Analysis of die hard opening sequence

The primary camera shot in the opening sequence from the film ” Die Hard” is a Close – Up (CU) of a plane landing; which is set in an airport. The audience is made to hear the sound of the plane previous to screening it, so in theory the first shot could actually be a fade in. The plane lands fast and the camera are placed so it looks like the low aeroplane has just flown over the head of the viewer. This shot lasts about four seconds long, as it carries into the viewer watching the plane have contact with the ground.

As the plane land’s the audience can undoubtedly see the amount of pressure put on the breaks. Furthermore, the sound turns into a shrill screech from the wheels and a quiet murmur from the engine. The viewer instantly wonder’s where this plane has come from, who is on it and why are they’re being made to view this. The sky is a pink/orange colour which creates certain warmth for the viewer. The second shot is a CU of a man’s hand gripping the armrest tightly in the plane as it is landing. This indicates to the audience that he does not like flying moreover has a slight fear of not being in control.

This character shows that just from this one simple shot, he is a man that likes to have both feet firmly on the ground additionally does not like to lose control or have it taken into the hands of others. The camera pans left and tilts up to view a man in the window seat sitting next to the slightly apprehensive man; this character looks very smug and is somewhat amused at the man sitting next to him. This character is wearing a grey waist coat, a red patterned tie, this could signify so as to his life is one long pattern and everything run’s like clockwork.

He is wearing a white pin stripped shirt and he has dark grey hair. This is the first character to talk in the film. The subsequent frame is a two shot of the two men conversing, both of whom are stranger’s. The two characters’ clash as the audience can observe when they converse. This make’s the viewer feel a bit uncomfortable, due to the lack of co-operation. One character is arrogant, very overconfident; and dressed to impress; whilst the other is in casual wear, a dark green jacket, casual trousers and a blue thick checked shirt, he is evidently not especially impressed by means of the other man’s remarks.

However, the man by the window seat does provide the other man some rather fine advice; which comes into play later in the film. The man who is still a touch nervous from landing is told that when he gets home; he should take off his shoes and his socks and walk around on the carpet making fists with his feet. At the time of telling him this he just gave the man a droll look that suggests he is speaking twaddle. The next shot following this is from the front of the plane viewing the passenger’s getting up collecting their belongings.

This is a Long-shot. LS) An announcement is made that it is satisfactory for each person to leave their seats. There is a Medium – shot (MS) of the man who was anxious during the flight, reaching for his luggage above. After that there is an incredibly rapid cut to the cocky character’s face looking enormously stunned, now he appears cowardly to the viewers. His face is slightly blocked by the mans jacket and chair casting a shadow over his face, which is an indication that he is trapped in and whatever he has seen to scare him, is potentially awfully hazardous for him.

The connecting shot is a CU of a gun safely stored in the man’s inside pocket of his green jacket. The gun is a denotation which means the audience immediately recognise it. It is also an iconic signifier; also if it was fired it would develop into an indexical signifier. The next shot is a MS of the man with the gun in his pocket, this is where he introduces himself to the viewers, he claim’s he is a Detective from New York City, and produces a badge; this is symbolic of his life’s work – eleven years of being a detective.

The audience is then taken back to a CU of the other man, still a little bit on edge except, not as nervous as previously. The viewer notice’s that the detective is standing up whilst the other man is sat down. This shows that his character is a great deal superior to the others. There is a MS of a large toy bear with a red ribbon tied around its neck, which belongs to the detective. The audience may perhaps obtain this as a connotation for a gift. The next shot is an Over Shoulder Shot (OVS) of the detective leaving the plane, walking past an air hostess who to some extent flirts with him.

There is a MS follow up shot of him turning around twice to look at her, who suggests that he is single, divorced, or his marriage is not going very well. The next scene consists of an ECU of a mans legs walking with a pale brown brief case in front of the shot. The viewer is left to watch the case collection area which is pretty boring. The audience is at the present waiting for something to happen. Although, this could just symbolise what a long day the detective has had; and now he has to find his luggage as well.

