For this project, we decided to convert Notting Hill into a thriller film. Notting Hill (1999) is a romantic drama by Roger Michell, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. According to IMDb, Notting Hill tells the story of “The life of a simple bookshop owner [who] changes when he meets the most famous film star in the world.”
Like most genres, thrillers have a signature style. Thrillers are identified by the “thrills” a viewer feels and they often overlap with Horror and Science Fiction genres. Thrillers focus on action since they’re more defined by their plot. They excite their audiences by being fast-paced, having frequent location changes, and by being laced with tension and suspense.
In our version of Notting Hill, we will incorporate elements of thrillers and adjust cinematographic and theatrical components to transform this classic film. Our main take is that Anna is an obsessive stalker and William is her victim.
The components that we are keeping the same will be framing. We will continue to use two-shots, shot-reverse-shots, and eye level angles to keep a section of the characters’ conversation relaxed and natural.
The minor shifts we will change to convert this film will be the camera angles and acting choices. Throughout the scene, low angles will be used for shots of Anna and high angles will be for William. A low angle shot is a result of the camera being placed below Anna with the lens pointing up. This causes Anna to appear large and menacing, a dangerous stalker. A high angle shot happens when the camera is placed above William with the lens pointing down. This makes William appear small and vulnerable, allowing the audience to be scared for him.
The change in action choices will also be minor. Anna will smile widely more often, a freakish action. She will also move slowly (recognized by the sound of her footsteps to be addressed later) which will paint her as a monster. William, on the other hand, is casual at first, making the audience relaxed and unaware. When Anna’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and violent, then he freaks out.
Our major shifts to Notting Hill will be camera movement, lighting, sound, costumes, and props. Our main change in camera movement will be a dolly zoom onto Anna’s face while William is waiting for her response to his rejection. This dolly zoom is achieved by zooming the camera’s lens while the camera dollies (moves) forward Anna’s face. This effect distorts the audience’s perception of the shot since the background appears to change size. This distorting will make Anna creepier, therefore thrilling the audience with the possibility of violence.
For lighting, we will include flickering and darker lighting, to add a sense of foreboding. The flickering lighting will be used with Anna in the frame, adding to the idea that she is unnatural and monstrous.
In terms of sound, we will have diegetic noises (sounds made by objects in the story and heard by the characters) and non-diegetic music (sound effects added for dramatic effect). As mentioned earlier, the diegetic sound of Anna’s slow and careful footsteps will be pronounced, making the audience think that she’s creeping around. We will add non-diegetic music (creepy strings) that are a typical horror/thriller element and will explicitly paint Anna as nightmarish.
The costume changes will dress Anna in a fiery red dress and William in simple blue pants. This contrast of color temperatures will foreshadow their character - Anna being hot-tempered and William being cool.
Finally, a prop will be added to our conversion of this scene. Throughout this thriller version of Notting Hill, the audience has been waiting to see if Anna’s concerning actions will lead to violence. When she pulls out a knife, the audience is as scared as William is and completes Anna’s career as a villain.