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How do the factors of lighting, type of shot and framing construct meaning in John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’?

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How do the factors of lighting, type of shot and framing construct meaning in John Carpenter's 'Halloween'? Halloween: Directed by John Carpenter; 1978 Starring: Jamie-Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance It is widely recognised and agreed that the opening 'murder' sequence in John Carpenter's 'Halloween' is one of the greatest horror film opening sequences ever shot, as well as being great as a sequence on its own, of course. In 1978, at the time, this sequence was innovative in that it manipulates the use of the 'SteadiCam' and 'P.O.V' (point of view) camera shots for the simple purposes of immersing the audience into the situation itself. The 'uncanny' lighting is noticeable, as, a house should generally be a place of safety. The use of this building, though, helps to set the tone for the 'Slasher' horror films that would ultimately follow in great number. The framing in this sequence is unique. It sets the eyes of the viewer to be totally within the eyes of the on-screen killer, and increases the natural voyeuristic aspect of the film, a trend that would become the standard. The on-screen camera follows the path of a murderer who, simply, enters a house and murders a young woman. ...read more.


As the camera, (and the killer effectively) move further towards and around the house, we can see that Carpenter has employed the use of vertical framing. The use of this, shows not only the house, but also frames the couple on-screen. This enhances the feeling that they are trapped and cut-off. Also, their bodies cast shadows, which foresee trouble for them, as shadows are dark and black. The entire sequence is, from start to finish, taken in one long shot. It is done with the 'SteadiCam'. The length of the take helps to firmly put us into the mind of the killer; both stalking and even striking his prey. The use of this effect 'ups' the intensity, and helps imagine the viewer is performing the actual killing. The unsteady 'SteadiCam' gives the effect that the person whose P.O.V that we are looking through is not particularly stable either; perhaps relating some type of mental 'instability' - as is eventually revealed later in the movie. In effect, this is a foretelling. When the person moves further into the house, we see that the girl's boyfriend leaves. ...read more.


This helps convey thoughts that there is no motive to the killing. The character simply wants to kill. The killer then descends the stairs after committing the act. The framing in this instance shows the door, as the means of escape that we would expect the victim to use, used by the killer, just like the girl's boyfriend. The killer's mask is then pulled off, as we are shown the final shot of the opening sequence. It appears to be a boy. He is shown between his two parents. His position in the centre of the frame denotes that he is and will remain a main character in the film, and he is trapped between his parents; one on either side. A very symmetrical and vertical frame overall. The lighting in this piece creates a very unnatural shine on the huge knife, carried by the boy. It remains visible even as the shot 'reverse cranes' back into a closed frame shot of the three figures and the house. The crane shot is very dramatic and sudden as it ends the scene suddenly. It also shows the importance of this revelation. The use of the 'mise-en-scene' within the whole piece allows it to stand on its own as filmmaking genius, exploring many, many sub-themes as a result of the techniques employed. Word Count: 1,009 ...read more.

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