Codes and conventions of inception & two other thriller films

A Thriller is a genre of fiction, having numerous, often overlapping subgenres. Thrillers are characterised and defined by the moods they provoke, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, paranoia, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock.The genre of a film determines how the film will be presented, the cast involved (as some actors and actresses are often frequently used as audiences recognise them and relate them to the specific genres with the overall storyline. The thriller genre has been widely successful within cinema and has many codes and conventions that every writer and director follow without a shadow of doubt. When creating a thriller film, the essential micro-features that have to be focused on are editing, Mise-en-scene, sound and cinematography, these often utilised to create intense as well as suspenseful situations. 

For instance Psychological uses elements that are related to the mind or processes of the mind psyche, therefore using more mental that physical in nature. In one way or another the thriller genre usually focuses on the plot over the characters as well as display intense physical action over the characters state of mind. When combined psychological thriller is when characters no longer rely on psychical attributes to overcome their enemies. By battling for equilibrium in the characters own mind. The suspense created by psychological thrillers often comes from afew or more characters preying upon one another’s minds, either by playing deceptive games with the other or by merely trying to demolish the others mental state.

The film Inception is psychological thriller that the following characters; Dominick “Dom” Cobb played by Leonardo Dicaprio and Arthur  by are “extractors”: they perform corporate espionage using experimental military technology to infiltrate the subconscious of their targets and extract valuable information through a shared dreamworld. Their latest target, Japanese businessman Saito, reveals that he arranged their mission himself to test Cobb for a seemingly impossible job: implanting an idea in a person’s subconscious, or “inception”. To break up the energy conglomerate of ailing competitor Maurice Fischer, Saito wants Cobb to convince Fischer’s son and heir, Robert to dissolve his father’s company. In return, Saito promises to use his influence once the job is done to clear Cobb’s apparent criminal status, which prevents him from returning home to his children.

Most of Nolan’s films explore complex philosophical concepts, and none them attempt to offer concrete answer. Yet whether he’s making science fiction, a crime drama, a war movie or even a superhero film. Nolan is exceptional and consistent with his theme he specialised in setting puzzles that can’t be solved easily. Which leads to the film inception here are two sets of characters that are like two sides of a coin (Arthur and Eames, Saigon and Ariadne), Arthur his character presents the left side of the brain –  logical, analytical, and organised. Whereas Eames is the right imaginative, spontaneous, unmethodical, emotional and taking situations personal. Eames dismisses Arthur as short sighted meanwhile Arthur prefers the critical details that are essential for the aim and objective to complete. With Sarto and Ariadne it stems to the cultural difference (stability vs changeover), Ariadne represents youth, often naive, hopeful and optimistic. 

The opening scene of inception shows uses of mis-en-scene in a very effective way to clearly hint at important plot points exposed later in the film in its dynamic narrative. This is clearly illustrated through the prop of the spinning top, found on the near unconscious body of Dominic Cobb who is played by (Leonardo DiCaprio). This spinning top has no significance to the audience besides the good interest of both Saito and Cobb in the seemingly unimportant toy. Nevertheless, later in the film this prop is shown to have great importance as it is Cobb’s ‘totem’ that he uses to prove to himself that he is not dreaming and if he is the spinning top will spin infinitely. Moreover with the spinning top shows that this is symbolic ,this is done through maintaining the same setting throughout in the same room. Keeping the same lighting fixtures as shown in the first scene. The wine glass next to Saito is also maintained from scene to scene along with the narrative of someone eating.

Moreover regarding the film Se7en is a (1995) American thriller film, mainly labelled a psychological thriller. The film is about two homicide detectives, a rookie and a veteran who hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins gluttony, lust, greed, pride, sloth, wrath and envy as a pattern in his murders, yet pushes the boundaries between crime and horror. The main cast of seven are (Brad Pitt) who plays detective mills, (Morgan Freeman) who plays detective Somerset, (Gwyneth Paltrow) who plays Tracy mills. (Kevin spacey) who plays the serial killer John Doe . The film is directed by David Fincher and evidently contains many codes and conventions of a thriller with use of location typically set in an urban area unidentified city.

Firstly In the opening sequence the genre is established immediately by Somerset’s character being revealed completely in a single shot with a white handkerchief, a small square of wallpaper, his knife badge, his badge, and his gun all laid out in an organised order in an overhead shot When it comes to crafting an expositional scene with fine detail , it brings symbolism to the objects and try to enlighten the audience that these objects are going to play key parts in the film.

