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Film analysing article


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Film analysing article

  1. 1. There are many different ways of analysing films and two of the main methods for analysingfilms are auteur theory and genre analysis, these are both contrasting examples. Genreanalysis is basically looking at the individual elements of a film, setting, character, codes andconventions, themes etc. Looking at whether or not the elements are generally the same asmost other films of that particular genre and whether or not the individual elements breakthe convention. For example, the main character in an action film is usually a strong manwho is considered handsome and is usually muscly, but in the film Leon, the main characteris quite old and would not be considered handsome, this breaks convention of the actiongenre. Auteur theory basically means a director is an ‘author’. It means the director isgenerally the creator of the film, they create the meaning/ideological message, theygenerally make a film to look good and original rather than make it just for the commercialvalue. Auteurs are known for their individual style and the way they use originality andmake a film their own. Directors such as Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Francis FordCoppola (Apocalypse Now) and Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street) are considered to beauteurs for their originality in their films. Not many of those films were particularly successin terms of commercial value but are all well known for their individual style and gave thoseparticular directors the reputation of auteur.Genre analysis looks at seven individual aspects of a film which are probably the mostimportant aspects in terms of analysing films. The first one is codes and conventions whicharethings in a film which are a vital part of any genre, they let you know what genre it isbecause they are specific to that genre. For example in an the James Bond film Quantum ofSolace, an action film, it usually involves police, uniforms, guns, cars etc. These are allconventions of an action film and at least one would be seen in the majority of actionfilms.The second aspect is the setting, very important for genre analysis which is basicallyjust where the film takes place. Each genre has a typical setting, for example an action filmsuch as Quantum of Solace would take big place in a big city, usually in America but Londonin this case, things such as large buildings, busy streets, shady back alleys would be used in atypical action movie. Character is analysing the main characters, the protagonist, sidekick,antagonist, love interest, father figure etc. Character analysis is looking at aspects of acharacter and seeing if they fit the characters you would generally see in the specific genre.For example in an action film such as Quantum of Solace, you would expect the maincharacter (protagonist) to be quite muscly, attractive to women, possibly rich and usually abit older than the kind of character you would see in a comedy movie. In a comedy film youwould expect the character to be a teenager and quite often they are seen as an outcast sowould have a distinctive feature which causes them to be outcasted. Themes in genreanalysis include elements such as love, friendship, hate etc. Typically in an action film, themain theme would be hate because the antagonist has a hatred of something causing themto be evil. Also it could be friendship in films where the protagonist has a sidekick. In acomedy film it could be love because a lot of comedy films involve a love interest and alsofriendship because there is always a group of friends involved. Narrative is a basic outline of
  2. 2. the story and other narratives within a story. For example in a comedy film, typically thenarrative would involve a road trip, or someone moving to a new school or trying to winback a girl, not all comedy films have this narrative but they are very common for comedyfilms. In an action film, quite often the plot is straightforward, it usually involves a villaintaking something away from a protagonist or doing something he disagrees with him whichcauses him to track him down.Iconography analysis is things in a film that are well known forbeing in a certain film or film series. For example in James Bond films, everyone recognizesthe expensive suits, the Aston Martin cars and generally the smart male protagonist theme.In a film such as Back to the Future, everyone would recognize the Delorean and wouldthink of the film if they were to see one. Ideological message is basically messages that afilm gives out, a lot of the time they depend on when the film is set, in movies set in the pastthere is sometimes a lot of racism because it was common back in that day. In Quantum ofSolace and other Bond films an ideological message is something such as British armydominance, they show James Bond as being the best at what he does and beating enemiesof other nationalities, which represents the British army as being the best and beating othernations at war. Also there is the objectifying of women, there is usually a different woman ineach James Bond film and they are known as ‘Bond Girls’. They are often seen to beinterested in James Bond but in a lot of films he sleeps with them then ignores him;it is verycommon in James Bond films as they are known for being quite sexist. It is quite commonfor action films to objectify women, particularly when the protagonist is rich and goodlooking, in some action films however the actual plot revolves around a woman and usuallyinvolves the protagonist rescuing that woman so in these type of films, women aren’tobjectified.Another very iconic action film is Leon The Professional, directed by Luc Besson, but it isdirected in a very different style to Quantum of Solace and in terms of genre analysis, itbreaks a lot of conventions of the action genre. For example in Leon, the protagonist (Leon)wouldn’t be considered attractive, he has quite a big nose and is very muscular either,unlike James Bond who has all of those traits which we would typically see in theprotagonist of an action movie. Also Leon lives in a small apartment and doesn’t appear tohave a lot of money whereas Bond usually lives in a mansion and is very rich. There aresimilarities such as the setting, takes place in a large city which is a typical action filmsetting, although some Bond films take place in different places but typically in large cities.Also the narrative is relatively similar, it involves a highly skilled professional killing criminalsin order to achieve something, except in James Bond films it’s usually because he’s beenordered to whereas in Leon he does it to protect the girl Mathilda. One thing that has madeLeon very unique is the way women are represented, the main female character is an elevenyear old girl who Leon rescues after her family is murdered and although you would thinkit’s just Leon protecting her, in the end she falls in love with him and it becomes quitebizarre. Also he develops a strong bond with Mathilda where in Bond films, he usually justthrows women aside after a while. The opening scenes of the two films are quite different,
