How to analyze a movie
I. Movie's facts
It's the basic information about the movie: The original title, the year film was produced, the nationality, main actors and the director.
It's the first idea about the plot of the movie. There're a lot of genres and sometimes movies can belong to more than one genre: The main genres are:
Action: It's a film genre in which one or more heroes are thrust into a series of challenges that typically include physical feats, extended fight scenes, violence, and frantic chases. Action films tend to feature a resourceful character struggling against incredible odds, which include life-threatening situations, a villain, or a pursuit which generally concludes in victory for the hero.
Adventure: it's a genre of film that, unlike action films, often uses their action scenes preferably to display and explore exotic locations in an energetic way.
Animation: it's an animation technique where each frame is drawn by hand. The technique was the dominant form of animation in cinema until the advent of computer animation.
Comedy: It's a genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humour. These films are designed to entertain the audience through amusement, and often work by exaggerating characteristics of real life for humorous effect. Traditionally, they have a happy ending.
Crime: It's a film that focus on the lives of criminals. The stylistic approach to a crime film varies from realistic portrayals of real-life criminal figures, to the far-fetched evil doings of imaginary arch-villains. Criminal acts are almost always glorified in these movies.
Documentary: It's a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record. Such films were originally shot on film stock—the only medium available—but now includes video and digital productions that can be either direct-to-video, made as a television program or released for screening in cinemas.
Drama: It's a film genre that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racist prejudice, religious intolerance, sexuality, poverty, class divisions, violence against women and corruption put the characters in conflict with themselves, others, society and even natural phenomena.
Family: It's a film genre that contains children or relates to them in the context of home and family. Children's films refer to films that are made specifically for children and not necessarily for the general audience while family films are made for a wider appeal with a general audience in mind.Children's films come in several major forms like realism, fantasy, animation, war, musicals, and literary adaptations.
Fantasy: It's a film with fantastic themes, usually involving magic, supernatural events, make-believe creatures, or exotic fantasy worlds. The genre is considered to be distinct from science fiction film and horror film, although the genres do overlap. Fantasy films often have an element of magic, myth, wonder, escapism, and the extraordinary.
Film Noir: It's a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.
History: It's a film genre that try to put on a screen the life of a historical figure or an event that happen in the past. Normally, directors try to make a convencious film, so they are well-informed.
Horror: It's a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's primal fears. Horror films often feature scenes that startle the viewer; the macabre and the supernatural are frequent themes. Thus they may overlap with the fantasy, supernatural, and thriller genres.
Musical: It's a film genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing. The songs usually advance the plot or develop the film's characters, though in some cases they serve merely as breaks in the storyline, often as elaborate "production numbers".
Mystery: It's a film genre that focuses on the efforts of the detective, private investigator or amateur sleuth to solve the mysterious circumstances of a crime by means of clues, investigation, and clever deduction. The plot often centers on the deductive ability, prowess, confidence, or diligence of the detective as they attempt to unravel the crime or situation by piecing together clues and circumstances, seeking evidence, interrogating witnesses, and tracking down a criminal.
Romance are romantic love stories recorded in visual media for broadcast in theaters and on television that focus on passion, emotion, and the affectionate romantic involvement of the main characters and the journey that their genuinely strong, true and pure romantic love takes them through dating, courtship or marriage.
Sci-Fi is a film genre that uses science fiction: speculative, science-based depictions of phenomena that are not fully accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial life forms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception and time travel, along with futuristic elements such as spacecraft, robots, cyborgs, interstellar space travel or other technologies.
Sport: is a film genre where a sport team or player are focused on get an achivement.
Thriller:It's a movie genre that uses suspense, tension, and excitement as the main elements. Thrillers heavily stimulate the viewer's moods such as; a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, anxiety, suspense, excitement, tension, terror. Common methods in crime thrillers are mainly ransoms, captivities, heists, revenge, kidnappings. More common in mystery thrillers are investigations and the whodunit technique. Common elements in psychological thrillers are mind games, psychological themes, stalking, confinement/deathtraps, horror-of-personality, and obsession. Elements such as fringe theories, false accusations, paranoia, and sometimes action are common in paranoid thrillers.
