Pr1 how do we analyse film


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Pr1 how do we analyse film

  1. 1. Megan Robinson How Do We Analyse Film? Introduction: There are two main types of analysis when studying film; these are genre analysis and auteur theory. Genre analysis is when you know what type of film you are going to watch and don’t have to think about it too much because it uses typical genrecodes and conventions. A good example would be ‘Quantum of Solace’ directed by Marc Forster in 2008, this film uses typical codes and conventions of the action genre. Auteur Theory can be applied to any filmmaker who has unusual ideas and challenges genre conventions by doing something different. An example of a film an analyst could apply auteur theory to is‘Leon’ directed by Luc Besson in 1994. An example of a war movie that conforms to genre conventions is ‘The Green Berets’ directed by Kellogg and Wayne in 1968 and it also starred John Wayne. Another war movie would be ‘Apocalypse Now’ directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1979, this was an example of a very unconventional film because of the way the characters are portrayed; and there is a hard hitting anti-war ideological message because there is a scene where it cross cuts from the helicopters about to attack to a village where there are innocent people and schools.This makes the director’s work be classed as that from auteur theory. Main Part One There are seven different areas of genre analysis which are: Codes and Conventions - Codes aresomething that show the meaning and conventions are the generally accepted ways of doing something. An example of a film that follows the conventions of the genre is ‘Quantum of Solace’ directed by Marc Forster in 2008 which is an action/ spy thriller. This follows conventions because you know that James Bond will succeed and they use props such as nice sport/nice cars and good quality guns,good vs. evil, etc… The setting is quite rich with nicer buildings, exotic locations, etc… This is typical of the action/spy thriller. Setting is where the film is set, this can be a variety of different places and can include aspects such as different times of day, a range of weather types, and buildings depending on the location. An example of this is ‘Mean Girls’ directed by Mark Waters in 2004, the setting you see in the mise en scene is mostly at high school such as dining room, classroom, sports hall, etc… They also include parents’ house and shopping mall. This is what you expect in teen comedy genre but most teen comedies start with a house party however ‘Mean Girls’ doesn’t therefore breaks conformity in this instance.
  2. 2. Characters in film allow the audience to engage and relate to events in the narrative. Most films have characters who are protagonists and antagonists.A protagonist is when someone is a hero and classed as a good guy. An antagonist is when someone is an enemy and seen as a bad guy. In‘The Green Berets’ directed by Kellogg and Wayne in 1968, you see the main characters in the mise en scene go to fight in the war to save innocent people such as women and children in the Vietnam War, American soldiers come across as heroes and won the war. However in the film called ‘Apocalypse Now’ directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1979, there is a scene where you see in the mise en scene a group of helicopters and a village of people, a technical feature used is editing because they cross cut at a fast pace and you realise that two things are happening at the same time. The characters all look similar to the ones in ‘The Green Berets’ however it is apparent that the characters in ‘Apocalypse Now’ breaks conventions because it shows they are not bothered about the innocent people such as school children and women. In ‘Quantum of Solacee’ directed by Marc Forster in 2008, you know about the main character James Bond is a protagonist, good looking, wearing a smart suit, looks like a spy, work on his own, etc… Another example of a character is Mr White who is an antagonist, weak and ineffective without his helpers. This is stereotypical of the spy/thriller genre. Themescan cover different parts of life such as love, friendship and revenge. These will be different depending on the genre of the film. An example would be ‘REC’ directed by Jaume Balaguero in 2007, there are a number of themes which are death, contagion, demonic possession, entrapment and survival. Demonic possession occurs for majority of the film because at approximately 15 minutes there is an inciting incident when a woman bites a Policeman, this continues to come out because of other characters becoming zombies and spreading the disease. This leads to entrapment because they are locked in by the health authorities. Therefore they cannot escape the apartment block and will eventually become possessed. REC breaks conventions slightly in the beginningby having the mise en scene like a reality TV show but then completely changes. Narrative is the story of the film; it has a beginning, middle and end, this is classed as a linear narrative. A non-linear narrative is one that does the opposite to this. Anexample of a linear narrative is from the film ‘Mean Girls’ directed by Mark Waters in 2004, the exposition is very representative of the teen movie genre because the setting is in high school, the characters have popular groups such as The Plastics, jocks, cool Asiansand not very popular groups such as geeks, Asian nerds and art freaks. The inciting incident is when a new girl called Cady
