Thursday, 24 November 2011

Essex Boys (2000, directred by Terry Winsor) Opening Analysis

At the start of Essex Boys the title sequence is turned directly into the start of the opening scene where the garage opens. This is done by using a white line of the titles and turning it into the small light from under the garage door. Outside the garage is a light - chiaroscuro lighting - which is a clear point of focus. The chiaroscuro lighting connotes illusion or nightmare - it is foreshadowing the nature of the upcoming events. The dark nature of this first shot immediately tells us that this film is a noir thriller - the dark environment and indications of threat and corruption are shown immediately. This dark feel gives the film intertextuality with the similar dark feel of "Fight Club" and "The Matrix".

The garage is a claustrophobic, enclosed space where there would be little chance of escape. In thrillers things can happen behind closed garage doors-it is a stereotypical thriller location. When the lights in the garage turn on, they reveal webs and filth in the garage. This is like the state of Essex in this film - there is hidden dirt and darkness underneath due to the crime, etc.

Shot of the garage, which is lit by a chiaroscuro light

There is a non-diegetic voiceover from Billy, but unlike Animal Kingdom (which contains a voiceover from "J"), it is from Billy's point of view. As well as this, there is also diegetic sound used for realism. When Billy looks through the windscreen (POV shot), you see Jason Locke. The shot through the windscreen immediately connotes many things about Jason. Seeing his strong figure through the windscreen shows that he is intimidating and threatening. Furthermore, the fact that you see him through a dirty, grimy windscreen (a medium close-up is used) tells us that he has had a dark, criminal history. He has a leather jacket and a "loud" shirt - like in the opening scene of "Kill Bill Volume 1", this tells us about his personality. Like "Bill", who has an expensive watchand a fancy handkerchief (with "Bill" written on it) he is obviously very vain. The lighting in this shot is also focused on him, making him stand out and making him look even more powerful.

The intimidating figure of Jason shot through the grimy windscreen

When Billy is talking, his Essex accent is a cultural signifier. Adding to the dark, grimy mood that has already been shown in the opening seconds, the landscape outside is bleak. In addition, there is an unglamorous feel to the film so far.

When the car, driven by Billy and containing Jason, is travelling through the tunnel there is a clear vanishing point. This gives the feeling that Billy is going through the tunnel and falling off a cliff into a different world or dimension - Jason's criminal world. In addition to this, the tunnel looks like the barrel of a gun, which foreshadows future events in the film and also adds to the sense of travelling into a different, dark, criminal world. Also, the POV shot through the tunnel makes it feel like a confined space where you are trapped and unable to escape from where you are going - into the criminal world. Furthermore, there is a "STOP" and "Stay in Lane" sign at the two sides of the tunnel. This is another symbol that tells you Billy should not be travelling into this new world - the signs are telling him to stop and turn back.

The shot of Billy driving with the connotive bars of light on his windscreen

The lighting on the windscreen here is very effective - there are bars of light scrossing the windscreen like prison bars (another sign of the different life he is going into). Jason's bright, "loud", attention-gaining top in this scene also adds to his vanity.


  1. You need to develop what could be a promising analysis.

    You could embed a screen from "Essex Boys" and analyse the way aspects of mise-en-scene (location, lighting, camera angles,colour, characters, costume, characters, objects and props) indicate the film's generic thriller credentials.

    If you reference other thriller films try to embed screen shots from these films from YouTube so that your comparisons are illustrated.

  2. Will could you sort out the images here - I'd suggest you re-upload the appropriate scrren shots.