War: a film genre concerned with warfare, usually about naval, air or land battles, sometimes focusing instead on prisoners of war, covert operations, military training or other related subjects. At times war films focus on daily military or civilian life in wartime without depicting battles. Their stories may be fiction, based on history, docudrama, biographical, or even alternate history fiction. Themes explored in war films include combat, survivor and escape stories, tales of sacrifice, studies of the futility and inhumanity of battle, the effects of war on society, and explorations of the moral and human issues raised by war.
Western: It is a movie genre that it's located in the American Old West. Normally, this movies tell a cowboy story in the second half of the 19th C.
Setting is a description of where and when the story takes place.Does it take place in the present, the past, or the future?What aspects of setting are we made aware of? - Geography, weather conditions, physical environment, time of day.Where are we in the opening scene?
Plot and structure:What are the most important sequences?How is the plot structured?Is it linear, chronological or is it presented through flashbacks??Are there several plots running parallel?How is suspense built up?Do any events foreshadow what is to come?
Conflict or tension is usually the heart of the film and is related to the main characters.How would you describe the main conflict? Is it internal where the character suffers inwardly?is it external caused by the surroundings or environment the main character finds himself/herself in?
Characterization deals with how the characters are described.through dialogue?by the way they speak?physical appearance? thoughts and feelings?interaction - the way they act towards other characters?Are they static characters who do not change?Do they develop by the end of the story?What type of characters are they?What qualities stand out?Are they stereotypes?Are the characters believable?
The narrator is the person telling the story.Is there a narrator in the film? Who?Point of view means through whose eyes the story is being told.Through whose eyes does the story unfold?Is the story told in the first person “I” point of view?Is the story told through an off-screen narrator?
Imagery:In films imagery are the elements used to create pictures in our minds.They may include:Symbols – when something stands not only for itself ( a literal meaning), but also stands for something else (a figurative meaning) e.g. The feather in the film Forrest Gump symbolizes his destiny.What images are used in the film? e.g. color, objects etc.Can you find any symbols?
Theme:What are the universal ideas that shine through in the film (in other words, what is it about, in general)?
Soundtrack:includes both dialogue and music, as well as all the other sounds in a film. enhances the atmosphere of the film (what effect does the choice of music have? Does it suit the theme?)Are any particular sounds accentuated?
Use of the camera:A camera shot is based on the camera’s distance from the object.The four basic shots used in films are: a close-up – a very close shot where the camera lens focuses on some detail or the actor’s face.medium shot – a shot where the camera lens picks up some background or upper half of the actor.full shot – a shot where the camera lens has full view of the actor.long shot – shot taken at a distance from an object.What camera shots can you identify in the film? How are they used?A camera angle is how the camera is tilted while filming. straight-on angle – The camera is at the same height as the object.high angle – The camera is filming from above the object.low angle – The camera is looking up at the object.oblique angle – The camera is tilted sideways.Does the way in which the camera is held say anything about the character?
Lighting focuses the audience’s attention on the main character or object in a film.It also sets the mood or atmosphere.While high-key lighting is bright and illuminating, low-key lighting is darker with a lot of shadows.What special lighting effects are used during the most important scenes?Filters are often used to soften and reduce harsh contrasts. They can also be used to eliminate haze, ultraviolet light or glare from water when shooting outside.Using color like red or orange can be used to enhance the feeling of a sunset.Can you find any examples where a filter has been used in the film?What effect did using a filter have on the scene?What colors are most dominant?
Editing is the way in which a film editor together with the director cuts and assembles the scenes. The way the scenes are joined together creates the rhythm of the motion picture. Scenes can be long and drawn out or short and choppy.Can you see a pattern to how the scenes are cut?How would you describe the pace/tempo of the film?
When analyzing films for school work or projects, you may be asked to use some or all of the characteristics above. Link those elements together that seem most logical. Try to think of the film as a whole and how the elements mentioned above work together to bring out the main message of the film.