Compare the beginning of 'Ghandi' with that of 'Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves'. What cinematic techniques are used in each to introduce you to the story?
Compare the beginning of ‘Ghandi’ with that of ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’. What cinematic techniques are used in each to introduce you to the story?
In ‘Ghandi’ the opening scene begins with a long-distance shot of a beautiful natural view: sunrise over the Granges river with Hindu background music, which gives calmness and peace to the audience and gives a religious atmosphere. The Hindu music and also the Granges river suggest that the film is about a holy person who is very sacred to Hindu or even maybe to all Indian people. As this music plays we can also hear birds singing, which gives us the impression of love, tranquility and mercy.
After that the scene of the natural view dissolves into the next scene in a very clever way, which we as the audience don’t really notice. The action begins when the camera focuses on a man’s face very closely and the music starts to play. The camera keeps following the man from different angles to make us feel as if we are following him and to give us different views of him, which will build different thoughts toward this unknown character.
We hear the noise of the crowd, and we see lots of people around. This is a typical picture of how we imagine Indian society: a mass of people babbling with noise. Tension starts to build with a change in music when a man dressed in a blue T-shirt who is followed by the camera is spotted by the religious man. This suggests to the audience that there is a conspiracy. The tension increases as the man walks and the music starts to get louder. The music is very effective especially when it is mixed with the crowd’s noise. This causes some confusion as the narrative doesn’t begin at the beginning but we know something dramatic is about to happen. The director uses close-ups to focus the camera on the man’s face showing us his feelings. The more the camera gets close, the more he looks stressed.
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The camera suddenly cuts from the man in blue and the director uses a long shot to show us the garden and the landscape where people are gathered to pray. The camera next starts to concentrate on the man’s back to show us a clear view of what is going on. The director also uses tracking shots, which makes the scene more effective.
The camera’s direction changes and moves towards Ghandi. The director uses medium shot focusing on the assassins back, which allows us at the same time to focus on Ghandi’s face. This makes the audience imagine as if they are in the scene.
After that the assassin kneels down and takes the gun and shoots Ghandi three times in his chest. The camera pauses for a while on Ghandi’s face as he says “Oh God”. This scene was very effective because the camera was moved on tracks to focus down on Ghandi. And also because the camera shot was changed back and forth from the assassin to Ghandi in a quick way. The angle of shot changed from the assassin to Ghandi, which made the scene very emotional. And high angle-shot was used by looking down on Ghandi to add drama to his death.
After that the camera cuts into a different scene. The camera focuses on soldier’s boots very closely. The tempo of the music changes into a very sad tone. The funeral starts and we see a lot of people from different races and religious. The scene appears in a bird’s eye-view to show us how important Ghandi was, not only for Indian people but for other people in the world as well. The camera shot changes from a bird’s eye view into a close up shot and focuses on the funeral bier and then on Ghandi. The flowers and roses around the funeral bier make the light significant. The camera focuses closely on people’s faces showing their expression full of sadness. At the end, as an audience we come out of the cinema with the understanding that the world lost a great person in the most tragic.
In ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’ the opening scene starts with a background for the credits showing the Bayeux Tapestry. In the background we can hear traditional English music, which is very stirring. It suggests that there is going to be an adventure film or a family film on the way. The Bayeux Tapestry sets the historical context of the film and adds credibility.
After the credits, the opening camera shot shows a mosque in the heart of a medieval city and we can hear the Muezzin calling for Muslim prayer. This tells the audience that the setting is in an Islamic country, which is Jerusalem.
After that the scene switches into a different setting. We are now in the dungeons of a Jerusalem castle. The atmosphere changes from a religious one to an atmosphere of dread and forboding.
The mise-en-scene consists of the music and lighting effect, which plays a very important role to make the opening scene attractive and full of adventure. The scene is lit from shadow and dark light to give the audience the atmosphere of the prison. This creates an image of suffering in the prison and adds to the feeling of danger and suspense.
In the prison, the guards are seen through long shot, while the prisoners are seen in very close-up shots. The prisoners appear in a very bad condition and near to death. Lighting and camera angles are used to great effect to show how exhausted the prisoners are and how much they are suffering. The dark lighting and shadow also suggests that there is a secret and something is about to happen. It is also used by the director to hide the expression of the prisoners and to grip the audience’s attention, to find out what will happen next. The camera angles focus closely on the prisoners’ faces but we can’t see their faces clearly because of the poor lighting. This make the introduction of the film more exciting and dramatic and adds suspense as the audience wait to find out the next stage. This builds tension in the audience, which is explained clearly when the guards want to cut off one of the prisoner’s hands because he stole. Tension increases as the prisoner goes and agrees to cut off his hand without showing any sign of disagreement. But as the guard tries to cut off the prisoner’s hand, he pulls it away quickly and instead of cutting off his hand, the guard cuts through the chain. Suddenly we see a revolution in the prison as all the prisoners try to escape but most of them fail except three. The lighting especially made the scene very effective because the fire mixed with darkness helped create an atmosphere of tension and effectively conveyed the mood of a place of torture. The camera angles were very effective in this scene because we didn’t see exactly how the prisoner pulled his hand and the chain was cut instead.
What we see and hear next is a different scene, where the three prisoners try to escape. The tone and the tempo of the music varied from romantic to accompaniment to action. We see Azim and Robin Hood escaping from the soldiers. The music emphasised the tension and drama of the chase.
The sequence of shots has been cleverly edited to increase the tension through the element of surprise and that’s what makes the film a real adventure. Different camera shots gave a better sense of the chase allowing the audience to imagine themselves in the scene. During the action, sound effects are mixed with a scream of the soldiers calling for soldiers help and the panic of the escapers, which help build the suspense and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The tone of the music also makes this scene feels adventurous.
During the chase one of the escapers gets killed but before he dies he gives Robin Hood a ring and asks him to promise to look after his sister.
In the escape the dialogue provides information about what is going to happen next and we know that Azim and Robin Hood will go to England which prepares us for the rest of the film.
The way each film introduces you to the story is very different. In ‘Ghandi’ the story is introduced from witnessing his killing and funeral. But in ‘Robin Hood’ the story is introduced from the beginning in the Holy Land. But it is not too concerned about the historical accuracy of these events. The film is introduced as an adventure based on action rather than focusing on the historical events or the ‘facts’. But in ‘Ghandi’ the film is introduced on facts and linked to the historical and time events. They are also very different in pace. In ‘Robin Hood’ the pace is very fast because it is based on action and adventure. Also because it is based on surprise and shock. But in ‘Ghandi’ the pace is very slow taking time to build the tension. Ghandi is a man of religion and meditation whereas Robin Hood is a man of adventure. This difference in the film is a reflection of the two characters.
Other differences are Robin Hood is a legendary character and story. But Ghandi is a famous character who existed. The effect of the opening scene in ‘Ghandi’ is to tell the story before you even watch the whole film. That’s why it starts from the end. In other words the narrative begins at the end and then continues through a ‘flash-back’.
But the effect of the opening scene in ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’ is to make the film more attractive and signal it as an adventure film.
Both films are filmed to appeal to different audiences. Robin Hood is filmed to appeal for the people who are interested in adventures and action such as teenagers. But Ghandi is filmed to appeal for the audiences who are interested in history and on finding information about the conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India: An adult audience.