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Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
Understanding Movies / Edition 8

Understanding Movies / Edition 8

by Louis Giannetti, John W. Langdon


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780136465638
Publisher: Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
Publication date: 07/06/1998
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 529
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.14(h) x 0.84(d)

Table of Contents

Realism and Formalism2
The Shots11
The Angles13
Light and Dark18
Lenses, Filters, Stocks, Opticals, and Gauges28
The Cinematographer36
Further Reading42
2Mise en Scene43
The Frame44
Composition and Design56
Territorial Space66
Proxemic Patterns77
Open and Closed Forms83
Further Reading92
The Moving Camera112
Mechanical Distortions of Movement123
Further Reading132
D. W. Griffith and Classical Cutting138
Soviet Montage and the Formalist Tradition155
Andre Bazin and the Tradition of Realism168
Hitchcock's North by Northwest: Storyboard Version181
Further Reading206
Historical Background208
Sound Effects215
Musicals and Opera226
Spoken Language230
Further Reading244
Stage and Screen Acting247
The American Star System259
Styles of Acting276
Further Reading293
Time, Space, and Language296
The Director305
Settings and Decor311
Costumes and Makeup324
Further Reading332
The Spectator339
The Classical Paradigm343
Realistic Narratives348
Formalistic Narratives352
Nonfictional Narratives356
Genre and Myth362
Further Reading372
The Screenwriter374
The Screenplay383
North by Northwest: Reading Version387
Figurative Comparisons393
Point of View401
Literary Adaptations405
Further Reading409
The Left-Center-Right Model417
Culture, Religion, and Ethnicity427
Gay Liberation444
Further Reading453
Theories of Realism457
Formalist Film Theories464
The Auteur Theory470
Eclectic and Synthetic Theories477
Structuralism and Semiology480
Further Reading492
12Synthesis: Citizen Kane493
Mise en Scene499
Further Reading529


The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Cineliteracy is long overdue in American education, and not just at the college level. According to The Television and Video Almanac, the average American family watches about seven hours of television per day. That's a lot of time watching moving images. Yet, for the most part, we watch them uncritically, passively, allowing them to wash over us, rarely analyzing how they work on us, how they can shape our values. The following chapters may be of use in understanding how television and movies communicate, and the complex network of language systems they use. My purpose is not to teach viewers how to respond to moving images, but to suggest some of the reasons people respond as they do.

In this ninth edition, I have retained the same principle of organization as the earlier editions, structuring the chapters around the realism-formalism dichotomy. Each chapter isolates the various language systems and spectrum of techniques used by filmmakers in conveying meaning. Naturally, the chapters don't pretend to be exhaustive: They're essentially starting points. They progress from the most narrow and specific aspects of cinema (photography and movement) to the most abstract and comprehensive (ideology and theory). The chapters are not tightly interdependent: They can be read out of sequence. Inevitably, such a looseness of organization involves a certain amount of overlapping, but I have tried to keep this to a minimum. Technical terms are boldfaced the first time they appear in each chapter, whichmeans that they are defined in the Glossary.

Each chapter has been updated to reflect recent developments in the field. I have also included many new photos and captions, most of them from recently released movies.

The final chapter, "Synthesis: Citizen Kane," is a recapitulation of the main ideas of the previous chapters, applied to a single movie. The chapter can also serve as a rough model for a term paper. VCR and DVD have allowed film analysis to be much more systematic, because a movie in cassette or disk form can be repeated many times. In my own courses, I require my students to select a scene—preferably under three minutes—and analyze all its components according to the chapters of this book. Of course, a term paper is not likely to be as detailed as the Citizen Kane analysis, but the same methodology can be applied. If the chapters are read in a different sequence, the term paper can be organized in a corresponding manner. For example, many people would prefer to begin an analysis with story or theme, and then proceed to matters of style and technique. Citizen Kane is an ideal choice because it includes virtually every technique the medium is capable of, in addition to being one of the most critically admired films in history and a popular favorite among students.

A word about the photos in this book. Most of the illustrations are publicity photos, taken with a 35-mm still camera. They are not frame enlargements from the movie itself, for such enlargements reproduce poorly. They are generally too harshly contrasting and lacking in detail compared to the moving image on a large screen. When exactitude was necessary, as in the series from The Seven Samurai (9-14) or the edited sequence from Potemkin (4-18), I included actual blowups from the movies themselves. Most of the time, however, I preferred to use publicity photos because of their superior technical resolution.


I would like to thank the following friends and organizations for their help, advice, and criticism: Mary Araneo, Scott Eyman, Jon Forman, Dave Wittkowsky, the staff of The Observer, the Case Western Reserve University Film Society, and my students at C.W.R.U. I'm grateful to Ingmar Bergman, who was kind enough to allow me to use the frame enlargements from Persona; and Akira Kurosawa, who graciously consented to my using enlargements from The Seven Samurai.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance in allowing me to use materials under their copyright: Andrew Sarris, for permission to quote from "The Fall and Rise of the Film Director," in Interviews with Film Directors (New York: Avon Books, 1967); Kurosawa Productions, Toho International Co., Ltd., and Audio Brandon Films for permission to use the frame enlargements from The Seven Samurai; from North by Northwest, The MGM Library of Film Scripts, written by Earnest Lehman (Copyright © 1959 by Loews Incorporated. Reprinted by permission of the Viking Press, Inc.); Albert J. LaValley, Focus on Hitchcock (© 1972. Reprinted by permission of Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey); Albert Maysles, in Documentary Explorations, edited by G. Roy Levin (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971); Vladimir Nilsen, The Cinema as a Graphic Art (New York: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Maya Deren, "Cinematography: The Creative Use of Reality," in The Visual Arts Today, edited by Gyorgy Kepes (Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press, 1960); Marcel Carne, from The French Cinema, by Roy Armes (San Diego, Cal.: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1966); Richard Dyer MacCann, "Introduction," Film: A Montage of Theories (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.), copyright © 1966 by Richard Dyer MacCann, reprinted with permission; V. I. Pudovkin, Film Technique (London: Vision, 1954); André Bazin, What Is Cinema? (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967); Michelangelo Antonioni, "Two Statements," in Film Makers on Film Making, edited by Harry M. Geduld (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1969); Alexandre Astruc, from The New Wave, edited by Peter Graham (London: Secker & Warburg, 1968, and New York: Doubleday & Co.); Akira Kurosawa, from The Movies As Medium, edited by Lewis Jacobs (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970) ; Pauline Kael, I Lost It at the Movies (New York: Bantam Books, 1966).

Cleveland, Ohio

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