02film Studies


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This slideshow is being used by Film Studies 3030 at the University of Lethbridge, Calgary campus. The slide information is largely derived as commentary for the Giannetti and Leach textbook, Understanding Movies, and Richard Barsam's Looking at Movies.

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02film Studies

  1. 1. Film Studies Week Two Form and Content | Story and Plot Roles of the Producer, Director, Scriptwriter Figurative Techniques Alfred Hitchcock Photo: Vertigo (from imdb)
  2. 2. Questions to Discuss, 8 1/2 <ul><li>What kinds of things would you say obsessed Federico Fellini? </li></ul><ul><li>What scenes are dreams and what scenes are reality? </li></ul><ul><li>What scenes represent the past and present struggling against each other? </li></ul><ul><li>How does this film exemplify the “Formalist” style of filmmaking? What about Genre? </li></ul><ul><li>What kinds of devices does Fellini use to change the location of the scene? </li></ul><ul><li>Any comments about how this film has informed other more recent films you have seen? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Various theoretical perspectives Some different ways of looking at Fellini’s 8 1/2. <ul><li>An auteur critic might regard it as a _________________________. </li></ul><ul><li>It could also be looked at as a _________________ star vehicle. </li></ul><ul><li>An industry historian might look at the _________________________________. </li></ul><ul><li>A genre critic might find it an example of a ____________, popular in the aftermath of the ____________________. </li></ul><ul><li>A stylistic critic might analyse the picture within a ________ paradigm because of its _______________. </li></ul><ul><li>A performance critic might acclaim the movie as a ________________________. </li></ul><ul><li>A semiotic theoretician might use cultural codes to analyse the _______________ of __________________ values to analyse a ____________ ideological structure. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Film and the Theory of Organic Form Barsam provokes valuable thought about “Form and Content” (Chapter 1). This all speaks to the issue of “Meaning.” Further to this: ANDRE BAZIN http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/archive/innovators/bazin.html Bazin, the great French critic noted, “One way of understanding better what a film is trying to say is to know how it is saying it.” This Theory of Organic Form is the belief that form and content are mutually interdependent in film. The way a story is told is part of that story. Let’s do the toughest stuff first…
  5. 5. THE DIRECTOR <ul><li>THE Director is </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible for creative decisions and oversees the work of the creative team. </li></ul><ul><li>The dominent figure in Preproduction, Production, and Postproduction phases. </li></ul><ul><li>An “auteur” when he or she contributes a considerable personal vision to the film. eg Atom Egoyan. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Metteurs en scene” directors are considered those who “craft” films for a major studio eg Michael Curtiz for Warner Brothers. </li></ul>Job Descriptions
  6. 6. THE PRODUCER The producer is the lynchpin between the administrative and the artistic teams. She or he finds ideas for movies and sets up the financier (studio). Producers makes sure things are on time and on budget — project management in short. They liaise between the set and the studio . The producer may handle the press, the promotions , and may contribute to final creative and casting decisions (usually because of money). Job Descriptions
  7. 7. THE SCREENWRITER Film scripts differ from plays because they are only blueprints of the finished product unlike a theatrical “play” that one can read with pleasure. Therefore, film scripts are rarely autonomous literary products. This speaks to the “theory of organic form” and the observation that films communicate through visual elements of interdependent form and content moving through time and space but we still need a good STORY. For better or worse, the STORY comes primarily from the pen of the screenwriter. Job Descriptions — Film Structure
  8. 8. Evolution of a Screenplay. Treatment (Synopsis) to Outline (Rough Draft Scenario), to Storyboard, to Shooting Scrip. Review Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Elements. Hubs and Satellites. Refer to pages 56 - 66 in Barsam Looking at Movies.
  9. 9. ROBERT MCKEE Just when you thought the “literary text” was not as important in the equation as you thought … Robert McKee, famed Hollywood scriptwriter and educator (author of STORY ) urges us to think of: Originality as being the confluence of Form + Content. Content (setting, characters, ideas) and Form (selection and arrangement of events) require, inspire and mutually influence each other. Content + a mastery of form = (gasp) STORY. A screenwriter’s take on Content and Form
