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Table of Contents

Preface x

Part one

Introduction to
Film Analysis 1

1 Introduction 3

Cinema: A Confluence of Artistry, Industry,
and Technology 4

How This Book is Organized 6

Technical Tips 8

2 An Approach to Film Analysis 9

Understanding Audience Expectations 10

Expectations and Modes of Organization 11

Expectations about Genres, Stars, and Directors 13

The Orchestration of Detail 14

Motifs 15

Parallels 16

Details and Structure 18

Parallels and Structure 18

Turning Points 18

Repetition and Non-chronological Structure 19

Creating Meaning Through the World Beyond
the Film 20

Historical Events and Cultural Attitudes 20

Stars and Public Figures as References 21

Intertextual References 22

Meaningful References with Objects 26

The Goal of Film Analysis: Articulating Meaning 26

The Importance of Developing Interpretive Claims 30

Summary 30

Film Analysis: Reading Significant Details 31

The Orchestration of Detail in Pan’s Labyrinth31

3 Writing About Film 37

Getting Started 38

Keeping a Film Journal 38

Formulating a Thesis 38

Managing Verb Tense 39

Four Types of Writing About Film 39

The Scene Analysis Paper 39

“The Divided Human Spirit in Fritz Lang’s The Big
Heat” 41

The Film Analysis 43

“The Anxieties of Modernity in Steamboat Bill Jr.”44

The Research Paper 46

“The New Vampire as Sympathetic Gothic Heroine in Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In”49

Conducting Archival Research 57

The Popular Review 58

“Aliens as Apartheid Metaphor in District 9”59

Part Two

Film Analysis 63

4 Narrative Form 65

Defining Narrative 66

Framing the Fictional World: Diegetic and Non-diegetic Elements 67

Within the Diegesis: Selecting and Organizing Events 69

Narrative Structure 70

Alternatives to Conventional Narrative Structure 72

Techniques in Practice: Narrative Structure in Stagecoach74

Variations on Narrative Conventions: Beyond Structure 77

Perspective and Meaning 78

Character Subjectivity 80

Techniques in Practice: Noticing Shifts in Narration 82

Summary 84

Film Analysis: Analyzing Narrative Structure 85

5 Mise en Scène 91

Setting 93

Describing Setting: Visual and Spatial Attributes 95

The Functions of Setting 96

The Human Figure 97

Casting 97

Techniques in Practice: Same Film, Different Settings 97

Techniques in Practice: Same Setting, Different Film 98

Acting Style 101

Acting Brechtian: Distancing the Audience 103

Actors’ Bodies: Figure Placement 104

Techniques in Practice: Figure Placement in Citizen Kane104

Actors’ Bodies: Costumes and Props 106

Actors’ Bodies: Makeup 107

Lighting 109

Composition 114

Balance and Symmetry 114

Lines and Diagonals 115

Foreground and Background 117

Light and Dark 118

Color 118

Two Approaches to Mise en Scène121

The Frame in Two Dimensions: Mise en Scène
in German Expressionism 121

Combining Mise en Scène and Camerawork: The Frame
in Three Dimensions in French Poetic Realism 122

Summary 124

Film Analysis: The Functions of Space 126

Spatial Oppositions in Thelma & Louise126

6 Cinematography 129

The Camera in Time and Space 133

Creating Meaning in Time: The Shot 133

Altering Time: Slow and Fast Motion 134

The Camera and Space: Height, Angle, and Shot Distance 138

Camera Height 138

Camera Angle 139

Camera Distance 141

Camera Movement: Exploring Space 144

Horizontal and Vertical Movement 144

Movement in Three Dimensions 145

Lenses and Filters: The Frame in Depth 148

The Visual Characteristics of Lenses: Depth of Field
and Focal Length 148

Techniques in Practice: Patterns of Camera Placement
and Movement 150

The Zoom Lens 153

Combining Camera Movement and Lens Movement 154

Through the Lens: Filters and Diffusers 155

Film Stock 157

Characteristics of Film Stock 157

Techniques in Practice: Lenses and the Creation
of Space 157

Light and Exposure 163

Film Stock and Color 163

Wide Film and Widescreen Formats 168

Stereoscopic 3D: Then and Now 169

Processing Film Stock 171

Special Visual Effects 171

Manipulating the Image on the Set 173

Creating Scene Transitions, Titles, and Credits:
The Optical Printer 175

Optical and Digital Compositing: Assembling the
Elements of the Shot 176

Performance Capture 177

Computer-Generated Images 178

Adding and Subtracting Frames 179

Digital Cinema: Post-Production 179

Digital Cinematography and Film Style 180

Summary 182

Film Analysis: Cinematography as a Storytelling Device 184

Entrapment and Escape in Ratcatcher184

7  Editing 191

The Attributes of Editing: Creating Meaning Through Collage, Tempo, and Timing 193

Joining Images: A Collage of Graphic Qualities 193

Tempo 195

Shot Length 195

Shot Transitions 196

Adjusting the Timing of Shot Transitions 198

Techniques in Practice: Using Contrasting Imagery
and Timing to Romanticize the Outlaws in
Bonnie and Clyde199

