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Jonathan Ward Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01 How Do We Analyse a Film? Introduction There are different ways to analyse a movie. You can compare the movie to other films or you can generally just research into the film. Liking or disliking a film is a personal choice but when critiquing a film you have to look deeper into whether the story was told well or not, if it was original/unique or didn’t even try to be different, if camera shots where good or bad and the sound effective - Did the film achieve its objective? There are different ways to analyse this and I will be looking into Genre Analysis and Auteur Theory methods and explaining the difference. Genre analysis is when you view a film placing it into a category and seeing how well the film fits in. A film can be assessed over many categories but the usual starting point is theme where a film such as ‘I am legend’ (Francis Lawrence – Warner Bros Pictures, 2007) would be classed as a disaster movie. Most films are a blend a different stories which cross genres. The popularity of genres changes, a creating a film in the correct genre can make a big difference to its audience appeal. Auteur Theory looks at how typical of the director, as author, the film is. This can be a recognisable type of film, a style of filming or the role of sound within the film. These films are distinctive as though they have the director’s stamp. Typical examples are the Alfred Hitchcock films although in the more general crime genre they are instantly recognisable in the way they are filmed, etc. to build on suspense Hitchcock
Transcript
Page 1: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

How Do We Analyse a Film?

Introduction

There are different ways to analyse a movie. You can compare the movie to other films or you can generally just research into the film. Liking or disliking a film is a personal choice but when critiquing a film you have to look deeper into whether the story was told well or not, if it was original/unique or didn’t even try to be different, if camera shots where good or bad and the sound effective - Did the film achieve its objective? There are different ways to analyse this and I will be looking into Genre Analysis and Auteur Theory methods and explaining the difference.

Genre analysis is when you view a film placing it into a category and seeing how well the film fits in. A film can be assessed over many categories but the usual starting point is theme where a film such as ‘I am legend’ (Francis Lawrence – Warner Bros Pictures, 2007) would be classed as a disaster movie. Most films are a blend a different stories which cross genres. The popularity of genres changes, a creating a film in the correct genre can make a big difference to its audience appeal.

Auteur Theory looks at how typical of the director, as author, the film is. This can be a recognisable type of film, a style of filming or the role of sound within the film. These films are distinctive as though they have the director’s stamp. Typical examples are the Alfred Hitchcock films although in the more general crime genre they are instantly recognisable in the way they are filmed, etc. to build on suspense Hitchcock becoming known as the master of suspense.

http://classicfilm.about.com/od/actorsanddirectors/a/HitchProfile.htm

Page 2: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Genre Analysis

The Internet Movie Database defines the following Film Genres;

Action Adventure Animation Biography

Comedy Crime Documentary Drama

Family Fantasy Film-Noir Game-Show

History Horror Music Musical

Mystery News Reality-TV Romance

Sci-Fi Sport Talk-Show Thriller

War Western

These genres are words which help us define the type of production made.

Genre analysis looks at how well the film fits into genre we measure this using seven key areas which are;

Character

Codes and Conventions

Iconography

Narrative

Setting

Themes

Ideological Message

Character – The character isn’t always just a person acting in a film/story, they can be presented in a way to display something such as powerful or weak, a character may represent something in real life, such as James Bond (Casino Royale, Martin Campbell – Columbia Pictures, 2006; etc) where he is displaying the dominance of England.

Page 3: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

The use of a character and their dress within a given location can also add to a film for example in Crocodile Dundee II (John Cornell – Paramount Pictures, 1982) Dundee’s presence in New York brought humour to the film. However, generally the audience will expect to see a character fit into the genre of the film, seeing a cowboy in a Western film.

Codes and Conventions - The codes and conventions of a movie are like a way of saying ‘the typical things’ that happen in a movie of that genre. The sets, costumes and props all form the mise en scene. For example, Saw (James Wan - Evolution Entertainment, 2004), a Horror movie.

The codes of the horror genre are to use the mise en scene to create tension caused by anticipation before climaxing as a monster/villain jumps out, etc. Some horror films are gruesome and show blood and guts others are more psychological but all specific close-up camera shots to show the villain and use scary music to help set the scene.

Iconography – Iconography is used in films quite a lot of the time, this is used to sort of symbolise the film genre out, like in a western audience expect to see revolvers, rifles, stetsons, horses, stirrups, leathers, etc. and in horror films audience expects to see maybe previous victims, young girls and lots of blood and gore.

