Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Writing About Film

Earlier in this blog I have pointed out that working with film takes time (like everyhing else), and that we don't always have time to be as thorough as we might want. However, when we ask our students to write about film on an upper secondary level it should be our aim to take our students beyond the boring plot summary. These are some of the elements students could look for when writing about film:
First of all, you should introduce the film with the title, the name of the director and the year of production. It might also be relevant to state the nationality of the film. Is the film based on a true story or is it perhaps based on a short story or a novel? How was the film received by its critics and audience when it was released? Try to briefly explain what you think is the theme of the film. In the following, you should give a plot summary, but remember to make it short. Save details for later. Explain the opening scene (exposition) of the film. Who do we meet and what do we learn? Say something about the chronology of the film. Is it chronological from beginning to end or not? Are there a lot of flashbacks? Are there parallel plot lines? Then go on to say something about the characters in the film. Are they stereotypes or complex individuals? How are they portrayed? With body language, make-up, costumes, props, music? Do the characters develop during the film and what are the relationships between the characters? What can you say about the setting of the film and is the setting very significant in this particular film? Does the film portray a certain social environment? What atmosphere(s) does the film convey?
Go on to say something about the techniques used to tell the story of the film. What type of shots dominate (close-ups, extreme close-ups, long shots etc.), what camera angles are used, how is the film cut and how have the filmmakers made use of lighting, colours, sound, music and special effects (if any)? When you comment on these techniques, try to say something about the effect they have. Also, if symbols are important in the film you should say something about this. You should end your analysis with a conclusion where you try to sum up the main theme and message of the film. End with your own assessment of the film and make sure you explain your opinions. Finally, I would like to share an excellent and famous example of the technique crosscut (or parallel cut) from The Godfather. Here the conflicting identities of Michael Corleone, mafia boss and family man, are contrasted in a disturbing way. The organ music from the church simply underlines the dark and sombre atmosphere that permeats the film trilogy. Illustration from flickr: Uncut

1 comment:

  1. Hello Anne! Just wanted to say hello! Love your blog, and will definitely add it to my list of favorites!