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FS103 Final Exam Review.docx

10 Pages

Film Studies
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Sandra Annett

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FS103 Review Trent Weston HORROR: •Science fiction and horror share some of the same roots in: –Literature: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), H.P. Lovecraft’s “cosmic horror” (1920s) –Filmmaking technique: heavy use of mechanical and visual effects –Film styles: Exaggerated camera angles and innovative editing to convey strange situations or states of mind. Drawn from German Expressionism. •But, horror and science fiction have a different tone. Science fiction creates wonder through special effects spectacles. Horror creates personal fear through editing, lighting, and sound. Editing: •Editing: “the process of joining two or more shots” (F:CI 191). Shots are joined into scenes, and the editor moves between scenes using transitions. •Editing creates the narrative of the film. It can also be used to emphasize character development, establish motifs/parallels, and create visual interest •Includes classical continuity editing, associational editing, and montage editing •continuity editing: when “the cutting is so seamless from one shot to the next that audiences are not even aware that they are seeing an assembled sequence of images” (F:CI 210). •The standard for most genre films since the 1930s Shot Transitions: •Cut: one image directly replaces another. Used within scenes, or to move to another directly related scene. •Fade out and fade in: screen briefly fades to black between shots. Used to convey the passage of time or shift to a new location. •Dissolve: one image slowly appears and overlaps the other. •Wipe: one image pushes the other off the screen like a slideshow. Can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, star-shaped, etc. •Iris in and iris out: A circular black mask covers the image from the edges to the centre. Also used to draw attention to elements in the frame. Continuity of Narrative: •Narrative sequencing: “the arrangement of images to depict a unified story time” (201) •Includes: –Ellipses: cutting out unnecessary events to maintain focus; OR omitting significant events to create uncertainty, fear –Cross-cutting: cutting back and forth between two or more events across space to create suspense. Can also create the illusion of action: raised spade + body = stabbing. Continuity of Space: •Establishing shots, often long shots or long takes that clarify where the action takes place •Shot/reverse shot patterns, cutting between two characters in conversation •Eyeline matches between people who are speaking or looking at one another •Follows the 180 degree rule: camera stays in the 180 degrees in front of the subjects to avoid confusing left and right Creating Association and Surprise: •Associational editing: uses fast or repetitive cuts to draw associations or create visual parallels –Cuts between zombies and mannequins in a mall in Dawn of the Dead •Jump cut: a sudden, inexplicable cut to a time, place, or image that is not signaled by an appropriate transition. Creates surprise, especially when accompanied by a loud sound effect or music. Horrifying the Audience: •Rick Worland argues that a horror film is “a movie that aims first and foremost to scare us. But the fear it evokes and how it goes about it are particular. While we are likely to experience anxiety and fright in other violent genres…a horror film evokes deeper, more personal psychological fears” (7). •Along with individual fears, horror draws on collective social fears of an era (e.g. fear of women’s sexual independence in the 1960s) Subgenres of the Horror Film: •Monster films: monsters as liminal figures: between life and death, human and animal •Gothic Horror: features a setting (like a remote castle or haunted house) that mirrors a deranged mind or hides a dark secret. Subtle terror rather than overt horror. •Slasher films: features a human psychopath as the enemy; often preys on a group out of which only one girl (the “Final Girl” character) survives •Splatter films/body horror: focus is mainly on graphic violence or deformity of the body. Night of the Living Dead: •A low-budget independent film shot by George A. Romero in 1968 •Made with just $114,000, it went on to gross 12 million dollars in the US alone •Invented the “zombie” as we know it today •Originally unrated and extremely controversial because it was screened for children •A reflection of the Vietnam war and/or Civil Rights Movement? Horrifying Elements in Night of the Living Dead: -dissonant synthesizer music -foreshadowing -longer takes -jump cuts -Barbra’s mental disturbance -zombie little girl -everybody dies -cuts between multiple dutch angles -uncertain origins of zombies -isolation from society –role of mass media -”real” gore THE CULT FILM: The Studio System: •The studio system was the major system for producing, marketing, and distributing films in the Golden Age/Classical Period of Hollywood (1927-early 1960s) •Eight studios controlled every aspect of