Analysis of Whitechapel with particular reference to gender and class

Camera angles and shot types:

  • c/u of feet walking along a wet street connotations of mystery, threat
  • long shots of shadows on street lit urban walls
  • image matching of feet above to Joe’s feet walking along corridor; l/a shot of Joe with decorated plasterwork ceiling above head evokes image of old-fashioned, upper class, expensive location shows him as smart, competent and confident in this rich environment
  • image matching of youth throwing missile and ice clinking into cut crystal whisky glass
  • intercut with titles, white on black, blotchy, badly typed on old-fashioned typewriter all lowercase all connoting a time past.
  • Titles fade in and out as if lit by flashing light or lightning creates threatening atmosphere.
  • P.o.v. shots of Joe, wearing a tuxedo, and a friend, (commander) wearing a dress police uniform – juxtaposed with person wearing long coat fleeing, building expectations that this is the villain.
  • Juxtaposition of scenes: interior of gentlemen’s club, exterior street scene. Image matching of flame of match lighting cigar to building on fire.
  • Establishing shot of urban streets (London) over-ground railway and industrial style building (scene of a fire)
  • Montage of quick mid and close ups of police cordon trying to keep the public back while the emergency services get on with their work.
  • Long shot
  • Tracking shot of Joe as he goes to sit down centre of attention
  • Tracking shot in an arc around Joe sitting in chair but as if from behind bars, hidden, suggests being watched or villain’s surveillance.
  • Mid shots of Joe giving his jargon laden professional opinion on modern policing; political correctness as he refers to criminals as ‘stakeholders’! to braying upper class laughter.
  • Mid shot shows him slightly ill at ease as he ‘shows off’ to apparent approval. Surrounded by similar people suggests he is buffered, protected, out of touch with the real world like they are: setting himself up for a fall.
  • Juxtaposed with mid shots of wpcso in police cordon working; only her dialogue heard as she enforces the public’s distance from the fire.
  • Mid shot of her as she sighs in frustration suggests youth unwilling to take the word of a woman; she follows up with action thrusting youth back.
  • Canted angle shot shows feet hiding in wall recess then tracks feet along the street as character follows the woman police community support officer (pcso) leaving scene of the fire and disturbance.
  • Over the shoulder shot as she passes under railway bridge then villain following steps into view seen from behind.
  • Tracking shots of wpcso, some high angle looking down on her suggests her vulnerability as she approaches the location of the crime scene.
  • Camera angles make us feel like voyeurs as she hears noise and goes to investigate, sees female victim and approaches.
  • Long shot of her reflected in puddle next to victim.
  • Kneels down wide shot as she takes charge and radios in for help.
  • c/u of the two women’s hands locked tightly together for mutual reassurance. And on ring of victim with ‘mum’.
  • c/u on victim’s face blood covered and tears rolling down cheeks – in this scene stereotypical representations of women: victim, object of pity, supporter, motherly role of wpcso.
  • Upon hearing clang of gate, shot reverse shot c/u of her face; point of view shot as she looks towards gate followed by zoom in to c/u of her shocked expression; wide eyes
  • Jump cut to tilting pan upwards to gate and figure silhouetted, dark but with light glinting off the knife held in hand.
  • Jump cut to approaching vehicle and villain leaving scene; as vehicle passes in front of camera villain vanishes, too quickly, suggesting mystery.
  • Cut to title of programme
  • Jump cut to crime scene and scene of crime officers (soco) arriving; friendly banter accompanied by wide shot suggesting closeness of this team, all ‘boys’, but weak one is Kent who likes ‘crappacino’ suggesting class division.
  • Mid 2 shot of Joe and his mentor shoulder to shoulder at old fashioned sink in washroom in club, suggests solidarity of class and shared social background.
  • Shot reverse shot again suggests social equals despite difference in age.
  • Close up of Joe in car on way to crime scene: signet ring, expensive watch, white shirt cuffs protruding from jacket sleeves; sat nav, expensive car; all connoting superior social class to the men already at the scene.
  • h/a shot as he arrives and gets out of car suggests his vulnerability in this unknown situation he’s to take charge of and which we already know is resented ‘I’d have made vol au vents’
  • Wide shot of the soco’s Joe in close up accentuates difference.
  • Also men suited up; point of view over the shoulder shot as camera pans up Joe’s body from ground to the accompaniment of disparaging aside on his outfit.
  • Accompaniment of flashes as if paparazzi photographing celebrity.
  • Low angle mid shot of Joe watching his increasing discomfort in the presence and dispassionate discussion of the victim
  • Mid shot as we enter tent cut to c/u of female forensics or soco expert; expert language and description; factual, competent, at ease suggested by pushing her mask back at the end contrasts with Joe’s discomfort.
  • Shot reverse shot as we cut to mid 2 shot of female soco and Ray’s discussion and friendly banter, ending with c/u as Joe’s revulsion gets the better of him and he exits the tent speedily
  • Cut to amused and surprised reaction shot of the other two – suggests their familiarity and shared disparagement of the ‘new DI’
  • Cut to exterior shot mid shot of Joe left bent over facing camera in discomfort then regaining his composure and turning back towards the tent.
  • Cut to over the shoulder mid shot of wpcso who discovered the body upset and crying drawing the comparison between the emotional wpcso (and Joe) and the more distant and hardened soco officers male and female to whom this murder is an every day occurrence.

