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Terms used for Film Analysis

What is film analysis?

A film is like any other form of literary text. It is a medium for telling stories just like novels, poems, and short stories are. To ensure that your essays reflect the fact that you are writing specifically about film, your essay needs to incorporate analysis of the structure of the film as well as the characters, theme and setting.

Film Techniques There is a specific language that you need to be familiar with in order to analyse film and show your understanding of how ideas are communicated. These terms are film techniques Mise en scene The elements that comprise what is happening on the screen. Analysing mise en scene is important in understanding specifically how visual elements are used to communicate ideas. !uestions that ask you to discuss production techniques or key scene"s# will require a discussion of mise en scene. $ou need to be as specific as possible. The way in which the camera is used to tell a story. %onsider camera angles, proximity of camera to subject, movement of the camera in relation to the subject, movement of the subject in relation to the camera. Think about what is in the frame & how is space used' (ow is your perspective of what is happening manipulated by camera work' %inematography is important in understanding characterisation and setting in particular. Again, discussion of this needs to be as specific as possible. This is when an object stands for an idea. If this symbol is recurring, it becomes a motif. )ymbolism is used to convey themes and, to some extent, characterisation. This is when a person stands for an idea. This is similar to the idea of stereotyping & where an individual is considered to stand for general characteristics. A representation is often composed of repeated elements. The more we see these elements repeated, the more the representation will appear natural or normal. %haracters in films can often function as representations. This means that they are not always designed to be *true to life+ personalities but representations of certain ideals, or stereotypes. ,xamples of representative character types include *the unemployed+, *the loving wife+, *no hoper student+ or *politician+. )ometime characters embody particular ideas, for example, *hope+, *activism+, *jealousy+.


Symbolism Representation


The way in which characters are portrayed on the screen. ,lements that contribute to this are soundtrack, dialogue, costuming, cinematography and mise en scene.

Narrative These narrative terms relate to the structure of the story - plot. E position ,xposition refers to the beginning of the narrative. The function of the exposition is to draw the members of the audience into the narrative, allow them to make sense of what is happening, generate appropriate expectations and encourage them to keep watching. %reators of visual narratives do this by indicating early in the narrative The background information The nature of the main characters The atmosphere The conflict or problem with which the narrative deals


.lots often revolve around conflict. This is what generate the suspense and interest for the audience. %onflicts can be Interpersonal & person versus person /atural & person versus nature "such as surviving in a storm at sea# Internal & .erson versus self Ideological & 0ne person+s values or ideas against another+s or those of a social grouping. A useful way of analysing conflicts in a narrative is in terms of oppositions. %reators of texts often construct characters with sets of oppositions, "binaries#. This heightens the sense of difference, contrast and conflict between them. 1or example, the story of 2oldilocks and the Three 3ears. The bears 4ictims of a senseless crime %aring family (ealth conscious porridge eaters )trong moral values %omfortable, family home 6eft to pick up the pieces !ol"iloc#s Thief 5enegade youth with no thought for others )coffer of stolen spoils )elfish hedonist (omeless vagrant 5uns away, carelessly laughing

0f course, much of the meaning that we gain is based on representation and interpretation$ The bears 1erocious carnivores 1ilthy capitalist materialists 8iddle class heterosexual norm %omplacent and obese !ol"iloc#s )mall, innocent child 7estitute 8arginalised minority group 1rail, malnourished

4engeance seekers Resolution

1reedom fighter, liberated by the shackles of society

5esolution refers to the ending of the narrative. The conflict or resolution is often resolved, usually in a way that makes sense to the audience. If the resolution is unfitting to the conflict, audiences can feel frustrated or disappointed. Thinking about the resolution is important because the resolution reflects particular attitudes, values and beliefs. %onsider why we often expect or desire happy endings to narratives and what this *happy ending+ entails.