Understanding Movies

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  • Dealing with everyday occurences Fanstasy with some tricky photography
  • Most realists would claim that their major concern is with content. Realist films attempt to reproduce the surface of reality with a minimum of distortion. In its most extreme form, the realistic cinema tends toward documentary, with its emphasis on photographing actual events and people.
  • Form and content
  • Extreme long short (epic films, cowboy films) Long short Full short (head to foot, Charles Chaplin – silent comedies) Medium short ()
  • Desolation, tragic
  • The term is also used in film‐making for the staging of the action in front of the camera, i.e. for the combination of setting, lighting, acting, and costume, as distinct from camerawork and editing.
  • The director guides the viewer’s eye through the use of the dominant, the area of an image that immediately attracts our attention because of a conspicuous and compelling contrast. Our eye scans the subsidiary contrasts after we take in the dominant contrast. Because films have temporal and dramatic contexts, the dominant is often movement itself and what some aestheticians call __________ , which simply means that the audience, through the context of the story, knows that an object is more important dramatically than it appears to be visually.
  • If the horizon is in the center, it looks very heavy that the sky is falling down to the land. Sometimes, directors use this technique to create anxiety. They made sky to be dominant, people and the land is overwhelming under the sky.
  • Psychological experiments have revealed that certain lines suggest directional movements. These psychological phenomena are important to the visual artist, especially the filmmaker, for the __________ is not always conducive to an overt expression of emotion. Your Answer: dramatic context For example, if a director wishes to show a character’s inward agitation within a calm context, this quality can be conveyed through the dynamic use of line.
  • Psychological experiments have revealed that certain lines suggest directional movements. These psychological phenomena are important to the visual artist, especially the filmmaker, for the __________ is not always conducive to an overt expression of emotion. Your Answer: dramatic context For example, if a director wishes to show a character’s inward agitation within a calm context, this quality can be conveyed through the dynamic use of line.
  • full front   D. this is the most intimate position with the character looking in our direction, inviting our complicity   quarter turn   C. this is the favored position of most filmmakers, and it provides a high degree of intimacy   profile   E. from this position, the character seems unaware of being observed, lost in his or her own thoughts   three-quarter turn   B. this position is useful for conveying a character's unfriendly or antisocial feelings   back to camera   A. in this position we can only guess what's taking place internally; this position is often used to suggest a character's alienation from the world, to convey a sense of concealment or mystery   The more face we see, the closer we are.
  • In general, the greater the distance between the camera and the subject, the more emotionally neutral we remain.
  • In terms of design, open form emphasizes informal, unobtrusive compositions with no discernible structure. Closed forms are more likely to emphasize the unfamiliar. The images are rich in textural contrasts and compelling visual effect. Because the mise en scéne is more precisely controlled and stylized, there is often a deliberate artificiality in these images--a sense of visual improbability, of being removed from reality. Like most cinematic techniques, open and closed forms have certain limitations as well as advantages. Too often, open forms can seem uncontrolled, unfocused, and even visually ugly. On the other hand, closed forms can seem arty and pretentious.
  • . This type of cutting is a technique used in most fiction films even today and tries to preserve the fluidity of an event without literally showing it all.
  • . This type of cutting is a technique used in most fiction films even today and tries to preserve the fluidity of an event without literally showing it all.
  • . This type of cutting is a technique used in most fiction films even today and tries to preserve the fluidity of an event without literally showing it all.
  • Griffith has been called the Father of Film because he consolidated and expanded many of the techniques invented by his predecessors and was the first to go beyond gimmickry into the realm of art. During the golden years of the American studio system--roughly the 1930s and 1940s--directors were often urged (or forced) to adopt the master-shot technique of shooting. This method involved shooting an entire scene in long shot without cuts. This take contained all the dramatic variables for the scene. These are extra shots of a scene that can be used to bridge transitions in case the planned footage fails to edit as planned.
