Textual Analysis 1: ‘Se7en’ Opening Title Sequence

Below I will be writing a textual analysis on the opening sequence of the film ‘Se7en’ directed by David Fincher.

In the opening sequence for the film ‘Se7en’, the audience has a very clear understanding that is a thriller film. One aspect that makes this explicitly clear is the camera work. The sequence consists of many extreme close-ups, which avoids any identification of the antagonist in the sequence. This is common among thriller films as not revealing the face of the antagonist adds suspense to the film. The camera is also juddering in the shots and during the texts. This unstable camera work is a representation of the audiences cultural knowledge of psychopaths being mentally unstable.

Along with the camera work, the editing gives the audience a sense of psychotic behaviour. The burr and double exposure is used to run parallel along with the confused mind of a psychopath. The director, David Finch, and Cooper, the creative director, worked very hard on the editing of the opening scene to give the sequence a very raw feel to compliment the genre. They did this by combining older techniques of handling the film mixed with contemporary digital design. An example of this is that the actual film was scratched with a needle to degrade the the footage, giving a raw and textured feel. The scratches signify violence that takes place later on in the film. The editing is very quick and flashy which leaves the audience confused and disorientated. The quick flashes imitate death, as if life is flashing before a persons eyes. They also created the text by a hand written alphabet, which portrays a lack stability in the typography, linking to the unstable antagonist. The tempo is also very fast pace to build tension at the start of the movie.

The audio in the opening sequence has a very eiry non diegetic sound as if something is scratching on something. This makes the audience feel uneasy, and adds to the compliments of the genre. Also at the end of the sequence, the non diegetic music adds someone singing a line of speech “get closer to God”. This links to the antagonists motives in the film.

Through the mise-en-scene the audience can evidence that this is a thriller genre and can infer that the antagonist in the sequence is taking part in eiry illagal work. The props that are shown in the sequence are tools, proposing that the antagonist is working on something. We also see the antagonist remove his finger prints with one of his tools, suggesting that they do not won’t to leave a trace. The setting appears to be in either a workshop or basement type location. This holds connotations of a place where poeple perform projects that they don’t want others to see, or at least until they have finished. In the sequence, the audience is not given much infomation about the character it’s self, however, the audience can infer that this character is a psychopath, or at least unstable. This is due to the unusual work of this character, and they work that is being perfromed is only understood by them. The marking out of words and peoples faces suggests that the antagonist wants to hide something, which conotes ideas of a criminal. The criminality of this character is enforced by the removing of the finger prints, as this too conotes criminality. Low-key lighting is used throughout the sequence, and is common amoung thriller films as it gives a dark aspect to the film.

How to write a textual analysis

Textual Analysis

Textual analysis in media means analysing a piece of media text. Media text can be a film, magazine or a radio advert.

The four main areas to analyse in media are:

  • camera
  • editing
  • sound
  • Mise-en-Scene

Analysing is different to describing, in analysis you have to explore the features above and not simply state what you see in the media text. You have to identify the areas above, explain and give an example of it and then discuss the impact of it on the audience.


Components of camera to explore are:

Shot types- Establishing shot (ES), Long shot (LS), Mid shot (MS), Close-up (CU),
Extreme Close-up (ECU), two person shot (2S), Over the shoulder (OS),
Point of view (POV)- directors may use different shots to emphasise things. For example, for emphasis of a large object, a LS may be used to show its scale.

Camera angles- High angle, Low angle, Eye Level, canted angle, Birds eye view- camera angles are used to show significance and status of characters in scenes. e.g a low angle makes characters look big and powerful and a high angle makes characters look small and insignificant.

Camera motion- Tilt, Pan, Tracking, whip pan, zoom- makes the audience feel as though they are following the scene

Camera effects- Pull focus, depth of field, shallow focus


Here are some examples of different types of editing:

  • Continuity editing
  • Cross cutting
  • Cut
  • Cut away
  • Colour correction
  • Transitions
  • Time lapse
  • Shot reverse shot
  • Titles
  • Graphic match
  • Slow motion
  • Montage
  • Superimpose

When analysing a text with edits, think about pace and the impact of the editing style on the audience.