The detective comes into this shot via the stairs at the very back of the shot; he would be not noticeable if it wasn’t for the huge bear he is carrying. The music suddenly goes very tense and the title of the film comes up in fairly small bold purple font over the shot. This makes the audience feel less relaxed and a little nervous, as the viewer does not know what to expect. The audience is made to watch people collect their belongings from the conveyer belt. However, most of the viewers would be watching the detective who looks a bit lost and out of place in this so very large airport.

There is a fast cut to a medium close up (MCU) of the detective lighting up a cigarette whilst walking slowly towards the camera, he turns left to release the smoke from the side of his mouth. This could be an indexical signifier, that he has a cigarette and is smoking it with ease. MLS of young black limo driver with detectives name on a card ” Mr J McClane” the driver claims he has never driven a limo before and appears smartly dressed in the black uniform, nevertheless, juvenile and inexperienced.

The adolescent driver seemed to be very nervous until he got in the car. The next shot is of the two men in the limo, and both sat in the front of the car which is unusual, as it is not what you would expect of a passenger. The limo driver immediately puts on dark sun glasses and becomes to some extent humorous when he gets into the car, it is a complete change in attitude and atmosphere it becomes very relaxed, nearly like they had been friends for years.

The limo driver waits for John in the parking lot; there is a MS of the limo being driven away and then a MCU of John entering the building – place of his wife’s work. The next frame is a MLS of the receptionist and a slow pan down to a screen facing john; then a follow up MS of john requesting to see his wife and looking puzzled when his wife’s name is not on the screen. An ECU of the monitor is shown to show John’s frustration and hint of embarrassment when he cant find her name, so the audience watch him try her earlier name and sure enough there it is.

The audience see a BCU of John’s face trying not to give the impression of being annoyed that she does not even use his name. Then there is a MS of the receptionist again. There is a tilt up shot of John walking to Holly’s office; there is no sound apart from the high pitched whistling from john of an aggravating tune. There is a subjective view of the security camera’s and the camera angle’s downwards to see a foreign man in uniform standing exterior of the lifts just staring at the viewer( the viewer now becomes John).

The next shot is the equivalent of a fly on the wall shot, of John ingoing the lift moreover the security man watching, this shot was taken from a security camera; This is made known to the audience by the change in light as it suddenly goes a poor quality, dark shade of colour. This shot creates and unsettling sentiment in the audience; seeing that there are eyes watching his every move. Although, this could be thought to be a quality shot as it possibly will make the viewers feel secure with all the security camera’s and men around.

New scene; to start this scene off, there is classical music playing and the viewer is introduced to a Japanese man in a grey suit. The lighting is brighter in this scene which could represent a lift in atmosphere; people are all relatively happy and get along well with each other. This is set in a building, almost certainly a place of work. It is made quite apparent that this man is rather imperative to this sophisticated festivity since he walks in through an arch way of the room whilst putting something in his pocket( a piece of paper or a letter).

As he enters the room he buttons up his blazer as well as fixes his tie, which indicates that this is quite an important affair but, also, appearance is very important to him. There is a MCU of him greeting the guests which leads into an OVS of him welcoming further Japanese people. The following shot is a MS which is a stretched pan right following the Japanese man to the orchestra along with then walking to a post where he gets ready to say something. There is an ECU / OVS oh him announcing with his back to the viewer congratulations etc.

Below him the viewer can see an Extreme Long Shot (ELS) of the people at the party all gathering round to listen to what he has to say. This signifies that this man is superior to everybody below. He could be richer, or just have a higher place in career, but, nevertheless he is still set as superior. The camera focuses on a woman in a pink blouse and black skirt passing through the party; she is carrying a lot of papers which shows that she has a lot of work to do and possible is a work addicted.

She walks through carrying her work with her, which could be iconography, what the viewer expects to see in an office. The camera follows her out of the room and down the hall, the viewer also notices at a LS that a man has seen her, and begins to head for the door also. The shot is now set walking down an office building hallway, both the man and women walking together with their backs to the audience; the women is in a hurry and walking at rather a fast pace.

There is an OVS of the two of them; the man is wearing a brown suit which could be related to as boring and dull in this case. The man is repetitive and relentless; he asks the women out at least three times in the space of walking down the corridor; which could also indicate he is desperate. The audience now know that it is Christmas Eve as it is stated by the women. The camera zooms in closer to them both and can see that the woman has no interest in this man what so ever. The man is obviously attracted to her and the camera follows her with him.

