Intro to film


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Intro to film

  1. 1. Introduction to Film Analysis
  2. 2. What is a movie?The mostpopular artform today
  3. 3. What is a movie?It is a complex form of artistic representation and Communication
  4. 4. What is a movie?• For most of us most of the time, movies are a break from our daily obligations-a form of escape, entertainment and pleasure• But underneath their surfaces, all movies, even the most blatantly commercial ones, contain layers of complexity and meaning that can be studied, analyzed and appreciated
  5. 5. Looking at Movies vs. Watching Movies In this class you will learn to be active and not passive• You will learn to LOOK at a movie not simply WATCH a movie• You will learn to Analyze-understanding thelanguage of movies• By breaking it up into parts
  6. 6. Analysis- the act of taking something complicated apart to figure out what it is made of and how it all fits together• Usually we are lulled into PASSIVE viewing• In analysis we are looking for the “invisible aspects: • Camera work, composition, editing, lighting, sound, acting, narrative structure• Always look for the why. • WHY did that section scare you? Make you cry? Have you in suspense? Bore you? • WHYwere these specific choices made by the director?
  7. 7. • You will learn that films have multiple layers, each with a multitude of meanings.• As we move forward in this class, you will be expected to apply what you learn to your analysis. Each film will focus on a different element(s).• Before you begin analysis, however you must understand a few key concepts
  8. 8. Content• The subject of an artwork Form• The means through which that subject is expressed The Relationship between form and content is a central concern in ALL art Let’s look for example at the human body as the content
  9. 9. Same content, different forms: The forms are different and shapeThe content of all our emotional and intellectual responsesthree of these is the human body to the subject
  10. 10. Same content, different forms: •Less about recording a particular man and more about describing an ideal form •It’s an idealization and therefore no more real than the other two-it is just as much an interpretation!Hermes Carrying theInfant Dionysus byPraxiteles
  11. 11. Same content, different forms: Seems to Because of its reach for exaggerated something form, conveys that lies a sense ofbeneath the isolation, surface of even anguish human life and thehuman form Walking Man by Alb erto Giacometti
  12. 12. Same content, different forms:Relies on stylized and almost cartoonlike form. Seems more playful andmischievous than the other twoAppears to celebrate a sense of joy Self Portrait by Keith Haring
  13. 13. Form and Content in film• Heist (2001) is a great movie to explore form and content: In one scene a bank robbery (the content)• is seen in two different forms-• the surveillance footage of the• rob robbery and the robbery itself If we were to watch the roberry just from the surveillance footage, we would miss a lot. Because surveillance footage only shows us what is happening
  14. 14. Form and Content in film The careful choices of the director however, which includes 81 shots (editing), juxtaposition of points of view, close-ups, camera angles, set, acting, music do more than just tell us what is happening, they shape our experience with film form: develop character, establish dramatic tension, give explicit information and give implicit meaning
  15. 15. Form and Content in film• The three shot sequence that reveals that the employees have been drugged with coffee implies a great deal of preparation on the part of the criminals and let’s us know these are not your run-of-the-mill crooks• The next five shots establish Joe (Gene Hackman) as the ring leader• The next shots establish Joe’s character and show’s his thought process when he spares a woman’s life all while forgetting to put his mask back on• The rest of the shots establish relationships, communicate Joe’s agony at realizing the surveillance camera’s caught his face, and establish urgency (by panning to the clock several times)
  16. 16. Form and Expectations• Our decision to see a movie is almost always based on expectations: • director’s previous work • actors • publicity • friends or reviews• Even if there were no expectations (which there almost alwaysare) as soon as the opening credits roll, we immediately form expectations and begin to create questions
  17. 17. Form and Expectations• As the movie continues, we experience a more complex web of expectations• Very often a movie starts with a “normal” world, which is altered by a particular incident or catalyst, that forces the characters to pursue a goal.• Once the narrative begins, we ask questions about the story’s outcome
  18. 18. • At the beginning of Jaws, we ask ourselves: “Will they catch the shark?”