  10. 10. ROBERT MCKEE’s PRINCIPLES What is the Inciting Incident in this story? (The primary cause of all that follows?) How does the protagonist react to this? (the Quest) The Progressive Complications? How are the subplots involved? The Crisis? What is the crisis decision? The Climax? What’s the “value swing”? The Resolution? What’s the point of this resolution in terms of dramatic structure? Vertigo and Apocalypse Now -- WRITE THIS DOWN!!!
  11. 11. FIGURATIVE TECHNIQUES Explores the use of artistic devices that suggest abstract ideas through comparison. (All are “symbolic”) Motifs can be a technique, an object, or anything that is repeated but does not call attention to itself. Eg? Symbols can be things that imply additional meaning to the sensitive observer. Eg.? In 8 1/2? Metaphor is comparison that is not literally true. Eg? 8 1/2? Cinematic metaphors can be created through montage and editing. Other figurative techniques are allegory, allusions (analogy) and homage.
  12. 12. POINT OF VIEW -- NARRATION First-person narrative is where the cinematic equivalent to the “voice” of a literary narrative is the “eye” or lens of the camera. Eg? Omniscient point of view is where the lens is the all-knowing observer that supplies evaluations of the scene. Eg? Voice-over narration is common and when there is a narrator that literally talks over the action. Eg? Camera as buddy is uncommon but is when the camera is treated like an active listener in the story. Eg? Another WAY TO express ORIGINAL INSIGHTS.
  13. 13. NARRATIVE Pgs. 36-39 Aristotelian Poetics distinguished between two types of fictional narratives - mimesis (showing) and diegesis (telling). Cinema combines both. Narratology is the study of of how stories work — the study of different narrative structures, storytelling strategies, types of stories (genres) and their symbolic implications. We will be looking at Realistic Narrative, Formalistic Narrative, and Classical Narrative.
  14. 14. REALISTIC NARRATIVES Realists prefer loose, discursive plots and we are not presented with a clear-cut conflict as in classical narratives. The pretence that a realistic narrative is unmanipulated is an aesthetic deception. Often we cannot guess the principle of narrative coherence until the end of the movie. Scenes are arranged in apparently random order and everyday events are presented matter-of-factly with no “heightening” for dramatic effect. Much Canadian film is rooted in realism.
  15. 15. FORMALIST NARRATIVES Formalists revel in their artificiality. The design of the plot is not concealed but heightened. It’s virtually impossible to ignore the personality of the auteur director in the film. Often interrupted by lyrical interludes like musical numbers or dreamscapes. Often uses multiple lines of narrative and juxtaposes snippets of lives, dreams, memories, and abstract formulations.
  16. 16. CLASSICAL NARRATIVES Derived from live theatre (Aristotelian Poetics and the “well-made-play”) the classical narrative model is based on a conflict between a protagonist, who initiates the action, and an antagonist who resists it. Most films in this form begin with an implied dramatic question -- we want to know if the protagonist will get what they want in the face of opposition. The scenes that follow escalate in an Aristotelian cause and effect with each scene linking to the next.
  17. 17. CLASSICAL NARRATIVES CONT. Classical paradigm emphasizes dramatic unity, plausible motivation, and coherence. Classical structures often feature double plot lines and characters who are goal oriented. Classical plot structures are linear and often take the form of a journey, a chase, or a search.
  18. 18. CLASSICAL NARRATIVES CONT. System One: Steps in the Aristotelian paradigm of “The Well-Made Play” are Exposition, Rising Action, Conflict, Climax and Denoument. (see chart variations on Barsam page 59) System Two: Syd Field’s Three-Act System where each story contains about 10-20 “plot points” Midpoint in Act II there is a big reversal of expectations. System Three: Robert McKee’s “World of the Story.” We’re going to use this system to look at the classical narrative structure of Vertigo and Apocalypse Now.
  19. 19. REAR WINDOW (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) 1 hours 46 minutes Logline (from imdb): Through his rear window and the eye of his powerful camera he watched a great city tell on itself, expose its cheating ways...and Murder! Awards: Nominated 1955 Academy Awards -- Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Writing. James Stewart .... L.B. Jeffries Kim Novak .... Lisa Carol Freemont Thelma Ritter -- Stella Raymond Burr -- Lars Thorwald
  20. 20. Questions for next class What are some specific examples of Hitchcock’s formula of suspense? Given that “ The way a story is told is part of that story” (Bazin), how does it speak to McKee’s story structure. In Rear Window and Apocalypse Now, how does “story” and “narrative” (structural concerns) apply. ALSO let’s start looking at the aesthetics of photography, production design, performance, costumes, music and sound. --- Can you identify films that fit into the main film genres identified in www.filmsite.org/genres.html?