Film analysis is an important part of understanding films although this is overlooked by many people. There are various elements of films which are brought together to give the final outcome and enable the audience grasp the story. Some of these elements are very visible such as actors while others may not be clear such as the theme of the movie. Elements in films include actors, storyline, images, motion, time, background sound, composition, sequence, lighting and others (King, 2002). These elements usually undergo processes such as filming and editing among others. The overall quality of the elements and processing techniques in totality determines the success of a film. It is important to analyze all elements which are brought together in a film in order to assess the effectiveness of the film in achieving the objectives of the producers. This is also important since it helps explain why some films are more successful than others. This paper will discuss how movie analysis is done and how meaning is found in a film and how to interpret it. My personal criteria used in movie evaluation will also be discussed in the paper. The discussed issues will be summarized at the end of the paper.
How to analyze an entire movie
There are various strategies used when analyzing movies. Different movie analysts use different criteria although there are various elements which form the basis of movie analysis. This section of the paper will discuss how a movie is analyzed and the various aspects which are assessed during movie analysis.
Effectiveness of storyline and dialog
This is one important aspect of a movie used in analyzing the overall success of a movie. The storyline creates a platform for development of the movie. In a successful storyline, the audience should be able to easily relate with the theme and dialog between characters in the movie (Pollick, 2011). Successful movies use scenarios and dialog which actors are comfortable with. This makes it easier to convey the storyline to the audience. Movies which are considered less successful use scenarios and dialog which constrict the actors and make it difficult to convey the storyline. Less successful movies feature obscene language or poor conveyance of thought in a manner in which thoughts appear to be from the screenwriter as opposed to the character. A movie analyst asks themselves whether the dialog appeared to honest or whether there was a logical progression of scenes. The analyst should further ask themselves whether all scenes necessary to effectively give the storyline were present. Finally, they should assess whether the movie had any dialog or language which made it impossible to effectively understand the movie. These are basic questions which guide movie analysts when assessing whether dialog and the storyline in a movie are effective.
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Set pieces and background
In any movie, the background plays a very important role in presenting the storyline and movie in general to the audience. The role pf photography in a movie is to enhance the characters and make the storyline more realistic to audiences under the circumstances. There is need to develop a proper atmosphere when presenting a movie to an audience. In order to analyze whether the set pieces and background is effective for the movie, one should ignore dialog and the actors for a brief duration. During this time, a movie analyst should assess the costumes used, sets, scenery, colors and shapes which have been used in the film. These elements are used to create the desired ambience or mood. In addition, the use of darkness and light as well as fog and shadow should not be overlooked since these play an important role in producing background effects. However, all these elements should be used sparingly and they should not overwhelm viewers. In general, the analyst should ask themselves whether the background used distracted his or her to the storyline or whether it complemented the storyline.
Performance of actors
This is another major aspect which dictates the success or failure of a movie. Performance of actors should be judged both when they are acting in the main action and even when they are part of the background. In successful movies, actors’ roles push forward the plot of the movie or assist audiences develop particular characters in their minds. They should be judged even when they are part of the background since the audience feels the presence of such actors. Actors chosen should fit into the roles they play and they should complement each other as opposed to competing against each other. They should also portray the emotions which accompany the roles they play in different scenes in order to make the film appear realistic to the audience. When a film analyst is analyzing performance of actors, she or he should ask themselves whether actors fit into the roles they played and whether they complemented the parts played by other actors. They should also ask themselves whether their performance made the movie more realistic to the audience or not.
This is one of the most important processes which any film undergoes. In fact, most critics are of the opinion that significant work in any movie begins at the editing stage. There are many movies which have good storylines and actors but they fail to capture the audience due to poor editing. Such movies feature many scenes which do not add to the plot or have those which are important left out. Others have poor editing techniques and audiences are exposed to obvious mistakes every time there is a transition to a new scene. Editing of movies should be done in a professional manner in which the audience is unable to notice any edited parts. When a film analyst is analyzing a movie, he or she should look for confusing parts especially when transiting to new scenes. He or she should also look for the synchronization between actors’ words and actions in order to judge the success of the editing process. In movies which have action scenes, these scenes should gradually build to climax without losing the captivation and interest of the audience. Successful movies flow smoothly between scenes which gradually develop the theme or plot of the story.
Most directors have distinct styles which characterize movies they produce. Directors understand the scriptwriters’ intentions, actors’ skills and how the crew operates. Due to this reasons, films usually leave a signature which is unique to directors. After a film is completed, it should have the feel and look of the director who directed the movie. In order to assess the director’s signature in a movie, the analyst should research previous movies done by the directors and any distinct styles which she or he uses. The analyst should also analyze the reputation which the director has from the perspective of other directors and filmmakers. Signature elements which are unique to directors include edgy dialog, familiar actors, creative background music or unique camera perspectives and angles. These elements assist a film analyst to analyze a movie and conclude whether it was successful or not.
