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‘AMERICAN PSYCHO’ – Opening Title Sequence Analysis. MISE-EN-SCENE. LOCATIONS: Patrick Bateman’s apartment:

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Presentation Transcript
slide2

MISE-EN-SCENE

  • LOCATIONS:
  • Patrick Bateman’s apartment:
  • It is mainly white, and quite clean yet empty looking. This could be connoting a blank canvas, emphasizing the emptiness and blandness of the social materialism of 80s American businessmen that is almost mocked in the film.
  • There are many mirrors in the apartment, connoting the fact that Bateman (Christian Bale) has different personalities, although only one appearance.
  • This location is typical of the Thriller genre as it is a very normal setting. It is not the apartment of a typical serial killer, and is in a very busy environment, helping him hide in plain sight, as many villains do in Thrillers.
  • LIGHTING:
  • All the lighting is natural sunlight, coming through open windows. This connotes several things; one, Bateman’s cleanliness and aesthetic purity, and two, that a light is being shone on him yet he is still roaming free and killing, backing up the element of hiding in plain sight
  • There is no mysterious shadow or darkness, setting an almost happy vibe in a sadistic killer’s home. This is atypical of the genre, but highlights the pristine surroundings in which he lives and his obsession with perfection.
slide3

PERFORMANCE

  • APPEARANCE/COSTUME:
  • Patrick Bateman:
  • He has very clear skin, slicked back neat hair, is in very good shape, toned and defined and quite muscly. This shows that he is self-obsessed, and also a perfectionist. It shows how much he cares about his appearance, and most importantly, himself.
  • This is loosely typical of Thriller, as often killers and villains will act to fulfil selfish needs or desires.
  • The only clothes he wears in the opening title sequence are a pair of white boxers, as it is showing his morning routine. This connotes a few things. For example, it backs up his simplicity and drive for cleanliness and perfection. It also connotes the simplicity of his mind, in relation to the fact that he is a killer. Furthermore, it displays the plainness and boring personalities of the materialistic 80s Wall Street businessmen that this film documents.
  • This isn’t exactly typical of Thriller, as normally the villain would be hooded, or have a hidden identity. However, Bateman is very clearly displayed from the offset, and is very clearly hiding in plain sight, which is a very prominent feature of Thriller.
slide4

PROPS:

  • Ice Pack Face Mask
  • This, although not a typical Thriller prop, does have typical Thriller connotations.
  • Masks are often used to hide the identities of killers, and the use of this mask foreshadows that Bateman is a killer, and also foreshadows his split personalities.
  • It also simply further emphasizes the care that Bateman takes over himself.
  • Various Lotions and Balms
  • These are very atypical props of the Thriller genre, however they do give Patrick a strange demeanour, and makes the viewer begin to think that maybe he is too self-caring.
  • It is another device to back up how self important he is, listing product after product, from a ‘deep pore cleansing scrub’ to an ‘anti-aging eye balm’. This makes him seem even more odd, using way more than most people do.
  • ‘Herb Mint Facial Mask’
  • It is another mask, which is again foreshadowing his split personalities and killer-tendencies.
  • As he peels it off, he has a very serious face. This also connotes peeling someone’s face off, and his almost non-existent reaction shows how comfortable he is with it, connoting how sadistic he is.
  • After peeling the mask off, he looks exactly the same. This connotes that, although he has separate personalities, both sides of him look, aesthetically, the same, making it difficult to distinguish the difference between his two personalities.
slide5

PROPS CONT.:

  • Les Misérables Poster:
  • When Patrick looks at his reflection in this framed poster, the illustration of a girl appears to be looking at him. This foreshadows his paranoia, which develops in the film; he slowly starts to think he is being noticed and watched, and that he won’t get away with the killings.
  • ACTOR’S PERFORMANCE:
  • Christian Bale:
  • Bale walks very calmly and orderly, making him seem very relaxed and settled into his life. This misleads the viewer early on into thinking that he has a normal life. Misleading is a common narrative device in Thrillers.
  • When he performs his ‘stomach crunches’, he appears to know what he’s doing showing it’s a regular thing. This shows how seriously he takes his appearance, which further backs up his self-importance.
  • Again, during his ‘stomach crunches’, his narrative voice boasts: ‘I can do a thousand now.’ The way in which he says it makes him seem very proud and again shows how self-obsessed he is.
  • Almost everything Bale does is very calm and collected. He always seems in control, not in a hurry to be getting up. He knows his extensive routine off by heart, connoting that it’s a daily thing, which, once again, backs up his self-importance.
slide6

ACTOR’S PERFORMANCE CONT.:

  • Christian Bale cont.:
  • He has a serious looking face throughout the whole OTS, which connotes how seriously he takes his routine, and also makes the viewer question whether he has anything to smile about.
  • He speaks with a well-spoken American accent with correct pronunciations. He doesn’t use slang or anything, making him seem of a higher class.
slide7

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • CAMERA SHOTS/ANGLES:
  • First 1 Minute of the OTS:
  • The first shot is a tracking shot which slowly moves into Patrick Bateman’s apartment’s living room. This is a sort of establishing shot of his home. Also, the slowness and smoothness reflects the impression that the viewer gets of Patrick being a calm and orderly individual.
  • Another tracking shot, but this time it slowly moves into Patrick’s bedroom. In a way, it’s still a part of the first shot, as it is still establishing. It does represent Patrick’s calmness, except the bed is unmade. This is done simply to show that it is the morning, and that Patrick has just woken up
slide8

This is a short, static long shot. It shows Patrick for the first time, from behind in his boxers, walking into his bathroom. Art is hung on the wall to show that he is cultured and intelligent.

  • This shot is also static, and shows, from another angle (adding to realism and reducing boredom) Patrick approaching the toilet. We see another framed photo, and also see his shadow approaching the toilet to join him; connoting the split personalities early on.
  • This shot is an associated point of view medium close up. We see Patrick’s reflection as he urinates, staring at himself in the picture frame, which we see is a Les Misérables poster. The girl in the poster also appears to be looking, worried, at Patrick. This gives an early connotation that he is a scary or bad person.
slide9

This is another APOV, in which Patrick reaches into his fridge for his ice pack. We see no junk food, giving us an image of his healthy lifestyle.

  • This is a medium shot of Patrick placing the mask on. The mask connotes the hidden identity that many thrillers use regularly.
  • This is a wide shot of Patrick doing his stomach crunches, while still wearing the mask. This furthers the idea that the audience is already given of his healthy lifestyle, and unhealthy self-obsession.
slide10

This is a medium shot of Patrick during the same workout, still wearing the mask. This has the same function as the last shot.

  • Same as above
  • This is a medium-long shot of Patrick in the shower, from behind. We see more of his physique here, backing up his health obsession. Also, this scene will appeal to female or gay audiences, as Christian Bale is considered attractive by many.
slide11

This is a close up of Patrick grabbing one of his many lotions and balms that he lists in the narrative, again indicative of his self-obsessed lifestyle.

  • The last shot of the first minute is Patrick using the lotion which he grabs.

Although the scene is not a very typical one of the thriller genre, it is still very effective. It shows a relatively normal looking man displaying an almost psychotic morning routine. The music is also very soft and relaxing creating a strange contrast.

Watch the opening scene of ‘American Psycho’