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Movies Represent Storytelling at Its Best

By MarlenePatWalker Feb 27, 2013 3273 Words
Imagery, sounds, storytelling ability, excellent editing, serious acting and creative imaginations are all technically combined to make a good movie. Movies represent storytelling at its best. The writer gives a script to the director who interprets it and creates a core team of professionals that includes the cinematographer, the designer (and his team), the sound engineer, the actors, and the editor. They make films to entertain, to express emotion, tell stories, deliver messages, to dream, to imagine, and it is all because they have a passion that drives them. Filmmaking takes time, patience, dedication, commitment, and an understanding of the process in its totality. If filmmakers are oriented toward story and performance, they must learn to visualize the narrative. The story must unfold in the mind’s eye, as it is conceived and created. The filmmaker has to see the movie while the screenplay is being written and during pre-production before the cameras roll. (LoBrutto 2002) Matthew Vaughn created a make-believe movie which insinuates that mutants are everyday people that exist among us; and there were times during the movie that the thought actually crossed my mind. Owing to the fact that, making a film is a most complex artistic enterprise and that, movie making is the only creative endeavor that encompasses all of the arts: writing, photography, painting, acting, music, dance, and architecture; the filmmaker must take on the challenge of telling a story via image and sound each time a movie is made. (LoBrutto 2002) Storytelling

A movie is a story; it is as simple as that. Movies are really a category of art that use various kinds of technical combinations of imagery and sounds to tell stories. However, how the story is told, often make fictions seem real, non-fictions become personal, fantasy appear realistic and musicals, like Burlesque, expand into song and dance. There is always something that viewers can relate to in movies. Nevertheless, “Movies are not, and are not meant to be, blueprints for how to live our lives. They are, however, reflections of lives.” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011) The story, X-Men: First Class, is about former closeted mutants coming out and embracing their difference. However, the film began with a setting during the period of the holocaust when Magneto was a young boy in Poland. The boy’s name was Erik Lehnsherr (later named Magneto). The story highlights aspects of the enslavement of Jews by the German Gustapo. The close-up shots of the numbers that were branded on the arms of the Jewish people in the concentration camp align the story with an actual historical event. Those shots coupled with the boy’s forceful separation from his mother help to authenticate and solidify the director’s attempt at reality. His anger and fury at the separation triggered his mutant power of magnetism that caused him to rip the metal fence that stood between himself and his mother. The Gustapo commander’s name was Schmidt (later Sebastian Shaw). It was he who shot and killed Erik’s mother in cold blood, before the child; resulting in Erik’s mutant power of magnetism being triggered and magnified during his subsequent angry outburst. Sebastian Shaw murdered the boy’s mother because he wanted to see a demonstration of the boy’s mutant powers. Mission accomplished, Shaw wanted to train and harness Erik’s mutant power to use it as a weapon. On the other hand, Charles Xavier was a brilliant academic who is of gentry stock. As we saw it when he was a boy, he had the power of telepathy. He also had the ability to read and control other people’s minds. In the beginning of the film, Charles was quite blatant and unapologetic about reading people’s minds without their permission as was the case when he was talking the woman at the bar, before Raven interrupted. He became a CIA consultant on humans with mutant abilities then later he and Erik (who became his close friend) recruited, trained and formed X-Men: First Class a department within the CIA. Both men, Charles and Erik formed a league of mutants to fight against the plans of the evil Sebastian Shaw. There were also minor storylines about interpersonal relationships and the mutants’ personal insecurities as it related to personal acceptance. Overall the storyline of a Jew’s revenge against his former Gustapo torturers was good; revenge in this case was sweet. Acting

Actors are the most visible elements in a film. The actors …. In X-Men: First Class There was wild card and character actors but there were no star actors (except for Hugh Jackman’s one clip appearance when he used the f word). The acting was mediocre because at times it did not come across as being natural. It appeared to be acting, more the type for a stage production than for the cinema. However, if I should compare the two main characters; Michael Fassbender did a good job of portraying Erik’s anger, loss and hurt that he suffered growing up in a concentration camp. McAvoy in Charles’ character on the other hand, did not have much negative experience to work with and his character came across as Erik’s boring telepathic side-kick. Kevin Bacon did justice to Sebastian Shaw’s character. With the exception of Raven, the other actors were not really given much screen time. There were many actors but not much solid acting, although there was a lot of action.

The director of cinematography's job is to take the director's view of how the movie should look and help the director to get the shots that he wants with ideas on camera angles, types of cameras, and lighting suggestions that will best serve the director in getting the type of feel he wants out of each scene in the movie. (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011). The cinematographer is specifically responsible for its look, in very specific, shot-by-shot terms. He or she is responsible for the images that the camera sees, and by extension the images that the audience will see in the finished film. . Cinematography means “writing with movement.” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011).

