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Opening sequence to “Lord of the flies”

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The scene opens with a plain, blue screen, we become aware that this is water. All is silent at this point. The camera stays still as what seems to be a man -the captain of a ship, sinks past the camera. The captain seems to be bleeding from his nose. He sinks down out of the camera shot. The camera is still in the same position; all we see is the bubbles of the sinking captains breath. The only sound is an eerie, non-diegetic, whale like sound in the distance. A boy swims into view; down past the camera in the direction of the captain, he drags the captain back into the shot. The camera then tilts upwards to follow them.

Suddenly, the camera jump cuts to a water level view of lots of boys struggling for their lives. There are many mad screams and desperate cries for help. The dialogue is indistinct but gives the effect of panic. The Boys are literally swimming for their lives, as we can see from this close shot, many boys are unable to swim. There is a contrast between this and the last scene, the first scene was calm and quite but the second is very hectic and loud.

Another jump cut takes the viewer under the water. Again a mid shot shows more boys struggling to survive. There are sound effects of muffled screaming. The lighting is low-key; this creates the fear that the boys would have felt. Using these effects makes the viewer more involved and part of the action. The camera arcs round, it is as a point of view shot because it seams to be through one of the drowning boys.

A cut to above water again shows us the boys struggle it swim. This water line shot is very like the above water shot that we saw before but this is in a different location. Again, this may be a point of view shot. I believe this may have been done by the director to trick the viewer into a false sense of security because we see the same shot twice. Then the constant screams of the boys are interrupted by a loud bang! This sound effect is like a gunshot, followed by a hissing. On the screen, we see a black, round, rubber life raft appear. Throughout the past few seconds of film, the camera has stayed in the same position, while water splashes against the lens. The raft is a sign of safety; it is recognition that the boys might survive.

There is a jump cut to “Lord of the Flies” the main title in the centre of the screen silver textured words on a black background. The credits, one role at a time fade in to the centre of the screen, then fade out. This sequence is accompanied by a non-diegetic military drumbeat. This use of sound may indicate that the boys had a strict military like upbringing. It is also a reference to the war, which we later find out about, although this opening has no direct references to war. The music then changes into a flute instrumental.

Once the credits are over the music becomes much more sad and mournful. The camera cuts to an eye level, long shot as an island fades into view. The sky is grey with natural lighting and the non-diegetic sad music sets a dull scene, which makes the viewer wonder what is to come of the island.

With a jump cut of the camera to a position on the island, we see a mid shot of trees and the surrounding landscape. It is probably a crane shot which pans across an opening giving the effect that the island is moving. During this shot, the non-diegetic music is still setting a sad atmosphere. As the camera pans across the black life raft comes into view and we see boys jumping out.

Opening sequence to “Lord of the flies”. 1963-Peter Brook

In this opening, the first thing we notice is that the director has chosen to use black and white still images. The first still image is of an old stone building, which we believe to be a school. The camera zooms in on the photo as the ambient sound of a bell rings throughout. The bell is indication that this is a school. It also indicates order and structure of life because people act upon the indication by the bell.

Now, on a photograph of teachers the camera again zooms in. Silence. The camera cuts to a still image of boys all seated in a classroom, hard at work. This shows a strict order. The camera begins to tilt from above eye level down to the floor. The movement of the camera compensates for lack of movement due to the use of still images. As the camera is moving, there is an ambient sound of a teacher lecturing the class. The camera cuts to another still image of the same class but from the front. The camera moves from a close up on one boy, the camera the zooms out to many boys working at their desks.

The camera moves over the top of a still image of boys in a canteen. Sound effects of talking and general canteen noises become apparent. The camera moves across the photograph then tilts towards the ceiling of the canteen. The movement of the camera gives the effect that it would be a crane shot if the situation was not a still image. We see a jump cut to a landscape, still image of a choir singing. The camera pans along the photograph, we hear faint, ambient choir voices, singing in the background. The camera stops at the end of the photograph with only one choirboy in shot. The ambient choir voices persist as several credits appear beside the boys head.

A still image of a ball hitting a cricket bat cuts in, followed by an ambient clapping. To inject movement the camera quickly cuts to a still image of cricket spectators sat in chairs the clapping persists. Again, white credits appear over the photograph. A drumbeat begins. The camera cuts to an unidentifiable object as the camera tilts up the image we realise that it is a kind of nuclear weapon of mass destruction. This is Peter Brooks first reference to war. The drumbeat continues.

