’m looking at two film openings. The first being Close Encounters of the Third Kind. However I am mainly looking at the appearance of the title’s. This is because the film opening I am planning lies between the horror genre and the science fiction genre but is also set in partly in Victorian times (we’ve made this so easy for ourselves). So I have already looked at a horror film (The Exorcist) so now I felt like I needed to look more into the sci-fi genre and a film set in Victorian times.

Seen below is the opening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The titles are the first thing to appear in this film as was the convention at the time and they play for the most part in complete silence until some high pitched background music builds up at the end. The main aspect to comment on from this clip is how the titles are shown.

The background is plain black and overlayed is the titles which appear in a futuristic style font and are coloured in a pale blue colour. Another noticeable feature is that the names of people who are associated with the film are in capital letters while their job title or introduction is in lower case. This is most likely done to add emphasis to the names. The blue colouring is also fairly significant as blue, just like red in horror films, is a prominent colour within science fiction films.

But now it’s onto Sherlock Holmes, the film not the series.

The titles are not shown in this clip but the idents for the production companies are portrayed so that they look as if they are part of the actual world of the film. As if they were embedded into the world. This is an interesting way to present the idents but would be difficult for our own production as they most likely used some cgi or video effects that we will not have access to.

As the clip goes on the camera follows a carriage as it goes through a dark street, it eventually catches up to the carriage and goes into the carriage all shown without any cuts. The fact that a carriage is being used is the first hint of the time zone being Victorian times. This shot reveals two characters inside the carriage. Immediately after there is a shot of a gun being cocked inside the carriage and the reaction of the character on the left, the character cocking the gun is also dressed in a policeman’s uniform which establishes that the carriage is most likely a police carriage and the characters inside are heading towards some form of dangerous situation. This is followed by a further character on the right of the carriage readying his own pistol. Just in this six seconds of film the audience is shown a lot of information by just showing a couple of guns and the fact the characters are so willing to use them helps to quickly establish the characters as people who are involved with danger and the fact that they seem so calm would suggest this is not the first time they have been involved in a dangerous situation.

This leads into seeing a person running through the street. However the person running is obscured from view so that the audience can’t see their face or any other defining characteristic, just the fact that they are clearing in a rush and need to get somewhere quick. This is cross cut with the ongoing charge of the police carriage. During this sequence there is a glance of St Paul’s Cathedral which is an iconic landmark of London so this establishes the setting of this part of the film. The music is also stepping up in pace to increase the excitement and to reflect the pace at which the shots are going at.

The camera keeps following the person who is running until the characters face is properly shown for the first time. This is the introduction to Sherlock Holmes who will obviously be a prominent figure within the film and already the audience has been given a little bit of an idea of what to expect from the imminent scenes at least because he is clearly very desperate to get to this location. This keeps the audience interested from the start as the movie goes straight into the action and leaves them wanting to know why all the character are going so quickly to this location.

As shown in this clip it can be very easy to establish characters just by showing very specific events and their reactions to events around them. If we can do similar events which give the same level of subtle establishment then I’m sure we will be able to establish our own characters to comparable success.

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