  • Griffith has been called the Father of Film because he consolidated and expanded many of the techniques invented by his predecessors and was the first to go beyond gimmickry into the realm of art. During the golden years of the American studio system--roughly the 1930s and 1940s--directors were often urged (or forced) to adopt the master-shot technique of shooting. This method involved shooting an entire scene in long shot without cuts. This take contained all the dramatic variables for the scene.
  • Filmmakers in the Soviet Union were strongly influenced by the theories of Pavlov , whose experiments in the association of ideas served as the basis for the editing experiments of Lev Kuleshov.
  • Filmmakers in the Soviet Union were strongly influenced by the theories of Pavlov , whose experiments in the association of ideas served as the basis for the editing experiments of Lev Kuleshov.
  • Understanding Movies

    1. 1. Understanding Movies Terry Wang
    2. 2. Elements
    3. 3. 1. Photography
    4. 4. Realistic & Formalistic <ul><li>In the mid-1890s in France, Lumière brothers’ The Arrivial of a Train </li></ul><ul><li>At the same time, Méliés’ A Trip To The Moon </li></ul><ul><li>Realistic & Formalistic </li></ul>
    5. 5. Realistic & Formalistic <ul><li>Realists’ major concern is with content </li></ul><ul><li>Realists attempt to reproduce the surface of reality with a minimum of distortion </li></ul><ul><li>Formalists are often referred to as expressionists, because their self-expression is at least as important as the subject matter itself </li></ul>
    6. 6. Film styles Documentary Realistic Classic Formalistic Fiction Avant-garde An inconvenient truth (Al Gore) Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese) Allures (Jordan Belson)
    7. 7. Camera Shots <ul><li>Extreme long shot </li></ul><ul><li>Long short </li></ul><ul><li>Full shot </li></ul><ul><li>Medium short </li></ul><ul><li>Close-up </li></ul><ul><li>Extreme close-up </li></ul><ul><li>Deep-focus shot (Wide-angle shot) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Medium shot Extreme long shot usually used in epic films, here in a western film – Unforgiven.
    9. 9. Deep-focus shot
    10. 10. Camera Angles <ul><li>Bird’s eye view </li></ul><ul><li>High angle </li></ul><ul><li>Eye-level shot </li></ul><ul><li>Low angle </li></ul><ul><li>Oblique angle </li></ul>
    11. 11. Low Angle plus the lights from the bottom make audience be afraid of the actor. Bird’s eye view / high angle gives audiences the power to see and control the whole world. The film’s subject matter is often relates to people’s fate – frequently used in this film <Blade Runner>.
    12. 12. Lighting and Coloring <ul><li>High key – music films, comedies </li></ul><ul><li>Low key – tragedy </li></ul><ul><li>Bright colors – peace, happiness, virtue </li></ul><ul><li>Dark colors – evil, horrible, confuse </li></ul>
    13. 13. Dark colors with orange and yellow imply desolation, tragic . These colors are widely used in western films.