Page 4: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Narrative – The film narrative is the series of events that happen that cause to effect the relationship of the film. For example in a action film, the hero always starts off powerful and then at some point there is a downfall then at the end of the film there is a resolution and everything resolves back to normal and usually falls in love with a girl. It’s the way the film is structured.

Occasionally a vocal narrative is used to add more emphasis and keep the film moving this is the case in The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont – Castle Rock Entertainment, 1984) where Morgan Freeman provided the voiceover.

Setting – The setting or location of a film is always important as towards the film genre, some locations just cannot not fit the genre as each type requires its own specific setting.

For example a horror movie may be set in a deserted area or an abandoned house, like in The Shining (Stanley Kubrick – Warner Bros. Pictures, 1980) where a family become the caretakers of an isolated hotel.

Action films usually in urban areas, big cities and so on. They can use the confined spaces for car chases and gun fights like in The Transporter ( Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen – Europa Corp., 2002).

Page 5: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Theme - Themes in film is the conflict between the narratives. Revenge and love are two themes that are used a lot but it varies on the genre of the film, as in an action film you may see love and revenge together but in a horror film see only revenge. Several film franchises have been setup based on films of reoccurring themes such as Indian Jones with the theme of long lost treasures and the race to retrieve it first.

Ideological Message – All files have a message although some are difficult to read or mean different things to different people. This is used quite often in films to represent to relate something or someone to one another or just in real life genuinely, for example in James Bond films he drives a really fast car which is armoured with gadgets, you could relate this to him because bond is yet powerful and really fast and together the car and him make a perfect combination, and depending on which country the car is from, it shows the power of that country too.

An ideological message can also show dreams, power, determination and a will to overcome adversity as in the film Apollo 13 (Ron Howard – Universal Pictures, 1995) where the fate of the astronauts is determined in a near fatal mission to the moon. The message here is to ‘Never give up’.

Page 6: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

In order to conform to a genre certain aspects are expected:

In a Western genre film, the story is usually set in the wild west of America and shows the time in the 1800s when the population started to spread into vast open spaces. Wide angle shots are used to film panoramic scenes that show the setting as a lonely and sometimes dangerous place. Topics vary such as but can be life on a ranch, cattle drives, cavalry fighting Red Indians, robberies from banks, trains or stage coaches etc. Films in this genre include, Cowboys and Aliens (Jon Favreau - Universal Pictures, 2011), The Magnificent Seven (John Sturges - The Mirisch Company, 1960), Shanghai Noon (Tom Dey - Touchstone Pictures, 2000) and True

Grit (Ethan and Joel Coen - Paramount Pictures, 1969).

Area of Analysis

Example Technical feature

Codes and conventions

HorsesCowboy HatsRevolvers

Close up shots to make these conventions recognisable. Echoing sounds when guns are fired

Setting Old buildingsDesertsmall town

Panoramic shots of the desert, Tumble weed rolling around the main street and cacti growing in deserts

Character Hero- MarshallVillains – Former convictsThievesBeautiful woman

Low shots to make them seem powerful and strong. Over the shoulder shots when talking

Themes RevengeHateLove

During a love scene, always light hearted music.

Narrative Revenge on marshal because of prison sentence to a convict

N/a

Iconography Tough man – representing powerHorses – a big part of the cowboy

Always starts and ends with a wide shot of the location, with some kind of soundtrack.

Page 7: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

way of life.Steam Train – because everybody is leaving on it, it also shows that steam trains have become a huge downfall in the cowboy lifestyle.

Ideological message

Can symbolise the power of Americans and how living in America is a dream with all the success.

In a Science-Fiction genre film the setting is usually away from Earth in outer space but when on Earth is either set in the future or is about an alien invasion. Costumes and make-up play a big part in this genre as well as special effect showing space ships, laser weapons and explosions: Alien (Ridley Scott - Twentieth Century Fox Productions, 1979), Predator (John McTieran - Amercent Films, 1987), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Franklin J. Schaffner - Paramount Picture, 1979) and Star Wars.: Episode IV A New Hope (George Lucas - Lucasfilm, 1977) are all examples of Science Fiction.

Area of Analysis

Example Technical feature

Codes and conventions

Space suitsLaser gunsExplosions

Close up shots to make these conventions recognisable. Beeps, and radar sounds. Laser noises.

Setting Space shipStrange Planet

When spaceships usually arrive, there is high lighting and smoke.

