'Taxi driver' Opening sequence annotation

1. Description of opening sequence:  Smoke/mist wonders around shot until a taxi emerges and drives past the camera  The white mist continues as actors names come…
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  • 1. Description of opening sequence:  Smoke/mist wonders around shot until a taxi emerges and drives past the camera  The white mist continues as actors names come up on screen  The shot changes to a close up of a mans eyes. The shot stays the same but different colours reflect onto his face, creating shadows then illuminating his face.  Fades into the next shot. Presumably the viewer is looking through the mans eyes, looking through the window as its raining at a slow motion of a blurred busy city with an aray of colours-presumably from the city.  Fades into the next shot with a less blurred but slow motion shot of people crossing the street, edited over is a blurred aray of colours.  The shot returns to the view of the mans eyes, once again colours reflected over his face. The mans eyes eventually fade into the mist seen at the start.  End of opening sequence.
  • 2. Conforms to typical thriller: There are heavy relative scenes that contain typical conventions seen in thriller films. Below are shots of scenes within the opening sequence, they both link back to the typical thriller theme: voyeurism. Below it seems like the man, depicted with red- a colour associated with anger or violence, seems to be watching people in the busy city. The man uses his possible profession of taxi driving to spy and watch people, the big busy city is the perfect place for him to perform acts of voyeurism. This also links to the typical thriller narratives of being watched/followed, as the group of people appear to be looking round as if they know they are being watched and the man is intently watching their movements-as if he were seeking a particular person.
  • 3. Below are some shots of a moving scene, the scene shows a taxi coming out of smoke. The smoke can arguably be mist but the general idea shown throughout the sequence is that the film takes place within a busy city, meaning more air pollution which makes the iconography much more likely to be smoke. However this smoke appears to be thick and flows heavily, until the taxi drives through it-making the smoke seem weak and vulnerable to the man within the vehicle. Smoke/mist in general is seen frequently in thriller films, so conforms to such typical thriller conventions. Smoke is used to create mystery, which is certainly done effectively within this scene. Normally, smoke is used to hide behind however the man driving the vehicle rips through the smoke proudly-although is still masked by the ‘safetey’ of his taxi.
  • 4. Challenges typical thrillers: The soundtrack to the opening scenes doesn’t correlate with the edge and lonely mood created within the sequence. The soundtrack is simple, consisting of repetitive saxophone and a crescendo of horns. The sound created by the saxophone is romantic, deep and almost sexual which is not the type of tones used in thrillers which is typically suspenseful loud, sharp and shocking noises to raise tension. Arguably, the addition of horns adds spontaneity to the soundtrack and ultimately the mood, which does spur on pressure on the viewer. The effect of challenging the conventions is that of sympathizing with the character on screen, although he seems to be quite menacing and dangerous, the drawn-out non-diegetic sounds make the viewer believe that the character is protecting the city. The soundtrack relates to Noir rather than Thriller, as it is moody and uses piano and saxophone which is generally associate with older Noir films.
  • 5. The title The title is strong with it in bold capitals in a font that makes it look 3-D, which is revealed by the car with the same thick white fog in the start of the sequence shadowing it. This title is used to mimic the character seen within the opening sequence, as both the title and character alike are revealed with mystery. The colour is orange, but with glowing light seeming to shine across the letters, which mirrors the colour of an American taxi and corresponds with the bright light situated on top of a taxi. When the title is revealed, it is not expected, showing the way a taxi suddenly appears when you need one, consequently foreshadowing the loneliness and wandering characteristics of a taxi driver. The effect of this title is contrasting to the multi-coloured, dizzying opening sequence as it is simplistic but provides the a confident and strong way of displaying the title. This is supported by other 70s thrillers as both ‘Jaws’ (1975) and ‘Get Carter’ (1971), are understated.
  • 6. Camera angles/shots This XCU shot is used twice, they are both long length shots before they are cut. However it gives the illusion of different shots due to the change of colour flashing across the mans eyes, creating shadow one second and illuminating his eyes the next. This shot is used to see from another persons perspective, in this case, it’s the man who is presumably in the taxi. The shot is interesting as it creates texture through blurred light and the rain on the glass.
  • 7. Lighting Lighting is an essential part in creating this opening scene. The multi-coloured bright lights symbolize the busy inner-city. The lights are also used to reflect the character of the man who is suspected to be the protagonist, but can be perceived as an anti-hero due to the use of the colour of the lights which makes the viewer suspect he has hidden demos. The flashing lights indicate his unpredictability, but show that underneath the harsh edge (created through red hues) he is a good person that has lost his way (portrayed by the bright white light) but is scarred in a deep and incurable way (created through the shadows in the complete dark lighting).
  • 8. Representation The use of colour is extremely significant throughout the opening sequence. In the first shot below, people are seen crossing a busy street but through editing techniques a red hue and blue hue which creates contrast. This contrast appears to be ‘hot and cold’ which establishes opposites and relates to the idea of good and evil. As the perspective of this shot is in the eyes of the man, it shows how the man can see things other people may not see, this can be seen as a blessing or a curse. The mans ability to notice the unknown may be a source of an internal battle which is reflected in the continuous shots of his eyes reflected in different colours. The extremely slow paced, blurred vision that occurs during this scene is magnified by the distortion of colour. The city is presented as hypnotizing through the collage of colour, lighting and smooth objects. This implies how people are easily ‘sucked into’ the busy city life, due to the flashing lights and the promoted appeal by the media. The amount of distortion depicted gives the viewer the idea that the city life and his way of living has corrupted the man.
  • 9. This scene backs up the idea that the city is an addictive city and that the man who drives the taxi has seen people being ‘sucked in’, eventually himself is too gravitated towards it. However its shown he tries to escape the life he lives by attempting to wipe away the lights, but is not successful. This scene allows mystery and suspense to be created, however also gives off the impression how the man driving the taxi causes the mist. The mist can be interpretated as air pollution, which as the car drives past, consumes the entire view- putting the viewer into a blind spot. This shows how the taxi driver himself causes unwanted or illegal behaviour that’s hidden or goes un-noticed.
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