The beginning of a film is very important. The first three minutes can give an audience a feeling for the film. If the opening of a film is boring the audience will not want to carry on watching and visa versa. Both Gladiator and Black Hawk Down are written by Ridley Scott. Ridley Scott was born in South Shields in 1937. He is well known for creating films with stunning visuals and he frequently used music by Hens Zimmer. He went to the West Hartlepool Royal college of Art. He works for the BBC as a set designer and is the owner of Mill Film.
Working at the BBC has helped him give stunning visuals in his films. In this essay I am going to compare two films which are Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. In the opening of Gladiator we see text on screen telling us that the film is set in 180 AD and set around the Roman Empire. There is a smokey, golden background which shows that the film is set in the past and at the start there is a sense of eeriness The first shot is of the main character Maximus Aurelius. The shot is full of peaceful colouring, yellow which suggests that he maybe be dreaming or thinking of home.
On the characters hand there is a ring to show that he is married. The crops all around his hand suggest that he used to be a farmer. On his arm is body armour which shows us that he is a warrior and that the film will be about conflict or war. We then see the man focus on a robin sitting on a tree which suggests to us that he maybe a lover of the land or he may be dreaming about his home. We are then shown a close-up shot of Maximus which allows us to focus on his facial expressions. Throughout this opening scene there is music played which includes children’s voices.
This suggests to us that he is dreaming or thinking about his home and family. As Maximus turns away from the camera the music becomes more rhythmic and upbeat. Text comes on screen telling us that the location is “Germania”. As the text disappears of screen a cohort of the Roman Army on horseback comes onto screen and then the camera pans to the general Maximus. At this point the rhythm or beat of the music increases as we draw closer to the forthcoming battle scene. This increases the intensity or atmosphere of the scene.
In the next scene we see Maximus walking through his soldiers and at this point they stand up and salute him. This shows us that he is very respected and courageous. In this shot of the soldiers we see that they are wearing protective armour, pads and animal skins to keep them warm and this tells us, along with the intense music, that there is likely to be a battle. The lighting is very dull and dark which gives us the feeling of the scene being authentic. The dark muddy greys and blacks create a very rough, dull and intimidating environment.
In the next scene we see a horse come down to the battle scene with a dead body on it. At this point there is a series of shouts from the German soldiers which gives us a more intense atmosphere. When the battle breaks the music becomes more upbeat and dramatic. We are shown close-ups of the fighting and we see a lot of blood and gruesome shots which is part of Ridley Scott’s stunning visual. Black Hawk Down is also a battle film but is set in the 20th Century. We are looking at these films because although there are set at different eras we can still see similarities in the way that Scott writes.
At the start of the film there is African music being played which gives us information about the origin of the people or characters in the film and where they are likely to be from. During the music text appears on screen telling us that there has been a war for many years. We get the idea that it is a Tribal conflict and that it is being encouraged by an evil man, Mohammed Aidid, who uses hunger as his main weapon and the African people are forced to wear rags. We see dead bodies lying on the floor as the people have died from starvation.
We are then shown that the film in set in Somalia in Africa and the date is October 2nd 1992. After two or three minutes the title “Black Hawk Down” comes on screen with a more upbeat musical backdrop. From that point the background pictures goes from a dark, dull background to a sudden bright sunny shot of a U. S Helicopter. This may suggest that the helicopter is coming to stop the starvation and bring the Africans a better life. After watching both films I noted that Black Hawk Down has no main character in the first three minutes whilst Gladiator does. In both films the costumes are ragged and old.
In Gladiator there is a constant war and in Black Hawk Down we see poor people suffering from starvation. At the start of both films the lighting is very dull and dark but only in the last seconds of Black Hawk Down is there bright peaceful colours. Gladiator starts of with a smokey effect which gives us the idea that it is set in the past. There is lots of text used in both films to explain the setting and history of the film so that the audience have a general idea about what is going on. Music is a very important part in both films as it gives the idea or atmosphere of the film easily and is more effective than using text.
It also helps to emphasise the most important parts and the music becomes more upbeat and louder. The settings are in different continents but have some similarities as they both have been part of a war or battle. Also in both instances people are being persecuted i. e. in Gladiator the Roman citizens and in Black Hawk Down the Africans and also someone is coming to the aid or is helping the majority of the people in both. I can see that in Ridley Scott’s films he uses stunning visuals, music by Hens Zimmer and has a tendency to write about wars or battles.