Here are different types of sound heard in texts:

  • Dialogue
  • Sound effects
  • Mood music
  • Diegetic / non diegetic
  • Asynchronous sound
  • Direct address
  • Rhythm
  • Pathetic fallacy
  • Pitch
  • Sound bridge
  • Voice over

 To analyse sound in media texts, like editing, you have to comment on the impact of certain audio. For example, adding diegetic sound gives an air of realness to a scene.


Here are aspects of Mise-en-Scene to explore:

  • Prop
  • Position
  • Location
  • Setting
  • Character
  • High-key lighting / low-key lighting
  • Colour filter
  • Make up
  • Costumes

When analysing the Mise-en-Scene, you should say how the background elements assist the representation of the media text.

Codes in Textual Analysis

An important process you need to know when it comes to textual analysis of films is that when you read, watch or listen to a piece of media text you make meaning of the sounds and imagery presented. This process is decoding.

Codes can be both visual or aural. You can see or hear them. Codes also have a symbolic value. For example, in our society wearing a pair of glasses connotes that the beholder of the glasses is clever. All different media platforms use symbolic codes to generate character types and character archetypes.

Grand Theft Auto

gta-ivThrough the Mise-en-Scene of the image of a women in ‘Grand Theft Auto’, we see she is not wearing much and is showing off her cleavage as if she is trying to seduce the male driver. This visual code of a women seducing a man who is in a vehicle in a public place holds connotations in our society with prostitutes as this is how they attract their customers.

If we look at an image of male characters from ‘Grand Theft Auto’ however, we get a very different representation.

the-original-bad-boys The visual codes of the three male protagonists are weapons and money, which culturally signify power.

The representation of the male characters is very stereotypical, as they are dressed in either work clothes or smartly dressed. Also, each individual character has a code that signifies their power, be it a weapon or money.

The representation of the female character is also stereotypical as the mise-en-scene indicates that she is only there to please the male in the car.

Tomb Raider

This image of Lara Croft from ‘Tomb Raider’ gives a less stereotypical presentation of women as we see her holding guns. The code of a gun culturally signifies power as we are brought up to fear guns and to know that some one carrying one has authority.

tomb_raider_anniversary_pose This image of Lara is a lot closer as to how ‘Grand Theft Auto’ portray their male characters (as seen below) as opposed to their female characters.


Technical Research


On its most fundamental level, film editing is the art, technique, and practice of bringing shots into an orderly sequence. Image result for film editing

The film editor works with the original raw footage of a film, selecting shots and combining them into sequences to create a finished motion picture. Film editing is often referred to as the “invisible art” because when it is well-practiced, the viewer can become so engaged that he or she is not aware of the editor’s work.




Project setting and setting up Premiere

The following YouTube video shows how to set up a project on Adobe Premiere Pro.


Adobe Creative Suite

What is it?

Adobe Creative Suite (CS) is a software suite of graphic design, video editing, and web development applications developed by Adobe systmes. Each edition consists of several Adobe applications, e.g. Photoshop, Acrobat, Premiere Pro or After Effects, InDesign, and Illustrator are the industry standard applications for many graphic design positions.

The latest version of Adobe CS is Adobe CS6 which was released on May 7th 2012. Adobe announced On May 6th 2013 that CS6 would be the last version of the Creative Suite and that future versions of their creative software would only be available via their Adobe Creative Cloud subscription service.











Video File Formats

  • Mp4- MP4 is an abbreviation for MPEG-4 Part 14. It is also referred to as MPEG-4 AVC, which stands for Advanced Video Coding. This is a format for working with video files and was first introduced in 1998. The MPEG refers to Motiomp4n Pictures Expert Group. they are incharge of setting the industry standards regarding digital audio and video. MP4 is a container format which allows a combination of audio, video, subtitles and still images to be held in the single file. It also allows for advanced content such as 3D graphics, menus and user inter activity. MP4 is a reliable application that requires a low amount of bandwidth, soa lot of poeple could take advantage of using the tool. 
  • Mov
  • avi
  • M4V
  • MPEG

Loseless- the file remembers every single pixel

Lossy- the file remembers image as one pixel

Thriller Genre

What is a Thriller?

