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Cape Fear. 1991 Martin Scorsese Starring: Robert De Niro , Nick Nolte & Jessica Lange. Frame 1. The sound of falling rain in the background adds to the gloomy atmosphere of the initial shot.

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cape fear

Cape Fear

1991 Martin Scorsese

Starring: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte & Jessica Lange

frame 1
Frame 1

The sound of falling rain in the background adds to the gloomy atmosphere of the initial shot

The movie opens with a Universal ident. However, the image is subverted and presented in a gloomy blue colour.

The image also appears as if underwater. This links to a prominent location in the movie

frame 2
Frame 2

Although this shot is taken from the title sequence it still helps to develop the atmosphere of dread in the opening sequence. The reflection of a shadowy and menacing figure is presented atop a backdrop of calm, lightly rippling water. This juxtaposition of the calm with the violent lies at the core of the movie.

frame 3
Frame 3

The camera slowly zooms out, stopping at a mid-shot of a girl in her late teens/early twenties.

She is the archetypal victim of the genre.

The girl is dressed in white carrying connotations of innocence and purity.

The dialogue speaks of the enjoyment the young girl has experienced in a “magical” place, the inaptly named “Cape Fear”

This scene creates uncertainty in the viewer as its overwhelmingly positive tone is a marked contrast to what is to come.

frame 4
Frame 4

The movie opens with an establishing shot showing Cady’s prison cell.

Cady’s wall is covered in pictures of historical figures, martyrs and super heroes. The choice of images suggests he respects absolute power & aggression and feels that he has been mistreated.

The camera gradually zooms out to reveal the scope of his obsession.

The clip features bombastic, gloomy orchestral Music creating a sense of foreboding/ anticipation of bad things to come

frame 5
Frame 5

Tattoo is of scales which say trust and justice underneath, this may suggest that he requires a balance between them.

The bars make the audience feel safe because he is behind bars. They could also feel edgy because we know he is in a prison.

Tattoo’s convey that the character is tough. He is to be feared by others.

frame 6
Frame 6

More tattoos confirm to the audience that he is a tough character. Also could associate him with pain because tattoos can be quite painful, again conveying his tough personality. the tattoos are relevant to his past.

The door is opening giving an audience an insecurity, before they were protected by the bars but now he is being released from prison.

Law books in the background suggest he is trying to better himself, but can also be seen as ironic because he hasn’t abided by the law and is therefore in prison.

frame 7
Frame 7

The man knows his name, telling the audience that he has a reputation and that people know him. Also when people usually leave prison people are whispering to each other, but these prisoners however, were silent, suggesting that they are scared of Cady.

Unfashiona-ble clothing suggests he has been in prison a while.

Dark clouds give connotations of stormy weather which suggests that the peace is about to disrupted. Prepares the audience for a darker scene in the film. Pathetic fallacy.

Next to the prison Cady looks quite small but as he is the only person around outside the gates it still gives him an authority figure.

frame 8
Frame 8

Close up on Cady’s face. He seems quite composed unlike the weather.

Intimidating the audience because the close up suggest threat as he walks towards the audience.

Again, dark clouds suggest the peace is about to be disturbed- this could also be accounted for the characters leaving of the prison.

His slicked back hair suggests an Italian heritage and reminds an audience of the mafia. He did his hair on the way out, suggesting he has a routine and he takes pride in his appearance.

frame 9
Frame 9

From this particular angle, it looks as if the house is being watched.

The big house suggests that it belongs to a wealthy family. Columns and pillars give a roman effect showing pride.

The large trees create a slightly claustrophobic atmosphere as they make the area secluded and private.

Tidy garden could also give connotations of order and tidiness/ organization. Also that the people who live here take pride in their appearance and make a good first impression by looking at their house.

Could also be the main setting for the film.