Analysing Sci-Fi Openings For My Main Task

I've just spoken of my favourite sci-fi directors, now it is time to analyse the actual work that they have made. So I thought that I would break down some of my favourite sci-fi film's openings. In doing this I will hopefully pick up some key elements of a sci-fi opening. For example the techniques that are used, and key shots. I will also try and pick up what I like and don't like about each one, so that I can see where I stand in terms of what I want to do for my opening.

1. Back to The Future

This is one of my favourite sci fi openings . . .

I really like the big pan shot revealing all of the clocks, and the ticking sounds. It establishes where we are and if the viewer did not know that this film was about time travel, the clocks drop a subtle hint. Then at 1:33 I think that it is clever that the radio comes on as an advert, but you hear the year 1985 in that advert so you know roughly the time period in which this is set, if they are selling '1985 Toyotas' the audience knows that it must be around that time. We then are revealed this huge robotic machine, that appears to be doing household chores (i.e. feeding the dog) this tells us that some kind of character must be a scientist of a sort. Then at 3:00, we are introduced to Marty, who we immediately can guess is quite young due to the skateboard and sneakers. Then we get these epic shots as Marty turns on all of the amps, and 4:10 would have to be my favourite shot of the sequence. We can see our main character, the whole garage and this mega amp that Marty is standing right in front of. Then immediately the film gets straight to a humorous part of Marty falling at the power of the amp, this makes the audience want to carry on watching as it's (hopefully) already got them amused.

2. Star Wars

This opening is a lot longer than any of the others, since the first two minuted is just writing. This is a clever technique used in Star Wars, because we jump straight into the action, they give the audience some context. We then get the establishing shot at 2:05, which shows us what is happening outside the spaceship so that when we go inside it, the audience has context of what is happening. This opening scene is my favourite cinematography-wise, the white untouched interior at 2:46 connotes purity and goodness, so you subconsciously know that these are the good guys. Then at 3:40 the explosion has the most beautiful colours, I love the smoke and lasers in this fighting scene, it must have taken so long to choreograph! My favourite bit of this whole sequence is 4:37, when Darth Vader appears from the smoke. The whole ship is a lot darker that it was initially and his all black outfit and cloak immediately connotes the bad guy, and death. Immediately in this sequence we are confronted with several problems also, which keeps the audience on the edge of their seat and eager to know more. The main problem being the Storm Troopers searching the ship that we know C3PO and R2D2 are hiding in (6:10) and the capturing of the princess (6:29). the sped up music and dark corridors also help the audience to subconsciously see this problem and know who is good and who is bad.

3. Submarine

Lastly, Submarine. This is not a sci-fi movie but I love the opening. We are immediately introduced to the protagonist and his outlook on life with a voiceover. I love the seaside sounds as it pans over to him, so the audience know he is on the coast. We see his cluttered room, and typewriter, skeleton and telescope. These things show us that he is a bit of a hoarder perhaps, and we can see the time period that it is set in. Then we get some lovely establishing shots, in a moody sunset, this sets the overall mood of the scene. I also love the clear, blue aesthetic running through the whole scene, the room is lit very dimly and all of the titles are on a blue background, and then the deep blue skies on the establishing shots all let the audience subconsciously feel slightly 'moody', and even nostalgic I find.

Overall I have learnt a lot from these opening sequences, there are many elements that I would like to replicate in mine. Such as having a running aesthetic throughout, having different colours to connote good and bad, establishing problems, and including non diegetic sounds to establish the location. It is also very important to have some element that grips the audience and makes them want to find out more.

Until next time! 

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