Story-Centered Editing and the Construction of Meaning 201

Editing and Time 201

Condensing and Expanding Time 202

Suggesting the Simultaneity of Events 203

Arranging the Order of Events 204

Editing and Space 205

Shot/Reverse Shot 206

Eyeline Match 208

Cutting to Emphasize Group Dynamics 209

Cutaways 209

Beyond Narrative: Creating Meaning Outside the Story 210

Continuity Editing: Conventional Patterns and
“Bending the Rules” 210

Continuity and Space 211

Continuity and Chronology 212

“Breaking the Rules”: The French New Wave
and its Influence 215

Associational Editing: Editing and Metaphor 217

Soviet Montage 217

Summary 221

Techniques in Practice: Soviet Montage Aesthetics in
The Godfather222

Film Analysis: Classical Editing 224

Editing in Notorious224

8  Sound 227

Film Sound: A Brief History 228

Critical Debates over Film Sound 230

Freeing Sound from Image 233

The Relationship Between Sound and Image 234

Emphasizing the Contrast Between Onscreen and Offscreen Space 235

Emphasizing the Difference Between Objective
Images and Subjective Sounds 236

Emphasizing the Difference Between Diegetic Details
and Non-diegetic Sound 236

Emphasizing the Difference Between Image Time
and Sound Time 237

Emphasizing Differences in Image Mood and
Sound Mood 238

Three Components of Film Sound 239

Dialogue 239

Text and Subtext 239

Volume 239

Pitch 240

Speech Characteristics 240

Acoustic Qualities 242

Addressing the Audience: the Voice-over 243

Sound Effects 245

Functions of Sound Effects 245

Characteristics of Sound Effects 247

Techniques in Practice: The Human Voice as Aural Object 248

Techniques in Practice: Sound Effects and the
Construction of Class in Days of Heaven253

Music 255

Functions of Film Music 255

Five Characteristics of Film Music 258

Techniques in Practice: Bernard Herrmann’s Score
and Travis Bickle’s Troubled Masculinity in
Taxi Driver 265

Summary 267

Film Analysis: The Human Voice and Sound Effects 269

Sound in No Country for Old Men: A Tradition
of Violence 269

9  Alternatives to Narrative Fiction Film:
Documentary and Avant-garde Films 275

Three Modes of Filmmaking: A Comparison 276

Documentary Film: “The Creative Treatment of Actuality” 279

Narrative Documentaries 281

Documentary Form 282

Voice of Authority 283

Talking Heads and Director—Participant 283

Direct Cinema and Cinéma Vérité285

Self-reflexive Documentary 286

The Mockumentary 287

Two Theoretical Questions 288

Documentary Spectatorship 288

Ethics and Ethnography 290

Avant-garde Film 291

Surrealist Cinema 292

Abstract Film 294

The City Symphony 295

Techniques in Practice: Interpreting Abstract Films 295

Structuralist Film 299

The Compilation Film 299

Conducting Research on Documentary and Avant-garde Films: Locating Sources 300

Summary 301

Film Analysis: Interpreting Avant-garde Films 303

Analyzing Meshes of the Afternoon303

Part Three

Cinema and Culture 307

10  Film and Ideology 309

Ideology and Film Analysis 311

The Institutional Enforcement of Ideology:
The Production Code and the Anti-Communist Witch Hunts 314

Anti-Communist Witch Hunts and Hollywood Cinema 316

Ideology and Film Spectatorship 318

Topics in Ideological Criticism 322

Racial Ideology and American Cinema 322

Gender and Cinema 327

Sexuality and Cinema 332

Disability and Cinema 336

11 Social Context and Film Style:
National, International, and
Transnational Cinema 343

Hollywood’s Industrial Context: The Studio System
as Dream Factory 344

Classical Style 344

Economic Practice and Hollywood Convention 345

American Values and Hollywood Style 347

Hollywood Conquers the World? 349

International Art Cinema 350

The Industry and Ideology of “Art” 352

Italian Neorealism 354

Third Cinema 355

Fourth Cinema 357

National and Transnational Cinemas 359

12  Film Stardom as a
Cultural Phenomenon 365

Stars and the Movie Industry 367

The Dynamics of Performance 369

The Star Persona 371

Stardom and Ideology 375

Stars and Subcultures 377

Fan Culture 379

13  Genre 381

What Makes a Genre? 382

Major American Genres 388

The Western 388

Film Noir and the Hard-boiled Detective Film 392

The Action Film 393

The Science Fiction Film 396

The Musical 398

Using Genre to Interpret Films 401

Genre Film and Aesthetic Appeal: Cliché or Strategic Repetition? 401

Genre and the Status Quo 402

Genres as Culturally Responsive Artifacts 403

Genre and Film Authorship 404

14  Film Authorship 407

The Idea of the Auteur: From Cahiers du Cinéma
to the Sarris—Kael Debate 408

Auteur as Marketing Strategy: Old and New Hollywood 410

Studio-era Auteurs: Welles and Hitchcock 411

Blockbuster Auteurs: Spielberg and Lucas 413

Using the Auteur Approach to Interpret and Evaluate Films 413

The Auteur and the Consistency Thesis 414

The Life and Work of an Auteur: Studying Biographical Influence 417

Auteurs and Anomalies: Studying Aberrational Films 418

Auteurs and Ancestors: The Question of Influence 421

15  Cinema as Industry: Economics
and Technology 429

The Changing Structure of the Film Industry 431

From Oligopolies to Conglomerates 431

Horizontal Integration: Merchandise and Games 432

Globalization 433

Industry Labor Practices 434

Outsourcing 434

Star Compensation 435

Runaway Productions 435

Creative Centralization 436

Films as Products 437

The Blockbuster 437

The High Concept Film 437

New Modes of Marketing 438

Independent Film Culture 439

Two Independent Institutions: Sundance and Miramax 440

Film and the New Technology 442

The Rise of the DVD and Blu-ray 445

Film and Digital Technologies 446

Glossary 451

Bibliography 458

Index 463

Picture Credits468