PRIDE (2014) | Opening Sequence Close Analysis & Film Techniques

Based on the historical strike in 1984, Matthew Warchus’s comedy-drama “Pride” depicts the uneasy coalition between the British coal miners and the gay and lesbian activists. The director primarily aims to subvert the divisions of identity politics and cultural segregation, showing the audience how the clash between the Thatcher Government and the National Union of Mineworkers may bring two seemingly polar-opposite social demographics together. The film also foregrounds the unquestioned ideal of cross-cultural solidarity and criticises the deployment of police brutality and the homophobia that still exists within Britain. The story is told from a retrospective angle, wherein the narrative focuses on the character development of Joe. His period of liminality mirrors society’s progress; the progress of transitioning from a society pervaded by ubiquitous anti-gay sentiments to one of acceptance.

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Historical montage

 The anthem “solidarity forever” introduces the audience to the events taking place at the time with the historical montage contextualising the ideological clash between the miners and the Thatcher government, represented by the police dressed in uniform. From the outset of the film, the political conflict between these two groups is displayed through the director’s use of mise-en-scene placing them both into one frame. In putting the police in the background and the miners in the foreground, bunched up in a group, Warchus immediately presents the power dynamic between the them and how this balance seems to shift from frame to frame. In the screen-cap above, the brick wall seems to insulate the miners from the stern-looking policemen, though such barriers do not exist in the next frames which are dominated by the policemen instead, implying that they still hold greater power over the activists. This, coupled with the lyrics of the anthem, establishes the miners’ vulnerability to police harassment and thereby the need for “solidarity forever” since the mineworkers themselves will not be able to go against the government.

  • Montage: film editing technique in which a series of short shots are sequenced to condense space, time, and information
  • Mise-en-scene: the arrangement of the scenery, props, etc. on the stage of a theatrical production or on the set of a film.
  • Frame: A frame is a single image of film or video

Red banner

The characters’ mutual dislike for Thatcher’s government and the mine closure policy is established from the outset through both the wide-shot and close-up of the red banner captioned “Thatcher Out!”, standing prominent on the exterior of social housing flats. Here, the striking red colour of the banner helps display the bold and rebellious nature of the activists but also vilifies the Prime Minister for her purportedly unconscionable policies, compelling the audience to side with the activists from the beginning of the film. Compounding this with the diegetic sounds coming from Mark’s television discussing the authority’s “unprecedented violence” towards the miners, the director expresses his disdain for the ruling authority, establishing them as the antagonists of the film. 

  • Wide-shot: a shot that typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings
  • Close-up: a type of shot that tightly frames a person or object
  • Diegetic sounds: Diegetic sound is any sound that emanates from the story (or narrative) world of a film

Thatcher’s interview:

 To further exemplify his position against Margaret Thatcher’s “firm leadership”, Warchus uses a (quite unflattering) close-up shot of her facial expression to emphasise her gleaming eyes and feral smile as she rationalises the harm resulted from her policies.  That she also associates the consideration of her people’s needs with being “a softie” also demonstrates her frigidity and dogmatism, further highlighting her complete disregard of the job losses and hardships the marginalised groups of Britain have to experience. 

  • Close-up: a type of shot that tightly frames a person or object

Introduction of Mark

 As the news are being broadcasted, Mark’s eyes seem fixated on his television, rendering him completely unaware and unresponsive to the questions of the young man who appears to be his romantic partner. His appearance outside of his apartment complex is accompanied by fast-paced upbeat background music — perfectly aligns with the portrayal of him as a confident and charismatic leader. The communication he has with his neighbours further cements this, highlighting his dynamic personalities and his ability to form meaningful rapports with people around him.

  • Background music: music to accompany the dialogue or action of a motion picture or radio or television drama

Introduction of Joe

While Mark is presented to live a free independent life in communal housing, Joe lives a completely different life in an archetypal suburban household. Through the wide-angle shot of the three almost identical adjacent houses, Marchus presents Joe’s familial setting as the microcosm of British community — seemingly detached and disconnected. The distance between Joe and his parents, especially his dad, is evident through the cutting between Joe’s appreciative but repressed “Thanks Dad” and his dad’s hand-wave and physical distance from Joe. Joe’s rushing out of the house is also contrasted with the image Mark’s calmly walking past a wall showing the letters to the film title “Pride”. Here, the stark juxtaposition between Joe and Mark depicts how a universal plight against someone may bind dissimilar characters together, fortifying the strength of unity and solidarity. 

  • Wide-angle shot: a shot that typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings
  • Microcosm: a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristics of something much larger.
  • Juxtaposition: a literary technique in which two or more ideas, places, characters, and their actions are placed side by side in a narrative or a poem, for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts.

Joe is a character that the audience can relate to. He embodies the struggles of disorientation and the difficulty of having to conceal his identity those around him. The film centralises around his transition from a repressed character to an openly gay young man who is able to break free from the fear of being judge and the toxic social stigmas. 

Protest:

 The protests wherein the activists chant in unison also symbolise the unity between the activists, those who are brought together through a common goal. It is a symbol of communion. In dichotomising between the behaviour exhibited by the group of frustrated homophobic men on the pavement and how inclusive the activists are in greeting Joe, the director further demonstrates the strength of solidarity, insinuating that the only way they can combat against toxic social prejudice is through unity while also fostering the audience’s awareness of intersectionality. The participants’ inclusivity is also showcased through their assignment of “Bromley,” taken from the name of Joe’s hometown, as a new made-up nickname for Joe, signifying their acceptance of the protagonist and also the natural sense of camaraderie engendered between them. 

The director denounces any forms of discrimination and prejudice, including violent homophobic confrontation and verbal harassment, though he does not completely demonise them. These instances are introduced through the perspectives of Joe, as the camera mimics his view and briefly pans through the reactions of bystanders. The men throwing rocks, the woman saying “Disgusting” directed at the protestors, and the stern-looking woman holding the “Burn in Hell” signage are all captured by the camera, but by opting to not grant them the close-up shots, the director portrays them as peripheral, undermining their bigoted views and shifting the audience’s focus to the parade and the messages on their banners instead. The naysayers are all framed as the enemy, but the director abstains from delving too much into their behaviour and instead propounds that their behaviours are the manifestation of society’s normalisation of ignorance and bigotry. 

  • Symbol: a literary device that contains several layers of meaning, often concealed at first sight, and is representative of several other aspects, concepts or traits than those that are visible in the literal translation alone. 
  • Dichotomise: divide into two opposing groups or kinds
  • Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage
  • Panning: filming while rotating a camera on its vertical or horizontal axis in order to keep a moving person or object in view or allow the film to record a panorama.
  • Close-up: a type of shot that tightly frames a person or object

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