Character Hero – usually humanAlienrobot

Slowly reveals the alien, maybe by not showing the face until later on in the film. Over the shoulder shots.

Page 8: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Themes RevengeHateLove

Narrative To save Earth or a planet and overcome the aliens

Shots shown from different perspectives

Iconography Tough man – representing is powerUFO – alien transport or city

Low angle shots to show toughness of characters

Ideological message

That we as a species are strong and overcome anything

Wide angle shot showing aliens defeated and retreating fast

In a War genre film, the aim is usually to depicts an event where an impossible situation was overcome by the skill and heroics of a totally outnumbered group of soldiers for English speaking countries these are normally American or British, settings such as the first and second world wars have been used repeatedly but more recent films show the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Examples in this genre include: Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg - Amblin Entertainment, 1998), Apocalypse Now (Fancis Ford Coppola - Zoetrope Studios, 1979), Rambo:First Blood (Ted Kotcheff – Anabasis N.V.,

1982) and Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott - Revolution Studios, 2001).

Area of Analysis

Example Technical feature

Codes and conventions

TanksUniformsRifles

Bomb noises coming from the distanceshows a wide shot of an army marching,gun and other weapon sounds.

Setting Partly blown up townDesert

Lots of fire and smoke shots.POV shots

Page 9: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

BridgeTrenchesShips

Character Hero -Villains – opposition gunsBeautiful woman

Low angle shots to display power

Themes RevengeHateLove

Narrative Seemly impossible objective needs to be accomplished.

Impenetrable situation with only one small weakness

Iconography Tough man – representing is powerFlags – to display the country dominanceNormal man – making a difference of an impossible situation.

Close-up shot showing sweat, concentration and determination no matter what

Ideological message

Shows country power. Usually American or British anthem played at the end.

Page 10: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

An Analysis of Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace (dir. Marc Forster 2008) is an action thriller coming from the tried and tested Bond studio. The use of action, mystery, adventure within the story, the camera shots in interesting and unusual locations plus the drama and excitement caused by the build up of music is always a winning combination. Quantum of Solace is no different from other Bond films where the initial scenes aim to grab your attention from the start. A genre analysis of the opening sequence is in the table below. The opening sequence is has all the typical action thriller conventions in it and has many similarities to Leon, as both opening scenes open with a reveal of the location it is set, both main characters are dressed smartly in suits. There is also a lot of gun fire and people that are hurt or killed. I think Marc Forster is influenced by Luc Besson’s Leon quite a lot throughout the rest of Quantum of Solace.

Page 11: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Area of Analysis Example Technical feature (Camera/sound/mise en scene/ editing)

Conforms to genre? Y/N

Breaksconformity? Y/NIf yes, how?

Codes and conventions

Fast carsguns

Fast editing, close-upsshooting noises

Y N

Setting Glamorous locations Urban, beach, holiday resorts,

Wide shot mountainous quarry location

Y N

Character Hero - BondEnemiesVictim

Big built secret agent, Y N

ThemesCar chase Lots of shots of the car Y N

Narrative Bond is trying to escape

Shots of cars rolling down mountains in danger

Y N

Iconography Bond – powerful man representing English dominance. Masculinity

- Y N

Ideological message English dominance - Y N

Page 12: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

An Analysis of Leon

Leon (1994) directed by Luc Besson contrast is another action thriller but unlike the Bond films is uses a lot of close camera shots and dark scenes to bring an intensity to the action. The film also uses the relationship between Leon and Mathilda to appeal to the viewer. The film comes across as more realistic being much less glamorous than a Bond in terms of the location, actors and general storyline. The opening sequence is like any other where Leon starts off as a villain type character to the audience but as film carries on you realise that Luc Besson breaks the general action thriller conventions as Leon is an assassin and in the normal action thriller an assassin is not usually the protagonist.

This makes a more realistic scenario because in reality, in the world people aren’t genuinely evil or good, people tend to have a mixture of good and bad in them which Leon shows because he shows his evil bad side by doing his job of murdering individuals and he shows

his heart and good side by taking in Mathilda and showing her his ways.

Page 13: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Area of Analysis Example Technical feature

(Camera/sound/mise en scene/ editing)

Conforms to genre? Y/N

Breaksconformity? Y/NIf yes, how?

