“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. ” Frankly speaking, the line is too blatant if not too rude. But how can anyone forget the sarcasm and antics of Rhett Butler? How can anyone ignore his “rudeness” and seemingly insulting character? Apparently, the above-mentioned expression created a generic expression that shall be remembered for the rest of history. The unforgettable lines of Rhett Butler and his witty dialogues have already achieved immortality in the hearts and minds of many. Films are often described as life’s visual representation.
It depicts the realities that are encountered by each and every individual in their daily undertakings. It creates dreams and let the public enjoy a momentary surge of euphoria as they relate and connect with different antagonists and protagonists in the story. In films, dreams become real, magic and mysticism is ordinary and revolutions succeed. Films are no different from the narratives built by prolific writers or wordsmith. But what differentiates movies from texts is the actual happening of what is imagined right before our very eyes.
Film and literature are both experiential, except that it is more felt in the former. The power of movies stems from the fact that it bridges the gap between reality and fiction. The visual imageries, the characters, the sound etc. presents a vivid description of the happenings within the cosmos. Since actors and actresses, although each has their own roles and characters to portray become an extension of our whole being. More often than not, we see ourselves in those actors and the whole movie becomes a grandeur presentation of our own lives.
The interpretations and the meanings that viewers render are determined by their personal experiences and endeavors. Indeed, there is no doubt that understanding films is subjective by nature. On the other hand, there is a big difference between a film enthusiast than an ordinary movie-goer. Their differences lie on how they appreciate and construct meanings out of the movies that they enjoy. Generally speaking, plain movie-goers patronize films for entertainment purposes. Thus it would not come as a surprise if their enjoyment and satisfaction are too superficial.
However, this is not always true as for the case of a genuine film enthusiast. Since he or she sees different film elements, a better understanding of the movie occurs and relatively, the level of appreciation is more intense and to a certain extent—more in-depth. In relation to this, it is the aim of this paper to share insights on how movies should be analyzed—to present a detailed explanation regarding a wide array of tools and instruments that can be used to achieve a more substantial and methodological approach towards film analysis. Analyzing movies
There are several factors that should be considered in order to produce a comprehensive film or movie analysis. First of all, knowing the genre of the featured film greatly contributes on how viewers construct meanings and symbols that are presented in the story. Each and every genre follows certain structures on how they would develop and treat the themes and concepts that it wants to tackle and convey. Although some would argue that genre analysis would not really require a formal approach, Langford (2005) seems to disagree with this kind of notion.
While it is true that genres present categorization or description of various movies (Simpson, Utterson & Spherdson 2004), Langford (2005) maintains that genre analysis is beneficial to several concerned parties. Most of the times, these are the filmmakers, the viewers and the respected members of the academe (Langford 2005). In as far as the audience is concerned, film genre offer a choice. It cannot be denied that films are also considered as media commodities that are consistently consumed by a specific range of audience.
The option that film genres provide ensures that there is “product differentiation” and at the same time, it serves as a guarantee that similar film experiences shall be felt (Langford, 2005). Due to the fact that films are also commodities, a good would not be created if the producer is absent from the whole picture. For film makers, film genre allows them to have an exact estimate of the cost that they will be allotting for the overall production (Langford, 2005). Aside from that, film genre is also influential in terms of how film producers will be able to tap different markets or sustain their respected client base (Langford 2005).
Lastly, the academe enjoys the advantages of film genre since it becomes a necessary tool in theorizing and a much better approach on how to contextualize films in terms of their historical, social, political and economical relevance (Langford, 2005). There are different kinds of film genres. Each of them has their own distinct features and characteristics, although crossovers or mixtures of these genres are very much possible. One of the most extensively used film category is action.
Action movies are known for projecting high levels or intensities of energies primarily because of the incorporation of “physical stunts” in every scene such as street fighting and heart-stopping “rescues (“Film Genres, n. d). Action films are often flavored with adventurous schemes and incident (“Film Genres, n. d). However, while several of these movies became blockbuster, the appeal of action films does not really capture the attention of movie-goers primarily because of the “two dimensional” conventions of the heroes and villains (“Film Genres, n. d).
