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Essay on The Crucible Opening Scene Analysis

What determines if a film is effective or not? Is it the setting, characters or plot? A film could have the best plot and most skilled actors but it is worth nothing unless it has proper film techniques. Things like sound and music, camera angles and camera movement are all key parts in developing an effective film. To have the capability to represent an atmosphere, mood and setting; everything must come together to represent the main purpose of the film. In the film, “The Crucible”, the scene being analyzed; the main purpose is to represent the hysteria.

In this essay, things like sound and music, camera angles and camera movement can all be used to achieve an overall effectiveness of the film and it’s purpose. Music and sound can play a key role in creating an atmosphere that represents the mood of the action and characters. In a film, to have an effective mood and atmosphere that represents the plot is crucial for a film’s effectiveness. Whether it be diegetic or nondiegetic. The shrieks of the girls, screams of the crowds and shouts of the court is all examples of diegetic sound; which can all be used to develop hysteria.

In the opening scene, Abigail Williams scream of spotting the “little yellow bird” starts the other girls in panic which develops into a whole crowd of people in sheer hysteria. The crowd of people feed of the panic that the girls create. The people of Salem have become so accustomed to result in panic it is all they respond with. It does not matter who they are against, as long as it is not them. Nondiegetic sound can also be used to create hysteria. The music the film uses helps represent the tense and suspenseful situations. Like in the courtroom, the music picks up speed and intensity to represent the plot of suspensefulness.

Mary Warren is being accused of working with the devil to harm the girls and is trying desperately to tell the truth even though she knows the truth will most likely take her life. The nondiegetic background music uses its influence to signify the importance of her decision. Then, there is moments when the crowd is in the ocean and all sound and music stops at that moment for a dramatic effect to show something important will happen. This moment happens when Mary accuses John Proctor as being the “devil’s man”, in which he responds “God is dead”.

The crowd feeds of his accusation and erupts in chaos. The people are solely focused on the witchcraft, that has spoiled the minds of the people of Salem. They can not focus on anything but hysteria and the music and sound reflect the feelings, mood, and plot of events. When the music grows louder and faster, so does the crowd. When the music stops, the crowd does as well. All of this adds up to create an effective film Camera angles can show different levels of authority, point of view, unease as well as hysteria and panic throughout the film.

By doing so, the angles can create the ideal atmosphere and mood of a film. Using angles like low and high angles or a canted and flat all develop into an effective film. Take Governor Danforth for example, the camera angle is always shot at a low angle to make the audience feel as if they are looking up to Danforth. This gives a feeling of authority to Danforth and everyone else is the lesser, the inferior. Not once is Danforth show without either a close up, or low angle. The point of view can be shown throughout the view of objects, for example the “little yellow bird”.

In the courtroom there is a bundle of times where there is a high angle shot looking down upon the court and the girls. It makes the viewers feel as the bird is real and that they are looking through the eyes that have implemented so much terror into the girls. That point of view also comes back up when the girls run outside the court and a canted, high angle follow them around and circle back to the crowd and the girls. This helps create an ideal feeling of suspense and panic for the audience to feel throughout the setting. The canted angle can create a feeling of unease and discomfort.

During Danforth’s questioning of Mary, the camera is set at a slight offset angle to represent the discomfort of the situation Mary is in. Mary is needed to tell the truth and expose the girls of their reckless lie but doing so she is attacked and in trouble for her life. The angle can show the conflict and unease of her decision. All these angles, whether they are high, low, canted or a flat angle create the setting of the action. It can all be used to describe a feelings, event, mood, etc. Which can all be used to describe the overall effectiveness of a film.

The camera movement can help the audience view the feeling and actions of the characters. The movement on the camera can develop different points of view, moods/feelings and a complete different meaning to the given circumstances. By using techniques such as reaction shots, free-hand shooting, crane shots and long shots can make a film effective. When the crowd of people begin running towards the ocean, the camera movement is shaky and jolty. This is an example of free-hand shooting. It allows the audience to feel as the crowd feels. To understand the frightment and hysteria of the people.

If you notice the crowd has no idea what the girls are running from. The girls have something to be afraid of(little yellow bird) however the rest of the crowd just joins in without any idea what has terrified the girls. A crane shot can help show the growing amount of people. It started with the girls in the courtroom, but as the lenzes widened it developed a sense of hysteria of all the people running towards the courtroom. It shows how deep in hysteria Salem is. How just a small group of girls can attract the whole town through a fear that wasn’t even real.

Then there is the reaction shot. The moment when John Proctor tells Danforth that he is “bringing down heaven and raising up a whore”, the camera shot jumps to Abigail Williams face for an reaction. Her face crumples, because at this moment she knows that everything she did to win over Proctor is all a loose because he has doomed himself. Guilt, sadness and grief is written all over Abigail’s face and without this shot we would not understand why Abigail fled Salem. The last example is a long shot. It can be used to show the insignificance of the people, especially John Proctor.

There is not one shot while John stands alone in the ocean that he is not shown more than the mid leg upward. This helps show the audience that Proctor is all alone and he has no hope for winning over the people. He is contrasted by the open water behind him which also helps develop the idea that he is independent and stands alone against the court. Without these special camera movements, the audience would miss out on so many hidden meanings behind the movement of the camera. The way a camera is angles can change the feelings of the audience.

The sound and music that is added into a film can create a sense of atmosphere. The camera movement all holds hidden meaning and significance that we would not be able to notice otherwize. All parts of film technique can all be used to create an effective film. The people of Salem do not care who is accused, as long as it isn’t them. The people have become very cowardly and will do anything to save their own skin. The hysteria and cowardness of the people are all shown through the lenses of the camera and the microphone on sound.

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