Since the cinematography was invented movies became an integral part of our lives. We cannot live without them because they tell us about our and the other people’s life and still every time we watch them we find something new. They tell us about ourselves, that is why movies attract our attention so much. Films are often described as “life ‘s visual representation” (Tran, 2008). Everything we encounter in our daily undertakings is reflected in numerous movies. Movies create dreams and enjoy people. They depict our everyday life but still cinematography is something fantastic, mysterious and enigmatic. Each and everybody of us can be related and associated with protagonists or antagonists of a movie. We see ourselves in movies, that is why we are so interested in them. We want to find answers to our numerous questions.
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Every person has his or her own ways and methods of analyzing a movie. But still, there are some generally accepted techniques to analyze a movie. Each movie has a definite number of elements that are aimed at guiding the audience through the whole story (Pollick). Finding them out, analyzing and interpreting them it is possible to evaluate a movie and determine whether it is good or bad, successful or not. Sometimes it is possible to anticipate whether it will live for ages or die the following day.
A movie cannot be good or bad by definition. There usually are some elements that make it perfect and overwhelming or uninteresting and boring. Sometimes the most visible elements of a movie are its actors. A disastrous movie can be saved by the perfect performance of some actors or only one of them. But a really good film can be spoiled by the disastrous play of its actors.
Sometimes a movie is differentiated from the others with the perfect job of other craftsmen. They perform a lot of different functions in order to make the film finished and perfect for an audience. In order to comprehend the reasons of one film’s success and another film’s failure, it is important to know what the collaborative filmmaking is. One person can never make a film successful. There are several important issues that contribute to film’s success or failure. Without them it is next to impossible to imagine that a movie can be a success.
Thus, the effectiveness of the storyline and dialogs should be estimated. The true architects of a movie are screenwriters. They are not as popular as the director or the actors but their job sometimes is much more valuable.
Only they can perfectly adapt a book into a screenplay. Sometimes the new created script form appears to be a new masterpiece with its own original story. It is especially important to sense attention to plotlines and details in the dialog. If scenarios and dialogs are authentic, the movie script is considered successive. If the script is not very successive, characters are placed in artificial and contrived situations. The language used in dialogs is also very important, as it may be obscene, or high flown; it can be natural or it can seem artificial, coming from the writer’s mind, but not from the character’s. Analyzing writing in the film it is necessary to determine whether the dialogs feel honest and the scenes flow in a logical progression.
Set pieces and background are very important points that should be evaluated while analyzing an entire movie. These are two major factors that create the proper atmosphere in the film. It is necessary to pay attention to the picture’s shapes and colors of the sets, costumes and scenery. Only working together they create a special ambiance and mood. Among some other important factors is the use of darkness and light, shadows and fog. The background information does not overwhelm the scene, but enhances it. The background and the setting should not distract from the scene, but add more to it. All these factors are of major importance.
The individual actors’ performance is one of the most essential factors that should be evaluated while analyzing a movie. Sometimes magnificent performance of one actor attracts the audience attention and the other actors’ efforts are not noticed. It is also necessary to observe what the other characters of the movie are doing if they are not the part of the action at the moment. Good actors drive the plot of the movie forward. They also establish the character in the mind of the audience. A good actor can make the audience feel his or her presence even if he or she has no dialogs.
Editing is an integral part of the finished and successful film. Sometimes it happens that a movie has many components that would make it successful, but poor editing spoils everything. In this case the essential parts of the movie are entirely cut out or the scenes of the film that contribute nothing to the move are left in the final cut. The unmistakable proof of the quality is the editing in which nothing confuses the audience. The perfect editing is usually invisible; the pace of actions is exciting but steady. One scene flows to another one and the audience easily and the audience easily follows the arc of the story. Sometimes the director’s cut of a movie can be much less successive than the usual cut. However there are also cases when a movie can be interpreted extremely different after watching the director’s cut that appears to be much more successive.
Director is the person whose fingerprints are most distinctive in the movie. Definitely he or she is the person who influences the atmosphere in the movie, its character to a great extent. The director’s job is totally aimed at film production; it starts and ends there. Thus, director’s feelings, thoughts, and ideas are apparent in the movie. The good director is able to understand the actors’ capacities, the scriptwriters’ intentions and the crew skills. A professional director usually has his or her own style that is easily traced in the movie. The professional director’s contribution to the film bears his or her signature elements, among which familiar actors, unique devotion to particular perspectives and camera angles, edgy dialogs and creative music are noticed. At least one distinctive outstanding feature is inherent each skillful director. So, it is necessary to look for such features in a movie while analyzing it.
