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Film Studies
Philippa Gates

Course Infomation 10/2/2012 8:08:00 PM FS 103 – September 10, 12 Contact Information Dr. Gates Office 3-153 (woods) Email: [email protected] Office hours: Mondays 1:30 - 3:30 USE mylaurier email address to WLU. Name that Genre: Subgenres – within a genre, you can have different kinds of film - Drama - Comedy - Action - Hybridity Supplemental Instruction Each week a SI assistant will facilitate learning groups where you and your peers will work together on learning the course content and preparing for tests Every Sunday, 5:00-7:00 in room 2-C16 (Arts) Bonus marks: 1% for every three sessions attended Pricilla Galvez: [email protected] University Services The writing Centre Accessible learning centre Academic advising Study skills Defining Genre and Film Analysis 10/2/2012 8:08:00 PM DEFINING GENRE Part 1 Genre: narrative film vs. documentary  French word meaning type or kind  Musical, western, science fiction  Sub genre: comedy – romantic comedy  Cycle; a specific period of popularity of genre  “Commercial feature film tell familiar stories with similar characters and plots”  “Commercial films are produced for profit”  Hollywood film we relate to commercial film (to produce income, not as much an art form)  World cinema: Hong Kong (swordplay film), Japan (samurai film), India (bollywood musical) Genre – a group of films that share common elements Major film genres: western, musical, melodrama, horror, and thriller 1. Blueprint: formula that precedes/programs the production of film.  Main idea 2. Structure: formal framework on which a film can be based  The specifics 3. Label: used to identify and differentiate  Branding  Attracts audience with genre, stars, production companies 4. Contract: an agreement between producers and the audience.  Meeting expectations  Promise that producers are not lying to you about genre Popular genre reflects our fears and concerns. Help us understand our culture through the societal fears. What does a current popular film say about our society? (Avatar, Avengers…) HOW WE DEFINE GENRES?  Emotional effect o Horror, comedy, weepie‟s  Content o Sci-fi, musical  Theme o Social problem film o Current setting, any city, and society  Setting o Western  Character type o Gangster film, detective film  Genre labels are sometimes created by critics, completely accidental  E.g. Film noir; considered originally as gangster films, war films but French critics named them film noir because of their similar dark and depressing themes Conventions – the common recognizable elements of a genre  Sets, settings, props, motifs, characters, themes  Iconography: o Representation: present a person in a specific way  Hero vs. Villain  Symbolic meaning: invites interpretation o Action hero = Christ like figure  Verisimilitude: appearance of being true or real o Believability, plausibility, likely o Believable within the fictional realm of the watched film o E.g. dancing in a musical, talking animals in a comedy Parody: Humour in playing with generic expectations FIML ANALYSIS Part 2 The Aim: to break a film down to component parts  It reveals how the film is put together  Reveal to self how a film is put together  Editing and filming highlighted by analysis To understand how a director uses the components/elements.  To create a mood and communicate his/her vision to you  Not plot summary but evaluation of film o Desired and undesired moods connotative with the film Literary Aspects (same as a novel)  Narrative, character, setting, genre, theme, motif/symbol Dramatic Aspects (same as the theatre)  Acting, costumes, make-up Cinematic Aspects (exclusive to film)  Camera angles, cinematography, sound, lighting, editing Film Journals – to get students involved and engaged in the films  Highlight analysis films needed in future criticism  Evaluation of film, NOT plot summary  Informed, educated criticism of the film Ideas Central to Film Analysis  Expectations o Influence filmmaker choices and viewer experiences  Genre, stars, directors  Narrative = character motivation; cause and effect logic, closure  Details o Filmmaker places meaning into film by orchestrating details  Filmmakers ideas creates interest  Narrative Structure o Intro, complication, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution  Turning points  Play with narrative structure  Frame story and flashbacks  Non-chronological  Connections/References o Historical events or other cultural texts