Analysis of the opening sequence of ‘To kill a mocking bird’

The film portrays the innocence and world of play of a tomboyish six year-old girl and her ten year-old brother, and their perception of their widowed attorney father. They also fantasise about an outsider who inhabits a mysterious house in their neighbourhood. Abruptly brought out of their carefree world by their father’s unpopular but courageous defence of a black man falsely accused of raping a Southern white woman. Although racism dooms the accused man, a prejudiced adult vengefully attacks the children on a dark night – they are unexpectedly delivered from real harm in the film’s climax by the reclusive neighbour, “Boo” Radley.
The opening shot of the film contains the universal international globe spinning, along with a simplistic piano solo. The piano solo loses us in a child’s world, as the music has an element of innocence and simplicity. The camera then pans to an overhead shot of a worn box. The simplistic, childlike music is then accompanied by the child’s effort to make music of which is very basic. The audience is unaware of the gender of the child. However the child’s tone gives the audience the impression that it is a little girl, therefore it may be scout.
A young pair of hands appears to open the box revealing a collection of valued treasures, including crayons (new and used), a mechanical pencil, two carved soap doll figurines – one male and one female, an old broken pocket watch, a skeleton key, a broken pocket knife, a medal, a few marbles, jacks, chalk and other minor objects. Each of these items are emphasised, some of these items are related to the storyline, for that reason the producer could have done this to allow the audience a swift summary of the film, however their significance is not appreciated until the end.

As she opens the box she sings, hums and giggles to herself, these gestures flow with the music. It’s almost as if the child is expressing her emotions though the music allowing the audience to relate more to her character.
She then colours over lined paper with a round crayon, revealing the title of the film in white letters, her tone sounding almost satisfied with the outcome. The camera circles slowly from left to right along various collections of carefully-arranged objects in magnified close-up.
After viewing the opening sequence numerous times. A black and a white striped marble are emphasised by the camera, leaving the viewer questioning their relevance. The white ball is then set in motion by the child. The white marbles then collides with the black marble. By this action the producer could be implying the racial tension between blacks and whites.
After drawing a simple, stick-figured ‘mockingbird’, the girl shades in the winged creature and then rips the paper through the bird. With this gesture, the girl giggles and sighs pleasingly. This action could also relate to the division in her society.
Symbolism plays a large role in the opening sequence; the objects that appear behind the opening credits include a pocket watch, pearl necklace, whistle, marbles and a child’s drawing of a bird – they are all items that gain meaning as the story unfolds.
The music is very important in the opening sequence; it begins with a simplistic, childlike piano solo, and then develops by almost expressing the girl’s emotions and actions. The music varies with her every action, when she colours in the music becomes the base tune as the scribbling and the girl’s self satisfaction or dissatisfaction is expressed in her tone of humming and singing. The music almost acts as a teleport taking the audience in to the film; this could assist them, in their understanding of the child and her actions.
The way the producer has: angled the cameras, so that the symbols appear all different dimensions it makes the items either fragile and delicate or sturdy and imposing, and the way they have used significant symbols to set the scene make the viewer feel intent on finding out the significance of them in the storyline.
Overall the use of music, symbolism, and camera angles set the scene perfectly as there are hidden meanings and hints of what may unravel. The music acts as the child’s emotional state, and allows the audience to relate and experience her little world. While the use of symbolism helps the audience visualise the world of a child and relate to her ability. Finally the way the producer has angled the camera, emphasising the objects that have significance in the storyline helps the audience understand the vulnerability a child has. The use of all of these techniques helps the audience relate to the child and the objects relevance in relation to the film.

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