Sunday, 20 October 2013

Opening EG1: Withnail & I

Movie poster
Withnail and I 
Bruce Robinson, 1987
HandMade Films (prod.)

Budget: £1.1M; US box office: $1.5M

Opening duration: 3:10 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
There is 1 ident, HandMade Films, at the start. It has an audio bridge between the ident and the opening shot, non-diegetic music. 
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 title is 'A Paul Heller production', then the actors names. The titles all come up and then fade out in about five seconds, no titles get more time than the others. This creates a slow and rhythmic pattern, matching the music over the top of it. These titles all appear in the same first shot of Marwood.
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
The first shot is of Marwood sat in a chair smoking. There is a lamp switched on, the furniture is made of dark wood, and it is generally very dark and gloomy in the room, which usually connotes depression or foreboding. 
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
As the second shot pans across the flat, we see lots of empty bottles and general scruff about the place, including curtains that are falling down and a sink full of pots. This connotes that Marwood has given up and has no motivation (to clean or otherwise). 
He shoves the kettle under the tap, not even noticing the dirty pots and pans, showing that he is used to them being there. 
Open drawers
There are more empty bottles, which is giving the audience an idea of the age of Marwood (old enough to drink). He grabs a bottle which draws attention to the number of bottles around the flat. 
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.

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