INI115: September 18
Film Art: 50-71
Chapter 2: The Significance of Film Form
Hard and Soft Openings-
a) Hard Openings: Exciting bit of action that grabs the viewers’ interest
i) Grabbing the audience in Jurassic Park
b) Soft Openings: Slowly paced, that gradually builds up involvement
ii) Enticing the audience in Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Concept of Form in Film
Form as a Pattern
-Artists create patterns to engage our senses when viewing film. They give them form so we have a
-Film coaxes us to connect sequences into a larger whole.
-Form: The overall system of relationships among the parts of a film
-Our experience of film depends on our recognizing and anticipating how these broad patterns will
-Our narrative development can be linked to the stylistic (the way the camera moves, the arrangements
of the colour in the frame, the use of music, and other devices) patterning.
-Colours can identify story landmarks.
-Movements of the camera call our attention to story action.
-The music serves to describe certain characters and situations
-Patterns create character.
“Form” Versus “Content”
-Every component functions as part of a pattern, big or small, that engages the viewer.
-Subject matter and ideas become somewhat different from what they might be outside the artwork.
a) For example: In popular thinking, UFOs can be portrayed as either peaceful or hostile; if you
were to create a film about UFOs, you’d have to decide how to treat the subject.
-The filmmakers choice about form has to repurpose the basic subject matter: The content is governed
by the film’s formal context.
Formal Expectations -Film creates expectations and sustains them over time: Once we are caught up in the interrelations
among elements, we want the patterns to develop and conclude.
-Creating expectations (film’s title, posters, trailers etc.) is central to advertising any product.
-Expectations pervade our experience of artworks.
- As a viewer or listener, you enter into an active participation with them, creating and readjusting
expectations as the pattern develops over time. A filmmaker hopes to arouse and shape viewers’
-Suspense involves a delay in fulfilling an established expectation.
-Surprise is a result of an expectation that is revealed to be incorrect.
-Filmakers creative decisions about form can engage us:
a) Cue us to make expectations and then gratify them
b) Will wait before fulfilling our expectations
c) Set up expectations only to undercut them, creating surprise
d) Choose to disturb our expectations (create conflict, tension, shock, imbalances,
Conventions and Experience
-Artistic form is not a pure activity isolated from other experiences.
-Artwork will relate to other works and to aspects of the world: A tradition, a dominant style, and a
popular form will be common to several different artworks. These traits are called conventions.
-Genres depend on conventions
a) For Example: It is a convention of a musical film that characters sing and dance, as in The
Wizard of Oz.
-Filmmaker must connect both art and the larger world. Responding to cues in a film, means we are
calling on our experiences of life and other artworks.
-Conventions demarcate, very often, art from life: All stylized art depends on the viewers’ willingness to
suspend the laws of ordinary experience and to accept particular conventions.
-Filmmakers assume that the audience is familiar with conventions and are willing to go along with the
game. -Conventions can change, and have changed. Filmmakers rely on existing conventions, though, will try to
create their own.
Form and Feeling
-Emotions represented within the film play particular roles in the film’s overall form.
-Distinguishing between emotions represented in the artwork and an emotional response felt by the
a) For example: If an actor grimaces in agony, the emotion of pain is represented within the film.
The emotion might not be felt by everyone in the audience, say, if the movie is a comedy.
-Form shapes the spectator’s emotional response, and often appeals to our ready-made emotional
-Form can also lead to new responses, leading us to override or suspend our everyday emotional
a) For example: No one wants to meet Freddy Kruger in real life, though, as a film character, he
-Form also engages our feelings: expectation, in instance, spurs emotion.
a) For example: Delayed fulfilment of an expectation (suspense), may produce anxiety or
-The emotion felt by a spectator will emerge from formal patterns that she or he perceives in the work:
the richer our perception, the deeper and more complex our response may become.
Form and Meaning
a) Referential Meaning: allusion to particular items of knowledge outside the film that the
viewer is expected