How to find and interpret meaning in movies
Finding and interpreting meaning in movies is usually challenging to audiences especially if the film is of low quality. Many people watch a movie and wonder what its theme or meaning was after it is over. However, there are various techniques which may be used to find meaning and some of them will be discussed below;
Analyzing how characters react to conflict
This is a common approach which should be used by analyst when finding meaning in movies. Many movies have simple concepts at the face level but once someone analyzes how characters react to conflict with other characters or events, it becomes clear the meaning or theme of the movie. Conflict in movies is usually represented as dramatic action or dialog. Dramatic action should be interpreted by watching characters’ actions in order to expose underlying meaning (Hagener & Töteberg, 2002). Action is usually interpreted through analyzing the unspoken. When searching for meaning, the changes which characters undergo as a result of experiencing conflict, exposes the underlying meaning in movies.
Changes on the main character throughout the movie
This is a similar approach to finding meaning in movies. It involves analyzing the character of the main actor at the beginning of the movie and at the end in order to view any changes which they may have experienced. Main characters usually change after experiencing certain events within the movie. They are usually faced with challenges and experiences which require decision making and choices. These decisions and choices change the character of the actor. Understanding the changes which occur to the main character and the factors which influenced these changes will enable a movie analyst to find meaning in film.
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There is consensus among many directors that movies may have different meaning to different people based on experiences. Some people may have different interpretations of the same movie based on experiences they have. In order to find meaning, the audience may therefore be forced to analyze their personal experiences and relate them to the movie. Many movies feature themes which relate to social norms and experiences and it is therefore easy for a movie analyst to find meaning within his or her experiences in society.
Every film is based on a certain culture which may be real or fictional. Particular characters in the film either follow such cultures or rebel against them. This is the basis of creation of a villain and hero within the movie. When the actions of characters in the totality of the film are assessed based on the popular culture in the film, it is possible to derive meaning from the film. The presence of villains and heroes who either follow or rebel against the prevailing culture drives an analyst in finding meaning of the movie. This strategy works both for fictional or real life acts.
Analyzing contradictions within the film
Finally, another effective way of understanding meaning of film is through analyzing contradictions inherent in the movie. The major elements of a film include sound, editing, cinematography, settings, theme, character and narrative. By studying any contradiction which may be present between these elements, one can derive meaning from film. For instance, contradictions between actors’ actions and words or between soundtracks and images may present a deeper meaning in film.
My personal criteria for evaluating movies
When evaluating movies, there are certain steps which I follow and some of them are included in the strategies which have been discussed above. The first step involves watching the movie carefully and patiently in order to understand the storyline. This should be the first objective of any film analyst since the storyline provides the basis for analyzing a movie. Understanding the storyline involves connecting the sub-plots and scenes together in order to develop one overall story.
After watching the film, the second step is finding meaning. I believe that any effective film analyst should first understand meaning of a film before he or she gives an opinion of whether it was successful or not. In order to understand meaning in film, I usually use two strategies. The first involves studying the behavioral changes in the main actor as a result of experiences in the movie. The choices and decisions made as a result of experiences which in turn alter their character is an effective way of understanding meaning. The second strategy involves analyzing the cultural influences on characters. The behavior of characters in the context of the dominant culture in the movie has helped me interpret meaning in film. Finally, any experiences which I may have relating to the storyline also help me in finding meaning of a movie.
After understanding meaning of a movie, the third step is assessing the effectiveness of the various elements of the film. These include the sound, editing, cinematography, settings, theme, character and narrative. I usually analyze all these elements independently and judge whether they were effectively used or not. I also analyze the connection between various elements in order to make the overall movie. I usually use the guidelines which have been discussed in the paper when analyzing the elements. After this analysis, I consider the elements, storyline and theme of the film in totality, in order to give an opinion on whether a film was successful or not. I consider a film to be successful its storyline is interesting, theme relevant and if all elements have been effectively used in developing the movie.
Summary and conclusion
Various aspects of film analysis have been discussed in the paper. Film analysis involves analyzing film elements, the storyline and theme in order to develop a conclusion of the success of the movie. In order to effectively analyze a movie, various elements are assessed and these include effectiveness of storyline and dialog, set pieces and background, performance of actors, editing and the director’s fingerprints. These elements should all be interlinked and they should flow to give the movie a clear storyline. In order to find meaning in movies, various factors are analyzed and these include analysis of how characters react to conflict, changes on the main character throughout the movie, personal experiences, cultural influences and analysis of contradictions within the film. Meaning and effectiveness of elements used should be taken in totality when determining the success of a movie. However, one should be careful when finding meaning since different people may have different meanings to the same movie due to different cultural experiences.
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