of the Usual Suspects?
The Usual Suspects is a gangster film made in 1996, directed by Bryan Singer.
The film is influenced by Film Noir. Film Noir was a style of film making which
originated in the 1940's. It was a very dark and tense style, using drastic lighting and
camera angles to enhance the drama and tension of the film.
The trade mark of the film company is Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM). MGM is a
well known and established name which was founded in 1924. It promotes good quality
filming. When you hear the roaring of the lion, it gives you the sense of security that the
film will be ok.
To create a sense of tension and drama, the director uses various tools. These
tools consist of camera angles, lighting and music etc. He sets the mood for the film in
the first two minutes during the title sequence. He uses background music which is
Orchestral. The main instruments you can hear are the piano and violins. The tone of
the music creates an atmosphere of mystery.
The camera is used to set the location for the film as the titles are being shown.
It is slowly panning across shimmers of light over dark rippling water. This image leads
you into the opening scene of the film. The wait and suspense of the two minutes sequence
adds to the curiosity and tension of the viewer.
The directors uses different camera angles and shots for his method of filming
to create more or less drama and tension for each scene that is shot. He also uses dark and
bright lighting . He chosen shaded images a lot throughout the first 5 minutes to enhance
the mystery and drama of the film . Most of the five minutes is very low key , it gives it a
very miserable and dreary effect .
To create tension he uses extreme close ups. The first shot in the film is an
extreme close up of a packet of matches burning after they have just been lit. This image is
a very high key image. The way in which the camera is shot shows the significance of the
scene but to keep you focused on this scene there is no background music just the
synchronous sound of the match been struck off the box.
Medium shots are used to allow you to see the main action in scenes but nothing
much more around it. An Example of this is when Dean Keaton, one of the main
characters, is casually dropping his cigarette on to a trail of gasoline . This scene gives you
the sense of suspense and tension as you wait for an explosion .
Through out the scene there are only minimal amounts of dialogue which
happens when Keaton is sat on the floor and the mystery man is stood in front of him.
" How you doing kid?" the mystery man asks Keaton. " I can't feel my legs.. Keyser!"
Keaton replies.. You think they are friends but the background music doesn't portray this.
You sense from the music that this is tense moment between them .
The director has increased the music to some scenes to enhance the drama of
the film. He has also used camera shots by cutting to different locations rapidly. This
happens in the film when Keyser is talking to Keaton. You see him lift up his gun and
point it towards Keaton. The camera cuts to the part of the ship and you hear one shot from
a gun. The camera then cuts to another location as you hear a second shot. These shots
create drama and tension , the feeling of the unknown.
By using these methods you don't know whether Keaton has been shot. It creates
mystery during the film to keep you compelled to carry on viewing .Throughout these rapid
shots there is a mixture of dark ,light and shaded image. All of them are quite low key until keyser drops his cigarette and causes the big explosion. It switches to an extremely high
key shot. At that point the music fades down so you can hear...