Another popular film genre is comedy (“Film Genres, n. d). Needless to explain, comedy’s underlying themes and concepts are carefully designed to elicit laughter from the audience (“Film Genres, n. d). Light topics are commonly tackled and developed (“Film Genres, n. d). But through the years, comedy has already branched out. Its subgenres include “slapstick, deadpan, verbal comedy, parody, screwball and black comedy (“Film Genres, n. d). More often than not, when the audience is flooded with tears, there is no doubt that the drama is the film genre involved.
However, such notion is rather too stereotypical. Drama basically deals with personal struggles and endeavors (“Film Genres, n. d). Oftentimes, different facets of the characters are shown in the story (“Film Genres, n. d). Aside from the three, there are also other notable film genres such as horror, war, crime or gangster, sci-fi and epic (“Film Genres, n. d). In film analysis, the “acting” should not be taken for granted. The ways wherein the actors and actress portray the roles of their respective characters are highly important in the delivery of the story.
More often than not, the failure of movies to elicit their desired themes and concepts can be partly attributed to the inability of the actor to properly execute his assigned role. They are unable to capture the feelings and emotions of the character involved in the story. Therefore, there are instances wherein superb stories became major disappointments due to unsound acting. On the other hand, it is also necessary to look at film editing as one of the foundations of film analysis or interpretation. Basically, film editing serves as the formidable backbone of a particular movie.
Efficient and well-executed editing ensures that the story will flow smoothly. Because of this, the audience is not caught off-handed. Editing secures that the whole story can be clearly understood by the viewer. Transitions should be carefully made since this connects the different subplots that are included in the whole movie as well. A concrete and credible film analysis also looks into the movie’s mise-en-scene. Mise-en-scene is a French term which means “placing on stage. (Manchel, 1990; Gianetti, 1990). In theaters, mise-en-scene can be easily identified.
However, within the film context, mise-en-scene becomes more complex since there is a constant change of locations. Through framing and inserting visual effects, the “stage” in films are arranged in such a way that it would convey the message of the whole story. Cinematography is also another aspect that should be taken into full consideration when it comes to film analysis. Cinematography involves lighting and camera techniques. The efficient combination of the two enables the director to elicit their desired effects that would contribute to the film’s quality.
Along with cinematography, screenplay and sounds should not be ignored in movie analysis. Actually, the combination of all these aspects enables the viewer to appreciate movies beyond their entertainment function and purposes. Of meanings and interpretations Meanings and interpretations are not solely produced by the director. While it is true that they take charge of everything, they cannot readily impose a generic understanding of the matter. There are even instances wherein the director’s perceived meanings are in stark contrast with the audience. A film’s face changes whenever it is confronted with a different set of audience.
Films have the ability to generate various kinds of emotions and feelings that may readily vary from time to time. More often than not, viewers interpret films via relating their experiences through what they see on the big screen. Previously, it was explained that movies tend to reflect different events in reality. Compared to literature, the reader is left to imagine the incidents that are happening in the story. By virtue of reason and logic, it is a different thing when you see the actual events happen right before your very eyes. Movies have a cathartic effect.
Placed within the context of the audience, the films made it appear that they are involved in the whole story as well. Since an invitation to be involved and to connect are present, the audience give meanings and interpretations based from their own perceptions of reality. However, this is rather too subjective. There are also other ways that can be utilized when it comes to film analysis or interpretation. This is through utilizing theories and frameworks. Theories serve as guiding lights on how to have better interpretations. But of course, this is something that is not limited to films alone.
Most analysis involves the use of frameworks in order to achieve structure and congruency. Currently, there are various schools of thought that are commonly used in film interpretation. Based from the term author, auteur theory is a renowned framework in film analysis. Auteur theory suggests that in films, it is the director that is considered as the master-creator. In film-making, there are different characters involved, the actual producer, the scriptwriter and the director. Given this situation at hand, auteur theory suggests that much of the credit should be given to the director.
Indeed it is true that there are various individuals who have created to the film. However, the product would not come into hand if not for the director’s main supervision. It is the director who would control the overall lighting and effects. He is also the one involved in generating the desired emotions and feelings via directing the actors and actresses involved. If not for the director’s creative imagination, a film would not materialize. Another popular film theory that is also being used is feminism. Based from the actual term per se, the theory seeks to see the position of women in movies.
