Chapter 2 Film Form notes.
Form- the way parts work together to create an overall effect.
Jurassic Park had a hard opening by grabbing the audience
Close Encounters of the Third Kind had a soft opening by enticing the audience.
Opening poses a series of mysteries.
Form as pattern
Process- sharpens our interest, focuses our attention, urges us forward.
Form is a central importance in film.
A film persuades us to connect sequences into a larger whole.
The savage attack at the start Jurassic Park establishes the park's raptors as a force
to be reckoned with later.
Similarly, Close Encounters promises to reveal the fates of the missing WWII pilots
an the runaway boy.
Form, in it's broadest sense, we mean the overall set of relationship among a film's
Narrative elements form a pattern.
In the Wizard of Oz, the narrative development can be linked to the stylistic
patterning. Colors identify story landmarks, such as Kansas (in black an white) and
the Yellow brick road.
The music serves to describe certain characters and situations. The relationship
among these elements make up the overall form of the Wizard Of Oz.
Stylistic elements -the way the camera moves, the arrangements of color in the
frame, the use of music, and other devices. Stylistic elements utilize the various
Patterns create character.
Form vs. Content
The term form refers to the work's style, techniques and media used, and how
the elements of design are implemented. Content, on the other hand, refers to a
work's essence, or what is being depicted
Suspense- involves a delay in fulfilling an established expectation. Suspense leaves
something suspended- not only the next element in a pattern but also our urge to
Both the opening raptor attack in Jurassic Park and the mysteries in Close
Encounters leave a pattern uncompleted as a result they keep us in suspense.
Surprise- is a result of an expectation that is revealed to be incorrect.
Curiosity is an important factor in narrative form.
Form and Feeling
Emotion represented in the artwork and an emotional response felt by the audience. Emotion plays a large role in our experience of form.
The dinosaur wranglers in the opening of Jurassic Park are fierce and tense. Their
emotional attitude fit's the director's effort to show the park as a dangerous place.
But the little boy in the opening of Close Encounters reacts to the off-screen aliens
ransacking the kitchen with a smile of delight. This prepares us to expect that in
later scenes the visitor will be shown as benevolent.
Form shapes the spectator's emotional response.
Form and Meaning
Meaning is important to our experience of artworks.
1. Referential meaning. During the Depression, a tornado takes a girl form her family's
Kansas farm to the mythical land of Oz. After a series of adventures, she returns home.
1. Referential meaning. This is basically a very concrete plot summary. How the
tangible meaning is understood by the viewer is on their ability to identify specific
items within the film. My understanding of the subject matter: In 1930s Kansas, a
young girl is knocked out by a tornado and wakes in a magical land called Oz. She
befriends several characters along the way to see the Wizard who will show her the
way back home.
Here the meaning depends on the spectators ability to identify specific items:
the hard times of America in the 1930's and features of the Midwestern
We can call such tangible meaning referential since the film refers to the things,
or places already invested with the significance in the real world.
In the Wizard of Oz, American farm life in the 1930's is often established
through referential meaning.
Referential meaning plays a role within the film's overall form
Putting her in a posh section of Beverly Hills would not be sharp if you contrast
it with her in a rural Kansas.
The referential meaning of Kansas and the Great Depression plays a definite
role in the overall contrast settings that the film's form creates.
2.Explicit meaning. A girl dreams of leaving home to escape her troubles. Only after she
leaves does she realize how much she loves her family and friends. Nothing she finds
elsewhere can replace them.
Dorothy's closing line " There's no place like home," as a summary of what she has
learned. Let's call this sort of openly asserted meaning an explicit meaning.
Explicit Meaning DEFINITION: A concrete, specific meaning that deals with the
characters' change during the film. Change here means their understanding of their
dilemma, what they learn about their problem and themselves.
Like referential meanings, explicit meanings function within the film's overall form.
Explicit meaning. What message does the film have? Explicit meaning is defined
by its context. In the film, a girl dreams to escape her drab life on the farm, her troubles with her aunt and uncle. Only after she is gone does she realize how
much her family means to her- hence the line Theres no place like home.
3. Implicit meaning. Interpretation of the film. Here we are looking for something that
goes beyond what is explicitly stated. Interpretation can vary by individual. I think the
film give us a relevant lesson in life. The typical problems of adolescence as shown by
Dorothys rebellion to her aunt and uncle rule and discipline is to run away from home. (I
know Ive ran away, whether it was just around the side of the house for awhile!) The
story has Dorothy following the yellow brick road finding maturity by learning lessons
along the way and thus finding her inner self and strength.
4.Symptomatic meaning. This explains the ideology and cultural meaning of the
film. In the film we are exposed to the social ideology that relates to the values of the
1930s era and of small town rural America. Family, home and hard work are
promoted. This was the depression and the yellow brick road symbolized gold and we
all know what is found at the end of the rainbow the pot of gold. The cultural theme
is that we must work hard, keep the family together and in the end we will have
prosperity. If we hold firmly onto our values, the family will remain strong. This was
very important during that period of economic struggle.
Evaluations: Good, Bad or Indifferent
A criterion is a standard that can be applied in the judgment of many works. By
using criterion, the critic gains a basis for comparing films for relative quality.
Coherence is on such criterion. This quality, often referred to as unity, has
traditionally been held to a positive feature of artworks.
Another criterion is complexity.
Complex films engages our interest on many levels, creates a multiplicity of
relations among many separate formal elements, and tends to create intriguing
patterns of feelings and meanings.
Another formal criterion is originality
Principles of Film Form
Every major character fulfills several functions. For ex: Miss Gulch, the
woman who wants to take Toto from Dorothy, frighten Dorothy into
running away from home. In Oz she reappears as the wicked Witch who
tries to seize the ruby slippers an keep Dorothy from going to the Emerald
City and returning home.
The dog Toto serves many purposes. The dispute over Toto causes Dorothy
to run away from home and return too late to take shelter from the Tornado.
Later, when Dorothy is about to leave Oz, Toto's pursuit of a cat makes
Dorothy jump out of the ascending balloon.
Toto's gray color set off against the brightness of Oz, recalls the black and
white of the Kansas episodes at the film's beginning.
Motivation points to functions.
One function Toto fulfills is to get Dorothy into scrapes.