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The film that I have chosen to study to answer this question is Bram
Stokers Dracula. Bram Stoker was the original author of the Dracula
novel, and Francis Ford Coppola, director of films such as the
Godfather, directed the film Bram Stokers Dracula. The reason he named
his film, Bram Stokers Dracula is because he wanted to show that his
film was the original story as many films had been made of Dracula,
but had been altered and Francis Ford Coppola had followed the
original story. He filmed Bram Stokers Dracula in 1992 even though the
novel was written in the 19th century.
What is the horror genre? The horror genre has many key features to
show the audience that the film is in this style, such as the mise en
scene, themes, camera angles and editing, lighting and use of sound
The mise en scene of a film. ‘All material put before the camera to be
filmed and its placement within the frame.’ Mice en scene is the
French theatre term for ‘what is put into the scene’. The main
components of mise en scene are the setting, lighting/colour, objects
and movements. Also, the performers costumes, actions and appearances
add to the frame. The positions of objects, grouping and relation of
subjects to the frame and against the setting also is part of the mise
en scene. The mis en scene generally associated with the horror genre
are scenes of graveyards and castles, objects such as crucifix,
coffins, blood, dark cloaks, tombstones and churches. If these are
seen in a film, people often think of horror and so these are mise en
scene of a horror film.
The camera angles in a film often changes the feeling of the audience.
There are many types of camera angles used to created different
emotions and feelings in a film. An extreme close up is used for deep
psychological impact and a lot of emotion. A close up shot is often
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to show dialogue and is the usual angle used for things such as news
and documentaries. It shows the head and shoulders of the person
speaking. A long shot shows the whole person from head to toe in the
frame. You can see the bodily movements and gestures, but it is less
easy to see facial emotions. An over shot or above shot is used to
look down on a person or object. This can be used to make people look
smaller and less significant or less powerful. An up shot is the
opposite of this. It looks up onto a character or object making them
look more powerful and stronger. These shots are often used in horror
films to create feelings of power, such as looking up at a large house
would make it look a lot more scary than looking down on it.
The horror genre is a good genre for the film companies as there is
always a large audience for this style of film. People like this type
of film because it thrills them, even though they know they are safe.
The biggest audience is the younger generation for this film genre.
Many horror films follow a set of ideas for the story line such as
having the women as the victims, or the person on the adventure is in
a different town or country, so they do not no the area which makes it
a lot more scary for them.
So how does the director use film language to show that the film is in
the horror genre?
Bram Stokers Dracula is in the horror genre, and you can tell this in
many ways. You can look at the setting, lighting/colour, objects,
movements of the performers, performers costumes and actions. Francis
Ford Coppola set his film in a country unknown to the main character,
Jonathan Harker, who was a young man and who seemed very vulnerable.
The castle, where the Count lives, is in the mountains away from all
other life, and in a remote situation, so when the audience watch the
film, it is obvious to them that Jonathan Harker is putting himself in
danger even though he doesn’t realise.
At the beginning of the film, when Jonathan Harker is on his journey
on the train, red and dark lighting is used, which gives us a sense of
danger. The colour when he gets into the carriage is all very dark,
and not much can be seen. This is quite spooky and the mist is used to
create a tense feeling. He also arrives in the dark, so he cant
actually see where he is going or coming from. To the audience, it is
obvious that he is getting into danger, and you want to be able to
tell him to turn away, but you cant, so the horror film keeps you
hooked to see what happens.
When Jonathan reaches the castle, he meets the Count. Straight away,
you can tell that the Count is danger by looking at his dress sense.
He is wearing a long cloak, which trails a red cloth behind him, which
gives the audience a thought of blood. He also is very pale and looks
like he is dead. The whole image of the Count is known to the audience
as been in a horror film and so whenever this image is seen, the
audience can see danger even though the characters cannot.
The shots are changed depending on what feeling Francis Ford Coppola
is trying to create. When the section of the film was emotive at the
beginning and he was thinking about his wife, the shots were quite
long and faded in and out, with no sudden shot changes. The shots
could last up to 15 seconds. When Jonathan arrived at the Castle in
the mountains, the shots were sped up, and a lot of down shots were
used on Jonathan, and a lot of up shots on the castle to show that
Jonathan was a very vulnerable and innocent and that the castle was a
lot more powerful than him. The shots didn’t fade in and out of each
other, but jumped from shot to shot very quickly, with not many shots
lasting more than a few seconds.
Francis Ford Coppola has made the film very obvious to the audience
about what is going to happen. The audience likes this as they are
scared but know they are actually safe. This film is very easy to
analyse and say that it is in the horror genre as all the points that
make a horror film are in the film.