The cinematographer demonstrated knowledge based brilliance and skillful use of all type of shots in this clip. He coupled it with the bright natural sunshine made the finale to this clip quite moving. The words “Never Again” were delivered in a deep focus close up shot of Magneto. The cinematographer used long, medium and close-up shots as well as deep focus. His variety of shots and choice of lightings made this film very entertaining. Editing

“The film editor helps create the film, literally constructing it, piecing together different takes of individual scenes and then placing the selected scenes in the order that tells the story the director wants to tell. The editor’s role is crucial to the making of a successful film. Poor editing does the audience the ultimate disservice when it comes to film.” (Goodykoontz, 2009). The scenes were fast paced, action packed, story driven to the point where there was nothing noticeably wrong or out of place with the editing. It was done in an incongruous style and that added to the overall excitement. The fast movements created the desire to watch this film again and again. The editing was clean. There were no visible or audible hitches. The story flowed and it was quite riveting and entertaining because it reflected real life human struggles for acceptance. Sound

“Music has been a crucial part of the movie going experience since before the advent of recorded sound in films. So important was its use that over time directors began inserting musical cues, or signals, for specific music to be played at specific times.” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011) I particularly favored the scene that brought Xavier and Erik together; it contained a variety of magnificent sounds. When Erik was in the sea and there was also a bevy of boats and ships around him; there were sounds of boat horns; there were natural sounds of water splashing against the sides of the ships and the ripping sounds of the speed boats dividing the water. During the destruction of Shaw’s ship, there were credible sound effects of the unreeling of the massive chain on the anchor; the crashing banging sounds and the explosive sounds. The complimentary sound of background orchestra music playing that loaded repeated andante beat (da-dap da-dap da-dap) that suggests action and then there was the dialogue. Overall, the music and sounds were seamlessly interwoven into each scene to further engage the audience’s attention. Added to that, amidst all the other sounds, the dialogue was clear and audible. The overall sound for this movie was good.

Style and Directing
A film director is the creative force behind a movie. He is the one who is responsible for the end product that the viewing public pays to see at the movie theatre. His word is final on the visuals, the sounds and the acting. According to Vincent LoBrutto in his book, The Filmmaker’s Guide to Production Design; “A good director must have a firm idea of how to translate the script cinematically.” (LoBrutto 2002) LoBrutto went on further to say that, directors read the script for an overall impression and impact. It does not matter who the scriptwriter(s) is/are, it is the director’s interpretation, shots and takes that viewers see at the movie theatres. The buck stops at the film director. (LoBrutto 2002) Director Matthew Vaughn has his own fast-paced action-packed style of directing. He tried to make comic book characters seem real by fusing natural historic events like the holocaust (Erik was in the concentration camp during the Holocaust where his mom was killed) and the Cuban missile crisis into the plot. Vaughn created elaborate props and set designs and he used every computer graphics skill to enhance the story. X-Men: First Class doesn't just rely on the usual fast paced scenes and top notch special effects that are typical of action movies; it raises the bar several notches. It doesn't lose its sentimental core amidst the explosions and super feats but it continues to provide viewers a complex storyline to follow. This is Vaughn’s “Kick Ass” style. There is humor as in the training sessions when Banshee, after receiving clear instructions and encouragement; fell straight to ground without even attempting to try. There was much laughter at his expense. Humor is Vaughn style; as his previous work “Kick Ass” showed; that coupled with the elaborate props and high tech sound effects; complete his signature on the project. The director Matthew Vaughn placed his stamp on this movie through the production design, the acting, the dialogue, the cinematography and especially the sounds. Impact of society on the film and vice versa

Whether it is in appearance, fashion, or behavior, films romanticize a certain lifestyle that is eagerly imitated by audiences. Fashion magazines promise that we can “Get Angelina’s Look” if we follow the tips inside. Celebrity gossip publications keep readers up-to-date on the comings and goings of seemingly everyone who has appeared in a movie. The Internet and social media are practically choked with chatter about film— box-office results, reviews, gossip, and more. Beyond such obviously shallower aspects, film can influence how we live, our morality, and our behavior. (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011) “Film can influence how we live, our morality, and our behavior.” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011) Filmmakers will argue that, this effect is unintentional because movies are a part of a make believe world but there are those who pattern what they see, and make it their reality. An example of society’s impact on film is portrayed in the indelible affect that the holocaust had on Erik; he was soaked with hatred and revenge for the former Gustapos who imprisoned him, especially Sebastian Shaw. This is a portrayal of the agony that the Jewish people suffered at the hands of the Germans. That intrinsic hatred became the fuel for his mutant powers. The others had to hide their difference from normal society, for fear of rejection but above all the fear of unknown reaction to them. Likewise, the film is highlighting the fact that some people among us who are different from us, want acceptance and they also want to feel a sense of belonging just like normal people. Their differences are as varied as the characters in the film and their needs are as similar. It is sending a message of acceptance, brotherhood and unity. Genre

