Film Art Notes.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Innis College Courses
Corinn Columpar

Film Art Chapter 2 Film Form notes. Daniel Manoukian 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 parts. 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 film techniques. 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 Formal Expectations 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 completion. 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 climates. 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 Function 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.
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