Tuesday September 18, 2012 - FILM LECTURE ON FORM
Tutorial THIS FRIDAY ONLY will be in Room 204 with Lauren.
Over the course of the year, we will be doing formal analysis
We will get a sense of what form takes as a given, what it entails
Film form: "the over wall set of relationships among a film's parts" (p.52). We will figure
out what this def means
How are film viewers implicated in form?
Form has no effect if it is not actively percieved/experienced by a viewer.
Form comes to produce meaning. There is a dynamic relationship between the form and
The audience becomes involved in deciphering the work
Formal analysis assumes an active perceiver and an art work that provides cues.
Bordwell and Thompson on form: If you are a director or screenwriter, you face
perpetual choices about form. As a viewer you are responding to it at every moment.
Meaning is the product of a dynamic relationship. Meaning does not reside in viewer or
in film. It is the result in a collaborate effort between art and viewer.
Meanings are created in the interaction between film and viewer. When we talk about
meaning we actually talk about meanings because any given film has multiple levels of
meaning (referential, symptomatic…)
Idea that there are multiple levels of meaning = important!!
We can designate "Living in Oblivion" as the personal and professional challenged of
making a movie. (=explicit meaning)
Difficulties of being an independent filmmaker in Hollywood at late 20th century
We can also say movie is about stakes of creative process, what is involved in being
creative. => There are many different meanings to movie.
We also need to speak of meanings as multiple because a same film can be read
differently by different viewers. People can have totally different takes on what the film
was saying or doing.
Differences determined by ways people are different.
People read texts differently.
A mass audience is divided by race, religion, background… We are all individuals who
have personal histories and will see the text differently. Yet as an audience we share
some things (we are all part of early 21st century, all living in the Canada or the First
World). We have all become familiar with certain conventions.
so commonplace, so recurrent as to prove normative. These conventions influence
Because of where we come individually we respond to certain images/sounds in a
different way. We all responded to sequence as a whole in a similar way
(sequence made people feel uncomfortable, distressed, depressed). We all had a
common experience by virtue of conventions that sequence used or refused.
Conventions used by sequence: use of discordant music to produce an effect
which many people feel because we have been exposed to these conventions.
We want to figure out the means by which films communicate ensure the mass legibility of cinema
The various parts that compose a work of art are ordered in some way. A film or any
work of art is produced with an intention => to communicate a particular idea in a
Course will give us a set of skills necessary for analysis of films, from familiar to
unfamiliar and unpleasurable.
When encountering a new piece of art of any sort, we must wonder: How is this making
me feel? How does this painting lead me to see?
Key formal elements at issue in a painting:
Color and contrast: there is a lot of contrast between upper corners and rest of
painting (very dark in corners, very light every where else). Eye usually drawn to
lightest area of the canvas. Also note that image is very monochromatic -> This
draws our attention to the form (the coming together of lines and shapes).
Lines and shapes: at first glance, we have a lot of vertical lines, a lot of tall,
skinny, rectangular shapes. Our eye wants to scan the length of the
lines/rectangles. We see a contrast in color and in form and shape. There is a
variation in density of lines which produces a 3-D effect. Lighted area comes out.
Lines and shapes work together to produce a sense of movement, of succession,
everything seems to come out.
Composition: seems to be an ordered chaos which allows for a movement down
onto the right (we seem to see a staircase?) The more we stare at lines, the more
we see an image coming through. There is a triangular shape created, there is a
lot of movement.
The painting is about movement: “Nude Descending a Staircase” (1911) by
Marcel Duchamp – we see the nude descending towards us, there is a lot of
movement. What is the effect created on the spectator?
Form and content are not mutually exclusive; rather content takes shape through form.
Content and form are not distinct, content takes shape through form.
Form lends itself to abstraction. Duchamp is redefining the body in his painting. The
body is redefined, a content is created through the form. The body is understood in
entirely different terms