  3. 3. has been asked to join The Plastics in the canteen, Cady’s art freak friends thought a plan to destroy The Plastics by using Cady as undercover. The rising action is when Cady starts to change by becoming a Plastic. This isn’t expected because she is not used to that lifestyle and you can see it is changing, firstly she is starting to get revenge on ‘The Plastics’ but she soon becomes one of them. The climax is when everyone finds out about the ‘Burn Book’ and a riot starts which ends up the headmaster talking to them all in the auditorium. They all start to apologise to each other until it is Janis’s turn who then starts to tell everyone about her and her friends plan to destroy Regina with Cady’s help. Regina storms out and gets hit by a school bus, breaking her spine. Denouement is when the Plastics have disbanded; everyone gets along with each other but in their own groups. There is no longer a group that everyone hates in their year group. This is a typical linear narrative because it follows these steps and it’s similar to other teen movies. Iconographycan be aspects of the mise en scene which convey representations of events, places, themes or characters. It isaspects that come to your mind when you see the film;it is something that represents something about the film.An example would be ‘Quantum of Solace’ directed by Marc Forster in 2008, in the film it shows an Aston Martin car which represents British power and wealth. James Bond and other spies wear smart suits to show their power and experience. This is stereotypical type of costume for action/thriller film. Another film would be ‘Leon’ directed by Luc Besson in 1994 which has strong iconography because it shows taxis/world trade centre which is very iconic of New York City. Ideological message is something that the film shows that will happen in the end and gives us a message about life. ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ directed by Nick Cassavetes in 2009, this film is about a girl who died of leukaemia. Her sister was genetically created so she could try and save her by donating blood, organs and bone marrow, etc… However the story ends by the girl dying as there was nothing more they could do. In final scene, the girl’s sister says, ‘Death is just death, nobody understands it’. This is a message that says no matter what you try and do, death will happen and you have to move on from your loss.
  4. 4. Genre and FemaleRepresentation In James Bond films, women are represented as sexual objects, with no real character development. James Bond always ends up in bed with the woman. However in ‘Quantum of Solace’ directed by Marc Forster in 2008, they are trying to make female character stronger by showing that she can fight, hold a gun and defend herself but still ends up being rescued by James Bond so this shows us that despite attempts to define female characters in a strong manner, women are not represented fully and are still seen as objects of male desire. This is a convention of James Bond and most action thriller films because women are always seen as attractive and have a bit of power.In other genres such as crime thriller, women are represented differently because there is often a femme fatale who is a woman who is very rich and attractive and usually quite dangerous. This occurs in the film ‘Pulp Fiction’ directed by Quentin Tarantino in 1994; with the character Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman. Genre I like films in the romantic / comedy genre. When you watch this genre of films, from the narrative you always know that they start off not liking each other but end up getting know each other depending on what situation, going on dates, things always go wrong that it is not right but at the end they always fall in love. This is part of the ideological message also because it always has a happy ending and shows that opposites attract each other. Mostly in these types of films the characters are always completely different to each other. The setting shown in the mise en scene is mostly at high school, house parties or their house.The iconography is shown by always having big houses on wide streets and the popular people having fancy cars. However this is more typical of American romantic comedies. Some examples that include what has been discussed above are ‘It’s a Boy Girl Thing’ directed by Nick Hurran in 2006, ‘Life as We Know It’ directed by Greg Berlanti in 2010 and ‘A Cinderella Story’ directed by Mark Rosman in 2004.