filmmaking, including stars’ contracts and theatre chains The Big 5 and the Little 3: •The Big Five: –Fox Film Corporation (Twentieth Century Fox) –Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) –Paramount Pictures –RKO Radio Pictures –Warner Bros. •The Little Three: –Universal Pictures –Columbia Pictures –United Artists How the Studio System worked: •Studios placed stars under long-term, exclusive contracts. Contracts dictated the stars’ roles, appearance, and public behavior •Studios kept a stable of creative talent including directors, writers, crew, who worked on the lot •Vertical integration: Big 5 studios had their own distribution companies and theatre chains •Block booking: studios forced theatres to book films in groups that included shorts and cheap B-movies along with big-budget A-movies Breakdown of the Studio System: •May 4, 1948: a federal antitrust law suit known as the Paramount Decree was filed against the Big Five accusing them of monopolizing the filmmaking market •After 1948, studios were no longer allowed to run theatre chains or to practice block-booking on a large scale •The end of the studio system led to the rise of independent producers and actors as free agents working under a package-unit system. Independent Producers and Independent Films: •Independent producers today can choose to work with a major studio and make a mainstream Hollywood film OR form their own production company and make an independent film by themselves •Independent films: films produced outside of a major film studio. They are distributed by the producer or by a major studio’s smaller-scale subsidiary (e.g. Fox Searchlight) •Some become “Hollywoodized,” while others, like Kevin Smith’s “A View Askew” series, stay independent and become cult films The Star System: •The star system: the system of creating and promoting star actors/actresses that began in Classical Hollywood and continues today •Stars draw attention and their images are used to market films, much like genres 4 Key Elements of the Star Image: 1) The star persona: an actor takes on particular roles, and creates links between their characters and personal lives 2) Promotion: the way a star is promoted in official campaign materials like press packages 3) Publicity: the way a star is framed by the mass media, including tabloids, photos by the paparazzi, and tv appearances 4) Commentary: the way stars are discussed in film reviews and film criticism, including academic scholarship Fan Culture: •A fan is someone with an intense, committed interest in something. •They participate in community events (fan conventions, special screenings) and/or make “fanworks” (fiction, films, art and crafts) related to their favourite work •Fan culture is also called “participatory culture” to emphasize the active role fans take in film circulation What Makes a Cult Classic: •According to Ernest Mathijs and Xavier Mendik’s book The Cult Film Reader, “A cult film is a film with an active and lively communal following” of rebellious fans, who appreciate the films that “rub against cultural sensitivities and resist dominant politics” (11) •Cult films can come from any genre, but they tend to have underground/anti- mainstream qualities OR are watched in unusual ways The Anatomy of Cult Film: Innovation OR Badness: cult films are visually or narratively different from mainstream films. Either they are aesthetically challenging (“art house” films) or “so bad they’re good” (shlock horror, B-sci fi) Transgression: cult films challenge conventional morality and political correctness, depicting alternative sexualities, anti-heroes, graphic violence or gross-out comedy Genre: cult films “blur and push the generic conventions they are supposed to respect” by mixing, parodying, or defying genres Intertextuality: cult films make allusions to other texts and cultural myths or historical background, uniting audiences who “get” the references THE SMART FILM: Introducing the Auteur: •Auteur theory “proposes that a director is the author of the film: auteur translates as author. This term implies that the author is the primary creative source and his films express his distinctive vision of the world” (F:CI, 408). •Developed in the 1940s-50s in the French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma. •Originally referred to art film directors like Francois Truffaut; today can include directors like Quentin Tarantino Andrew Sarris’ Three Criteria of an Auteur: •Technical competence: the director releases consistently well-made films •Distinguishable personality: the director makes films with similar themes, characters, visual styles •Interior meaning: the director is able to create a similar vision in all of his/her films despite working with different actors, crews and studios Criticisms of Auteur Theory: •Pauline Kael: auteur theory “refuses to take into account the collaborative nature of filmmaking” (410). •It overlooks that producers, screenwriters, and actors can arguably be “auteurs” •If we expand the definition of auteur to include producers and screenwriters,
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