Film: A Critical Introduction / Edition 1

Film: A Critical Introduction / Edition 1

by Maria T. Pramaggiore, Tom Wallis

Film: A Critical Introduction provides a comprehensive framework for studying films, with an emphasis on writing as a means of exploring film’s aesthetic and cultural significance. This text’s consistent and comprehensive focus on writing allows students to master film vocabulary and concepts while learning to formulate rich interpretations.

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Film: A Critical Introduction provides a comprehensive framework for studying films, with an emphasis on writing as a means of exploring film’s aesthetic and cultural significance. This text’s consistent and comprehensive focus on writing allows students to master film vocabulary and concepts while learning to formulate rich interpretations. Part I introduces readers to the importance of film analysis, offering helpful strategies for discerning the way films produce meaning. Part II examines the fundamental elements of film, including narrative form, mise en scène, cinematography, editing, and sound, and shows how these concepts can be used to interpret films. Part III moves beyond textual analysis to explore film as a cultural institution and introduce students to essential areas of film studies research.

Product Details

Allyn & Bacon, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Older Edition
Product dimensions:
7.94(w) x 10.16(h) x 0.77(d)

Table of Contents

Preface     xii
Picture Credits     xv
Introduction to Film Analysis     1
Introduction     3
Cinema: A Confluence of Artistry, Industry, and Technology     4
How This Book Is Organized     6
Technical Tips     8
An Approach to Film Analysis     9
Understanding Audience Expectations     10
Expectations and Modes of Organization     11
Expectations about Genres, Stars, and Directors     13
The Orchestration of Detail     15
Motifs     15
Parallels     16
Details and Structure     19
Parallels in Openings and Closings     19
Structure and Turning Points     19
Repetition and Non-chronological Structure     20
Creating Meaning Through the World Beyond Film     21
Historical Events and Cultural Attitudes     21
Stars as References     22
Public Figures and Celebrities as References     23
Intertextual References     23
Avant-garde and Documentary References     25
Meaningful References with Objects     25
The Goal of Film Analysis: Articulating Meaning     26
The Importance ofDeveloping Interpretive Claims     30
Summary     30
Film Analysis: Reading Significant Details     31
Historical References in Devil in a Blue Dress     31
Writing About Film     33
Getting Started     34
Keeping a Film Journal     34
Formulating a Thesis     35
Four Types of Writing About Film     35
The Scene Analysis Paper     35
"The Divided Human Spirit in Fritz Lang's The Big Heat"     36
The Film Analysis     39
The Anxieties of Modernity in Steamboat Bill Jr.     39
The Research Paper     43
The Evolution of an Idea: The Changing Hollywood Aesthetic in The Conversation and Enemy of the State     45
Works Cited (in the research paper)     51
Conducting Archival Research     52
The Popular Review     53
Film Analysis     59
Narrative Form     61
Defining Narrative     62
Framing the Fictional World: Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Elements     63
Within the Diegesis: Selecting and Organizing Events     65
Narrative Structure     68
Techniques in Practice: Narrative Structure in Stagecoach     70
Alternatives to Conventional Narrative Structure     72
Variations on Narrative Conventions: Beyond Structure     75
Perspective and Meaning     76
Character Subjectivity     79
Techniques in Practice: Noticing Shifts in Perspective     81
Summary     83
Film Analysis: Analyzing Narrative Structure     84
The Narrative Complexity of Rashomon     84
Mise en Scene     87
Setting     89
Describing Setting: Visual and Spatial Attributes     91
The Functions of Setting     92
Techniques in Practice: Same Film, Different Settings     93
Techniques in Practice: Same Setting, Different Film     94
The Human Figure     97