The white handkerchief gives insight that Somerset is unblemished, however is assigned with cleaning the city of the grime it has been accumulating. Also the square of wallpaper; not only does this nod to Somerset’s curiosity, this old rose-patterned wallpaper was revealed underneath a tear in the new wallpaper, however it hints at his desire to return to the “rosy” world that has been hidden underneath a layer of crime and murder. With his badge Plain illustrates he’s in law enforcement. His knife helps the audience learn that this isn’t a tool for violence, rather a key. Detective Somerset is the key-holder with his gun shows he’s also a terrifying enforcer, yet the gun is in its holster, which could signify his lack of violence. In contrast, if this shot was Detective Mills, the gun might be tossed arbitrarily on the bed free of its holster.

Low-key lighting is used in the opening scene to create an ambiguous atmosphere with a sense of high tension/mystery, which is a common convention of the thriller genre. Although the lighting is constantly low-key, there are some instances of red. Red moments is used to signify the genre of the film, as it is symbolic to blood which also presents death and violence. Red is limited throughout the scene being used only in the photo development stage, symbolising and indicating that the person in the photograph may be dead or involved in some kind of violent behaviour. This adds mystery because the audience start to wonder how the people may have died or how they were involved in such brutality. The flashes of red only last for approximately a second, building tension and enticing the audience in to continue watching. The extensive use of close ups acts to simultaneously draw in the audience and create paranoia, presenting them with only a small amount of detail, without revealing the whole character prematurely, this attempts to unravel the message it carries.

Lastly no country for old men is a neo-western crime thriller set in a rural part of Texas and directed by the Coen brothers. The film shows themes of fate, morals, destiny, self-determination and circumstance with a Texas welder plus Vietnam war veteran in the desert landscape of 1980 west Texas. morals that the Coen brothers have used and explored in the film Fargo (1996). Llewelyn moss is played by Josh brolin who is the protagonist finds several drug deals dead and instead of reporting the violent homocide to the police moss makes a decision to steal the two million dollars in the duffel bags for himself. 

Anton Chigurh who is played by Javier Bardem is the antagonist who is a sanditic psychopath killer on a hunt to find his money murders everyone that crosses his path. Furthermore the sheriff ed tom bell played by Tommy lee Jones oversees the investigation as he realises he’s overmatched to cope with the workload of keeping up with the crimes being committed. This film correlates with the thriller convention of a character having an unbalanced mindset as well as psychotic, this illustrates the suspense technique is being used on the audience with the protagonist Anton by behaving irrationally in situations and creating tension.

Also this will build a level of fear in the audience of the protagonist and can keep the audience ingrained in the film to guess what Anton is going to do next. Although Moss symbolises the everyday man that can land the self in a dreadful scenario by the impulsive risks they take. Nonetheless moss does display courage in other scenes protecting his wife as well as running from anton; is prepared to kill him if the situation arises.

The costumes in the film establishes the difference between the characters Angel and death juxtaposition. Moss costumes tend to be bright colored in all scenes whereas anton’s clothing is all variations of dark colours. Moreover the viewer is shown with an tons character that he behaves different to everyone in the film. I.e a scene in the gas station where he decides to regulate the lives of Carla and the cashier by deciding a coin toss which emphasises the fate theme in the film that gives him a false sense of reality by not taking responsibility for his own righteous choices.

The mis-en scene in the opening sequence suggests the location of the film is set in a isolated location since all the audience can see is desert horizons and open empty roads. Furthermore the first camera shot used in the sequence of the opening title of the film ‘No country for old men’ is set in United States of America because the police officer attire with a cowboy shaped hat and a star badge looks like a normal sheriff in America. Also the police car is identifiable as a regular American police car with.

To conclude many thriller films use mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound are show these conventions and all are important as they each create different aspects that generate tension and keep the audience in suspense. Also with different genres they have to have the certain conventions which differentiate them from one other, this way you can label the film as to what genre it is. Collecting a lot of turnover profit once the film is released, as they can target their audience which tend to enjoy the use of criminals and danger that is used within thrillers because the majority of the audience will not be seeing criminal or dangerous activities on a daily basis so they will be frightened and intrigued by the characters, they want to become spectators into their lives and get excited by the danger on screen.

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