ENG 225: Introduction to Film
June 7, 2010
“To evaluate a film as art requires knowing the purpose of a film, and then judging how well the basic elements of the film work together to achieve that end” (Durante, 2006). To become truly “cineliterate” (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 5), one must be totally absorbed in the film but also impartial and indifferent. The thematic, fictional, and dramatic elements, visual design, cinematography and special visual effects, editing, color, sound effects and dialogue, acting, and direction are all important components in the making of a film. In this paper, I will clarify by what means to analyze a film, reveal according to what we find and interpret the meaning in movies, and clarify my personal criteria for the evaluation of movies.
“The properties that make film the most powerful and realistic of the arts also make analysis challenging” (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 5). The viewer’s reaction of the image, sound, and movement on the screen must be receptive in reaction to concurrent and uninterrupted interaction. A film tells the viewer that a certain issue, event, emotion or principle is worth thinking about and perhaps fighting for. The theme distinguishes the style of the film. All aspects of the film must work together to articulate the theme. The viewer should be able to analyze the contributions to its theme by secondary plots, twists of plot, recollections of the past, use of body language, conversations, costumes, and each camera position. Nothing should be incomprehensible or useless nor should it be baffling unless perplexity is necessary for plot development (Boggs & Petrie, p. 5). Film analysis is an assessment of how all the essentials in a film unite to divulge the theme. The viewer should watch the film more than once to gain a more insightful knowledge. The film should be watched the first time for initial impressions of the plot, mood, and theme. It should be viewed at least once more to study the means by which the theme was delivered. A viewer should be able to look at a film and know exactly what purpose one or more aspects perform and its input to the film's theme. The ending is a crucial part of the plot because it is what reveals the theme (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 6). The theme of a film is the “unifying central concern, the special focus that unifies the work” (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 20). There are four major elements the filmmaker may choose to focus on or emphasis. They are plot, emotional effect or mood, character, and style or texture. These elements are present in all films, but usually one is more prevalent than the others (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 20). The arrangement of the events in a film to achieve a specific effect is the plot. The plot is essentially the events in a film for a purpose. The expression of the meaning of a work is important in a plot. A cause-effect relationship may be formed in a pattern. The film communicates information necessary to understand the story line. The introduction of the plot introduces the element of instability which opens up the development of the story. The theme can be summarized in a film by its plot. The plot is what provides general entertainment to the viewer in maintaining interest throughout the entire film. The final outcome of a film is usually of most importance, but characters, ideas, and emotional effects are very significant to underlying events (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 20). A specific mood or emotion that is prevalent throughout an entire film is a part of a large majority of movies. Some films suggest a specific mood or emotion in difference sequences to exemplify and advance an emotional outcome within the film (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, pp. 20-22). In the film, The Way We Were (Pollack, 1973); the mood is somewhat dismal and bleak. By the end, the leading male character (Robert Redford) realizes he is nothing special without the leading female character...