Codes and conventions

Guns, suits, cqc combat scene

Slow editing,shooting noises

Y Y, because action scenes usually include fast editing with lots of gunfire as for leon this is different to a original action movie such as James Bond

Setting Glamorous locations Urban, beach, holiday resorts,

Wide shot mountainous quarry location

Y N

Character Hero - LeonEnemies – StansfieldVictim – Mathilda

big built, assassin Y Y, unlike most action movies the hero is portrayed as good, but as leon is an assassin, it is quite unusual to see somebody who is bad and good be the hero.

Themes Car chase Lots of shots of the car

Y N, There is no chase scenes in Leon, this is strange as an action thriller usually has.

Narrative Leon is trying to escape

Out of the building that is being raided by police

Y N

Iconography Leon – powerful man representing masculinity

- Y N

Ideological message Tells us that sometimes one life can change another life by just adding a bit of good to yourself no matter how bad you are.

- Y N

Page 14: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Page 15: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Similarities and Differences

Both Quantum of Solace and Leon are similar;

The main characters are both male and female

A relationship is formed between the two main characters

Both male characters do similar jobs

The male characters both have and use guns

Both Bond and Leon dress smart and look dominant

Both films have an opening scene which displays the power of both males

Each of the films opens with an aerial tracking shot

Both films also have many differences;

Quantum of Solace does not turn into a drama

The editing in Leon isn’t as fast as in Quantum of Solace

The picture overall is darker in Leon

The background music isn’t as extreme and have the impact in Leon that it has in Quantum of Solace

The locations used aren’t as glamorous in Leon

Page 16: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Auteur Theory

An auteur film is used to describe a film where the director’s personal view and creative vision has made a distinct and recognisable impression on the film. When the director has made several films in this way they may become known as an Auteur Director. Films can be of different genres but must have the director’s influence of style and consistency as a recognisable signature.

Andrew Sarris originated the term Auteur theory in the essay, "Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962". According to Sarris to be classified as an auteur, “a director must accomplish technical competence in their technique, personal style in terms of how the movie looks and feels, and interior meaning”.

http://www.fadedrequiem.com/zoetrope/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/andrew_sarris_notes_auteur_theory.pdf

Recognition as an Auteur director can elevate the director into one of the greats in the industry.

Quentin Tarantino is one of todays well known Auteur Directors, his films such as Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Kill Bill (2003), etc. are recognisable through their style of chapters, language and humour all part of Tarantino’ signature.

‘Cowboys and Aliens’ (Jon Favreau – Universal Pictures, 2011) is as its name suggests a combination of the Western and Science Fiction Genres but other elements are touched upon such as romance and crime in order to make the film more appealing to a larger target audience. Mainstream actors have also been used to help guarantee that the film is a commercial success by drawing in the audience to see stars such as Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.

Page 17: Jw lo1 -_how_do_we_analyse_film_assignment

Jonathan Ward

Extended Diploma In Creative Media Production

Task - Unit 26 Film Studies L01

Jon Faveau directed the film but with five screenplay and three screen story writers and given the story is based on a Marvel comic story at first glance you wouldn’t say that he was an Auteur. But of the films he has directed many have a theme in that they are based on comic characters and stories. As well as ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ he has produced ‘The Avengers’ and the ‘Iron Man’ films and ‘Zathura’. ‘Zathura’ in particular, is similar to ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ because it brings together humans in their family home with an alien environment. Jon Faveau seems to like making this genre of film and is successful in making them. The western/science fiction theme isn’t original, films like The Time Machine and Back to the Future have touched on this in the past. The film was enjoyable reminding me of an Indiana Jones type adventure but I do not think that it had its own style. The film had its moments but I do not think it involved outstanding technical excellence or had any special artistic merit. His use of so many star names to me makes this much more of a commercial money making scheme rather than a directional masterpiece. In my opinion the film isn’t original or unique enough to class Jon Faveau as Auteur however his recent interest in this genre should continue since it was entertaining. The location used was typically western with an acceptable code convention featuring the usual cowboy/sheriff characters until the science fiction of the aliens arrived. Again their code convention was correct featuring flying craft and laser weapons but somehow the mixture of the two mise on scene genres made the film less realistic. I particularly enjoyed the camera work when the cowboys on horseback attacked the alien spacecraft. The mixture of wide shots with close-ups really captured the speed and danger of the moment.

Conclusion

By reviewing the films using the different methods of Genre Analysis and Auteur Theory we are able to look into the inspiration behind the direction and creation of the film. The methods contrast but together give a fuller and better understanding.


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