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In this essay I will be comparing and contrasting the opening sequences of Manhattan and the Sopranos. I know there both set in New York however they both have a different genre and also the way in which New York is represented. Manhattan is a romantic comedy and the Sopranos is a gangster series. In this essay I will also be describing the mood, denotation and connotation in the most important shots. I will also be deciding on whether or not it is a good opening sequence for its particular genre in my own opinion.

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Manhattan was directed and released by Woody Allen in 1979 and was a successful romantic comedy. The Sopranos however was directed by David Chase this was released in 1991 and it was a gangster series. The Sopranos was targeted for young adults, where as Manhattan focussed on couples young and old. Manhattan shows a romantic and a glamorise mood, we can see this in almost every single shot, as they are slow and long. Nevertheless The Sopranos creates sense of fear and danger explicitly when we see a medium long shot of the graveyard. We get the impression that Tony Soprano is about to kill someone.

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In the opening sequence of Manhattan New York is represented as love romantic scene. To begin with, the first couple of shots are scenes of sky scrappers, these shots are to set the scene, as we know already from the title of the film that it is set in Manhattan but know we can see the image of what Manhattan looks like. On screen we can see crowd gestures, which tell us that it is a busy day also there is medium long shot to people holding hands expressing their love for each other. An other example of where it shows a romantic mood is the couple on the horse and carriage, this one of the most romantic shots you could have. This makes the audience feel loved and closer to their partner. The New York skyline is seen as a romantic and glamorise place to be. It is very artistic and artificial it’s almost like looking at the images from an art gallery.

The Manhattan technical ways in which it was filmed are that each shot is about 5-6 seconds long. Also this film is trying to get across that New York is a romantic and glamorise place. I think it dose this very well especially with the piece of music, which is used. The sound track is called Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin; this is a classical piece with a jazz overtone. This gives he effect of a slow romantic mood.

The denotation of the skyline is just a bunch of buildings. Deeply the connotation is that the skyline is a symbol of passion and love. We also see the same with the long shot of the couple on the horse and carriage. The denotation is just a mode of transport where as the connotation shows a devotion and adoration mood. The last shot of the opening sequence is an extreme long shot of the skyline with the use of fire works. This symbolise that two people are about to make love.

In the opening sequence of The Sopranos we can see the shots from Tony Soprano’s point of view. In juxtaposition to Manhattan there are also a lot sky scrapper scenes, this is also used to scene. New York is represent as a bad place where if you don’t watch you back you could be shot. He leaves New York to go to his home in New Jersey. As he drives along the road he sees a lot of hardworking people, which compared to Tony they mean nothing it almost feels as if they are working for him. The mood it gives is a sense of danger and mysterious it makes the audience feel terrified of this man and it feel like he is about to kill someone.

The whole of the opening sequence of The Sopranos is in the point of view of Tony Soprano this is very effective because it gives us the impression of what he is thinking. The technical devices it uses through out these motional images are a hand held camera this is used because if you are driving in a car you would expect the image to be a shaken one. Also there are some tracking shots of him driving in his car across the New Jersey turnpike. The sound track is very effective for this setting because it sums up Tony Soprano’s life as the title of the song is “Got myself a gun”. It feels like he is caring a gun around with him.

The denotation of the first shot in the tunnel is that it is a driveway tunnel, which goes under the main road. However the connotation could mean that he is a gangster of the under world. We see an other example of him being like a gangster in an extreme long shot of Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre through side mirror of the car. The denotation of this is that it is just two buildings standing side by side. But the connotation could mean that Tony Soprano is like these towers, they are the biggest buildings and he is the biggest gangster as a posed to power. A final shot which shows fear is the medium long shot of the graveyard the denotation of this is that it is just cemetery where the dead are buried the connotation of this is the symbol of death and destruction.

I conclusion I found out that there are a lot of similarities and differences between the two opening sequences. An example of a comparison is that they both use the Manhattan skyline to set the scene. However these skyline shots are very different because in Manhattan it shows the skyline as romantic feature, where as The Sopranos sees this skyline as power compared to Tony Soprano. Manhattan has very effective opening sequence for a romantic comedy because in almost every shot it makes the audience feel loved and closer to there loved ones. In The Sopranos however I think it is a fantastic opening sequence for a gangster series because the way he is driving in his car with a cigar in his mouth and knuckle brass on his knuckles he looks like a gangster and it feels a bit dodgy.

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Kylie Garcia

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