“A genre is so called because it tends to use familiar story formulas, character types, settings, and iconography (visual imagery with symbolic implications), all of which lead viewers to have certain expectations about what the movie will be like before actually watching it. .” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011) It is a type, or category of films that is usually easily recognizable as part of a certain genre. Genres tell the audience up front what to expect from the product they are buying. If they like a particular kind of story, chances are they will like this particular film, especially if the writer and director give the expectations a little twist. X-Men: First Class is an action-fantasy. It is loaded with action but it is also loaded with some fantastic comic book feats. At the start of the film, the MARVEL logo is shown; that is an indicator that it is a comic book story. The ability for humans to alter and mutate into other beings, is genre specific activities for fantasy. While the fast-paced actions during the confrontations/battles with good and evil are typical of action films. Therefore, it is difficult to place the film within any one genre because it can fit into several: drama (Erik’s beginning and the dramatic separation from his mother); fantasy (Erik’s control of the missiles in mid-air); action (the air and sea confrontation). Application of at least one approach to analysis and Interpretation Films are often used to express emotion, deliver a message, to dream and to imagine; all having to do with human psychology. A psychological approach to analyzing a film is especially concerned with how a film provides examples of various psychological theories and concepts, particularly those of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (e.g., sexual symbolism, subconscious repression and dreams, the id, ego, and superego, the collective unconscious). Identity crisis was an issue in the film. Psychologist Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of human growth and development at the fifth stage looks at Identity versus Identity confusion. This was played out so well by Raven. It states that adolescents must be allowed to explore different roles in a healthy manner in order to achieve a positive identity; or else they will experience identity confusion. (Santrock, 1989) Raven obviously received no previous parental guidance regarding self-acceptance and role explorations; she hid behind a morphed socially accepted form. She was more comfortable being someone else and she often abandoned her true identity. Accept Yourself: “You want society to accept you, but you can’t even accept yourself,” said Magneto to Raven. Raven had a serious problem of identity confusion and she struggled with self-acceptance. In the above clip Erik challenged her to accept herself in her true blue form. The movie embraced people who were physically different, while at the same time it was highlighting their struggles to gain social acceptance and their deep-down desire to be normal. This point was introduced as early as the meeting with Charles and Raven. The insecurities about their difference continued to play out in the dialogue between Raven and Charles as well as Raven and Hank. Charles Xavier, who like Erik, had no visible disability, seemed to have had a more rational approach to life in general. He was more in control of his behavior and his decisions than Erik. According to Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, the ego makes rational decisions (Santrock, 1989 p. 34). An example of this was the scene where Charles was in his kitchen and Raven (who he looked upon as a sister) entered in her unclothed blue form, in a sensual rather sexual manner. Charles’ ego quickly assessed the situation and decided that it was wrong and he chided her with disgust in his voice. His conscious ego made a decision. Similarly, psychologist Albert Bandura’s social learning theory speaks to conforming to social behavior within the one’s environment (Witt & Mossler, 2010). Charles Xavier knew that society, especially the upper class to which he belonged, would definitely not accept Raven in her true form. His socialization caused him not to even consider having a relationship with a blue woman; blue blooded one, perhaps. Overall textual themes

There are five categories that make up the theme of every film: the plot, the emotional mood, the character, style or texture, and ideas. (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs 2011) There were several themes in this film. •Self-Acceptance: The lack of social acceptance motivated the mutants to bond together as a brotherhood; and help each other to gain control of their super power as well as provide them with a safe non-judgmental environment. •Brotherhood and Unity: They watch out for and watch over each other; they literally function like a family with Erik and Charles as the parents. At Charles castle during the training days. •Inter-Personal Relationships: Charles and Erik seem to have a deep seated tenderness for each other as was seen in those close up shots when Charles was shot in his back. Erik held him in his arms and the moment captured a deep relationship. •Revenge: Erik hunted and killed all his torturers. Sebastian Shaw’s killing was the final revenge and the sweetest. Conclusion

Imagery, sounds, storytelling ability, excellent editing, serious acting and creative imaginations are all technically combined to make a good movie. Movies represent storytelling at its best. The writer gives a script to the director who interprets it and creates a core team of professionals that includes the cinematographer, the designer (and his team), the sound engineer, the actors, and the editor. They make films to entertain, to express emotion, tell stories, deliver messages, to dream, to imagine, and it is all because they have a passion that drives them. Filmmaking takes time, patience, dedication, commitment, and an understanding of the process in its totality. If filmmakers are oriented toward story and performance, they must learn to visualize the narrative. The story must unfold in the mind’s eye, as it is conceived and created. The filmmaker has to see the movie while the screenplay is being written and during pre-production before the cameras roll. (LoBrutto 2002) The film was good, exciting, colorful, action packed and almost believable. However, due to its suggested sexual contents and the one time use of the f word, I cannot recommend it for the family. Twaitney O.

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From Watching to Seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

LoBrutto, V. (2002) The Filmmaker’s Guide to Production Design New York, NY: Allworth Press Santrock, J. W. (1995). Life-Span Development. Dubuque, IA: Brown & Benchmark Witt, G. A., & Mossler, R. A. (2010). Adult Development & Life Assessment. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education Inc

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