Analyzing a Movie
Movies have special place in our lives, as equally as they entice, they also create an essence of value, in terms of monetary as well as emotionally. We pay a cost for movie, to this extent we expect movie to be highest quality with a degree and depth of entertainment and displaying those aspects we like the most and the same are very close to our heart. For giving movie its due appreciation and to see whether movie is giving us what we are expecting, analysis of the movie is done. A movie is made up of several elements and all these elements contribute to the quality of the movie. Analyzing a film enables us to understand theme of a movie, its meaning and value, it helps us to create a framework of a film in our mind and increases our capability to have our own critical appreciation to a film. The true aim of film analysis is to “open up new channels of awareness and new depths of understanding.” (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 8)
When we say film is expressing some meaning, it simply implies films are the ways to show the expression, an observation of the event, or judgment about something. Analysis and evaluation is done to see whether the film is able to capture all its traits with the help of the elements or not, we are here to see. As films are the real representation of the various shades of our life in a fictitious way, in analysis it is examined how far this fiction is able to reflect the real issues film makers want to reflect through their elements like the narrative, settings, plot, characters, staging in other words performance of the characters in front of camera, editing and sound etc. (Nowlan, 2002) Analyzing the film is not possible without any discussion about the ending, because ending is the main part of the plot and the plot reveals the theme. For good analysis of the film, it is all the more important to watch the film several times; once to place impression of the plot, theme or mood and once to study the way theme is reflected. (Durante, 2006)
To analyze a film is not very easy as the film has to be looked into from various aspects and should be having if not all but broad understanding of the theme, or story of the film and the factors that have contributed in making of the film. We have to look carefully at the various ways and dimensions of image, sound and movement and the way all these elements conjure up to make the movie a success. However many are against the very concept of analyzing as they feel this process reduces the real value of the film, its beauty, the purpose for which it is made and over and above its ardent scale of vivacity and appeal. (Boggs & Petrie, 2008) Analysis can be done separately on the different sections of the film like its theme, how well the scrip is written, goal and importance of film, and the various technical aspects like quality of sound, background music if any etc. It is seen whether each element together enables to convey the theme as there could be several sequences, plots, sub plots, twists, flashbacks and dream sequences, but once the film is watched, it becomes all the easy for us to make analytical clarification of each expression arising out of each dialogue, each and every costume character is wearing, and the angle to which camera is taking each scene sequence. (Durante, 2006)
Analysis of a theme of a film is done by discovering the main point director is trying to make in the film including its importance. Movie has several main goals be it humor, raising the awareness of a social problem or creating a character sketch of a famous personality. In analysis, the aspect of a film to be seen is how well theme has been depicted in the film and the extent to which the film has created an effect on its viewers. (Boggs and Petrie, 2008) It is also seen how the film brings out several effects. Along with the theme, story is analyzed. A story of the film is manifested through the plot and through the actions of the characters, the way they appear, and the interactions between the different characters. The story is also evaluated through a plot whereby certain aspects of the plot are analyzed and whether these aspects are bringing out the best in movie or not for instance it is seen how the scenes of importance such as climax is revealed in the end. Another most important aspect of the plot lies in the way the story is being depicted and several people are made to believe in the same. Whether the story is romantic, humor, biography, suspense, historical or has been adapted from the children’s novel, the movie must have such an effect on the people that they are able to believe even fairy tales, or magic to be true. (Conklin 2004) The biggest example of this is Jurassic Park, which made even centuries old living creatures on this earth alive creating such a profound effect on the people that they began to imagine these animals as alive and still surviving on this earth.
The manner in which the characters are shown in the movie is also very important part for analysis of the story. There is a need to see the style in which characters are playing their part, making their appearances in the movie and expressing themselves through the dialogues. It is to be seen whether interaction between characters is conducive to the sequence of the movie, the plot and the story, their role and importance in the development of the plot and whether they are being able to create an impact on their audiences with their presentation skills, display of varying emotions and actions notwithstanding. The costumes and hair also enhance the personality of the character as regard to the plot. Right costumes at the right scene or shot is a direct cue for the audience to make their interpretation of the character as the right costumes create an effect on the scene. Then the way characters are presenting their speech patterns and accent are the other ways to look into the characters and the way they are displayed. They are in cinematic terms known as protagonists and antagonists. There are other characters too like round, flat, mythic etc, characters shown in relation to each other and still other characters called as stock characters and stereotypes. (Conklin 2004) Stock characters are the ones playing very simple roles while stereotypical characters make the plot move without the writers having to spend much time on development. It is very simple to perceive the leading character but we often fail to review the role played by supporting actors; while analyzing there is a need to create a balance in the plot. Characters in the supporting roles may or may not have dialogues but they have a great role in making the plot move forward and with their role and their connection with the main character increase the importance of the characters.
A film can also be analyzed for symbolism to create impression of the theme and adding different dimensions to the story. Symbols can be in the form of metaphors to increase the value of the story. (Conklin 2004) Analyzing of the same is done to see how beautifully symbols are used and whether they are creating impact on the story, plot and characters and enhancing value of the story. It is seen whether the symbol used has originality in it or it is cliche. It should be seen whether symbols are making the story line or theme very complex for the audience to understand? Filmmakers should be very careful while construing symbolism as too much of it could also reduce the impact of the theme.