  19. 19. • American Beauty: – In the first scene Janie’s boyfriend volunteers to kill her father – Then her father’s voice says he will be dead in less than a year• As we learn more about Ricky’s rebellious nature, we wonder if he would use a deadly weapon• Our suspense is heightened when we see his relationship with his abusive father• This shapes our expectations for the rest of the movie
  20. 20. Narrative• The last two examples show narrative creating an expectation• Narrative- the events in a movie and how they connect to each other• Other qualities that affect our expectations: color schemes, sounds, length of shots, movement of the camera (To be discussed later)• Our expectations are heightened or confused by the establishment patterns
  21. 21. Patterns ABCABCABCABCIn film, a pattern can create a connectionIn Way down East (1920) we In reality however, these actors were never close tosee the following shots: of the scene, established by Niagra Falls. The form awoman on the ice (A) Aediting has created an illusion the pattern of parallel manjumping from one ice to of connections among these various shots, leaving usanother trying to catch her a continuous, anxiety with an impression of(B) and Niagra Falls (C) producing dramaBecause of the pattern of theshots, we assume the riverthat they are on flows overNiagra falls
  22. 22. PatternsWhat happens when something breaks a pattern?ABCABCABCABCACBWhen a pattern is broken on screen it can catch usunaware or create a surprise (or twist)
  23. 23. Patterns The Silence of the Lambs (1991) This pattern and then break of pattern creates twice the suspense. First because we Paying attention will finally be caught and the in think the FBI surrounding a house important the killer to patterns will be(A)-shots of your victim willWe saved and then because we analysis. be will later talk about nonnarrative(B)-shots of the killer in the basement of a house arguing patterns as well (repetition of images at the know that Clarice (Jodie Foster) is or sound)with his victim killer’s house with no backupWe see the patterns ABABABAB and again we make theconnection that they are connectedHowever, the filmmaker has deceived us! Watch how thissequence concludes here (watch the first 20 sec)
  24. 24. General Principles of film form• Movies manipulate space and time in unique ways • They can move seamlessly from one space to another • They can fragment time as in slow motion or montages • Your relationship to space as a viewer: close-ups and landscape shots • Space outside the “lens”-we see a shot of the corner of the bar but we know that the space extends past what we can see
  25. 25. General Principles of film form• Movies depend on light • It enhances the texture, depth, emotions and mood of a shot • It can make a character’s face look attractive or unattractive, manipulating the way we feel about them• Movies provide an illusion of movement • There is no actual movement in film. It is only a series of photographs • Filmmakers can manipulate this to create special effects. (Like in The Matrix)
  26. 26. Realism & Antirealism When he is in control, he’s the • smartest kid in class, whenbe “realistic” Not every film strives to he • looses however a listensmovies mix the real and Today control he lot of to a huge demonicespecially those in the science the fantastic, imaginary rabbit fiction, action and thriller genresThe movie asks more questions than it answers andleaves the viewer with a provocative vision of how closethe line between the real and the fantastic can be Donnie Darko shifts back and forth between showing a realistic depiction of the life of Donnie Darko and his fantastic take on it.
  27. 27. Verisimilitude• A convincing appearance of truth• But this is not the same as realism• Even when events or people in a movie are not realistic, if the filmmakers’ vision is consistent it gives us the sense that in THAT world these things COULD HAPPEN
  28. 28. Cinematic Language• The systems, methods or conventions by which films communicate with the viewer• Examples: • We know that a dissolve between two shots usually means the passage of time • Characters shot from below usually indicate that they are superior or threatening • We know that color can create meaning or importance This class will teach you how to identify and analyze cinematic language
  29. 29. Types of Movies• Narrative Films (or fiction films)• Non Fiction Films (or documentaries)• Animated Films• Experimental Films
  30. 30. Genres of Narrative Films The six major American Genres• Action • Musical• Biography • Mystery• Comedy • Coming of Age• Fantasy • Road Movie• Film Noir • Thriller• Gangster • War• Horror • Western• Melodrama • Buddy Movie• Romance • Genres are often mixed or evolve and adapt to meet the• Science Fiction expectations of a changing society
  31. 31. Knowing the genre• Can help you because each genre has it’s own set of conventions. If you know these, you will be able to analyze more quickly and more deeply
  32. 32. Types of Non-Fiction Films• Instructional Films• Documentary• Propaganda
  33. 33. Introduction to Film Analysis