Three Minutes Textual Analysis

Three Minutes is a 6 minute short thriller film which was made by a student for their university course.

The film is about a man waking up, tied to a chair and being held hostage in a blank room with a person watching him through a camera. The main problem is that there is literally a timer on his life… a bomb in front of him counting down from three minutes, but can he escape?

Textual Analysis:

The title is in sans-serif white typography and seems like there is blood splatters across them, but in black and white. The background is black and therefore the white title – symbolic of innocence and purity is juxtaposed by the black background, symbolic of darkness and evil. Throughout the titles there is non-diegetic sound effects of a person being tied up and locked in a room making the audience ask “why is there someone being held hostage?”, intriguing the audience.

The lights turn on to show the protagonist who is dressed in smart, business-like clothes, inferring to the audience that he was at his normal, everyday job. Furthermore, he is constrained to the chair and seems disoriented. The ECU of the protagonist’s ankles highlights his vulnerability due to being tied up and trapped. The camera zooms out to reveal a bomb with a timer on it, creating a sense of panic to the audience as well as the protagonist. Furthermore, the bomb is shot using a tight frame, making it seem more important.

The protagonist instantly looks for a way out but the door appears sturdy with locks on it, highlighting how trapped and imprisoned the protagonist is. The word “DEALERS” and “COCAINE” is written on the door in graffiti and the audience can denote that the protagonist is linked to criminal activity, most likely drugs and that’s the reason why he is trapped.

An ECU reveals that a person is watching him through the camera, and the protagonist shouts out in desperation for help. An ECU reveals that the timer begins to count down from “THREE MINUTES” and the sound score becomes fast paced, creating a sense of urgency, panic and tension to the scene, grabbing the audience’s attention and bringing them to the edge of their seats.

In a struggle to set himself free, the protagonist falls onto the floor and is shot with a HA making him seem smaller, weaker and more vulnerable. His fear turns to anger and begins to aggressively talk at the camera “Whoever you are, I will find you!”, but this highlights to the audience the he is trying another way to get out in sheer desperation as well as connoting that the protagonist truly doesn’t know why he is trapped and why he is wanted dead, so is he innocent? A WEV demonstrates his panic and desperation to the audience more.

As the timer gets nearer to zero, the more faced paced and intense the sound score becomes, as well as more frequent short durations of ECU shots of the timer and the protagonist to show his reaction. When he pulls out the wire the sound score completely subsides and an ECU illustrates the protagonist’s relief, as well as the diegetic sound of his breathing and he even smiles. All this makes the audience relieved but still wonder “Why is he trapped?”.

The camera zooms into the door as a diegetic buzzer goes off, implying that the door has been unlocked. However, the large flashing red light on the door connotes danger and warning as red is symbolic of danger and blood. The door doesn’t open and the bomb begins to make a beeping sound which becomes more frequent as well as an eerie yet intense sound score is played. The protagonist shuts his eyes, preparing for death and the screen goes black just as the sound of the bomb explodes.

This cliff hanger leaves the audience with more questions such as: “Did he really die?” and “Why was he trapped in the first place?”.

My Opinion:

This short film focuses on creating suspense and drama for the audience, keeping them on the edge of their seats throughout and keeping them guessing, linking to enigma theory.

Media Theory:

  • Levi Strauss (Binary oppositions) – GOOD VS EVIL, the hero vs the villain watching through the camera.
  • Roland Barthes (Enigma theory) – The theory which suggests any text (e.g tv and film) makes the audience question something and intrigues the audience, drawing them in.
  • Propp’s Narrative theory – A state of disequilibrium is created by the unknown villain.
  • Todorov’s Narrative theory – Open structure which results in the audience being left with unanswered questions and the audience can interpret the ending in a multiple amount of ways.

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