Casting     97
Acting Style     98
Acting Brechtian: Distancing the Audience     99
Actors' Bodies: Figure Placement     100
Techniques in Practice: Figure Placement in Citizen Kane     100
Actors' Bodies: Costumes and Props     102
Actors' Bodies: Makeup     104
Techniques in Practice: Physicality in Raging Bull and Ali     106
Lighting     107
Composition     112
Balance and Symmetry      112
Lines and Diagonals     113
Framing     115
Foreground and Background     116
Light and Dark     116
Color     116
Two Approaches to Mise en Scene     119
The Frame in Two Dimensions: Mise en Scene in German Expressionism     119
Combining Mise en Scene and Camerawork: The Frame in Three Dimensions in French Poetic Realism     121
Summary     124
Film Analysis: The Functions of Space     124
Spatial Oppositions in Thelma and Louise     124
Cinematography     129
Camerawork: The Camera in Time and Space     134
Creating Meaning in Time: The Shot     134
Altering Time: Slow and Fast Motion     137
The Camera and Space: Height, Angle, and Shot Distance     139
Camera Height     140
Camera Angle     140
Camera Distance     143
Camera Movement: Exploring Space     146
Horizontal and Vertical Movement     146
Movement in Three Dimensions     147
Techniques in Practice: Patterns of Camera Placement and Movement     150
Lenses and Filters: The Frame in Depth     151
The Visual Characteristics of Lenses: Depth of Field and Focal Length      152
The Zoom Lens     155
Combining Camera Movement and Lens Movement     156
Through the Lens: Filters and Diffusers     157
Techniques in Practice: Lenses and the Creation of Space     159
Film Stock     164
Characteristics of Film Stock     164
Light and Exposure     165
Film Stock and Color     166
Wide Film and Widescreen Formats     170
Processing Film Stock     171
Special Visual Effects     173
Manipulating the Image on the Set     174
Creating Scene Transitions, Titles, and Credits: The Optical Printer     177
Optical and Digital Compositing: Assembling the Elements of the Shot     178
Computer-Generated Images     179
Adding and Subtracting Frames     180
Digital Cinema: Post-Production     180
Digital Cinematography and Film Style     182
Summary     183
Film Analysis: Cinematography in Documentary Films     184
Cinematography in Two Documentaries     184
Editing     191
The Attributes of Editing: Creating Meaning Through Collage, Tempo, and Timing     193
Joining Images: A Collage of Graphic Qualities      193
Tempo     196
Shot Length     196
Shot Transitions     197
Adjusting the Timing of Shot Transitions     199
Techniques in Practice: Using Contrasting Imagery and Timing to Romanticize the Outlaws in Bonnie and Clyde     201
Story-Centered Editing and the Construction of Meaning     203
Editing and Time     203
Condensing and Expanding Time     203
Suggesting the Simultaneity of Events     205
Arranging the Order of Events     206
Editing and Space     207
Shot/Reverse Shot     208
Eyeline Match     210
Cutting to Emphasize Group Dynamics     211
Cutaways     212
Beyond Narrative: Creating Meaning Outside the Story     212
Continuity Editing: Conventional Patterns and "Bending the Rules"     213
Continuity and Space     213
Continuity and Chronology     215
"Breaking the Rules": The French New Wave and its Influence     217
Associational Editing: Editing and Metaphor     221
Soviet Montage     221
Techniques in Practice: Soviet Montage Aesthetics in The Godfather     226
Summary     228
Film Analysis: Classical Editing      228
Editing in Notorious     229
Sound     233
Film Sound: A Brief History     234
Critical Debates over Film Sound     236
Freeing Sound from Image     239
The Relationship Between Sound and Image     241
Emphasizing the Contrast Between Onscreen and Offscreen Space     242
Emphasizing the Difference Between Objective Images and Subjective Sounds     242
Emphasizing the Difference Between Diegetic Details and Non-diegetic Sound     243
Emphasizing the Difference Between Image Time and Sound Time     244
Emphasizing Differences in Image Mood and Sound Mood     245
Three Components of Film Sound     245
Dialogue     246
