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How effectively do the opening scenes of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' and 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' create an atmosphere of fantasy and intrigue?

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Introduction

How EFFECTIVELY do the opening scenes of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' and 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' create an atmosphere of fantasy and intrigue? In recent years the fantasy genre has undergone a huge revival. Whereas it was once reserved for children's books of fairy tales, fantasy in both literature and film alike is increasingly becoming a more mainstream genre, enjoyed by people of all kinds. Fantasy films are probably the most frequently stereotyped genre of all. They tend to involve things such as Dark Lords, magicians, quests and otherworldly creatures. But only when all these are believably portrayed are they interesting films. Fantasy films that have failed badly because of this (in my opinion) include 'Labyrinth' and 'Willow'. High profile fantasy films released in recent years include the 'Harry Potter' series and 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy. Both were based on sets of books, which were first released as films at around the same time- December 2001. People are forever comparing the stories, and the two groups of fans can be impressively passionate as they argue their cases. ...read more.

Middle

He is dressed solely in ornate armour, comprised mostly of vicious-looking black spikes. He also wears a crown, which is tall, black and spiked. His stance and posture make him appear both powerful and confident. Sauron is obviously powerful- his army is on the brink of defeat until he appears, and wreaks havoc on the battlefield. Sauron is so powerful that the viewer should begin to question this being's origins. He carries a long-handled (black and spiky) mace in battle, and as he swings it lightly about, he crushes, or sends flying through the air, around a dozen Elves and Men at a time. The music associated with this character is dark and throbbing, building into an almost unbearably loud crescendo until he destroys the King of Numenor and the camera swings away. This leaves the viewer's ears ringing in the silence, but the music then goes on to build up tension again, until we see him actually vanquished, and a different piece of music begins. Although Sauron appears to be an extremely stereotypical character of this genre, he is portrayed very well, and with very effective music, and I actually find him quite terrifying to watch. ...read more.

Conclusion

It also uses a lot of close-ups, ECUs and ARAs to promote viewer emapthy. One moment in particular uses a low shot of Hagrid in order to compare his size to that of his companions (helping to cast him in the role of a gentle giant) wheras the low shots of Sauron give him an even more imposing appearance. 'Lord of the Rings' is altogether more daring, using slow motion to portray confusion, panning and tracking shots, and quick cuts to run with the narration. As Isildur is attacked by the orcs on the road, the camera pans about frantically, blurring the images and showing the confusion and terror of the young king. It focuses on a couple of images- the orc leaping through the air and a horse braying. It briefly shows a very effective ECU of Isildur's face, shocked and in pain. I find it hard to choose one opening as better than the other, as they are both so very different. 'Harry Potter' is certainly more child friendly, but 'Lord of the Rings' creates a darker atmosphere of fantasy and intrigue. 'Lord of the Rings' creates such an effective atmosphere of otherworldliness that you find yourself wanting to know more about this very authentic looking fantasy world, a curious and savage medieval place where swords and longbows are at the height of technology. ...read more.

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