o Intertextual references and self-reference  Pleasure of being in on the joke  Text refer to other texts Goal: interpret and articulate the meaning of the film, evaluate the film (artistic and cultural importance)  In film analysis you must discuss two overall aspects o Style is how content is presented to the audience o Style= visuals and sound o Content= narrative character and theme INSOMNIA and genre Remake of Norwegian film: Insomnia (1997)  New setting: Tromsa, Norway – Nightmute, Alaska  New themes: corrupt cop – over identification with killer  Corrupt cop accidentally shoots partner instead of killer  Frames girlfriend American film: Insomnia (2002)  Trend: detective thrillers  Centered on serial killers, popular genre  Focus on the cops relationship with the killer Motifs Credit sequence: alternates between three key images  Black letters appear and fade away on a white screen  Blood seeping though the white fabric in extreme close up  Peaks of ice, remote environment o Represents the characters being unable to seeing things clearly o Movie about looking through the fog at the underlying message o Foreshadowing in the opening credits Themes: Spaces (differences)  Cops spaces = contemporary an civilized town  Killers spaces = rustic and remote cabin o Fog = physical and moral confusion o Losing your footing o Where the power is in each situation and scene o Cop does not have power in rustic remote places Guilt  Dormer (Pacino) suffers from guilt over o Past = planting evidence o Present = his partners death  Alaska‟s “white nights”/ interrogation o Look for scenes with lights and glare o Insomnia/”just let me sleep” o Names = Nightmute, Dormer o Names refer to sleep and lack of Over-Identification A) Villain  Takes on to know one o Cop and killer o “I Just Don‟t know anymore” o “Accident?” B) Partner  Hap and Domer o Hap gets shot by Domer  Elle and Domer o Elle starts as a fan and becomes a partner o Somewhat pathetic at the beginning o Subplot is training her to be a detective C) Fan  Kay and Finch o Kay is the murdered teen while Finch is the writer she worshiped and the murderer  Elle and Domer o Doubling Good cop/Bad cop  Good vs. Evil  What role does Rachel play? Old vs. New  Big city cynic vs. Small town idealist  “Don‟t lose your way” o Moral Debate and messages Point of View  We are aligned with Domer  Look for shots of his POV  Protagonist is Domer, look for his perspective and experiences Early Film History and Silent Films 10/2/2012 8:08:00 PM Early Film History - The history of cinema is the history of technology MOTION PICTURES: series of still photos  Like a flip book – they look like they‟re moving  Illusion of movement  Projector and Shutter operation  Silent Film = 16 frames per second  Sound Film = 24 frames per second EARLY CINEMA  Cinema was made possible by new technologies  Preceded by related technologies: photography, magic lanterns, visual toys  Cinema = movement + projection (pre cinematic movement) o Kinetoscopes in NYC arcades (1894) o Shows a piece of film at a time, customers had to pay to watch each set of a film o Movement but not projection – film outdated cinema  Pre Cinematic Projection o Magic lantern slide shows – projected images but not movement th BIRTH OF CINEMA: Dec 28 , 1895 – Lumiere brothers at Grande Café, Paris  Moving images began being projected Lumiere Brothers: Paris 1895  Documentaries st  1 projection  “Actualities”: novelty of motion, new images  No editing  Everyday events  Shot outdoors  Friends vs. Actors  No special effects, no camera movement, no colour Georges Melies: 1896 – 1914 FIRST 1902 (Over 500 Films)  Narratives  Story telling  Fantasies  Shot in studio, surreal sets, editing, hand coloring  Actors and acrobats  Special effects o Stop – motion o Substitution o Time lapse SILENT CINEMA  1907 o Nickelodeon Theatres – venues devoted to films only  1915 o Longer films, feature length films of 1-3 hours o Filmmakers head west to California o They went to California because Edison patented all his ideas: o Without Edison you were unable to show your films  1920 o Hollywood forms an industry, silent cinema is an art o Sophisticated techniques/language  1927 o Synchronized sound o Argued that right before sound was the pinnacle of film o “sound ruined everything” – microphone technology was poor Coming Attractions (2006)  History of trailers  Insight of how the film industry works o Business and marketing  Genre plays an important role o Films are sold as a kind of film