How do we analyse film


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How do we analyse film

  1. 1. Paige Ward How Do We Analyse Film? There are two main types of analysis when studying film these are genre analysis and auteur theory. Genre analysis is the codes & conventions of a filmthese include the themes, narrative, character, setting, iconography and ideological message of a film. Applying genre analysis allows the audience to understand and predict factors which make a film a particular genre. A good example of this is ‘Quaturn of Solace directed by Marc Forster in 2008’, the genre of the film is Action/Spy thriller when watching this film it is predictable from the start. .Auteur Theory can be applied to unusual ideas and challenges genre conventions by doing something different.A good example of autheur theory is ‘Leon directed by Luc Besson in 1994’, it is an example of an unconventional film therefor the director is regarded as an auteur. Codes and Conventions: Codes are something which is meaningful and conventions are the accepted ways of doing something. An example of a film which follows the conventions of thegenre is ‘Quantum of Solace directed by Marc Forster in 2008’ the genre of this film is Action/Spy thriller. This doesn’t break any codes and conventions because the audience knows that James Bond (protagonist) will succeed with any task he is given and will get women during this. In this genre of film the women are used as sex objects, Quantum of Solace sticks to this throughout the film the camera focuses on the female bodies quite a lot and the women aren’t always wearing unravelling clothes. Also the film has props and settings which are used in most films within this genre that follow the codes and conventions.The props which are used in this film which make the genre predictable are guns and sport cars. Setting: The Setting is where the film is set, this is usually a different variety of places and can include things like different times of the day, different weather types and buildings depends on the location. The setting also includes the mise en scene of the film. A good example of this is ‘Kick Ass 2 directed by Jeff Wadlow in 2003’ the genre of this film is ‘Superhero Action/ Comedy’ and it doesn’t break the conformity. The setting which is mainly seen during this film is different parts of the streets in Mississauga, Canada and London. Another setting which is used a lot throughout the film is the front of a High school. There is also a lot more settings than these for example old factory, roof, hallway of school and alleys. Characters: Characters in any story allow the audience to engage with events in the narrative, a variety of films have characters who are protagonists and antagonist, a protagonist is when the character is a hero who ends up in conflict because of the antagonist. The antagonist is a character or even a group of
  2. 2. characters which are completely opposite to the protagonist. A good example of films which includes both of these types of characters is James Bonds films for example Sky fall, Quaturn of Solace, Casino Royale and live and let die, in all of these films Bond is the ‘hero’ and is pitched against the ‘villain.’ These genres of films are Action/ Spy Thriller, in each of them James Bond always succeeds and gets the girl at the end. Themes: The themes are things that cover different parts of life for example love, revenge, friendship, acceptance, individuality, jealousy and longing to be accepted. In the thriller and horror genre the themes are usually Alienation, death, contagion, demonic possession, entrapment and survival. When considering the horror genre a good example of this is ‘Rec directed by James Balaguero in 2007’ the genre is horror. The film uses a theme of satire this is when something is mocked in a critical way. The film starts off looking like a reality TV show but then completely changes, the film breaks away from the conformity of reality TV and conventional horror. Another good example which doesn’t break away from the conformity is ‘Mean girls directed by Mark Waters in 2004’ the genre of this film is teen comedy.It has a variety of different themessome of these are love, friendship, acceptance (within love and friendship), Relationships (sex), Jealousy and individuality. These themes are similar to ‘Napoleon Dynamite directed by Jared Hess in 2004’ but are approached in a different manner. Narrative: The narrative of a film is the beginning, middle and end of a film, for example ‘Leon directed by Marc Besson in 1994’ starts off with introducing the main characters (Leon, Tony and Mathilda) and some settings (New York City) in different scenes. Once the main characters have been introduced to the audience theirs an inciting incident when Mathilda’s family gets killed by a corrupt drug enforcement agency officials and Leon rescues Mathilda. There then follows rising action which makes the audience more interested, Mathilda discovers Leon is a hit man, he agrees to train her to become an assassin for revenge on Stansfield. Then Leon ends up rescuing Mathilda when Stansfield captures her, Leon kills some of Stansfield’s men. The climax makes the audience want to know what’s going to happen, Stansfield discovers where Leon is and after a huge battle Mathilda escapes but Leon dies, killing Stansfield in the process. At the end of the film Tony (donor/helper) helps Mathilda ‘find her roots’ symbolised by the planting of the Leon’s plant in the playground. This film has a really good narrative and creates a narrative enigma but it breaks the conformity of the Action/ Thriller genre. Iconography: The iconography can be aspects that come to mind when you’re watching a film, it represents something as soon as you think of it. A good example of the use of Iconography in a film is ‘Rec directed by Jaume Balaguero in 2007’ the genre of this film is horror. A crucifix is used in the film this shows the audience it has something to do with hell which shows the audience the film is a horror. It does break the conformity with the Iconography for example
