Film analysis refers to the process by which films are analyzed in terms of its narrative structure, semiotics, mise-en-scene, cultural context, and other factors. Film analysis, like other forms of literary analysis, is a rhetorical analysis. Thus, it is essential to analyze and evaluate discourses, images, words, and phrases in film analysis. The goal of film analysis to have evidence to support any argument you will make based on the analysis, just as you will need to do with all academic writings.
However, unlike literature, a film includes audiovisual elements, which brings a new dimension to the analysis. Apart from this, film analysis is not essentially different from literary analysis. It requires you to think about all the elements that make up a film scene: the actors, the angles, the lighting, the colors, etc. All these elements do not exist in literature writing, but they occupy the same role that words occupy in literature. This is so because they are conscious choices of the film director, screenwriter, or producer, in the same manner that words are conscious choices of the author. Apart from that, film and literature have many in common; these include plots, dialogue, character, symbolism, settings, etc. Elements of a film can be analyzed for intent and effect in the same way that literature elements can be subject to the same analysis.
Various approaches are used when it comes to analyzing a film. There are so many of them that it is impossible to list all here, so we have restricted ourselves to the most popular ones. You will learn about other approaches in the classroom. It is worthy of note to know that any film elements can be analyzed, and they are usually studied in tandem. Thus, a single analysis could include several approaches. There is no standard or universal way of writing a film analysis (Analysis of Film).
That said, here are the common types of film analysis:
This analysis focuses on the meanings that signs and symbols found in a film represent. Thus, it typically involves metaphors, symbolism, and analogies.
The semiotic analysis does not have to be about something dramatic. It could be about extrapolating data from the most mundane thing or smallest signs you encounter in your daily life. For example, you could analyze what specific characteristics reveal about a person's personality. Other times, it could be as simple as analyzing someone's appearance for information about them. In that vein, a person with a bushy hair and mismatched shoes could be taken to be careless (or going through a rough patch at that time); someone wearing a perfect attire could be taken to be prim and proper. It is in this manner that semiotic analysis approaches a film. Asking questions such as:
- What could you possibly infer about a character by just the small hints you see?
- How these hints are used to create the character and the relationship between the character's role and others?
You also analyze the film for symbols, which refers to inanimate concepts and feelings such as peace, liberty, love, hate, etc. which could be represented by objects or actions that are not related to it. Identifying the symbols in a film is all about looking for images and items repeated in the film, and examining the context in which the images or objects appear. By doing this, you can decipher the hidden meaning behind the actions and objects.
This analysis concerns itself with examining the story's elements, such as character motivations, plot structure, and theme. The film has a similar dramatic structure to what literature has. It has a Three Act structure where the first Act is Setup, the second Act is Confrontation, and the third Act is Resolution.
The narrative structure analysis breaks the story down into the three elements and asks questions such as:
- How does the film deviate or follow the typical structure?
- What is the result of deviating or following the structure?
- The dominant theme of the film and how it is constructed.
This is the analysis of how the compositional elements of a film are arranged. It analyzes the audiovisual features which distinguish film analysis from mere literature analysis. In this approach, the goal is not just the identification of the factors in a scene but an explanation of the significance of these elements.
Various audiovisual elements can be analyzed, and they include setting, props, costumes, lighting, frames, camera angles, choreography, special effects, color values, music, placement of character, depth, etc. This analysis is the most distinct when it comes to film analysis because it is not present in a literary analysis at all. All the elements that would be analyzed are unique to the film itself. In doing the analysis, it is essential to use specific film terminologies that will give credibility to your work but ensure that your audience would be able to understand what you are saying. In that case, if your essay is not strictly for those in your field of study alone but also for others who do not possess the same expert knowledge, it is advisable to explain all the foreign and unique terms you use. When doing a mise-en-scene analysis, one of the best ways to get it right and acquire all the information you need is to watch the film and capture still images of various scenes. By doing this, you will analyze several elements such as color, placement of objects, positioning of actors, etc. in a more detailed manner.
Writing a film analysis is not much different from that of other literary or academic writing. All it requires is in-depth research and understanding of your subject matter.
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