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Looking at Movies Fourth Edition Richard Barsam  Dave Monahan CHAPTER TWO Principles of Film Form.

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Presentation on theme: "Looking at Movies Fourth Edition Richard Barsam  Dave Monahan CHAPTER TWO Principles of Film Form."— Presentation transcript:

1 Looking at Movies Fourth Edition Richard Barsam  Dave Monahan CHAPTER TWO Principles of Film Form

2 2 Movies are highly organized, and deliberately assembled and sculpted by filmmakers. The synthesis of elemental systems – mise-en-scène, sound, narrative, editing, and others – constitutes a movie’s overall form.

3 3 Elemental Systems Mise-en-scène – The visual design elements of a movie Sound – Dialogue, music, ambience, and effect tracks Narrative – Story structured into acts that establish, develop, and resolve character conflicts Editing – The juxtaposition of individual shots to create a sequence Shots – The product of one uninterrupted run of the camera Sequences – A series of shots unified by theme or purpose Scenes – Complete units of plot action

4 4 Form and Content Content – the subject of an artwork (what it is about) Form – means by which the subject is expressed and experienced (the how it is presented) Works of art need both content and form They are interrelated, interdependent, and interactive In movies, form is cinematic language

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8 8 Form and Expectations The narrative form is a formal arrangement of events that make up the story in a film. Certain events produce likely actions or outcomes. Our expectations provoke us to ask predictive questions about the film’s outcome. Other film elements work with the formal elements to generate patterns.

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11 11 MacGuffin MacGuffin – an object, document, or secret within a story that is of vital importance to the characters, and thus motivates their actions and the conflict, but that turns out to be less significant to the overall narrative than we might at first expect

12 12 Narrative Patterns We instinctively search for patterns and progressions in all art forms Patterns provide an element of structure Our natural interpretation of parallel editing patterns is that the two things are happening at the same time Patterns ground us in the familiar and acquaint us with the unfamiliar Repeating narrative patterns emphasizes their content

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17 17 Nonnarrative Patterns Convey a character’s state of mind Create relationships Communicate narrative meaning Shot patterns / Sound motifs / Repetition of a familiar image

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29 29 Fundamentals of Film Form Movies depend on light Movies provide an illusion of movement Movies manipulate space and time in unique ways

30 30 Fundamentals of Film Form: Light Light is the essential element in the creation and consumption of motion pictures Light – a source of illumination and a key formal element manipulated to create mood, reveal character, and convey meaning Lighting – crafted interplay between motion-picture light and shadow

31 31 Light Qualities Focus attention on significant details Enhance the texture, depth, emotions, and mood of a shot Provide patterns of meaning Symbolically compliment or contradict the other formal elements of a movie Affect the way we think about a character

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36 36 Fundamentals of Film Form: Illusion of Movement Persistence of vision – the process by which the human brain retains an image for a fraction of a second longer than the eye records it (apparent motion) Phi phenomenon – the illusion of movement created by events that succeed each other rapidly Critical flicker fusion – occurs when a single light flickers on and off with such speed that the individual pulses of light fuse together to give the illusion of continuous light

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38 38 Fundamentals of Film Form: Manipulation of Space and Time Movies are a spatial and temporal art form On the movie screen, space and time are relative to each other, and we can’t separate them or perceive one without the other

39 39 Theories of Space and Time Erwin Panofsky – “Dynamization of Space” / “Spacialization of Time” Co-expressibility – the viewer’s relationship with flexible onscreen space versus the fixed space of a staged performance Mediation – the process by which a formal element, whether human or technological, transfers something from one place to another

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46 46 Manipulating Time Through Editing The manipulation of time (as well as space) is a function of editing Parallel structure – by using crosscutting and parallel editing multiple actions appear to be occurring at the same instant Condensing time Rearranging time by organizing story events in nonchronological order Expanding time by fragmenting the preceding moment overlap editing, or the freeze-frame

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51 51 Realism and Antirealism Realism – a tendency to view or represent things as they really are Realistic films attempt to immerse us in a world that is convincingly depicted on its own terms Antirealism – an interest in or concern for the abstract, speculative, or fantastic Movies can be both realistic and antirealistic, especially in science fiction, action, and thrillers

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54 54 Verisimilitude A convincing appearance of truth Convinces you that you are “really there” by being internally consistent Affected by time and cultures as audiences’ expectations of reality change

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59 59 Cinematic Language The accepted systems, methods, or conventions by which the movies communicate with the viewer Conventions are flexible (example: dissolves) Viewers identify with the camera’s lens Cinematic conventions and individual experiences shape the “reality” depicted by films.

60 60 Review 1. Which is the best description of the difference between content and form? a. Content is the subject of an artwork, and form is the means through which that subject is expressed. b. Content is the meaning of the movie, and form is what happens in the story. c. Content refers to a movie’s look, and form refers to its genre. d. Content refers to individual scenes or shots, and form refers to the movie as a whole.

61 61 Review 2. The manipulation of time and space is a function of what filmic element? a. Processing b. Fusing c. Postproduction d. Editing

62 62 Review 3. The analysis and shot breakdown in this chapter of the “ice- break” scene from D.W. Griffith’s Way Down East (1920) reveals what formal pattern? a. Repeated close-ups to emphasize Lillian Gish’s beauty b. The technique of parallel editing c. The contrasting of light and dark d. Repeated long shots to establish setting

63 63 Review 4. The process by which the human brain retains an image for a fraction of a second longer than the eye records it is called: a. Apparent motion b. The phi phenomenon c. Critical flicker fusion d. Persistence of vision

64 64 Review 5. Between 1895 and 1905, what two directions were established for film? a. Naturalism and melodrama b. Tragedy and comedy c. Realism and antirealism d. Naturalism and fantasy

65 65 Review 6. “A convincing appearance of truth” best defines: a. verisimilitude b. naturalism c. fantasy d. suspension of disbelief

66 66 Review 7. The viewer’s perception of cinematic space is determined by: a. lighting b. the camera’s lens c. acting d. the number of shots within a scene or sequence

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