“Hostage”is an action-thriller film that was released in 2005, directed by Florent Emilio Siri and produced by Bruce Willis; (who also stars as the main character in the film).
Which the film centres around Bruce Willis as a failed police negotiator, forced into a dangerous situation after finding out three violent psychos have taken his family… See below is the trailer that gives insight to the audience about what’s yet to be revealed later in the film:
Not only did I find the trailer for “Hostage” tense and exciting, but I found the film poster quite intriguing as it gives clues to the audience about the themes of family and danger that will be expressed in the film. For the reason that the use of smoke in the poster is an indexical sign that signifies fire; making the audience associate fire to danger, something in which the film evolves around. So, after watching the trailer the audience can connote how important these themes play a role in the film as the narrative follows Bruce Willis trying to save his family by taking several risks by negotiating with the anonymous villain. Moreover the bold red typography is centre framed, to reinforce further the theme of danger and possibly death, due to the colour red having negative connotations of these ideas.
Therefore, I decided to do a textual analysis to see if these particular ideas are explored even further in the opening credits for the film “Hostage”; which I can say that they were…
For instance, the opening credits straightaway introduce the audience to the theme of danger through the 3D red typography text that rolls onscreen, for the reason that red is the colour of blood and danger. So as it’s centre framed on a black background, it adds emphasis on these ideas; along with beating sounds, the audience can infer that tension is building up.
This then fades out to black, soon uncovering another text roll but this time the typography is over-layering a birds eye view shot of a city; which informs the audience of the setting/location of the film “Hostage”. I can relate this to a typical convention of the thriller genre because many other films including “Psycho”, “Silence Of The Lambs” etc are set in a urban city.
There’s then a quick fade out edit, to a fade in of the next shot of buildings in the distance with the Director’s name on the wall; but as the camera begins to zoom in and enlarges his name, a sudden jump cut portrays a close up shot of building. As a result, the audience are left with very small details about the film, due to not being able to piece a lot of information together after being shown the short duration clip. Therefore, it adds excitement to the opening credits because it leaves the audience asking questions as they are unsure on what to expect will happen.
Moreover, the pedestal camera movement reveals actor Bruce Willis’s name in white typography text on a grey building wall, as the camera moves down it portrays how this character will be in danger of something in the film as he is in a weak/low position.
The music score increases slightly in volume, adding an eerie feel to the opening credits of “Hostage” because the music began with a low tempo with beating sounds to now having a much more high pitch effect to it. So as the music fades out into non-diegetic sounds of police car sirens, the audience can infer that the film contains an aspect of crime, where criminals are involved in keeping those held hostage and the police are there trying to save the day. Therefore, the change in music tempo signifies the different elements of a variety of genres “Hostage” can be claimed as.
Also, the ominous tone is further supported by the rotating red typography text of the name of the film appearing from the centre of the screen and expanding outwards; here the spiralling movement disorientates the audience as well as presenting the theme of confinement as the text is boxed, hinting at the idea of being trapped. This can be suggestive of the film having a sub-genre of psychological thriller due to the antagonist being mentally disturbed for an unknown reason, not yet revealed and thus making the audience eager to find out more…
But as the typography text overlays a birds eye view shot looking down at some buildings, and when this shot then fades out into a worms-eye-view shot, looking up at the buildings, it displays a contrast in being high up to suddenly being low down; which gives the feeling of the audience being in the position of falling through the sky. Once again adding confusement to the credits as the audience feel as if they are directly involved in the film, when truly they aren’t; I find this is a great way to engage and connect the audience to the sequence by using both birds-eye and worms-eye view shots, as they can also be implied as point of view shots as well as.
Moreover, at 0:53 when the camera vertically tilts downwards, it suggests that the audience are secretly undercover trying to get inside of this house, as the wipe edit technique afterwards, instantly directs the audience’s attention to the next shot, almost as if to portray the idea of trespassing somewhere you shouldn’t. This demonstrates the audience’s anxiousness quite evidently as the short duration of the clip reveals very little information and furthermore, creates the effect of the audience sat on the edge of their seats, intrigued to find out more.
Next, the several cuts display a wide shot of a few officers standing ready to enter this place, but before revealed continuity editing is used where the camera pans to the left to show a brick wall with the next credit shown onscreen, as it continues to move horizontally to the left the audience are introduced to a prop of chains. Which when the camera moves past it, synchronous (parallel) sound is used to give the impression that the audience are there, in the same position as the characters shown onscreen; meaning that whilst watching the film, the audience may feel in danger… Furthermore, creating excitement and anticipation.
There’s then a series of shots of a prison including the stairs, prison gates etc shown below; all of which inform the audience that the film contains an element of the crime genre, a reinforcement from earlier on, when there was non-diegetic sounds of police sirens. This suggests that the film has a recurring theme/idea of the criminal fighting against the police; in which I can relate this to the social Anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss, who’s work has been adapted by media theorists to reveal underlying themes and symbolic oppositions in media texts, known as ‘binary opposition’. For the reason that the criminal is viewed by the audience as the antagonist because we associate them as bad people in comparison to the police who save lives, and are therefore the protagonists.
At 1:59-2:03, the mise-en-scene plays an important role because the police car is in focus, which then changes to the bars in front being in focus (an example of a rack focus shot) that’s used to reinforce the fact that this character is looking out for the police by hiding from them. As a result the audience are left wondering who this mysterious, evil character is because their face hasn’t been revealed, and possibly may not be until the very end… The audience are fully engaged to see the outcome and thus continue to watch the film to do so.
The next cut then dictates the rhythm of the music, as it becomes much more serious and powerful, which is reinforced by the close up shot of a officer’s head that turns to break the forth wall by looking directly into the camera, whilst pointing the gun towards the audience. But before the gun is positioned facing straight, there’s a jump cut to a zooming out shot of stairs where a dark mysterious figure is standing at the top. The music’s fast pace tempo suggests the film is also an action thriller because it hints at a chase scene, a common convention to the genre. So when another figure appears quite close to the camera, it surprises the audience making them feel anticipated as they can’t predict what going to happen at the end, which also sets their expectation to “Hostage” having many plot twists.
The fade in edit of a large phone implies this object is central to the narrative of the film, mainly because a phone denotes a form of communication, something in which the protagonist of the film may heavily depend on. The audience can connect the red background, signifying danger, to the protagonist relying/depending on the phone in order to get help, out of a dangerous situation. Therefore, this prop used at the end of the credits gives clues and a brief insight to what’s yet to come in the film.
Finally, the next fade in from black is several close up shots of small instruments, unclear to see what exactly they are, until the zoom out reveals it’s a gun held against the back of a man’s head. The audience are then brought back down into reality that they won’t be able to predict, guess or mastermind what will happen in the film, as this shot was not expected.
As well as, the sound effect of the trigger being pulled intensifies the ending of the credits as it leaves the audience questioning what will happen to this man, as it’s clear that he is in danger/trouble and or in need for help. Furthermore, setting “Hostage” up for the revelation of tenseness, excitement and anxiousness, all experienced in the 2:34 opening credits.
Overall, I enjoyed watching the opening credits for the 2005 action-thriller film “Hostage” because of how the theme of danger was continuously presented throughout (the red background), as well as having the same choice of colours-black and white which reinforced the idea of good vs evil. Which I now found colour plays a significant part in presenting certain ideas to the audience and how well they can relate to it.