There is more than one way to analyse a film as there are different genres and
directors behind each film. One well known genre theorist would be Steve Neale who once
said ‘…Genres are instances of repetition and difference…’. For an example of Steve Neale’s
theory, I could say that a film like Star Wars is like the Star Trek film(s) are very similar due
to the space travel and visiting other planets where the heroes meet new factions of extra-
terrestrials. Then there are the differences of the two films, such as the facts that in the Star
Wars movies, we see two sides battling it out, The Jedi and The Sith, these sides use
Lightsabers, devices which act like swords for combat, but then we have Star Trek which
uses mostly humour and intelligence to solve problems.
Another Genre Theorist would be Daniel Chandler who once said ‘… Genres… Constitute of
themes, setting, structure and style that are shared by texts…’. This quote presents the
theory that films all share the same style of writing but settings, themes and structure of a
film may vary. This goes well for remakes or re-imaginings of films from decades ago that
are put in different locations and a slightly different theme, like turning a happy film set in a
very vibrant area into a very dark and menacing film set in a dull are, even though these
both have different settings and looks, they still have the same story and very similar
writing. The final genre theorist, Nick Lacey believed that movies were made with fixed
elements, all were essential to successfully make any kind of movie. These elements are:
Setting, characters, narrative, iconography and style. For a Comedy film you would need
these elements: Setting – City/neighbourhoods, Characters – Steve Carell and Jim Carrey,
Narrative events – Old friends spend time together as one or both of them are divorced…
They decide to find some fun out in the city… they get dragged into a situation which puts
them at risk and have no choice but to go through with it… their humour ends up saving the
day getting them out of a lot of trouble, Iconography – Busy city/bars/organizations, Style –
Bright colours to display the characters’ personality, tracking shots when characters in
conversation, Diegetic sound is dialogue but non-diegetic sound is music.
Using Lacey’s repertoire of elements, it can be quite easy to define a film even by just
looking at the poster.
The poster for the film Central intelligence makes it looks like a movie set in and
around America where two characters: the badass and the business type that seem to
know each other, there may be a lot of abandoned buildings for its iconography,
there might be a slightly dark tone in the comedy’s narrative as the two guys may
turn on one another make it hard for the story to be tied up at the end. In happy
scenes there may be mid shots and two shots presented in high lighting, More tense
and sad scenes may have one shots in low key lighting.
Leon and James Bond
The film Leon is an action thriller based on an Italian man who has come to New York to work for an old
friend as a hitman that takes down people that are contracted to him by a client. The film starts with a
scene where Leon is sent to take down a smartly dressed drug dealer team that has gone against his boss.
After Leon has dealt with the man he goes home but on his way is greeted by a 14-year-old girl that looks
depressed about something. Leon speaks to the girl for a few seconds but then leaves to his apartment.
Suddenly a mysterious enemy is brought to light and Leon is eventually sent to stop it.
The mise en scene of Leon includes guns, melee weapons, fancy old cars, New York taxi cabs and nicely
decorated buildings. For sound, the film Leon uses the banging of gun shots and explosions which made
use of amplified sound (which was relatively new at the time), it also includes a lot of dialogue and a
mixture of dramatic and calming music. Within the editing of Leon, we see a lot of cross cuts to show each
sides view (good and bad) on an event and slow paced editing when there is no action going on between
those two sides. The movie makes great use of camera angles to fit a scene’s theme as it runs through to
give it the right atmosphere and such camera angles were close ups or extreme close ups when trying to
make the setting of the scene claustrophobic. Bond movies share many of these except they always like
to keep up to the more modern and British style instead of making everything old fashioned. One very
notable difference is that there is never one specific place for Bond to be in the movie. Because Bond
never stays in one place allows for many more Establishing shots than is in the film Leon and also allows
for long shots in the films as well to show off the beauty of each unique location.
The 2004 teen comedy, Mean Girls is directed by Mark Waters and is a story about a new girl (Cady
Heron) at an American High School that has just come from Africa with her Zoologist parents. When Cady
first arrives at the High School, she finds it hard to get used to but on the second day she ends up finding
herself making friends with a couple of outcasts called Janis and Daniel that are really nice to her. Later on
the second day she is invited to sit with ‘The Plastics’, as long as she follows the rules of how to stay in the
group. The Plastics are enemies to both of the friends that Cady had just made earlier on and the fact that
Cady has been asked to join them, incites the incident that the movie’s plot is based on. Cady’s asked to
be the undercover snitch for Janis and Daniel to see what the Plastics are up to on a day to day basis.
Throughout the first few weeks Cady gets closer and closer to The Plastics and is eventually shown the
burn book. The burn book is where anyone who the plastics hate gets something mean said about them.
This leads on to the whole of the rest of the story.
The main character Cady is the new girl in the big world of High School and is just getting used to the way
of learning in mainstream schooling. We know this because it is made clear at the start of the movie that
she has just arrived in America recently from being Home Schooled in Africa. Her characteristics in the
beginning are very cautious as no one knows her and this means she has a whole year to make an image
for herself. There are the relatively morally good friends that the main character gets introduced to early
on that try to the main character through through the first week. Finally, there is the group of popular
girls that you would normally think would bully the new girl into wanting to leave but instead decide to
also become her friends, not knowing that she has other friends.
The general setting (Mise en scene) is based around an American High School where there is a lot of space
for a lot of people. There is a shopping mall close to the High School where all the characters like to hang
out on long breaks. In the general area there are a lot of houses that we get to see some of and are taken
inside a few.
A lot of the camera angles are close-ups when a character is feeling uncomfortable or is being described.
Mid shots are sometimes used when a character has no one next to them when they are talking. If there
is a group of people in a line, then there will be a group shot to show them interacting with each other in
A lot of the diegetic sound is dialogue and the non-diegetic sound is just music.
Finally, the editing contains a lot of split screen in the scenes where multiple characters are talking on the
phone as each person joins. Right at the end of the movie there is a quick montage of the character’s
lives, post of the main story this concludes the film with various scenes and gives a great climax.
Quentin Tarantino is an auteur Director that likes to make movies that are dark, gritty and tend to have a
lot of violence and contains quite a few adult themes. One of his latest films “The Hateful Eight” is a very
gritty Western starring Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren and Kurt Russell as John Ruth (Top 2
credited on IMDB). The film follows the story of a bounty hunter that puts together a team of seven other
people to take down a nefarious villain. There are many moments of violence, which include a lot of guts
and gore. Another short example would be Kill Bill as both the volumes that are out contains very strong
scenes of violence and bad language frequently throughout the whole 2 films.
Another Auteur Director would be Tim Burton. Tim Burton also makes films with dark twists, but also
make the films light hearted when it fits. One of his more popular film, “The Nightmare Before Christmas”
is a film set in a town that is always celebrating Halloween and not everybody is happy about it. All the
characters have different features that give them some sort of unique horror film style look. The film
actually gets darker when you would think it would be happier which splits the film from any other.
Another one of his best movies is “Edward Scissorhands” which barely ever let’s go of the tension as it
continues to be a dark and when the tone changes to a much lighter tone, it makes the film feel fresh.
A director like Jared Hess who made the film “Napoleon Dynamite” seems to be a director that makes
very lighthearted and very comedic movies that are well written in terms of jokes and general narrative
going along with the movie. Another one of his movies “Shanghai Noon” is yet another comedy but has
two main characters instead of one (Napoleon Dynamite), this allowed the jokes to be a lot better as they
are being shared as if they were being shared in a general conversation.