'Drive' Film Analysis - Audience Information


Drive – When to present information to an audience.

Hello, my names Darren and welcome to MUST SEE FILMS a channel that’s ‘helping you see films differently’

In this video I’d like to look at the opening chase in ‘Drive’ and explore what makes this such a cinematic, suspensful sequence work.

Lets look at how information is presented to the audience and why the opening might be the best part of the film.

  1. The first layer of information is the chase, posing the question if the driver will escape.
  2. Running parrallel to that is the introduction of the radio basketball game. Not only does it show the calm approach of our character but the audio we hear is reflective of each of the moments of buld up, similar to the way that song lyrics can serve as inner monolgue for characters and there emtional states.

Prisoners and pulp fiction.

  1. The most essential part of this scenes construction is the slow build up of each seprate layer and their esscaletion leads to their intersection, ending the basketball game and unknowingly acting as a narrative device to help the driver escape.

There are several reasons that this set up and pay off is satisfying and effective.

William Archer and Andrew Stanton, the director finding nemo and wall-E have descrived— 'Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.'

The radio element of this scene helps build the anitcipation of the scene but its overall satisfaction can be understood more if we explore ‘the rule of 3’

This rule is used in storytelling and mostly in jokes.

  1. the first time we see something we give it equal value.
  2. When we see the same thing for the second time, the audeince experinces recognition as the brain likes to identify patterns.
  3. Now that a pattern has been set up the barin looks for repition, comedians and storytellers understand this and use the third apperance to present the information differently, as misdirection or to play with the audiences expectations for affect.

For example, in The Shawshank Redemption, we see Red appear before the parole board three times. The first two appearances are practically identical. The third instance is different, in imagery, dialogue and outcome, indicating how Red changed after Andy left.

the climax of the drive sequence uses that same reconition and awarness of the radio

to surprise and reward the audience with misdirection and the unexpected use of a commen element.

Dialogue. Yeah sure.

Now this might be as simple as setting something up to pay off later but what im interested in is whether you present the audience with the information before hand.

Lets look at two opposite example.


In this classic pulp fiction scene Tarantino makes its clear that the toatser is included in the scene with this cut but on first viewing this seems like everyday casual actions, the result of this mundane activity turns into the catalyst for vincents death, cause a surpsise moment for the audience.

Just keep over expecting them butch.

Now compare that moment of shock/misdirection and surpsise with the opning of A touch of Evil.

We the Audience see a bomb planted in a cars boot and are then introduced the characters walking along side the car for a whole 3-4 minutes. This average scene becomes filled with tension and suspense as we see a perfect example of anticipation mingled with uncertainty’


One creates a few seconds of surprise the other creates 3-4 minutes of suspense, not saying one is better than the other but interesting how much an audiences expeirnce of a scene can be changed based on what information is provided.


Another reason why Drive’s opening is so joyous when we reach the climax is the idea of parrallel stories coming together to affect one another.


Another classic example of this is a scene in The good, the bad and the ugly.


  1. in one instance we have Clint Eastwood appropriately preparing his pistol.
  2. In the second but parrallel layer we see approaching characters who pose a threat to Eastwood, cause uncertainty and Serigio Leone also creates a masterful feeling of anticipation.
  3. The third character of the scene is the atmosphere, the marching outside, the noise from the street creates the volume necessary for the thugs to approach without being detected and they even stop when the marching stops.


But one small mistake of timing by the thugs is enough to hint to eastwoods character, he even expalins this fact to the thug after he shoots him.



So even though the opening to drive is short and simple, its cinematic use of timing, suspense, layering, and carefully crafted audience information is crucial to creating the satisfaction at the climax of the scene!

  • 21/11/2014 07:58:41
  • |
  • Film Analysis
  • |
  • Darren Foley

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