Thursday, 26 January 2012

Thriller assignment Codes and Conventions.

Don't say a word.
"Don't say a word" is a psychological thriller  directed by Gary Fleder and written by Anthony Peckham in 2001.

The thriller is about a group of thieves steal a rare gem, although during the process two of the gang members betray leader Patrick. Ten years later..... a psychiatrist called Dr Nathan.R Conrad, who is invited to examine a mentally disturbed young woman called Elisabeth Burrows. Gang member Patrick then kidnaps Nathans only daughter, making Nathan attempt to get Elisabeth to reveal a secret number, that only she knows.

Elisabeth, who doesnt trust anyone, she keeps saying "You want what they want, don't you... I'll never tell, I'll never tell... Any of you" over and over again, her experiences in life, have left her unable to trust anyone, but when Nathans daughters life is at risk, Nathan has to do everything he can to get Elisabeth to tell him the secret number.

In 1991, a gang of thieves steal a rare 5 million pound gem, although in the process, two of the gang members betray their leader, Patrick Koster and take off with the precious stone.
Ten years later, on the day before Thanksgiving, child psychiatrist, Dr. Nathan R. Conrad, was invited by his former colleague, Dr. Louis Sachs, to examine a mentally unstable young woman named Elisabeth Burrows at the sanatorium.

 Patrick and the remaining gang members where released from prison on November 4th, they then break into an apartment, which looks directly into Nathan's apartment, having  full view of his wife Aggie and daughter Jessie. That evening, Patrick kidnaps the psychiatrist's daughter Jessie, as a means of forcing him to get Elisabeth to search her memory, and tell Nathan the 6 digit number.
As Nathan visits Elisabeth, she is wary at first but Nathan gains her trust later - especially when he tells her that his daughter was kidnapped and will be killed, if he doesn't get the number that they want. Dr. Sachs admits to Nathan that the gang who kidnapped Jessie also kidnapped his girlfriend to force him to get the number from Elisabeth.

After Nathan takes Elisabeth out of the sanatorium, she begins to remember past events. It is revealed that Elisabeth's dad was a member of the gang that committed the robbery ten years ago and he was the one that betrayed them, and stole the gem. However, the other members of the gang later found him and pushed him to reveal the whereabouts of the gem, later forcing him in front of a train in the underground station. The gang members were arrested after the incident, whilst Elisabeth escapes with her doll, where the gem was hidden. She also remembers the number 815508, which is the number of her father's grave, at Hart Island, which is where her doll is, as she placed it in his coffin.

Nathan and Elisabeth steal a boat, and head Hart Island. The gang members later trace them down, and again force them to give them the number they want. Elisabeth reveals the number and Patrick orders his companion to dig the coffin out. He finds the doll and the gem hidden inside it. He then decides to kill Nathan and Elisabeth as revenge, although Detective Cassidy arrives before he can kill them. Patrick's companion is shot by Cassidy but Patrick manages to wound her. Nathan takes the gem from Patrick and throws it to the excavation. Patrick then goes to recover the gem but Nathan hits the mechanism which covers Patrick with dirt, burying him alive. He is then reunited with his wife and daughter, and it is put across that Elisabeth goes to live with the Nathan and his family.

A thriller is usually the type of film to build up a lot of tension, excitement and suspense. Thrillers play on the viewers mind, and use forking paths, this is mainly then they don’t give too much away to the audience. They also build up anxiety, surprise and terror, to give the viewer the best experience. Thrillers also use a lot of cliff hangers giving the audience “I can’t wait to see what happens next” feeling.

In many thrillers there is what’s known as the Protagonist and the Antagonist. The protagonist in a thriller is a person that you should follow; he is the hero, the one that makes everything better. The antagonist is the character, which goes out of their way to make bad things happen, but they do it in such a way, then they don’t come across as a bad person, or as an enemy. The antagonist may also represent a major threat or obstacle to the Protagonist.
There are many types of genre in thriller. Some common sub-genres are psychological thrillers, which are what I’m evaluating; this is a film that is connected with the mind, or the process of how thinking works. The in a  psychological thrillers is often created by two or more characters preying upon one another's minds, either by playing deceptive games with the other, or by trying to destroy, and play upon the others mental state. There is also Crime thrillers and mystery thrillers. Crime thrillers focus on the life’s of a offender and the crimes they commit, they are also usually based around true life, and things that have been done, where as a mystery thriller focuses on the efforts of a spy or detective solving mysteries, and usually involves a murder.


Vladimir Propp studied and suggested that all shown films have what’s known as 8 broad character types. These consist of, the villain which is the character that struggles against the hero, in my thriller it would be Patrick Koster, he is the leader of the gang that kidnaps Nathans daughter, and wants the find the rare gem. There is also the dispatcher, this is the character that send the hero off, this again is probably Patrick the villain, because he just tells Nathan what to do, and send him off to do as he says. Third is the helper, this character helps the hero on their quest, there are a couple in “Don’t say a word” but the main helper would be the mentally unstable young woman named Elizabeth, she would be the helper, because she’s the only person that knows where the gem is hidden, and she helps to save Nathans family. The princess……or prize, This is usually something good at the end of a movie, for example, The hero gets to marry her.

All films have what’s known as

Codes & Conventions.

These are the things you expect to see and happen in a film. For example in a thriller you expect to see a twist, something bizarre, un-expected. This builds up alot of anxiety and is needed to a thriller to work.                                                

The conventions in a thriller has alot to do with the editing and sound. For example, using quick cuts and a variety of camera angles. The music in a thriller also has alot to do with the conventions, it builds up alot of tension and anxiety. Pandemonium plays alot in a thriller, building up alot of madness and disposition.

Also in a thriller you may expect to see handicapped individuals. Someone with a mental disability, or has problems to do with their health. Some examples in which a thriller has handicapped characters are, Misery, where Paul Sheldon is in a wheelchair, and is kept hostage. Another example is Denzil Washington in bone collector. Also rear window. Rear window is a thriller about a wheelchair bound photographer who spies on his neighbours from his apartment window, and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

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