A Pocket Guide to Analyzing Films
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
From form and narrative to mise-en-scène and cinematography to editing and sound, Robert Spadoni introduces and explains the principles and conventions of film in engaging, straightforward language. In addition to illustrating film techniques with almost 200 images—most of them in color—the book explains ways to find patterns and meaning in films through such concepts as motifs, development, and motivation.
Thumbnail readings of exemplary films further lay out the essentials of formal analysis. Film illustrations include frame enlargements from Stagecoach, Psycho, Jeepers Creepers, Persepolis, Groundhog Day, Take Shelter, and more. Modestly priced and packed with images, A Pocket Guide to Analyzing Films is ideal for students in a wide range of film courses who are looking for an easy-to-read guide to film analysis to accompany and enhance their course materials.
book, we’ll take these subsystems one at a time. Here in part 2 we consider film narrative. In part 3 we will turn to film style. Film Narrative 2 Many if not most of the films we watch tell stories. A film’s narrative constitutes a major subsystem within the total work. In this chapter we’ll first consider some narrative basics, then turn to a vital force animating every film narrative, its narration. N A R R AT IV E BAS I C S What is a narrative? Most simply, a narrative is a set of
access to a private fantasy is to take us even deeper. In Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Ridley Scott, 1982/2007) a character imagines a unicorn (2.13–2.14). The film sets this subjective material clearly off as such; viewers aren’t confused about where the unicorn is coming from. Other films are less forthright about what is and is not subjective. The German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, GER, 1920) reveals only at the end that the entire preceding action has been
shot of a figure that towers over us can make the figure look powerful, and a high-angle shot can make a figure look diminutive and vulnerable, but whether this is the case will depend on the shot’s context and on your own sense of what is going on in the shot, sequence, and film. Camera level refers to whether the frame lines up with vertical and perpendicular lines in the setting. Most of the time the framing is level, but it can be skewed (4.26). This is called a canted framing (or Dutch
armed soldiers. In the midst of the bloody massacre, the film intercuts images of a bull being slaughtered (5.28–5.29). This bull is not part of the diegetic action. It seems to exist outside the space and time of the film. There’s something abstract about its presence, and one can’t help but wonder on what thematic (versus narrative) grounds this presence can be justified. One possibility is that the film is paralleling the heartlessly efficient slaughter of the strikers with that of this
must face his nemesis alone. Obi-Wan’s ghost, in Star Wars: Episode V——The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980), tells Luke: “If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere.” One could argue that the rules of movie showdowns between good and bad guys govern Obi-Wan’s exclusion from this confrontation as much as any logic internal to the Star Wars universe does. Likewise excluded, Trinity urges, “Run, Neo, run.” The woman, helpless on the sidelines, fears for her man’s