Breaking Bad, Season One Episode One

First Scene

 

There is no opening scene quite like the one in the first episode of Breaking Bad. It is completely unexpected, dramatic, and although slightly random, engages the audience straight away. There are so many details the audience can pick up and analyze just from the first minute of the episode, and this is all as a result of Semiology. The clothing, or lack of clothing, props and body language are the most prominent things used in this scene and  were all deliberately  designed and placed there for the audience to decode and try to understand what the story is about.

The body language used in this scene and the way the main character, Walt, reactions to the situation he is in tells the audience a lot about who he is. We can clearly tell that the situation was not planned and the character never intended or expected to be involved in something like this. With two bodies rolling around in the back of a caravan, one sitting next to him and none conscious together with his reaction shows us the seriousness of the situation and one that the main character is certainly not accustomed to. As he frantically drives the caravan into a ditch, climbing out in rage and frustration,the audience can identify feelings of anxiety, panic and to an extent, innocence. He is definitely not the type of man that one would expect to be in such a malignant situation.

Furthermore, the clothing and props used send the audience a lot of hints to what the scene is about and contributes to the dramatic impact. The fact that the main character is not actually wearing any clothes besides his underwear and the scene begins with this  completely catches the audience off guard and makes the scene even more dramatic. It immediately tells them that this is no ordinary situation. Furthermore, the fact that Walt eventually puts on a blue shirt introduces the idea that he could potentially be an ordinary working man put in an unordinary situation. The colour of the shirt is one associated with a western working man, which makes the entire scene even more complex and strange.

In addition, the props such as the masks, the caravan and even the falling pants at the very beginning of the scene tell the audience a little more about the story. They all contribute to the frantic and erratic mood. The masks can indicate danger and lets the audience assume that the character was breathing in something toxic, as when he throws himself out of the caravan and rips of the mask, he is coughing frantically and is unsteady. Also, the use of glasses is extremely significant as it suggests his innocence once again.  The delicate putting on of his glasses contrasts with all the madness occurring in this scene in a great way.

There is no doubt that every element that appears in this scene was not placed there by accident, but was instead carefully encoded for the audience to unravel and piece together the story line, keeping them engaged and interested.The audience were placed slap dash in the middle of the commotion, which encourages them to keep watching in order to find out how it ends and where it all started. This is a strong and impressive technique.

 

Colours and Semiology

The colours that are used within a movie are extremely significant, and can be used to portray a message and contribute to the films themes and characterisation. In the film Beasts of No Nation for example, the bright, vibrant colours of the green forests, orange dirt and brightly coloured clothes that the child soldiers wear are evident throughout. It can symbolise the childlike innocence of these children and Abu, the main character in contrast to the brutal horrors that the story-line entails.

Image result for beasts of no nation colours
The bright pink colour of the grass in this picture from in Beasts of No Nation gives the audience feelings of dreaming and innocence. (Vimeo 2016)

 

These pictures are taken from Dick Tracey (1990) and Director Warren Beatty wanted to stick using seven primary clours throughout the whole film, each the exact same shade. This was to pay homage to the original comic Strip version of the story, and allows the audience to decode the colours in order to make the movie very light and almost childlike. Blogger Robert Rapplean explained,”This movie has some extremely visual scenes that revolve around a restaurant. The restaurant has four “zones”: The back lot, the kitchen, the dining room, and the lady’s room, each with a very strong color theme: Black, Green, Red, and White. As the characters transition from one area to another, even their clothing changes colors to match the environment. Amazingly, the effect isn’t overwhelming to the plot line or the action. It could almost be considered subtle because the change in the environment is so vivid that their clothing isn’t as impactful”.

Below are some colours,and the emotions and feelings that they may prompt within a movie.

 

COLOURS RED GREEN YELLOW BLUE
  Danger Envy Happiness Sad
  Love Happiness Caution Cold
  Anger Relaxed Summer Contemplative
  Jealousy Natural Youthful Calm
  Power Healthy Warmth Neutral
    Magical Enlightenment Space
    Greed Success Serious

REFERENCES

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-movies-that-use-color-as-a-predominant-theme

Garrick Saito (2014) main-qimg-b8e928f3b8d2711cb19f637b2f1a4bed-c (1). Available at: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-movies-that-use-color-as-a-predominant-theme. Accessed 25/10/16.

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