Film analysis "Born on the Fourth of July"

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Film analysis “Born on the Fourth of July“

In the opening scene of the movie “Born on the Fourth of July“ a little boy, called Ron, is the main protagonist and hero of the whole movie. The main function of this scene is to introduce the hero and to foreshadow Ron’s future as a soldier. In the following I want to explain the most important cinematic devices, which were used to support this function. In the first sequence of the scene Ron and some friends play a war game. The movements of the children are followed by a tracking shot. The game ends when one of the friends sits on Ron, shouting, “He’s dead, He’s dead“. The view on him is from below (low-angle shot) to show the situation from Ron’s perspective. After this, the camera tilts from below to above while Ron is shouting “No, I’m not“. The second sequence begins with an establishing shot, which shows the whole area where the parade is going through at the festival on the Fourth of July. In the foreground is the joyful music of the marching band and in the background are the sounds of firecrackers and voices of people talking. When the band starts to play Roch n‘ Roll music it’s clear that the movie plays in the 1940’s or 50’s. All in all the music creates a cheerful atmosphere. In the last sequence a war veteran, who lost one arm, is shown in a medium shot. Suddenly the music changes into bitter, melancholy war music and gun shots are fired. Due to these shots, the war veteran winces because bad memories are coming up. These sound effects and the music are a contradiction to the music which had been played by the marching band. Especially the last sequence gives a realistic view on war, because not only the music but also the presented images depicture the bad, dangerous and joyless sides of war. After the incident with the veteran the camera turns to Ron, who is sitting on daddy’s shoulders. Therefore a close-up on Ron is being used, who is shown in slow motion, so that the viewer has time to realise what he is thinking about. Furthermore, this special effect shows the emotion better. One can assume that Ron is thinking about being a soldier one day, since the flag he is waving addionally supports a future where he fights for his country. I have come to the conclusion that this opening scene is a really good introduction to the movie, because it gives a foreshadowing of what will happen, especially to Ron. At this point and connecting now the first sequence and the last, I have to argue that Ron’s whole future as a soldier and a possible war veteran is being foreshadowed, because narrative, music and special effects support and emphasize this assumption. Another point, which underlines my assumption, is that slow motion and dramatic music raise suspense and makes the viewer interested in watching the the rest of the film.

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