The Art of Watching Films
Joseph M. Boggs
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This introduction to film appreciation uses contemporary and popular American movies to help students develop critical skills in the analysis and evaluation of film. By suggesting what to look for and how to look for it, the text challenges students to sharpen their powers of observation, establish habits of perceptive watching, and discover complex aspects of film art that will further enhance their enjoyment of watching films.
notices the broken window and observes, "You must have had quite a brawl in here last night." The owner replies, "I had Hud in here last night, that's what I had." The man's emphasis on the name "Hud" and his tone of voice clearly reveal that "Hud" is a synonym for "trouble." A complex and intriguing characterization is provided through the conversations of other characters about Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca before the character is ever seen on the screen. An effec tive bit of reactive
acters Some fil m c h a ra cters u ndergo i m portant personality c h a n ge o r g rowth in the course of a film-change that permanently alters their atti tudes about l ife. Such is the case with the title cha racters in Thelma & Louise (top left, with Geena Davis and Susan Sara n don), the Jim Carrey character in Th e Truman Show (top rig ht), a n d To m H a n ks's c h a racter i n Cast Away (bottom). so. They may become simply more aware and knowing and less innocent or naive. Examples of
artificially on the scene by editing) or intrinsic (a natural part of the setting)? 10. How fresh and original are the film's symbols and metaphors? If they seem cliched or timeworn,where have you encountered them before? On Irony 1. What examples of irony can you find in the film? 2. Is irony employed to such a significant degree that the whole film takes on an ironic tone? Is an ironic worldview implied? 3. Do any particular examples of irony achieve comic and tragic effects at the same time?
novel for descriptive details about the setting and the character. A design with this kind of research behind it can help the actor settle into the role and deliver a fuller, more accurate performance. When designing interior sets that have windows, the production designer will also create a world outside, often using scenic backings that have been pho tographed. They provide an extra dimension to the film's world in the same way that off-screen environmental sounds do. Fantasy Worlds Perhaps
line, form, mass, volume, and texture. Like painting and photography, film exploits the subtle inter play of light and shadow. Like sculpture, film manipulates tl1ree-dimensional space. But, like pantomime, film focuses on moving images, and as in dance, the moving images in film have rhythm. The complex rhythms of film resemble those of music and poetry, and like poetry in particular, film communicates through imagery, metaphor, and symbol. Like the drama, film communicates visually and