  3. 3. they use reality TV in the horror film, this is obvious because of the microphone and the interviews. Also the female main character introduces her TV a variety of times. Reality TV isn’t part of the horror genre. An example of a film which doesn’t break the conformity is ‘Quaturn of solace’ they use Aston Martin cars in the film which represents British power and the British military. Also yellow taxis and world trade centre is used as being iconography of NYC. Ideological message : The ideological message in films are the ideas and beliefs that certain people share and believe to be right and true, they are usually meaningful. Every film has one or more ideological messages, some films have the same or similar. For example ‘Kick Ass 2 directed by Jeff Wadlow’ and ‘Quaturn of Solace directed by Marc Forster’ has two ideological messages which are the same these are ‘all will end well’ and ‘Goodness will triumph over evil.’ Both of these films have the genre of Action and there are some other conventions which are similar. James Bonds films always consist of attractive women in beautiful clothes capturing the attention of mainly men but definitely of all of those around her. The women in Bond’s films always fit the criteria of a ‘perfect’ body, beautiful hair, and ‘stunning’ features and wear hardly any clothes this is in all of the James Bonds films from the past to the newer sequels. This sexual objectification of women is a generic convention of character in action thriller and can be seen as negative representation of women. The women add a sexual context to the film. The films have changed over the years, the women have taken a more active role in the film, for example working with the lead male to combat the antagonist and help succeed but Bond still ends up sleeping with these females and they still fit the criteria. The women aren’t as ‘simple’ as they use to be they’re now smart and feisty characters. These representations have been moved with the times, women now are more valued than they were previously and this has reflected in the James Bonds films. In other genres such as crime thriller, the women are represented differently because there is often ‘femme fetale’ who is a woman. The women are usually rich and attractive and can be quite dangerous. This occurs in ‘Pulp Fiction directed by Quentin Tarantino in 1994’ with Uma Thurman’s portrayal of Mia Wallace as the ‘femme fetale.’ One of my favourite film genres is Fantasy because I like the way how some of the films are edited. The genre is obvious in some films because fantasy films should involve magic, supernatural events, make-believe creatures or monsters e.g. vampires, fairies and dragons, or exotic fantasy worlds. There is a variety of typical conventions of this genre of films for example the trailers are all very ‘dream alike’ in the sense that the plots do not appear realistic. One of my favourite film directors/ producers/ writer is Tim Burton, ‘he is known for his dark, gothic, macabre and quirky horror and fantasy films’ some of his well-known fantasy films are Edward Scissorhands (1990), The nightmare before Christmas (1993), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and etc… The genre is obvious in Tim Burton’s fantasy films because of the make-belief creatures for example ‘Alice in
  4. 4. Wonderland’ not only does this film have make-belief creatures the setting of the film isn’t realistic, he created this film using anexotic fantasy world with over-grown mushrooms. Even though a lot of fantasy films are usually for children and teenagers some of these films have themes which not many people take notice of for example the themes of Alice in Wonderland are the tragic and inevitable loss of childhood innocence, life is a meaningless puzzle, death as a constant and underlying menace. There are also films that have different ways of showing the fantasy genre for example the Harry Potter films, it is mainly filmed at a school but it also includes train stations and the streets. The characters in these films make the genre obvious for example wizards and witches. ‘Quantum of Solace directed by Marc Forster in 2008 ’ and ‘Leon directed by Luc Besson in 1994’ are both the same genre of film but ‘Leon’ breaks conformity to this specific genre. In ‘Quantum of Solace’ theirs a protagonist (James Bond) who is smartly dressed and good looking and there’s an antagonist (Mr White) who is feeble and the complete opposite to Bond, in Action film theirs always these types of characters. The film doesn’t use women as strong characters they’re used as sex objects which makes the film conform to the genre. The props also make the genre of the film obvious for example guns, sport cars and etc... Sometimes certain genre of films can break the conventions for example ‘Leon directed by Luc Bresson in 1994.’The film establishes the serve of action thriller but it breaks the conventions. Action films usually use women as sex objects, ‘Leon’ doesn’t one of the main characters is a strong independent young female ‘Mathilda’. An action film like ‘James Bond’ doesn’t have any young children as their characters but in ‘Leon’ Mathila is only 12. Also this genre of film creates a narrative enigma within 20 minutes of the film starting usually this doesn’t usually appear early. Even though ‘Leon’ breaks the conventions in a variety of ways the genre is still clear because it still has some codes and conventions for this specific genre for example the props, there are guns, knives, drugs, money and etc... Some of the themes and ideological message in both of these films are the same for example revenge and good triumphing over evil. Luc Besson is an ‘auteur’ because he made his own individual styles and broke away from the conformity of a specific genre. ‘Mean girls directed by Marc Waters in 2004’ and ‘Napoleon Dynamite directed by Jared Hess in 2004’ they’re both the same genre ‘teen comedy’. Both of these films are obvious in what genre they are, especially ‘mean girls’ because it sticks to the conformity of the specific genre whereas ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ doesn’t. Both of these use some of the same themes these are love, friendship, acceptance, relationships, Jealousy and individuality. In both of these films there is the same type of characters for example Pedro and Cady they’re new students, summer and Regina both the popular girls and etc… The characters are used different in each film in Mean girls the characters are how a ‘teen comedy’ film usually is for example Cady (new girl) has no friends when she first starts school, she becomes friends with the ‘geeks’ Janis and Damien and they decide to ruin Regina’s life (Queen Bee.) The ‘Queen Bees’ notice her and ask her to eat lunch with them every day. As the film goes on Cady will do anything to be part of the ‘Queen bees’ and slowly forgets about Janis and Damien. The main characters in this film are the popular girls (Queen Bee’s) and the new girl. Whereas Napoleon Dynamite is
  5. 5. completely different and breaks away from the conformity with the characters, the film is about Napoleon ‘geek’ usually the ‘geeky kids’ aren’t the main characters, also Pedro is a central character and he hardly speaks. Usually in this genre of film the main characters are the ‘popular kids’ but in this film the ‘popular girl’ Summer is hardly seen in the film and isn’t the main character. In my opinion Quentin Tarantino is an auteur, he has directed 11 films and has acted in 9 of these some of these films have their own distinctive style. He often includes parts of other director’s work as a way to show he has been influenced, these influences are clear in a variety of his work for example in his film ‘Reservoir dogs in 1992’ has obvious reference to ‘City on Fire directed by Ringo Lam’ it also has reference to ‘The killing directed by Stanley Kubrick.’ Also ‘Kill Bill’ obviously pays attention to the ‘1970s Kung Fu exploitation films and his latest release Django Unchained’. He also has introduced a variety of his own stylish creations to some of his films, his films are instantly recognisable by their mixture of humour, violence and madness, this mixture is rare with most directors. He writes dialog which is just as entertaining as the visuals, in reality no one would ever talk the way his characters do. The dialog he uses is old fashioned and racist. For example in Pulp Fiction ‘Colonel Hans Lana’ uses ‘Inglorious Basterds’ , this character speaks in riddles and uses different languages at the same time. In every one of his films he introduces a new entertaining character for example in ‘Reservois dogs’ theirs Mr Blond, who Quentin plays, as an ear removingpsychopath. In ‘Pulp Fiction’ their Jules, a murderous gangster preparing to embark on a religious journey and there are many other characters. In my opinion Quentin Tarantino is an auteur director because in all of his movies he uses the same fundamental themes and techniques that put signature to his work. An example of Tarantino’s work is pulp fiction this film includes the theme of racism and over use of the ‘n-word’. A technique that he uses in this film is violence, he uses it to add to the narrative for example the protagonists are retrieving a briefcase for their employer during this they kill three of the four people in the apartment on purpose. They end up killing the last by accident on the way back from the job. The reasoning behind the violence is to show more of the character than just listening to a long monologue by them and it is also sometimes used for comedy and entertainment. This also positions the audience in an unconventional manner, Tarantino develops the characters throughout the film so the audience end up liking them all, but then they commit acts of violence or are racist challenges the audience. Unlike most films Pulp Fiction doesn’t have any disliked characters by the audience. The narrative of this film isn’t clear because it is time disordered this creates a narrative enigma, for example the film starts with two lovers discussing whether they can rob the restaurant and make money from itwhich having their breakfast there. This is the scene which conflicts the expectations of the audience and they can’t make connection with the film until the end. As they decide to rob the restaurant the scene breaks off and the movie title credits roll. Once the title credits end the films goes straight to the scene where the two protagonists are retrieving a briefcase.