It is also an old saying that films are edited and not made, a very good editor may not always be able to recover a film badly made or a bad editor can also sometimes devastate a film which could otherwise have been a very good film. There are two main aspects of editing: continuity means actions being presented in sequence and montage means unrelated shots audience should work to connect. Hollywood movies generally follow continuity editing, which is known for its transparency. In this style, actions move in a very smooth way from one frame to the other and as contrast to it, there is also a framed editing whereby there are certain blockades like sudden stop of sound or jump cuts, or shots of juxtaposition nature. When shots are put in a sequence manner, the link created between them is called as transition. (Pramaggior & Wallis, 2005) While analyzing this part of the film, it is seen which style of editing is being used and how much effective is this style. For e.g. if continuity style of editing is being used then I will see how well it has been able to create a flow of the film without changing the meaning and sense of the same and will see if the scenes are moving in continuity or not?
Audience access to thoughts of characters is through sound as the characters subjectivity is depicted through the sound only. Sound of the film is also considered while analyzing a film as it is also an important part of the film used for decoding – whether it appears in the pattern of footsteps echoing in the corridor or lush string parts of soundtrack. It can be diegetic occurring from within the narrative world of the film for instance voices of characters or the non-diegetic appearing from some other source like pumping music or voice over. (Pramaggior & Wallis, 2005) While analyzing it is seen which kind of sound is being produced and effect the sound is creating.
The impressionable image of the film is generated by its light and color, which creates the meaning and the essence of the scenes and the sequence of the film. Light and color display metaphoric impression to the movie along with the images it displays. In a film where a nature is to be displayed, the effect is of blue color with natural shades, and where there is a need to show the gloomy image, dull or black background is reflected as it shows the reflection of sadness.
David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson described the film style in four steps while making an analysis of the same. The first step is the determination of the organizational structure, with the narrative films having cause and effect of the relationship, parallelism, and very different patterns of the way story is developed. In the second step is identification of the main techniques used by the films and how well they are being used. The third step they state is searching out the patterns between the techniques while fourth step is proposing functions for these patterns and techniques. Filmmakers often make use of different styles to relate it with the dramatized version of the story. Film style enhances the meaning of film with certain shots and techniques but these may have different meanings in different films but meaning in a certain film can be achieved through the help of patterns and techniques used. (Bordwell & Kristin, 2003)
Films often display contradictions of life in play and often seek to solve the social contradictions. Be it humor, crime, mystery, somber, romantic or any other movie, one or other social element is always present in the movie along with that films also make us close to the culture. In short, one of the most important aspects of the films is the way they show the culture, and the several small subcultures within the paradigm of which we are all the part. We use this also as the main aspect to visualize the way we can relate ourselves to the larger culture and how the way we can participate. We use this also as criteria to make a judgment about the way film makes us relate to our culture and giving us an opportunity to clearly show this reflection about this culture together, and act in the interest of the social transformation. (Nowlan, 2002)
In many of the cases a film may represent in number of ways several of the situations and complex conditions of the society in its varied forms. Analysis should be done in the simple form so that films could be read and analyzed easily by people. Any person analyzing the moving and having a critical bent of mind will look at the scenes of movies from various opposing views and angles, evaluate these varying opposing aspects and then come up with his exact views whether the movie is up to the expectations and how much it can create an impact on its audience.
I would analyze the movie while looking very carefully at various aspects of the film. Any wrong or negative comment can reduce its value in the film market and the movie, which needs real credibility if wrongly represented, can really lead to serious repercussions. I would analyze a film, which is having an appealing script with clarity in the purpose with good technical presentations, entertainment value and commercial viability. While analyzing the film, there is need to have a focus on the character of the film, and the way actor has enabled himself to enter into the character he or she is playing and created an incredible appeal and impression in the mind of its viewers. Audiences generally associate themselves with the characters, I would see how much the character has been able to make himself or herself close to the audience and has given the sensuous touch.
Analyzing a movie is a very serious business as millions of dollars are spent in making a movie along with labor and hard work of many experts who have contributed to in making a film are at stake. Looking at this view, analysis of a movie should be done in a way no harm is done to the filmmakers and our point is also expressed in a very subtle manner.
Boggs, J., & Petrie, D. (2008). The art of watching films. New York: McGraw Hill.
Bordwell, D. & Kristin T. (2003). Film art: An introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Conklin, M.S. (2004). How to critique a movie: A short guide for amateur film critics. Retrieved on June 7, 2009 from W.W.W: http://trumpy.cs.elon.edu/metaverse/gst364Win2005/howToCritiqueAMovie.pdf
Durante, D. (2006). Analyzing and evaluating films as works of art. Retrieved on June 7, 2009 from W.W.W: http://www.forgottendelights.com/essay/Analyzing_Evaluating_Films.htm
Nowlan, B. 2002. Interpreting film: meaning and representation, culture and politics, The Truman Show and Stranger With A Camera. Retrieved on June 7, 2009 from W.W.W: http://www.uwec.edu/ranowlan/meaning_representation_film.html
Pramaggiore, M. & Wallis, T. (2005). Film: a critical introduction. London: Laurence King Publishing.