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Chapter 2

01:354:202 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Verisimilitude, Anti-Realism, Macguffin

Cinema Studies
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Chapter 2: Principles of Film Form
Film Form
-One elemental system of film called mies-en-scene composes design elements such
as lighting, setting, props, costumes, and makeup within individual shots.
-Sound is organized into a series of dialogue, music, ambience, and effects tracks.
-Narrative is structured into acts that establish, develop, and resolve character
-Editing juxtaposes individuals shots (the product of one uninterrupted run of the
camera) to create sequences (a series of shots unified by theme or purpose),
arranges these sequences into scenes (complete units of plot action), and from
those scenes build a movie.
-All these different elements make up the form of a film.
Form and Content
-Content is the subject of an artwork (what the work is about) and form is the mean
by which that subject is expressed and experienced.
-Content provides something to express; form supplies the methods and techniques
necessary to present it to the audience.
-Form is cinematic language: the tools and techniques that filmmakers use to
convey meaning and mood to the viewer, including lighting, mise-en-scene,
cinematography, performance, editing, and sound.
-The relationship between form and content is an underlying concern in all of art. It
helps us to distinguish one work of art from another or to compare the styles and
visions of different artists approaching the same subject.
-Three sculptures of a male figure by Praxiteles, Alberto Giacometti, and Keith
Haring, all show one subject but depict different emotions.

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Monday, February 1, y
-The first sculpture is an idealization - a representation of someone, so its no
more “real” than the other two sculptures.
-Giacometti’s version conveys a sense of isolation and nervousness.
-Haring’s sculpture relies on stylized and almost cartoon like form, and it seems
more playful and mischievous than the other two.
-Now that we know what they each represent, they aren’t really the same thing
any more.
-Form and content are two aspects of the entire formal system of a work of art. They
are interrelated, interdependent, and interactive.
Form and Expectations
-Even if we have no preconceptions before a movie (maybe we enjoy work by the
director, screenwriter, we’ve seen advertisements, etc) we will form impressions very
quickly once the movie begins.
-As the movie goes on, our expectations grow more complex, and we begin to expect
certain things to happen, or appear. Screenwriters often organize a film’s narrative
structure around the viewer’s desire to learn the answers to central questions.
-MacGuffin: an object, document, or secret within a story that is of vital importance to
the characters, and thus motivates their actions and the conflict, but that turns out to
be less significant to the overall narrative than we might at first suspect.
-Seemingly insignificant and abstract elements of film such as color schemes, sounds,
the length of shots, and the movement of the camera often cooperate with dramatic
elements to either heighten or confuse our expectations.
-We search for patterns in work, and the more they meet our expectations, the more
likely we are to enjoy analyze, and interpret the work.
-Parallel shots in editing is a kind of pattern, and though different shots may have
been filmed at different times, when they are edited together it gives the impression
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