Analysis of the Opening Sequence of Clueless
The film “Clueless”, written and directed by Amy Heckerling in 1995,
is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s early 19th century novel “Emma”. In
order to translate the insular world of the provincial English town
into a modern scenario, Heckerling hit upon the modern American high
school, with its cliques and rituals. Although it appeals to a larger
audience, the target audience is the teenage generation and with this
in mind, Heckerling entertains us whilst successfully communicating
The film set the trend for a number of “teen movies” with its witty
satire of the superficiality of the American “MTV” generation and its
genre has been adopted by more modern films like “American Pie 2” and
The opening sequence of Clueless sets the scene beautifully and
immediately takes the audience into the world of the film’s main
character Cher. The film has the briefest of introductions with the
“Paramount” logo appearing simultaneously with the soundtrack, “Kids
in America”, being played over it. This breaks with tradition as this
logo, which is normally presented with sedate music or is in total
silence, is here included in the main body of the film. It is followed
by the film’s title in daring and colourful letters, in a pop up style
font. The way the producers have set out everything, it suggests that
they want to grab your attention, with the title graphics, but only
for a split second. They do not want any interruptions!
The first scene is short montage of Cher and her way of life e.g.
shopping, partying etc. It is filmed in a “hand- held” style with lots
of jerky movements and out of focus scenes. It resembles a home movie!
In my opinion theses initial scenes offer the audience a brilliant
insight into the world of the film. Shortly before the end of the
montage Cher starts her narration, leaving us in no doubt that she is
the main character around which the film evolves. She tries in vain to
convince her captivated audience that she has “a way normal life for a
teenage girl,” which is very hard to accept as she is choosing her
school outfit with the help of a computer. It can not be the norm,
even in America!
The film is set in affluent Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. We now meet
Cher’s father, “a litigator” who “gets paid five hundred dollars an
hour to fight with people”, at the top of a magnificent staircase. The
high angle shot offers a great view of the interior of the house and
shows him as a character of considerable importance.
The next sequence takes place in the kitchen with Cher trying to
control her father’s life with little success. There is a long shot
with the camera panning round, keeping Cher and her father in the
middle of the shot. The camera places the audience into the kitchen!