Bruce Robinson, 1987
HandMade Films (prod.)
Opening duration: 3:10
Rottentomatoes.com 93%; IMDB 7.6.
Summary/Ideas I Might Use
Mise-en-scene to show the characters personality if it's their house/room.
Withnail and I is a black comedy following two young unemployed actors who live in Camden Town in 1969 waiting for their careers to take off. Needing a holiday, they obtain the key to a cottage belonging to Withnail's flamboyant uncle Monty, but the holiday is less recuperative than they expected.
|HandMade Films ident|
The title of the movie appears straight away with the first shot. It is in the bottom right of the screen so you can see the person in the shot, the first main character, Marwood/"I".
|Opening shot with title|
The next titles come in in the next shot. These are the 'lesser' actors, and the names appear in pairs, alongside the crew members names too.
The titles last for almost all of the opening, finishing about 15 seconds before the end of the opening.
|MCU of Marwood smoking|
However there is another light source shining on Marwood's back, which looks like it could be coming from a window. He has his back turned to it and this could connote that Marwood does not see the 'light', the better part of the world, or maybe that he doesn't want to see it.
Marwood's scruffy hair, 5 o-clock shadow, and smoker status is showing that Marwood is working class.
|Pots and pans in the sink|
He shoves the kettle under the tap, not even noticing the dirty pots and pans, showing that he is used to them being there.
When he leaves the room, the camera stays for a few seconds showing the drawers that are open.
The whole aesthetic of the flat is messy and uncared for.
Narrative, Genre, and Exposition
We see that the character's life isn't very fast moving or exciting. He moves slowly, indicating that he isn't in a rush to do anything in particular. We get a very (very) brief introduction to Withnail (he says no to the cup of tea offer from Marwood), showing he might be an important character in the film.
We get to see where these characters live, and what their relationship is (even if it is very briefly shown).
Having not seen this film before, I thought that it was the opening to a social-realist film. There are no signifiers or anchorage telling us that the film will be a comedy.
There is non-diegetic music over the top of the scene. The song is a live version because there is clapping and cheering every so often in the background. It is a jazz song mainly with a saxophone and keyboard. There isn't any diegetic sound until Marwood asks Withnail if he wants a cup of tea.