For our first ideas we took a lot of inspiration from the openings to The Searchers which is an opening that we had looked at in research. A lot of the symbolism in this comes from the landscape around and the way the character interacts with this surrounding. In The Searchers the land is wild and isolated because that reflects the personality of the character, and even though you know he is heading towards a homestead you don’t see that in the shot, all you see is him surrounded by the desert, suggesting that this wild, lonesome life is who he is at heart.
We also wanted to use nature like that, and we imagined lots of wide, panning shots of open fields, forests and rivers. We noticed that in multiple openings, including this one from Zatoichi, It often shows two people (or groups of people) meeting. We thought that by putting the two people in settings with different backgrounds, we could use the scenery to give them different personalities. Unfortunately this was as far as we got with this idea because we suddenly realised that being in Britain in autumn meant the weather was too unreliable to risk filming outside. If it was raining, our plans would have been ruined.
We needed an idea that could be filmed mostly inside, so we decided to go the opposite end of the spectrum and go for an urban setting, large grey buildings, busy shots etc. The easiest place to film is at college, because filming anywhere else meant having to get permission otherwise we would just be moved on. So we had a look around the college building to see what we could do.
We decided that the building could look like a hospital and this made us want to give it a dramatic story. We wanted our film to show a dramatic scene in a hospital of a guy lying in a room, fighting for his life, with disorienting camera work, but at the same time we also wanted to work in shots of the outside of the building because we liked the look of it. So our decision was to have a man standing outside the hospital, having flashbacks to a traumatic time he had in there. The outside shots would be filmed on a tripod and be very wide and long, whereas the inside shots would be close and handheld. The steady outside shots would juxtapose with the shaky camera work of the flashbacks.
To recreate a hospital room, all we really need is a pillow and a white sheet on a table for a bed, and a couple of people wearing masks and gloves for the doctors. The shots would be close up, so you wouldn’t ever see the rest of the room.
We realised that we had set ourselves an unrealistic task to create a hospital scene like that that was believable, especially in the time we had, so we decided to change it. While location scouting, we noticed that the college reception looks a lot like a waiting room at the hospital.
This meant we could keep the same general story, except we would change the flashbacks to ones of the man waiting in the waiting room for news of a friend or family that were seriously injured. We could easily give it the feel of a waiting room by filming close ups of the potted plant, water cooler, and adding a couple of tatty NHS-style posters on the walls.
We need to make the guy look invisible in the shots of him outside the hospital to reflect how he feels after his traumatic experience. To do this, he should be dressed in bland clothes: greys, browns, mustards. This will make him blend in to the building. He will never be in the center of the shot, to make him seem like part of the scenery, to add to his feeling of invisibility.
Research on flashback scenes
The music choice for this scene is fairly generic, dramatic-heroic-type music that you hear a lot in marvel films, but the diagetic sound is carefully done for this. In the beginning, the most prominent noise is the sound of the punches and these can be heard throughout the scene. They reflect the Captain’s emotion, because if you listen closely, you can here that as the flashbacks begin to overwhelm him his punches become louder, and more recklessly thrown, they lose the steady beat and this shows him becoming angry and and distraught. As the flashbacks start, the diagetic noises are slowly layered up on top of the punching sound, and a lot of the sounds are sharp, sudden and loud, making it unpleasant to listen to and conveying his distress to the audience.
The cuts to the flashbacks become shorter, but as this happens they also become more frequent and they contain more information. This is all very overwhelming and it mimcs the ‘snowball effect’, meaning that as a couple memories comeback the brain makes more links until soon all the memories come at once, like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering more snow as it goes. Throughout this, it is always cutting back to captain America’s face, showing him becoming visibly more and more pained.
This scene is useful for showing how colour correction can enhance a flashback scene, to make it feel more full of emotion. In the beginning of this scene, everything is tinged with a blue/green light, both the flashbacks and the present day have an eerie blue glow. These colours are associated with the cold, and are often seen as a colour void of emotion, making the scene feel dark and distant. This is reflective of the emotional trauma that Harry is experiencing in this scene and how the life and warmth is being drained out of him by Voldemort. It could also represent the cold blood of a snake, an animal heavily linked to Voldemort, and so hinting that Voldemort has begun to take control of Harry and is the stronger one in this situation.
As Harry begins to take back control his flashbacks become happier ones, of friends and family. They are longer and linger on screen, so you get a chance to study them properly, unlike the previous memories, which flashed past too quickly to properly see and gave it a very unnerving feeling. But with these ones, you have time to notice everybody smiling, and this has a calming effect as you begin to feel like he’s more in control.
One thing to notice is that as more of these memories appear, the colour changes. The blues and greens become less and less prominent and instead the shots have more red and orange tones in them. Red is the opposite of blue in this situation, and represents warmth and life, like the glow of a fire. The red makes you feel happy and compassionate and everything that Voldemort isn’t, it gives you hope and you feel stronger just watching it. The fact that the colour gets stronger shows that life and energy are slowly working it’s way back in, portraying Harry as the stronger character as he overpowers Voldemort’s thoughts.
The visual impact of these clips alone would have been enough to convey the changes in emotion during this struggle for power in the scene, but by adding in the colour correction, it reaches a new level of potency and engages the viewers emotions subconsciously to give them a stronger reaction to this scene.
Final Shot List
- Wide panning shot – guy standing in front of hospital
- Mid shot – face looking up
- mid shot – flash back of waiting room, shows most of the room
- mid shot – back in present day, shows guys face looking slightly pained
- Close shot – flashback, posters in waiting room
- Close shot – flashback, water cooler
- Mid shot – back in present day, show his face looking even more pained
- Close shot – flashback, shows his hands fidgeting nervously
- Mid shot – flashback, show doctor walking in, the guy stands up, but the doctor shakes her head sadly
- Extreme close shot – present day, guys face twisted in agony from the memory
- Mid shot – flashback, white sheet over a corpse, arm hanging out the side
- Extreme close shot – present day, eyes open wide suddenly, screen cuts to the film’s title