A jump cut to another still image of warplanes in the sky is another reference to war. Once the camera tilts down the image, we see Big Ben, which the planes are flying over. We hear the sound effect of a bell, which represents Big Ben. As the bell strikes the shot changes and the camera zooms out on an “Evacuation board” where we see children, carrying gas masks. Once the camera has zoomed out, it beginning to zoom in, on a gas mask holder. Now a strong element of war is apparent. Again, we see a still image of planes in the sky as if they are flying. There is a cut to a low shot of more planes, flying in a formation. The non-diegetic drum beat as continued throughout but now becomes more intense. We see a still image, long shot of a plane flying in the sky with clouds behind it. More white credits appear over dark clouds. The dark clouds give a frightening war atmosphere.

A map dissolves in over the image of clouds. The drumbeat continues and becomes vigorous. We see a point of view shot from inside the aeroplane looking out over the wing. Abruptly it cuts to a mid shot of the whole plane, from the outside. Then suddenly back to the inside, returning to the exterior mid shot, again to inside looking over the wing. This creates lots of activity and confusion, creating movement to succeed the still images. To add to this the drumming has become even more extravagant. The camera cuts to an image of a plane face on. To create a falling effect, the camera is spinning to make the plane look like it is spinning towards the ground. The next still image is of a plane half-submerged in water on the coast of an island. More credits appear over this shot. The final still image that is of a palm tree with the sky behind, on top of this appears more white credits. The palm tree suggests that the island is situated in an exotic location.

Comparison of the two openings

The thing that is noticeable when watching both “Lord of the flies” film openings is the Hooks is in colour and uses an actors to personify a sequence of events. Where as Brooks opening is in black and white and uses still image to portray the lives of the boys who land on the island. The use of different styles is done for many reasons. Peter Brooks creates a period style, for the time when the book was written, also colour movie was rare at the time when the book was written. Black and white suites the still image story that Brook has preference for in his opening sequence. Unlike the colour narrative opening which Hook has opted for. The genre of picture that Hook has exercised in my opinion would not work in black and white. An example of this is Hooks first scene, due to it been a deep statement of bold colour, if it were in black and white we would be unable to identify it as water. In addition, Hooks is a better representation to the viewers in 1980.

The same producer produces both openings. Thus, it becomes apparent that they have many similarities. Both openings have many jump cuts, in Hooks version it is cutting from above water to below. In Brooks version it is from inside of the aeroplane to the outside, back and forth. Many of the sound effects are akin. Little use of dialogue is identical. The sound effects in both harmonies closely to the actions that we see on screen. As in Hooks when the children are screaming and the life raft pops up, we are audibly aware of the loud bang. In Brooks opening, the children in the canteen create the same effect. Also in Brooks, when the camera is rapidly jump cutting from inside and outside the aircraft, the camera moves expeditiously and identically0 so does the drumming. This gives a polyphonic structure making the scene more intense.

Although the openings have many similarities, they also have differences. One main difference is how the credits are exhibited. I believe this is the director’s personal preference. Hook decided to have all the credits in one block with white righting on a black background to make it stand out. At the same time music begins to make the credits more prominent. In this narrative opening, we are left with a cliff-hanger at the start of the credits. Once the credits have concluded, the camera cuts back to the narrative. In the opening directed by Peter Brook, he decides to show a cluster of credits at different times over the still images. Peter Brook may not want the make the credits a prominent part of his opening.

Both openings are not laden with background information or any dialogue. This creates an effect on how we see the opening. It makes the viewer question the opening and makes them curious to watch more. As I mentioned before, Hooks opening is as a narrative. We see the boys in the water but we are uncertain why. They get to the island since the raft took them there. We do not have much background information on these boys. This opening has on context whereas Brooks does. We are aware of where the boys have come from, the school. Why they were on the plane, evacuation due to war. In addition, we know possible reasons why their plane crashed. One reason is a weapon/rocket possibly hit them, or the storm possibly intervened -an upper power.

An upper power is suggested in both. Hooks opening uses the idea of boys stranded at sea. We are not told why but we believe it is due to a shipwreck. The demise of the ship may have been caused by an upper power. Peter Brook had a storm in his opening. Storms are uncontrollable acts so the plane could have been struck down by an upper power. In addition, the boat and the aeroplane crash into water, which is a powerful resource for the upper power.

Non-diegetic music and sound are used in the two openings. These sounds express many emotions. The heavy drumming indicates anxiety and zeal. On the other hand, the flute implies sorrow, sadness and calm anticipation.

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