    14. 14. 2. Mise en Scéne
    15. 15. Mise en Scéne <ul><li>A French term for the staging or visual arrangement of a dramatic production, comprising scenery, properties, costume, lighting, and human movement. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Frame <ul><li>Today, most movies are projected in one of two aspect ratios : 1.85:1 (standard) and 2.33:1 (widescreen) </li></ul><ul><li>Using iris (a circular or oval mask that can open up or close in on a subject), the director can change the aspect ratio </li></ul><ul><li>Different areas of the frame have different implications </li></ul>
    17. 17. Frame The most important visual elements Power, authority, ambition auxiliary, fragile, powerless Unimportant, Unknown, Invisible, Anxiety Unimportant, Unknown, Invisible, Anxiety Darkness, mystery, death related ( M )
    18. 18. Frame The most important visual elements Power, authority, ambition auxiliary, fragile, powerless Unimportant, Unknown, Invisible, Anxiety Unimportant, Unknown, Invisible, Anxiety Darkness, mystery, death related ( M ) Two other important areas: between the camera and the actors, between the actors and the scene setups ( Notorious )
    19. 19. Composition and design <ul><li>In classical films, directors tend to use balanced and harmonized composition but it is Story that determines composition </li></ul><ul><li>Human eyes can detect as many as seven or eight major elements of a composition simultaneously </li></ul><ul><li>In most cases, the eye is guided to specific areas in sequence </li></ul>
    20. 20. Composition and design <ul><li>The dominant and subsidiary contrasts </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsic interest - Audiences know what’s important from the context </li></ul><ul><li>Movement can automatically be the dominant if all other objects are stationary </li></ul>
    21. 21. Composition and design <ul><li>Composition is all about placing different objects with different weights on the same frame </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If weights of the frame is balanced, human beings tend to read from left to right </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Weight of the objects on the top is bigger than objects on the bottom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Isolated figures or objects tend to be heavier than those in a cluster </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Composition and design <ul><li>Certain lines suggest directional movements </li></ul><ul><li>Lines helps to convey emotion signals if context is not proper </li></ul>Left to right Bottom to top In transition, jumping
    23. 23. In a very cold environment, oblique lines here add on the fears.
    24. 24. Spatial conventions <ul><li>Figures are always between the foreground and the background. Whatever on the foreground is explaining </li></ul><ul><li>E.g., a light and thin curtain on the foreground; a window with crossed lines </li></ul>
    25. 25. Spatial conventions <ul><li>A movie frame is a kind of territory, though a temporary one </li></ul><ul><li>Territory suggests authority and level/class </li></ul><ul><li>By exploiting spatial conventions, metteur en scène can define, adjust, and redefine human relationships </li></ul>
    26. 26. Spatial conventions <ul><li>An actor can be photographed in any of five basic positions, each conveying different psychological undertones </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Full front </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quarter turn </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Profile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Three-quarter turn </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Back to camera </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Profile – from this position, the character seems unware of being observed, lost in his own thoughts.
    28. 28. Proxemic pattern <ul><li>Each prexemic pattern has a counterpart in camera shots: </li></ul><ul><li>In general, the greater the distance between the camera and the subject, the more emotionally neutral we remain </li></ul>Extremely long shot Long shot Medium shot Close-up Extremely close-up Public Social Personal Intimate
    29. 29. Open forms and Closed forms <ul><li>In terms of design, open form emphasizes informal, unobtrusive compositions with no discernible structure </li></ul><ul><li>Closed forms are more likely to emphasize the unfamiliar, there is often a deliberate artificiality in these images </li></ul>
    30. 30. Closed form – controlled, precisely, artificially, being removed from the reality Open form – uncontrolled, unstructured
    31. 31. 15 Elements to analyze Mise en Scéne <ul><li>The dominant </li></ul><ul><li>Lighting key </li></ul><ul><li>Spatial conventions </li></ul><ul><li>Camera Angle </li></ul><ul><li>Filters, lenses </li></ul><ul><li>Subsidiary contrasts </li></ul><ul><li>Density </li></ul><ul><li>Composition </li></ul><ul><li>Open form vs. Closed form </li></ul><ul><li>Frame </li></ul><ul><li>Depth of focus </li></ul><ul><li>Figure positioning (top, bottom or center?) </li></ul><ul><li>Acting position (profile, full front?) </li></ul><ul><li>Space </li></ul>
    32. 32. 3. Editing
    33. 33. Cutting to Continuity <ul><li>In the earliest years of cinema, the late 1890s, movies were brief, consisting of short events photographed in long shot in a single take </li></ul><ul><li>By the early twentieth century, filmmakers had already devised a functional style of editing we now call cutting to continuity </li></ul>
    34. 34. Cutting to Continuity <ul><li>A lady get off work and head out home </li></ul><ul><ul><li>She closed the door of the office and walked in the aisle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She left the office building </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She sat in her car </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She drove along the road </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She drove into her garage </li></ul></ul>
    35. 35. Cutting to Continuity <ul><li>Direction is important </li></ul><ul><li>Jump cut </li></ul><ul><li>Establishing shot </li></ul>
    36. 36. D.W. Griffith and classical cutting <ul><li>Father of Film </li></ul><ul><li>The Birth of a Nation, 1915 </li></ul><ul><li>Cutting severs story </li></ul><ul><li>Master-shot </li></ul><ul><li>Cover shots (in very complex war scenes) </li></ul>
    37. 37. D.W. Griffith and classical cutting <ul><li>Make cutting invisible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Eyeline match </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Matching action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>180 degree rule </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Parallel editing – cutting in chase scenes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce the duration of each shot can speed up the story </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Experiments – Intolerance, 1916 </li></ul>
    38. 38. Start with an establishing shot. The man on the right (Bruno) tend to talk with the man on the left (Guy).