The genre of ‘Thriller’ is defined by the moods it evokes, giving the audience feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. They usually consist of a battle between a protagonist and an antagonist. The story shows a sequence of bad events building tension and suspense for the climax. The protagonists aim is to restore peace and justice whereas the antagonists seeks to destroy it.


Conventions of a Thriller

  • low-key lighting
  • quick cuts
  • shadows
  • tense music
  • changes in the angles of shots
  • diegetic sound of breathing
  • black and white shots
  • montage of shots
  • protagonist in mercy of antagonist



Protagonist- Often a brave male, who is a bit of an outside and isolated, yet very moral with an aim to restore peace. A good example is Batman in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.

Antagonist- will usually have a hidden identity which is slowly uncovered to the audience as the film progresses. The antagonist is often after revenge from  a past event. An example of an antagonist in a thriller film is the psycho killer in the film ‘Se7en’.


Themes of Thriller 

The story line will be designed so that the audience feel as though the events can happen to them, which makes them feel scared. A film that does this very well is the film ‘Taken’ starring Liam Neeson. Just the thought of their child getting taken is haunting to a parent, so watching a film that shows this in such explicit content is harrowing for any parent as seeing this and drawing connotations to news stories makes it feel like it could happen to their child.



Cinematography of Thriller

  • A lot of close-ups and extreme close ups of the protagonist are common in thrillers to show the emotion of the protagonist. It can also be used on props to show the narrative.
  • The shots of the antagonist will be cut quickly to hide their identity. For example, it will be a shot of the back of them, a low-key shot or the silhouette or shadow of the antagonist.



Editing of Thriller

  • Directors include a lot of jump cuts in thriller films as there will be things happening that the audience is unaware of but is essential for the film to make sense.
  • Cross cutting is a key concept in editing for thriller as it is used to build suspense.
  • Continues editing is used to help the audience understand the film better.


Sound in Thriller

  • As with any film, music is essential to give the mood of the characters and hint at a significant parts of films.
  • In thriller it adds tension and suspense.
  • It will often start at slow paves and then build up to make the shots more dramatic.


Mise-En-Sence in Thriller

  • the location is usually in an urban area
  • lighting is often low-key
  • the protagonist will usually be in everyday clothes whereas the antagonist will generally be in dark clothes
  • composition
  • make up and hairstyles
  • filmstoke- can be black and white, however usually fine grain or grainy


Examples of Thriller

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Preliminary Exercise

The main idea for my teams continuity task is a girl being chased in the woods. She then finds a random door in the forest. she runs through this door and gets transported to a room. she then takes a seat and is questioned.
My team

Director- Gabby

Producer- Simran

D.O.P- Erin

Editor- Me

Planning documentation

 Presentation of Idea:



Story board:


Brotherhood (2016)

A couple of months ago I watched the film ‘Brotherhood’ directed by Noel Clarke from the trilogy of ‘Kidulthood’.

Brotherhood is a 2016 British drama film written, directed by and starring Noel Clarke.  It has also been selected to be screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.


Brotherhood cast:





I really enjoyed this film along with the two before it in the trilogy. However, when I watched the first two I was not doing media studies, so I enjoyed them from the story. However now a media student, I viewed the the last instalment of the trilogy slightly differently. I stilled thoroughly enjoyed the story line, but could appreciate components such as the camera work, lighting and the mise-en-scene of the film. And all of which were exceptional. The camera work was used in ways to empower people and weaken people by the use of low angles and high angles, the lighting was fantastic as a good portion of the film was filmed at night, yet there was no blurred motion of poor focus and as for the mise-en-scene, through the outfits alone the audience could tell what roles characters played, whether they where a rich drug lord to a part time thug, the audience was told through the mise-en-scene.

This really is a a fantastic film and I recommend any readers go and watch it.