Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Narrative structure

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1. The use of an establishing shot as the beginning shot gives the audience an action code in the way that it gives a clear indication of where the film is set.…
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  • 1. The use of an establishing shot as the beginning shot gives the audience an action code in the way that it gives a clear indication of where the film is set. Furthermore, it tells us how important this setting could be at a later point in the film – an insight to the narrative. As well as the insight to a narrative, this shot could also establish an equilibrium. This is shown in the way that the house and cars are arranged in a ‘normal’ manner. This gives the audience a clear idea as to what is ‘normal’ for the characters within the film.
  • 2. This first character shot shows us that this is going to be a character who is of significant importance in the film, therefore, we might be tempted to immediately label him as a ‘hero.’ This label could be showing us that he, as a character, is seeking something. Furthermore, we might expect something in this opening sequence to materialize for him. In relation to Barthes codes theories, we may say that the signifier of this shot is that the character is in a state of shock or disarray. However, the signified code gives us much more of an idea as to what this shots tells the audience. Although we are unsure as to why he has this facial expression at this point, it could suggest to us that he is not performing as his ‘normal’ self. This immediately takes the audience into a state of disequilibrium in comparison to the ‘status quo’ signified in the first shot. Therefore, as an audience, we are immediately taken into this characters problems and what he will be doing to reestablish a equilibrium throughout the film.
  • 3. This next shot shows introduces us to a different character type in the opening sequence. Here we are presented with a ‘villain’ character who opposes the hero’s motive. We predominantly see this in the form of her tapping her foot frantically on the ground. This signifies to us that she is going to try and stop the ‘hero’ from achieving his aims throughout this film. This action code clearly shows a binary opposite between the non-conformity and the conformity of this character; suggesting to us that the opposition of these two protagonists is going to reach a climax at a certain point in the film. The director has effectively presented us with a subtle enigma code (teasing the audience) but tries not to reveal too much to the audience to entice them into watching the whole film.
  • 4. Here we see how the opposition between the ‘hero’ and the villain’ is going in favour of the hero. This clearly indicates to us that he is the hero due to the fact that we see him tormenting the character perceived to be as a villain due to the fact that she is clearly opposing his motive. In addition, the signifier in this shot signifies to us that shock or illness introduced in the second shot was false. This connotes that the protagonist is not someone who takes his responsibility of attending school – perhaps representing this social group as irresponsible and misbehaving.
  • 5. Here we see the first use of a soliloquy in the film through Ferris talking directly to the camera i.e. the audience. Not only does this reassure us that he is the main protagonist and ‘hero’ but it also shows us how the thoughts of this protagonist will often be shown throughout this film in a form of a soliloquy. This also suggests to us that the he is going to have a lot to say to the audience that he doesn’t want other characters, within the film, to hear. Furthermore, it develops our perceptions of him as a character and perhaps the use of these soliloquys connote that he might be a secretive character.
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