Think About  What kinds of films Hollywood makes  How genre is used in trailers to sell a film Narrative and Screwball Comedy 10/2/2012 8:08:00 PM NARRATIVE Part 1 A) Plot V Story 1. Plot: order of narrative events presented in the film  Given by the film 2. Story: reconstruction of events  In chronological order though which we can establish the chain of casualties which links them  Figured out by viewer B) Non- / Chronological 1. Chronological  Clear cause and effect  Frequent use because it does not confuse the viewer 2. Non Chorological  Non Linear (pulp fiction)  Flashbacks (Insomnia) o Airport (1970); Flashbacks, while she talks the flashbacks have to do with what she is complaining with C) Diegetic/Non Diegetic 1. Diegetic: occurs inside the world  Dialogue  Music at a night club  During production 2. Non-Diegetic: Occurs outside of the world  Voice over  Score  Post production D) Showing vs. Telling 1. Showing: visual dramatization  Acting it out  Flashbacks o Airport (1970); the flashbacks show the complications in the mother and fathers relationship as oppose to the conversation be without flashbacks where it would be purely telling 2. Telling: Oral account  Speaking about it o Singing in the Rain; Begins by talking about his past (telling) then eventually shows flashbacks of his life (showing) E) Point of View  Who guides your knowledge?  One character? No one? 1. Subjective  POV shot; shared point of view with character  VO narration (voice over)  „Over the shoulder‟ o First person vs. Third person o Second person (the use of you), choose your own adventure books  Dark Passage 2. Objective  Omniscient  (Semi-) Documentary style F) Hollywood Narrative Conventions  Character–centered  Goal driven o Characters with a goal to meet and a time restriction  Identification with protagonist o Bias towards protagonist that audience identifies with and relates to  Dualistic structure o Couple; buddies; protag/antag  Equilibrium o Eq 1); disruption; Eq 2) o Balance; operating as normal o Balance, disruption, new balance  Linear narrative  Causality o Cause and effect  Conclusion o Tie up loose ends SCREWBALL COMEDY Part 2 The Great Depression (1929-1939)  Longest depression, ten years  Most widespread (worldwide)  Deepens depression o Originated in the US o Stock market crash on Oct 29 1929  Trade, income, tax revenue, employment and profits all decreased  WWII helped end the depression because of the new sales of ammunition and weaponry  Government subsidies for movie tickets during the depression  2 films for one ticket price, audience got used to the double feature so it continued after the depression Great Depression vs. Hollywood  Revenue was down 40% (1933)  How to attract audiences?  Reaction 1. Explore; gangster films, social problems, horror (dark and critical) 2. Ignore; Shirley Temple, musicals, comedies (light and escapist)  Shirley Temple was the #1 box office draw for four years o Honey Boo Boo the 2012 Shirley Temple o Films deal with social change, delayed reaction  Psychological an ideological role, providing reassurance and hope to a demoralized nation Screwball Comedy  Short lived genre; depression to WWII (1934-41)  Hard to define; many elements but not all in every movie  What‟s in the name? o In baseball = an erratic pitch; by 1930 = insane or eccentric  Everything in juxtaposition (out of whack) o Educated/uneducated; rick/poor; male/female  Combine 1. Ridiculousness of farce  With 2. Comic violence and action of slapstick  And 3. Witty dialogue of the romantic comedy In the 1930s, women were the big stars  Carole Lombard (My Man Godfrey) o Famous for playing „screwball dames‟ (ditsy, scatter brained) Commented on life during the depression  Battle between the sexes o Opposites attract and fight before they fall in love o Cross-dressing o Women tend to win the battle  Class Reversal o Poor man is often the better/‟richer‟ than the rich man o Servants wiser than dysfunctional employers o Disruption of the elegant lifestyle of the rich  Other Inversions o Some boring protagonists need to rebel/ wild ones need to conform o All with witty dialogue, slapstick comedy Out of vogue by 40s  Hollywood gets critical = film noir My Man Godfrey Credit Sequence  Juxtaposition of high end New York and dumpster scene in the opening  Scene shows Irene being the one in power in the beginning until the meaningful conversation where they become parallel. When the maid breaks away from I
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