How to Read a Movie

I have done something like this before in an AP Literature and Composition course in high school. We would take movies and go through them looking for context clues and different signs that underlay the plot such as shadows, words, different view points, or lighting. The one I most vividly remember reflecting on was when there’s a scene shot through a window or different room and how when it was shot through the window the character didn’t know something was happening. When the scene was shot normally the character was in the loop about what was being discussed. After learning these techniques in high school I found myself looking for things like those in movies now and I really enjoyed that. So I was excited for this assignment.


Notes on How to Read a Movie by Robert Ebert

  • Had to teach himself
  • Intrinsic weighting: certain areas of the available visual space have tendencies to stir emotional or aesthetic reactions
    • Not consciously applied
  • Shots that well up emotionally, instinctively, or strategically
  • Placement of people
    • Somewhat to the right of the center- ideally places (strong axis)
    • More right- positive
    • More left- negative
    • Centered- objectified (like a mug shot)
    • Person on right seems more dominant over the person on the left
  • Future on the right, past on the left
  • Top is dominant over bottom
  • Foreground stronger than the background
  • Symmetrical composition seems at rest
  • Diagonals in a composition seem to “move” in the direction of the sharpest angle they form
  • Tilt shots put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance
  • Point of view above a character’s eyeline reduces him, below the eyeline enhances him
  • Extreme high angle- make characters into pawns, low angles- into gods
  • Brighter areas dominant over darker
  • Dominant contrast: area we are drawn towards
  • These rules work by being followed and by being violated

Top 20 Amazing Cinematic Techniques

  • There are a lot of different cameras and filming techniques (steadicam, long cam, track cam, trunk/low angle,frantic, etc) that go into recording a scene
  • The director must think about how he wants the audience to perceive the scene and what he wants to demonstrate

It doesn’t really tell how the effects contribute to the film and without seeing the films or knowing the backstories it’s hard to know what the effects are suppose to be doing. However I did take away an appreciation for all the thought that goes into movies and then I wonder if what Ebert said is true most of the time; that the filmmakers don’t plan these things out, it’s just natural,


The Shining: Zooms

  • Car on the right
  • Car bright yellow, background neutral, earth tones
  • Car enters just to the right of middle
  • Person sleeping top left corner, rest of the scene black
  • zooms out from him sleeping, to show more

I’ve never seen The Shining so I thought it was just showing people and this was a scene from the movie and then it kept adding people so I scrolled down and read:

A synchronized collage of every zoom in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror masterpiece, The Shining.

This was a really short video and I’m not quite sure how to reflect on it without every seeing the movie. Since I’ve never seen it I don’t know why exactly there is zooming in and out and who the characters are or which parts are important. So I decided to read some of the comments and see what people said in order to see what I could learn.

  • Tracking shots:  when a camera follows a person or an object physically moving with the subject

That’s about all I got from the 19 comments. However I know that the zooming is important and relies an undercover message.

  • Possibly when zooming out on the people sleeping: they don’t know what’s happening, someone watching them, showing distance, enhance foreground
  • Zooming in on person sleeping: showing thought/emotions
  • Zoom helps to show a focus point, draw your attention somewhere

x Kelsey

Advertisements

One thought on “How to Read a Movie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s