Text and Subtext     246
Volume     247
Pitch     248
Speech Characteristics     248
Acoustic Qualities     250
Addressing the Audience: the Voice-Over     252
Sound Effects     253
Functions of Sound Effects     254
Characteristics of Sound Effects     256
Techniques in Practice: Sound Effects and the Construction of Class in Days of Heaven     259
Music     260
Functions of Film Music      261
Five Characteristics of Film Music     264
Techniques in Practice: Bernard Herrmann's Score and Travis Bickle's Troubled Masculinity in Taxi Driver     271
Summary     273
Film Analysis: Sound and Language     274
Language, Nationality, and Class in The Grand Illusion     275
Alternatives to Narrative Fiction Film: Documentary and Avant-garde Films     279
Three Modes of Filmmaking: A Comparison     280
Documentary Film: "The Creative Treatment of Actuality"     283
Narrative Documentaries     285
Documentary Form     286
Voice of Authority     287
Talking Heads and Director-Participant     287
Direct Cinema     289
Self-reflexive Documentary     290
The Mockumentary     291
Ethics and Ethnography     291
Avant-garde Film     293
Surrealist Cinema     294
Abstract Film     296
Techniques in Practice: Interpreting Abstract Films     297
The City Symphony     298
Structuralist Film     301
The Compilation Film     301
Conducting Research on Documentary and Avant-garde Films: Locating Sources     302
Summary      303
Film Analysis: Interpreting Avant-garde Films     304
Analyzing Meshes of the Afternoon     304
Cinema and Culture     308
Social Context and Film Style     311
Hollywood's Industrial Context: The Studio System as Dream Factory     312
Classical Style     312
Economic Practice and Hollywood Convention     314
Censorship and Hollywood Convention     315
American Ideology and Entertainment     317
Reaffirming or Resisting Dominant Ideology     318
International Art Cinema     321
The Ideology of "Art"     323
Italian Neorealism     325
Third Cinema     327
Film and Ideology     331
Ideology and Film Analysis     333
Ideology and Film Spectatorship     335
Anti-Communist Witch Hunts and Hollywood Cinema     337
Racial Ideology and American Cinema     339
Gender and Cinema     343
Sexuality and Cinema     346
Disability and Cinema     348
Film Stardom as a Cultural Phenomenon     355
Stars and the Movie Industry     358
The Dynamics of Performance     359
The Star Persona      361
Stardom and Ideology     366
Stars and Subcultures     368
Fan Culture     371
Genre     373
What Makes a Genre?     374
Major American Genres     379
The Western     379
Film Noir and the Hard-boiled Detective Film     382
The Action Film     383
The Science Fiction Film     386
The Musical     389
Genre, Film Production, and Audiences     391
Genre Film and Aesthetic Appeal: Cliche or Strategic Repetition?     392
Genre and the Status Quo     393
Genres as Culturally Responsive Artifacts     393
Genre and Film Authorship     394
Film Authorship     397
The Idea of the Auteur: From Cahiers du Cinema to the Sarris-Kael Debate     398
Auteur as Marketing Strategy: Old and New Hollywood     401
Studio-era Auteurs: Welles and Hitchcock     402
Blockbuster Auteurs: Spielberg and Lucas     405
Using the Auteur Approach to Interpret and Evaluate Films     406
Readings in Auteur Criticism     407
Ousmane Sembene     407
Kathryn Bigelow     408
Ang Lee     409
Wong Kar Wai     411
Jafar Panahi     412
Cinema as Industry: Economics and Technology     415
The Changing Structure of the Film Industry     416
From Oligopolies to Conglomerates     416
Horizontal Integration and Synergy     418
Globalization     418
Industry Labor Practices     419
Outsourcing     419
Runaway Productions     420
Creative Centralization     420
Films as Products     421
The Blockbuster     421
The High Concept Film     422
Saturation Marketing     422
Independent Film Culture     423
Two Independent Institutions: Sundance and Miramax     424
Film and the New Technology     425
The Rise of the DVD     426
Film and Digital Technologies     427
Glossary     432
Bibliography     439
Index     444

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