  3. 3. the establishing shots show the difference in setting, Leon’s is in New York and it looks quitegloomy and dark whereas Quantum of Solace’s takes place on an island where it is verysunny and we can see the sea and other things which make it look a lot nicer than Leon’ssetting. Quantum of Solace’s opening sequence is very fast paced, it involves things such ascar chases, gun shots and fast paced action. The opening sequence in Leon is very dark anda lot slower to start. We see the bad guys but we don’t see Leon and he silently kills themone by one, it is not nearly as fast paced as Quantum of Solace’s opening sequence. I thinkLuc Besson can be described as an auteur director because Leon is a very unique andindividual film which breaks a lot of conventions, it could be compared to films such as PulpFiction which are known for breaking conventions and Quentin Tarantino is often thought ofan auteur director. Things such as the character, themes and even narrative are verydifferent to that of a normal action film, also we don’t see things such as fast paced actionscenes, car chases and a protagonist that sleeps with lots of different women. These are allthings that make the film so unique and what I think makes Luc Besson an auteurdirector.Also, Leon wasn’t a particularly successful film commercially, partially becausethere were a lot of aspects make people want to see an action film that were missing but heput artistic merit before commercial success with this film and it has been praised highlydespite not being all that successful commercially. Also Luc Besson is the main creator ofLeon, everything about the way the film is made was down to his decisions, this is anothertrait of an auteur director.One of the most famous and well known auteur directors is Quentin Tarantino. Known forfilms such as Pulp Fiction , Kill Bill 1 + 2, Reservoir Dogs, Django Unchained, IngloriousBasterds and Jackie Brown. He is known for his unique style of directing films which is seenin more or less all of his films. He is known to make films that aren’t in linear order but inthe end make sense. He is also well known for the use violence in his films, they are muchmore violent than a lot of films and they have been seen as being quite controversial. Thereis a large range of genre in the films he has directed, he has done crime/thriller films such asPulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs but has martial arts films (Kill Bill 1 + 2) and war films suchas Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained. These are all traits which show why QuentinTarantino is an auteur director. Generally he is known to be the main creator of all of hiswork and he has worked with a lot of the same actors in his films (Uma Thurman, Samuel LJackson, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi and more have appeared in more than one of his films).His films started off as films with no real commercial success and they were relativelyunheard of but they were praised highly by people who had seen them, he generally putartistic merit before the commercial value but some of his more recent films have been verysuccessful commercially, partially because a lot more people know of him and his films sopeople know what to expect when he releases a new film. I think all of the things above arethe reasons why Quentin Tarantino should be considered an auteur director. Other directorssuch as Francis Ford Coppola, Sergio Leone, Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick are also
  4. 4. thought of as being auteur directors and have very similar qualities to Quentin Tarantino interms of their styles of directing.A director who people may see as being an auteur is Rian Johnson, best known for directingthe Sci-Fi movie Looper. I however do not think he would be considered an auteur, althoughthere are traits about Looper which would make you think he is, I think most traits of thefilm and his qualities as a director aren’t that of an auteur. For example the codes andconventions of Looper include things such as time travel, large futuristic guns and telekineticpowers which would be seen in most sci-fi movies. A lot of the movie is set in a large city butthere is a portion of it which takes place in a rural area on a farm. Large cities are quite oftenused as location for sci-fi movies which don’t take place in space or on another planet but afarm is quite rare to be used as setting in a sci-fi movie. Looper is a film which has two mainprotagonists, Joe and his older self who both have their reasons for killing each other, thedirector has tried to make it so the audience chooses who to root for, multiple protagonist issomething that is often done by auteur directors but the actual traits of the characterconform to genre. Young Joe is a young man who is very ambitious to become the best atwhat he does, Old Joe is the older character who is very powerful and the young characteroften learns a lot from. The themes of Looper involve love (between Young Joe and thecharacter Sara) and also a strange relationship between Young Joe and his older self, hefeels wrong killing his older self but has to do it to save himself, he also wants to know moreabout his future at the same time. These are generally themes you would typically see in asci-fi movie. The narrative for Looper is quite original, it involves a ‘Looper’ called Joe whohas to find and kill his future self who has escaped, in order to get his life back but his olderself wants to find a kill a child who will be know as ‘The Rainmaker’ in the future in order toget his wife back. It isn’t a typical narrative but does involve things such as time travel whichis common in sci-fi movies. Over all, I do think Looper is an original film and idea and RianJohnson has used some features that an auteur director would use but I do not think it ishas a very individual style because it has so many traits of a typical traits of a sci-fi movie.Johnson is the main creator of the film, he wrote the script and directed the film and madethe idea his own which is another trait of an auteur director. He has also worked with someactors on several of his productions which is something you see directors such as QuentinTarantino doing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the main character of Looper) has also worked withJohnson on the film ‘Brick’ and made a cameo on the ‘Brothers Bloom’. I think he may haveput artistic merit before commercial success but the film was quite successful commercially,possibly because of the popular cast. Overall I think Johnson has used many traits of anauteur director in Looper but I think it is too similar to other sci-fi films for him to beconsidered an auteur. He may be seen as an auteur director in the future when he hasreleased more films.Genre analysis is basically used for breaking a genre down bit by bit and looking at traits of aspecific genre, auteur theory shows whether or not a director has stuck to that and it is themain method of identifying whether or not a director should be considered an auteur.