Sometimes it is next to impossible to determine the meaning of a movie. It can Ñƒ too complicated sometimes. But there are also cases when there is no meaning in a film. Meaning construction is a vital issue that should be considered while analyzing a movie (Axelson, 2006). Movies generate ideas “to a various degree are used as resources within the construction of identity” (Jansson 2001). A “historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic form by means of which men communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life.” (Geertz, 1973). Culture and meaning has become increasingly important in media studies (Clark, 2003). “Studies in media now look toward how meanings are constructed, making possible connections with the branch of studies that focuses on the role of media in the development of values, and conceptions of the world” (Linderman, 2002).
Exploring the meaning of a movie, it is essential to start such important characteristic as the sequence of events that form the parts of the story. It should be considered as a whole. All events are combined in order to form a part of the story. All these events become interesting only if we can observe the effect on all the characters of our story. It is not that important what happens, but it is important how it happens, how the characters react to events and various conflicts with other characters. Such conflicts can manifest themselves as dramatic actions or dialogues. Dramatic action is usually not what is said, but what is not said, what is implicit in a movie. In order to understand the meaning of a movie, everything it implies, it is necessary to read between the lines while watching a movie and analyzing it. It is very important to watch the actions of the characters; only this way it is possible to understand their points of view. In the course of time as the story develops watching the characters and their actions we can anticipate and predict what is going to happen next. These characters’ development usually expresses the central theme or concept of a movie. These themes may be various: harsh war problems, terrible conditions of growing up in a deprived area, the importance of expressing your free will and individual behavior, the idea of helping other people. The nature of love is also one of the most favorite directors’ themes.
My own personal criteria for evaluating movies mainly coincide with those features that are important to evaluate while analyzing an entire movie.
First, it is necessary to find a theme in a film. Sometimes it is very difficult to discern the message a movie tries to convey. The theme is usually what struck us the strongest in a movie. Besides, there might be some minor themes that contribute to the principal one.
Looking at the storyline, it is necessary to observe whether the plot of the movie that easily moves from one scene to another. A screen-writer may use a well-known formula of the hero cycle or add twists in order to make a film more believable or draw the audience’s attention to the plot of the story.
It is also necessary to listen to the dialogs in order to determine whether they are original or contrived, believable or artificial. Sometimes there are forced explanations and conversations that explain the story to the audience.
Special attention should be paid to scenery and set used for the movie. Costumes, backgrounds, special effects and lighting are thing that enhance the special atmosphere of a movie. Being organized professionally these things bring the audience to the story instead of distracting and overwhelming senses.
Main and supporting characters are also of great importance. Sometimes our attention is mainly attracted by a pretty woman or malignant villain but not by the elaborated plot. Stereotyped characters can contribute to a movie but can hardly make it genius or important.
Sometimes a movie contains some scenes that add nothing to the story and even spoil it. Bad editing can let it happen, but a good editor will make everything possible to avoid unnecessary scenes that make the comprehending of the plot difficult. All needless pieces should be cut out. While one scene moves to another it is very important that nothing prevented from understanding the plot; otherwise a movie is considered not very successful. It is desirable not to lose the track of the story; however sometimes due to the poor editing a movie can jump around from scene to scene.
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Those who pay more attention to movies than an ordinary viewer definitely know that symbolism is very often used to represent some idea or topic from the scene. It can be reflected in a number of ways: thus, a camera may be focused on one and the same object for several times, or a word may be constantly repeated. On the other hand it is important not to overdo and try to find symbolism everywhere. Sometimes a meaning can be found n those places where the director did not intend to show it.
Among other important issues that should be taken into consideration are identifying parallel plots alongside with the main one, inciting indictment, spine of action, the protagonist object of desire, values at stake in each scene of characters’ lives, the turning points of the scenes, the length of the scenes, all major pay-offs and set-ups, climax, climaxes of different subplots and act structure, image systems, crisis decision, the controlling idea ad counter idea of the story (Script A Wish)
The world of movies is a unique one: dreams come true in it, every revolution succeeds, and mysticism and magic become real and ordinary. Films tell us about ourselves but in a different way. That is why we like them. Movies have a perfect possibility to fill the gap between fiction and reality. Those various features as actors, sounds, music and pictures present vivid descriptions of everything that can happen in a large and boundless cosmos. Unexpected and wonderful events, thoughts, actions represent our life, everything that happened, happens and will happen to people in all times. The meanings and interpretations rendered by the viewers are determined by their endeavors and personal experience. No doubt, that interpreting films and analyzing them is subjective by its nature.
However, it is evident, that in order to analyze a movie, it is necessary to break it down into essential parts and constituent elements. Sometimes these easy steps can really help to comprehend while one movie is a real masterpiece and becomes classic and the other one has nothing special about it and becomes distant memories.
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