It takes into consideration certain issues such as whether women are being objectified or celebrated in movies. Nelmes (2003) shared that during the early 70s the rise of feminist frameworks have critically assessed how the ideology of the patriarchal society have been expressed in film. It can be remembered that during those times, women are rarely regarded as artists or film makers (Nelmes, 2003). Basically, the essence of feminist theories aims to deconstruct the women’s social, political and economical status in produced films.
In addition to that, theories of these nature seek to understand if gender discrepancies are highly manifested through language use, camera movements and focus and roles usually played. Realism is yet another theoretical framework that is readily used and applied. Realism (Gianetti, 1990) deconstructs films on how well they reflect reality. It can be fairly described that movies are extensions of reality. This is the underlying foundation that realist theorists utilize as a guide. When realism is applied in films, the depiction of reality is not merely assessed through the movie’s themes and contents.
The use of lighting and effects are also evaluated in terms of how it readily reduces the artificiality of formulated film—in the same manner that an individual would see his or her environment or the community that he or she belongs—films are evaluated based on how the characters efficiently portray the happenings of everyday life. In this case, films go beyond providing momentary pleasure that is commonly observed and practiced in the current film industry. Films must have social relevance and significance. The use of film theories is also another way of how individuals provide meaning and interpretation to these works of art.
However, it can be seen that the incorporation or utilization of film theories perfectly fit in academic discourse and explanations. As previously mentioned, film theories or theories in general provide a framework wherein the flow of the whole analysis would be based or determined. But then again, it cannot be denied that the function of film theory also enable a viewer to see things from a much more objective manner. It tries to lessen if not totally eliminate the subjective perceptions that are practiced in film interpretation.
In addition to that, film theories also allow the audience to see and assess the intricate details that are often ignored and taken for granted. Therefore, this makes film interpretation more credible and free from bias and prejudiced. Film theories offer new angles and approaches that cannot be readily seen in subjective evaluations. A personal evaluation In as far as the researcher is concerned; the subjectivity of film analysis should not be taken out of the picture. First and foremost, it is the viewers who will have the final say on what a particular movie really wants to instill or develop.
The influence of personal experiences cannot be totally eradicated. Perhaps, it would be safe to assume that subjectivity in film analysis is something that is innate and expected. Once and for all, films tend to act and function as the mirror, not just of ones life, but also the most significant and relevant events in society. But then again, aside from dwelling from personal experiences alone, the researcher also sees the importance of the actors’ acting as one of the determinants of a sound a good film interpretation.
Once and for all, the script would not have any essence or value not unless those who are assigned with such roles are efficient enough to portray their respective characters. Acting is important because the scenarios and events shown in the film seem to embody a generic sentiment that is experienced by each and every movie. Film aside from all the visual effects that are readily used should be close enough to present reality. Cinematography also plays an important role. Although a good story is developed and transformed into movies, certain effects and techniques tend to highlight the emotion and feelings that are embedded within the show.
Once and for all, and as stated a while ago, films serve as mirrors of society. But this does not necessarily mean that they can really depict total reality. The efficient use of cinematography makes the movie more engaging and at the same time, it intensifies the movie’s cathartic effect. The last but not the least, the use of theories also stands as one of the most important criteria in a movie analysis. Theories can be best use to have a solid and concrete support in the arguments and contentions that are present in film interpretations and analysis. Reference “Film Genres” (n. d).
Filmsite. Retrieved 04 April 2008 from http://www. filmsite. org/actionfilms. html Giannetti, L (1990). Understanding Movies, 5th Edition, Englewood Cliffs, NJ :Prentice Hall, Langford, B. (2005). Film Genre ¬: Hollywood and Beyond. Edinburgh University Press Manchel, F. (1990). Film Study: An Analytical Biography. Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Nelmes, J. (2003). An Introduction to Film Studies. London: Routledge Simpson, P. ; Utterson, A. and Shepherdson, K. (2004). Film Theory Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies. USA: Taylor and Francis