Editing:

  • Urgent exterior scenes intercut with more leisured interiors of the club suggesting difference in class experience.
  • Flash transitions marked by lightning effect like blinking – builds suspense as if we are never given long enough to take in all details of a scene. Disorientating. Confusing.
  • Jump cuts between exterior and interior scenes points out the disparity between real life and life behind the walls.

Sound:

  • Non-diegetic musical score – haunting violin strings and piano in minor key, overlaid by diegetic sounds of sirens, shouting, orders and smashing glass, followed by clink of ice
  • Footsteps, trains, gurgling of victim choking, suddenness of gate clanking – significant – walkie talkie radio noise, chiming accompanies view of perpetrator and climactic strings chord held. End of musical score.
  • Background noise of traffic, sirens, talking
  • Echoey, hollow sound in bathroom, water running,
  • Musical score changes to more modern repeated riff
  • Sound of zip on crime scene tent.
  • Sound of flash bulb photography no other background noise.
  • Outside tent muted background noises

Mise en scene / costume / props:

  • Impression of old London with shadowy alleyway seen blurred and hurried through
  • Victorian over head street lamp
  • Following man in hat and long coat
  • Gentlemen’s club – decorative ceiling, wood panelling, leather wing chairs, ambient lighting, wooden corridor floor, cut crystal glasses, ice and whisky, cigar, large open men’s washroom, old style sinks and taps, towels, urinals
  • Urban: streets; derelict buildings, orange street lighting, fire engine, police cars, looters throwing missiles, dark, dingy, damp streets, cobbles, shadows, puddles, brick walls; railway bridges, barbed wire, wire fence and gates
  • Hi vis jackets, fire hoses, soco boiler suits, masks, crime scene tent, ambulance, fire engine
  • Wpcso seen in uniform including hat; contrasts with victim whose skirt it too high and is lowered by wpcso in respect.
  • Men variously: Joe in tuxedo, coat, later soco boiler suit and mask and gloves; the commander in dress police uniform; soco’s civvies; female forensic expert in boiler suit and mask

Conclusion

Females seen in both working roles as competent, one emotional the other not – more like one of the boys; consensual innuendo; third female is the victim, later seen as a serial victim, abused by husband; men seen in working roles, competent but competitive even among equals, but obvious pecking order. So long as their roles don’t overlap then women not regarded as threat.

 

Class – clear divide between the working policemen and the new DI assigned to them because they ‘don’t know how to do their jobs’; resentment clearly shown in body language, camera angles and dialogue. Also in the places that they are used to inhabiting: the gritty reality of London’s streets and the rarefied atmosphere of a gentleman’s club with the ‘hooray Henry’s’ and their false laughter. Old boys’ network. Contrast between the seediness of urban London and the glamour of the upper class lifestyle. Possibly also intends to suggest that all is not what it seems. The commander’s hand on Joe’s back in friendship and patronage may have more sinister connotations. Overall the intention is to show Joe as out of his league, fish out of water, unable to cope, the ‘snob’ etc Set up to fail but doubtless he will win everyone round and solve the murder with a little help from his more working class plods!

 


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