  5. 5. Main Part Two LEON The film ‘Leon’ directed by Luc Besson in 1994: Leon is dressed unconventionally, he is foreign, tall and skinny wears a hat and has a greying scruffy beard and sunglasses. He is totally unlike the typical action hero like James Bond who is young, smart and good looking. Mathilda is a 12 year old girl, who is a very strong character. She has been made to grow up very quickly because of her family circumstances. Although Mathilda acts tough and has to do adult activities, she is still very immature as she experiences a ‘childlike’ crush on Leon. It is very rare for an action film to have a strong female as one of the main characters and it is also very unusual for the hero to have a relationship with a young child. In the exposition of the film the characters and settings are introduced. The mise en scene shows New York City, and some characters are introduced such as Leon, Stansfield, Tony and Mathilda. The narrative is about Mathilda’s family who were murdered by corrupt drug enforcement agency officials but she hated her family expect her 4 year old brother. She walks up to Leon’s door and he rescues her. This is the inciting incident in the film and grips the viewer. Next is the rising action, which is the main part of the film, whereby Mathilda discovers Leon is a hitman and wants revenge for her brother so she asked Leon to train her to become an assassin and Leon agrees to help her. This then starts to develop their friendship and Mathilda gets a crush on Leon and falls in love. Next Stansfield captures Mathilda until Leon kills Stansfield’s men and rescues Mathilda.The climax occurs when Stansfield discovers Leon’s location. After a huge gun battle, Mathilda escapes. However, Leon then puts the pin out of the grenade in Stansfield’s hand and says it is ‘from Mathilda’ and then the huge explosion killed Leon and Stansfield instantly. The denouement of the film is when Mathilda went to Tony’s place and Tony said he will keep it for her money until she is old enough to keep Leon’swish. Mathilda went back to school and buried Leon’s houseplant as she had told Leon he should, to give it roots. This is an unusual narrative because it creates a narrative enigma which is where you are not quite sure what is going on and the audience wants to find out more. This shows that the director of Leon is the work of an auteur director because this enigma doesn’t normally appear so early on in an action film and therefore drags the audience in.With this narrative he puts his creativity first before being successful on a commercial scale because he believes the narrative is more important. There are three themes which are revenge, love and friendship. Revenge is common to have in action films and happens throughout in Leon. However, due to Luc Besson being an
  6. 6. auteur director, the film also covers love and friendship. Love/friendship arenot very often in action films. The relationship between Leon and Mathilda grows stronger as the film goes on. This is extremely unusual to have a relationship between an adult and a child unless they are related; a teacher or a student but they are not any of those. They started to have a relationship since Leon rescued Mathilda. The opening scene is very similar to other action films because it starts off in New York looking like quite rich and posh; we are made to think it is another typical action film because the iconography are in New York City, skyline, yellow taxis, a guy entered in posh hotel. This is shown in the mise en scene. However, as the film develops the setting changes and it’s no longer wealthy, rich and look luxurious. It is very basic apartment block where the apartments are quite small, not very modern, not enough furniture. This make the film have an individual style. Main Part Three QUENTIN TARANTINO Quentin Tarantino has directed 11 films and can be classed as an auteur director. An auteur director is the main creator of his work and although Tarantino has directed 11 films he has also starred in 9 of them. This shows he wants to be involved in his own work and have an influence on the audience. His films have lots of different themes including humour, violence, insanity or violent psychosis. These themes are normally separate however Tarantino mixes them together to create a film which is different to ‘normal’ films. Tarantino is over the top because he exaggerates feeling and emotions which makes the emotions of the characters stronger and therefore allows the target audience to feel what the characters are feeling. For example in ‘Kill Bill Volume 1’ directed by Quentin Tarantino in 2004, it shows the clip that ‘The Bride’ was thinking about what happened at the wedding as soon she saw Vernita - . This makes you understand the characters thoughts and feelings. The dialogue that Quentin Tarantino uses in his films is quite direct because he uses lots of swearing and racist terminology. This is different to a conventional film because in the ‘normal’ films you wouldn’t put those words because people might think it’s wrong and might criticise them but Tarantino does use them because it was filmed a long time ago and Tarantino wants it to be different and make it realistic. It also positions the audience very uncomfortably because they get to like the characters and empathise with them, but they are confronted with them being racist and / or violent.
  7. 7. Tarantino uses a narrative that is unconventional in the majority of his films. An example one of Quentin Tarantino’s films when he is an auteur director would be ‘Pulp Fiction’ in 1994, the genre is crime thriller. The narrative is an elliptical narrative where things are left out and you are not quite sure what is going on. It is also time disordered which is where the scenes go back in time and forward in time and you are not sure what is happening until the final scenes when you feel rewarded because it all comes together and makes sense. There is also a narrative enigma where we want to find out what is going on because we don’t understand, we are engaged and it creates a sense of mystery for the viewer. There are different characters in different scenes and Tarantino develops them in a positive way so that we begin to like them. He does this with all the characters in Pulp Fiction. This shows his work as being an auteur directed film because normally we do not get to know all the characters and we do not like the bad characters. Also the director uses iconography, in the mise en scene, to break conventions. He includes needles however Tarantino uses much more drugs that we can see in conventional films which therefore glamorises heroin. He also uses violence in his films and represents the iconic 70s music in a few of his films such as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and the Kill Bill films. All of these techniques are used to make this film individual and to be successful without having the commercial success of conventional films. This director creates many films in this way such as ‘Django Unchained’ in 2012 and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in 1992.