    39. 39. Bruno moved closer and asked a question.
    40. 40. Guy talking.
    41. 41. Bruno talking.
    42. 42. Guy’s turn.
    43. 43. Bruno again.
    44. 44. Montage and formalists in Soviet <ul><li>Filmmakers in the Soviet Union were strongly influenced by the theories of Pavlov , whose experiments in the association of ideas served as the basis for the editing experiments of Lev Kuleshov </li></ul><ul><li>In the 1920s, the Soviet filmmakers expanded Griffith's associational principles and established the theoretical premises for thematic editing , or montage as they called it (from the French word monter, meaning to assemble). </li></ul>
    45. 45. Montage and formalists in Soviet <ul><li>Pudovkin – each shot makes a new point. The meanings are in the juxtaposition (combinations) rather than in one shot alone </li></ul><ul><li>Lev Kulshov – ideas are created by linking fragmentary details to produce a unified action </li></ul><ul><li>Eisenstein – the essence of existence is constant change. He believed that nature's eternal fluctuation is dialectical - -the result of the conflict and synthesis of opposites--and took this approach in film editing. ( Potemkin ) </li></ul>
    46. 46. Andre Bazin and realistic <ul><li>Bazin was not a filmmaker but solely a critic and a theorist. For a number of years, he was the editor of the influential French journal Cahiers du Cinéma , in which he set forth an aesthetic of film that was in sharp opposition to such formalists as Pudovkin and Eisenstein </li></ul>
    47. 47. New Wave <ul><li>Bazin’s students: Truffaut, Godard </li></ul><ul><li>Content is inextricably bound up with technique </li></ul><ul><li>Technique was only meaningful in terms of subject matter </li></ul>
    48. 48. Editing styles Realistic Classic Formalistic The Arrival of a Train The Birth of a Nation Rhythmus 21 Sequence shots Cutting to continuity Classic cutting Thematic montage Abstract cutting A Trip to the Moon 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould
    49. 49. Storyboarding <ul><li>Alfred Hitchcock often provided frame drawings of his shots (a technique called storyboarding ), especially for those sequences involving complex editing </li></ul><ul><li>An storyboard for North by Northwest </li></ul>
    50. 54. 4. Story
    51. 55. Story telling <ul><li>In The Poetics , Aristotle distinguished between two types of fictional narratives </li></ul><ul><li>Mimesis is the province of the live theater, where the events “tell themselves” </li></ul><ul><li>Diegesis , the province of the literary epic and the novel, is a story told by a narrator who is sometimes reliable, sometimes not </li></ul>
    52. 56. Narratology <ul><li>Narratologists are interested in the rhetoric of storytelling: the forms that “message senders” use to communicate with “message receivers” </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the sender? The implied author is the filmmaker, multiple authorship of scripts is common, especially in US. It can be the producer, director, writer and even stars. </li></ul>
    53. 57. Narratology <ul><li>The story can be defined as the general subject matter, the raw materials of a dramatic action in chronological order </li></ul><ul><li>The plot involves the storyteller’s method of superimposing a structural pattern over the story </li></ul>
    54. 58. Audience <ul><li>Audience never passively accept what the films tells it </li></ul><ul><li>Audience tend to predictive the story by the name of the film, the stars in the film or even the beginning of the film </li></ul><ul><li>When the narrative failed to meet their expectation or tradition. Either they adjust to the author, or they reject the offending innovation as inappropriate </li></ul>
