Analyzing Films

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Analyzing Film
Camille D. Beasley
Instructor: Matthew Norsworthy
July 24, 2010

The development of film can be a process that is extensive and complex. Film analysis helps the viewer to understand what the director is trying to convey to the audience. To analyze a film successfully, it is important to understand how collaborative filmmaking really works. There are a number of elements that must work together not only to have a successful production but also to guide the audience through the story. Some such elements are the film’s narrative structure, colorization, director’s style, camera shot, and actor selection. While the actor is the most visible of the elements on screen; there are many craftsmen that perform behind the scene functions in order to get the finished product in front of a viewing audience. To really have a handle on how movies work, it is helpful to watch a number of films in different genres to understand the conventions of each. Knowing and understanding all of the technical elements of film can help the viewer to analyze the film more carefully. Furthermore, they may gain an emotional attachment to the film, and find some level of truth as they become more aware of what has taken place in order to bring it to life. When sitting down to watch a film one of the first elements a viewer should use to analyze a movie is its narrative structure. The film should be structured to help the viewer to understand the message contained within and give meaning throughout. However you need to keep in mind that narrative structure only applies to the way in which a story I told not the story itself. This means that the narrative structure is the chronological stages or steps that progress from one to the other throughout the story. There are two types of narrative structures: linear and non-linear. The linear structure tells the story of a film in chronological order, while the non-linear structure tells the story in a non chronological order usually using flashbacks (Boggs & Petrie, 2008). Both structures contain the same elements: exposition, complication, climax, and dénouement. They differ only in the arrangement of these elements. On film classic that is an example of linear structure is “Gone with the Wind” (1939). The film stars Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. The familiar love story of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara is told from beginning to end in chronological order. This keep the audience engaged and makes them want to see how the story turns out as the characters go through many ups and downs, while maturing throughout the process. Another film that tells the story in linear structure is “Junebug”. This movie gives the riveting account of family conflict in the American South. The story is told in strict chronological order (Boggs & Petrie, 2008). The recent Sci-fi psychological thriller “Inception” is an example of a film that uses non-linear structure. Inception which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page starts its story at the end and moves backwards. It tells the story of Cobb (DiCaprio) and how he had the ability to possess the power to enter into the dreams of others (Rotten Tomatoes-Inception, 2010). During the movie Cobb has flashbacks that help the audience to understand his mental state as the movie progresses. Both linear and Non-linear structures help to build the audiences suspense for the films outcome. While linear structure is the more popular of the two, non-linear structure helps the audience to see everything from the main character’s point of view. The use of color is another element that is used in film to tell the story. When analyzing a films color scheme, the viewer can get the feel of its meaning. Cinematographers make use of warm and cool colors to give an impression of a films temperature. The warm color such as red, orange, yellow and lavender are often used to represent fire, sun, or the sunset. Warm colors are usually associated with violence and danger....
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