Jenny StrandHow to analyse a film.There are many ways to analyse a film. Genre analysis and auteur theory being the mostcommon. An auteur is a director who has come up with the entire story by themselvestherefore is the principal creator of the film and more than likely they will be breakingtraditional conventions. For example an auteur director could put two film genrestogether.Why? Well most directors do this more to create an artistic statement rather thanfor the money side of things. Quentin Tarantino did this with Pulp Fiction (1993) and hasgone on to do it in his other films. At first he didn’t make much of an income but now ofcourse he’s extremely well known for the way he works and is successful with it.Unlikeauteur theory, conventional genre films are usually very similar and could even have thesame plot but just with little tweaks and different actors and actresses. Genre analysis is veryideologically traditional in that it consists of seven main key areas. These being: Codes andconventions, setting, character, themes, narrative, iconography and ideological message.Codes and conventions mean what the director has done in the film in way of setting,characteristics, audio and script to put it in a category. For example, a romance wouldtraditionally have a man and woman as the main characters, it would be quite cheery andwould have light hearted music in the background whereas say in a horror we would expectthe mise en scene to contain dark scenes with quite gloomy music and the setting would bein quite a deserted location.Ideological message means something that represents somethingthat people are well aware of. For example, in Skyfall, (Sam Mendes, 2012) the ideologicalmessage there is of UK military dominance. The themes of films are of traditional ones:Horror, romance, thriller, action, comedy and fantasy. They tend to stick within the box andmake it very conventional and sometimes quite expected, not in a good or bad way.In order to analyse a film’s genre, you need to take note on a select few things: the mise enscene, the sound used and the editing side of the film. For example if you were watching afilm that had a lot of fast pace edits then this would indicate that the film was of an actionfilm as action films are quite fast paced. It’s the opposite with horror movies, because of thegenre; the shots will be slow and drag on a bit to build up suspense and the music would beof quite a taunting nature trying to make the audience feel scared. In a comedy there wouldbe a mixture of slow and fast shots to add humour to things and the mise en scene would bequite regular and/or exaggerated.For example, with Quantum of Solace, you know it’s going to be an action film as JamesBond films are well known for being action and crime. In the opening titles and scenes, foranyone who’s yet to know what the genre is, it soon becomes clear to them as straight awaywe see women being shown in a provocative and desirable way as they always are in Bondfilms, and then it goes straight on to a car chase in an exotic place (Quantum of Solace wasfilmed in six countries)they’re represented in a very specific way. This is shown through fastlow and high angle shots. To me this made the film more exciting. These are two factors thatwill catch the audience’s attention straight away. The first thing you think of when you hearJames Bond is cars, women and guns. You’ll find in most films women are represented in avery particular way, they’ll be objectified as being quite weak and having to be saved. For an
Jenny Strandexample in a horror, you’ll most likely see a woman struggling and in the end it’ll be acharacter of the male gender that helps/saves her. They’re portrayed as victims quite often.A film of a quite similar genre to Quantum of Solace is Leon: The Professional. Leon is a1994 English language written and directed by Luc Besson. Based in Italy, Leon is the maincharacter who works for a man called Tony. Tony instructs Leon who to kill and then Tonypays him. Leon is very much on his own in Italy when one day he comes across a young girlcalled Mathilda Lando(Natalie Portman), smoking with a black eye. The story then startswith her dysfunctional family. Her dad is involved in illegal things such as stashing drugs intheir home for corrupt DEA agents. After they find out some of the drugs are missing, theykill all of them however at this time Mathilda is out shopping. She comes back as the menare still there and Leon takes her into his apartment pretending she is his daughter. Fromthis point on Mathilda stays with Leon. They go into a hotel and end up working together.Mathilda is taught how to fight and together they kill people and get the money. In the endMathilda goes to kill the man who killed her family and Leon goes to stop her which resultsin an explosive ending.At the start of Leon, it’s very much the same as Quantum of solace in the way the film startsout with action straight away yet the main characters couldn’t be more different. It’ssurprising that as the main character, Leon doesn’t have the usual look. He’s quite strangelooking and not the stereotypical hero type of good looking and a sense of power.Quantum of Solace and Leon are both similar storylines; the two main characters (Bond andLeon) are both basically paid killers. However their lifestyles couldn’t be more different,Leon is quite scruffy in that he dresses extremely casual and looking at him you’d neverthink he has the skills he does, however Bond dresses in expensive suits and drives an AstonMarten. He’s surrounded by women whereas Leon isn’t really surrounded by anybody. InQuantum of Solace the representation of women is sometimes questionable. Women areobjectified and you usually find this is a lot of action films like that; the way women arecharacterized is often as victims who are helpless and they’re always very glamorous andoften shown partly clothed, with close up shots of their bodies. It’s just what the audienceexpects; it also adds an appeal to the majority of the audience, which are males.Luc Besson can be classed as an auteur director as in Leon he cast Natalie Portman as MatHilda and by making her a sort of love interest with Leon, it caused controversy and ithasn’t really been done before. Therefore he created something really new and caused a bitof a wave in the film industry. Personally I found it quite peculiar but it is interesting. Asmany of the audience found. He does it in a clever way in that it’s obvious but he doesn’tactually indicate that there’s a love interest there, the audience just picks that up. I’m notaware of any other films that are set out the way Leon is and I like that, throughout the filmyou never actually knew what was going to happen between them. The opinion on this filmwas split down the middle by critics but Luc Besson did something write as the film wontwo awards and was nominated for two; won an award for best foreign language by CzechLion and best sound editing by Golden Reel award.
Jenny StrandOne of my favourite films that broke tradition is Apocalypse Now (1979). A war filmdirected by Francis Ford Coppola, it doesn’t follow tradition with war and make out likesoldiers are heroes and that’s that. It shows that innocent people do get harmed in war andshows the truth of it. For me, this is the first film I’m aware of that has really done that and Ithink because of the year that it was released, people never really went outside of theguidelines when portraying war so I think it was a really clever and eye opening thing to do.There’s a scene where we see soldiers dropping bombs where extremely young children areand I think that would have made a huge impact on people as it’s not something that’s niceto see and it is quite upsetting and makes you question things. Usually that type of thing iswell hidden from the public. It has a really strong political message.