Studying The Usual Suspects

BookStudying The Usual Suspects

Studying The Usual Suspects

Instructor's Edition

Studying Films


March 19th, 2008





The story of The Usual Suspects has the kind of "rags to riches" back story that makes not only the film itself, but the tale of its creation a tale worth telling. Inspired by a magazine headline, it was a poster before it was a screenplay, yet it stands in opposition to the High Concept Hollywood movie. Studying The Usual Suspects is an analysis of a film that is both a ripping yarn and an exercise in virtuoso technique. Author Judith Gunn offers: a thorough introduction to semiotics as a way of approaching the multiple meanings of the film; a consideration of the film's noir antecedents and influences; a discussion of the film's playful approach to narrative; an overview of John Ottman's unique role as both composer and editor and how this affects the finished article, including a shot-by-shot analysis of the dramatic and mysterious opening sequence; and a definitive account of the film's genesis from idea to film festival acclaim.

Author Information

Judith Gunn started her career working for BBC Radio 1 as a chat show researcher. She went on to work for all 4 BBC Radio networks as a researcher, writer, producer and occasional broadcaster. She went on to work for the Radio Times and has written five books to date, including two biographies and a novelisation of a film. She is now a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at Cirencester College, where she teaches all aspects of the AS and A2 specification for OCR.