How Has The Director Made The Opening Sequence Of "What Lies Beneath" Effective?

1681 words - 7 pages

Attention-grabbing opening sequences are vital for a director to plot and establish, since the audience or viewer may solely judge the film by how intriguing the opening sequence is or by how much it catches their attention.The beginning of the opening sequence of What Lies Beneath creates suspense at the very start by introducing a symbolic atmosphere that relates to the film's title (What Lies Beneath). The director sets the scene underwater at the very beginning with words which seem to flicker in the water and then fade. This effective and useful technique grabs the audience's attention by a combination of excitement and trepidation; many audiences may have phobias of being placed underwater so the idea of it is fear-provoking (as is the idea of drowning).The audience's tension relies on the clever use of the camera. For example, in the scene at the very start where Claire is lying in the bath, the birds eye shot shows her looking very odd (adding an element of surrealism). In addition, throughout the first ten minutes, every time the main character is on the screen, we see her very close-up, whereas almost all other shots are medium or long. The director may have done this with the shrewd intention to tell the viewer that she is different to other people in the film.Claire Simpson is visibly introduced to us through a close up of her face. This forces the audience to focus on her face and make us realise she is the main character. The audience is made to focus on Claire's facial expressions, which indicate shock. This unnerves the audience, making them wonder why she is submerged beneath water. The cameras focus changes to a mid angle shot of Claire gasping for breath, and lying in the bath. We are intrigued as to why she is in this state. This shot remains for a few seconds and then starts to zoom in, on Claire still gasping for breath. Suddenly, the scene changes and the camera focuses on the hairdryer--the director is not giving the audience time to analyse each situation fully, keeping them in a state of suspense. Once again, there is a sudden close-up of Claire's face which is revealed to the audience. We see her reaction to the fact that the hairdryer is, strangely, not working which gives the sense of things not being quite right. This close up is important because we connect with her feelings and empathise with her.The director uses ordinariness to keep audiences hooked with the contrast of the strangeness that is going on. The audience feels a calming sense of normality as a tracking shot follows her being affectionate to her dog; this is an everyday occurrence, and any audience can realise this. However, as she looks through the window a long shot displays a couple arguing and suddenly we are displayed with a close up of an arm around Claire neck: she takes a deep gasp, her facial expression is terrified and we realise she is going to be strangled but as the camera shifts upward we realise it is her husband. This composition of...

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