The viewer still hasn’t seen her face yet apart from when she was walking through the party, but, it was not very clear (LS) They both begin to describe there fantasy Christmas eve to one another, the women with a sarcastic tone to her voice. The audience now understands from what she tells the man; that she has a family and he should not be getting involved. There is a MS of them both stopped in the doorway of her office, looking at one another quite unromantically, she hurries through the doorway and gets back to work. OVS of the man standing in the doorway feeling quite rejected.

There is another lady in the room ” Jenny” whom is pregnant; she works below Holly (the women) Holly states the time (5. 40pm) and tells her college to go and join the party. Holly compares herself to ” Scrooge” and does not like that comparison. The next is a frame of the limo driver driving around in the car park MS it pans right as the car moves; back to a very dark image CU of John in the lift there is a sound of silence and then after about a second, there is the sound of music and people generally having a good time.

The next shot is a 3 shot, which states that the man is still standing in the doorway, this shows he is hopeful. The room is large and filled with windows showing the pink/orange sky, this could be interpreted that everything around Holly is open and waiting for her, but, Holly herself is closed in and encaged in her life of two children her career and her problems with her husband i. e. she doesn’t use her marriage name at the office.

Holly is an interesting character in that, she is the strong women of the film, but, she doesn’t actually have to do anything physical to make herself seem powerful like e. g. Sydney in scream, she is dominant because she fights off evil and is the remaining lady, whereas, this ladies character is strong minded, in control, reliable, responsible and dedicated to both her life at the office and her home life. This woman is able again to reject this man as she sits in her brown leather office chair, picks up the phone and turns her back on the camera.

The following shot is a CU of the back of the chair with the viewer barely being able to see her at all. The next shot is LS of her two children playing quietly at home. The camera is still as the girl jumps up and runs to the phone. She is wearing a white flowery jumper and blue leggings. The white flowery jumper would represent her innocence and her wish fullness for her mum being able to come home and play with her in the garden rather than being at work; and the leggings create quite a sharp attitude that the viewer can tell she has got from her mum.

Her tone of her voice is very grown up and polite on the phone; however, when bringing up the topic of her father it moves to a rather serious, sharp, tone showing that she is fed up and just needs her dad. The camera cuts back to an OVS right pan of the mother at work, the idea of the camera panning is to show all of her photographs on the desk which represent baggage and priorities. It is very noticeable however; that there are many more photographs of the little girl than there are of the younger son and the husband.

This might have something to do with her femininity or her strong attitude later on in the film. The next shot is very important to the film, which comes into play later on; it is a Big Shot (BS) of a photograph that obviously has a lot of sentimental value to the woman, the photograph is in a polished frame and is amongst the largest on the desk; in the photograph is her husband, her two children and herself together as a family.

The following shot is a CU of the little girl on the phone at home; the viewer can see a woman in the background that is clearly not English. There is an MCU back to the mum in the office again she swivels the chair to face the audience, she teases the girl and mentions Santa Claus which creates an idea of the age of the child and the certain type of innocence of her. The shot cuts to the child at home on the phone again but this time she gives the phone to the foreign lady; who appears to be a housemaid.

She starts the conversation by saying ” Hola” this shows that she is Spanish or Portuguese, this is an Iconic signifier. The next shot is a repeated shot of the mother at work on the phone, yet this time she has a slightly eager, hopeful expression on her face as she enquires about Mr McClain her husband. The film ” Die Hard” has a good and rather unusual formula, which works well. Bruce Willis plays John McClane, only just divorced, cop who travels to LA for the opening of his wife’s new workplace, Nakatomi Plaza, owned by a wealthy Japanese man.

Equally, Bruce Willis and Bonnie Belinda are happy to see each other moreover the opening suggests that they could get back together at the party. Except, then as in every Action film, something terrible and totally unrealistic happens to tear this beautiful dream apart. (A gang of terrorists take over the building and demand a large some of money). The formula is John; a one man army verses a lot of bad guys. The film is unrealistic, however, an excellent adrenaline-packed film, with non-stop explosions and gunplay.