    55. 59. Classical Paradigm <ul><li>Classical paradigm is invented by scholars to describe a certain kind of narrative structure that has dominated fiction film ever since 1910s </li></ul><ul><li>Derived from the theater, classical paradigm is a set of conventions , not rules </li></ul>
    56. 60. Classical Paradigm <ul><li>The classical paradigm emphasizes dramatic unity, plausible motivations, and coherence of its constituent parts </li></ul><ul><li>Classical plot structures are linear , and often takes a journey, a chase or a search </li></ul>
    57. 61. Classical Paradigm <ul><li>The classical paradigm is based on a conflict between a protagonist, who initiates the action, and an antagonist , who resists it. </li></ul><ul><li>The conflict builds to its maximum tension in the climax , in which the protagonist and antagonist clash overtly. One wins, the other loses. </li></ul>
    58. 62. Classical Paradigm <ul><li>Syd Field – “three act structure” </li></ul><ul><li>Buster Keaton's silent film The General perfectly aligned itself with the three act structure and the inverted V structure </li></ul>setup conflict resolution Mid-point 25% 50% 25%
    59. 63. Classical Paradigm SETUP: Initialize characters THE END x SCENE SCENE SCENE SCENE x PROTAGONIST ANTAGONIST Gustav Freytag Inverted V structure
    60. 64. Realistic Narration <ul><li>Realists prefer loose, discursive plots, with no clearly defined beginning, middle, or end. </li></ul><ul><li>Some realistic films are structured around a limited period of time, like the summer vacation or a school semester. Such movies sometimes center on rites of passage , such as birth, puberty, first love, first job, marriage, painful separations, or death. </li></ul><ul><li>Realistic film narratives frequently seem episodic , the sequence of events almost interchangeable. </li></ul>
    61. 65. Formalistic Narration <ul><li>Formalistic narratives revel in their artificiality . Time is often scrambled and rearranged to hammer home a thematic point more forcefully. The design of the plot is not concealed but heightened. It's part of the show. </li></ul>
    62. 66. Non-fictional Narration <ul><li>There are three broad classifications of motion pictures: fiction, documentary, and avant-garde </li></ul><ul><li>Documentary and avant-garde don’t tell story in the conventional, fictional sense. Both are structured but neither use a plot </li></ul>
    63. 67. Non-fictional Narration <ul><li>The realistic documentary is best illustrated by the cinema or &quot;direct cinema&quot; movement of the 1960s </li></ul>
    64. 68. Non-fictional Narration <ul><li>Avant-garde films are so variable that it's hard to generalize about their narrative structures; most of these movies don't even try to tell a story, though autobiographical elements are common. </li></ul><ul><li>Absolute film was an avant-garde movement that rejected narrative in favor of an abstract structure that owed nothing to subject matter. </li></ul>
    65. 69. Genre films <ul><li>A genre film is a specific type of movie (war picture, a gangster film, science fiction, etc.) distinguished by a characteristic set of conventions in style, subject matter, and values. </li></ul>
    66. 70. Genre films <ul><li>Film critics and scholars divide the history of genre films into 4 phases: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primitive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Classical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revionisit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parodic </li></ul></ul>
    67. 71. An extremly formalistic narration THE TRUE STORY THE FILM K (FLASHBACK) REAL WORLD TIME K (FLASHBACK) FILM TIMELINE YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN IT STARTED AND WHEN IT WILL END TIMELINE OF MEMENTO ( BY CHRISTOPHER NOLAN ) A B C D E F G H I J K J K I J H I G H F G E F D E C D B C A B
    68. 72. 5 Most-Anticipated Movies in 2008 Speed Racer (5/9)

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