Week 6: Introduction to Narrative – Unit 4

Introduction:

In this task I’ll be analysing film scenes to see how the narrative is told.

[1]

This scene is from Inception (2010). This scene can be interpreted as realistic, or non-realistic, as this scene has previously been shown in a dream sequence. Therefore when he spins the totem he is trying to discover whether he is dreaming or not, however the scene cuts off before it falls or keeps spinning indefinitely. This means they have used a cliff-hanger as a narrative technique to keep the audience guessing whether he’s back in the real world or not. The genre of Inception is thriller and a cliff-hanger is a very common technique used in these types of movies. This means that people will be thinking about the story more complexly when watching the movie.

[2]

This scene is from The Dark Knight Rises (2012). The scene begins with a voice over of Commissioner Gordon reading at Bruce Wayne’s funeral, whilst there is a shot of Robin throwing his police badge away. This helps to explain a situation without having to visually show it; so that something else can be shown. It is also a multi-stranded storyline, showing perspectives from multiple different characters. This is trying to show us that all these characters storylines are important.

Evaluation:

I found this task quite challenging, but I think that I understood it by the end of the lesson. This task has helped me for my future productions, as I now know many more techniques that I can use to tell a story.

[1] Warner Bros, (2013). Inception. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khYx7P2t59I&w=560&h=315 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2015].

[2] Warner Bros, (2012). The Dark Knight Rises. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvtJ_XC2bz8&w=560&h=315 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2015].

Week 6: Introduction to Narrative – Unit 4

Week 5: Sound and meaning; an analysis – Unit 4

Introduction:

In this task I will be analysing some scenes from movies that have sound in them that convey meaning and what kind of techniques they have used.

The first scene I chose was from Jurassic Park (1993)

It takes place in the kitchen with raptors. The scene contains only some background music that is in some action sequences. This is because the scene is trying to build tension as the kids are hiding from the threat of the raptors. Whenever they touch or hit anything its very loud compared to the silence of the room, and you hear the raptors reacting to it.

When there is music in the scene it is tension building and slowly gets faster and louder as the scene comes to an end. When the kids are hiding from the raptors and not moving then there is a silence so that you can hear the sounds of the raptors feet and the loud breathing of the kids.

The 2 characters in the scene are clearly very scared and so the lack of sound puts the viewer into their mind-set that they have to stay silent or die.

The next scene i have chosen is from Jaws (1975)

At the start of the clip we hear a girl screaming and it looks as if she is drowning. As this movie is a thriller this puts the audience on edge as it looks as if a girls life is in danger, however it turns out it is just her boyfriend picking her up and the audience is fooled.

Next when Brody is talking to his wife there is romantic music playing on the radio in the background; this is unusual for a thriller and you wouldn’t expect that kind of music. This could have been done to contrast the rest of the scene as Brody looks very awkward and uptight the rest of the time.

After that comes one of the most recognizable portions of a soundtrack of all time. It is so effective that even today, 40 years after release, it’s still known for an incoming shark attack. The sound increases in pace and volume as jaws gets closer to they boy in the water. This is one of the best tension building moments in the entire film. The tension builds up to the bloody climax of the death of the boy and screams all around him.

Lastly once everyone is out of the water and the mother is screaming for her son it cuts to a shot of a yellow board covered in blood and ripped up with the sound of calm waves crashing. This is a common effect used in thriller movies to confuse the audience.

Evaluation:

I struggled a lot in this task to find good scenes that I felt conveyed meaning, but I did find some in the end that I could talk about. The sound in these scenes do a very good job of making the scenes better and more immersive. This work has helped me for my future projects as I now understand just how important the sound is in making a great movie.

 

Week 5: Sound and meaning; an analysis – Unit 4

Week 4: Introduction to mise-en-scene – Unit 4

Introduction:

I will be looking into what mise-en-scene is and how it effects what we see on screen.

What is mise-en-scene?

The mise-en-scene is everything in frame, this is not a term used by the production team on a movie, but it is what the viewer interprets about a location or character by what is on-screen. If a character is in a classroom and the body language of all the students is slouched it gives the impression they’re not ready to learn and maybe the school isn’t very good.

Examples of mise-en-scene are:

  • Costumes
  • Hair
  • Props
  • Locations
  • Body Language
  • Technology – Lighting, Diegetic Sound (not everyone thinks sound should be included in the mise-en-scene)
  • Placing of Actors

Examples:

suburbsedward

This example is from Edward Scissorhands. The whole street of houses are multi-coloured and so are the cars, this is to show that the area they are living in is quite middle class and that the people living there are relatively wealthy.

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This is another example from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Everything in this shot portrays that they’re located at some kind of native tribe. The clothes the two tribesman are wearing are very basic and neither are wearing tops, but they do have makeup on their bodies which is common in tribes. The placement of human skulls in the shot shows that the people there are savages, as have killed people and hollowed out their skulls to have them on display. Jack seems to be wearing some sort of  crown on his head which shows that he is the leader or king of the tribe. His clothes are also clearly not from the tribe so it shows that he is an outsider that has come into the tribe.

Evaluation:

It was interesting to learn about how our brains subliminally decode what we’re seeing on-screen in order to carve our opinion about a character by the things they wear and what they own. For my future productions I now know that mise-en-scene is important and to incorporate it into the videos I make.

Week 4: Introduction to mise-en-scene – Unit 4

Week 3: Introduction to genre – Unit 4

Introduction:

In this task I’ll be looking into the different genres of film and how we associate certain plot points with certain genres. I’ll also be looking more deeply into the genre of film noir and the kind of

Genre is the type or category of movie that is made.

Examples of Genres:

  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Western
  • Action
  • Documentary
  • Sci-fi
  • Rom-Com
  • Thriller

It is the expectation of what kind of movie you are going to be watching.

The genre is shown by how the movie looks and the kind of narrative it has. A plot about ghosts and demons will clearly come under the horror and thriller categories, however a story about deep space exploration will come under Sci-fi.

The genre is also portrayed by the kind of technical skills used to create the film, for instance a classical stereotype of a western is to have a lot of Establishing shots of the Wild West and Extreme Close Ups in gunfights and stand offs. Also you wouldn’t expect a Rom-Com to have a fast paced sequence with lots of cuts like an action movie would. The lighting is also very important to portray genre, for example horror movies will often have a very dark theme and so not a lot of lighting.

The iconography is also very important, in a western there will be guns, cowboy hats(Stetsons), horses and saloon doors. If you didn’t see any of these items then you’d be wondering if you had walked into the wrong screen.

The Mise-en-scene can refer to all visual styles on-screen and basically everything in the shot, Actors, Props, set etc and so this is vital to the genre, as the locations actors and clothing can portray a certain mood that gives the film its genre.

Film Noir:

Film Noir was the example we used to show how lighting was used in films to give off different effects. The genre was mostly based around cops or private detectives trying to solve a crime and catch the bad guy. As the genre started at the beginning of WW2 there was a common theme that the good guy would always win, as at the time one of the only ways to escape from the real world for a while was to go to the cinema and people didn’t want to see the bad guy (often German or from a made up country) win. The films were in black and white and used a lot of shadows. One of the most iconic technical features they used was the shadow of the venetian blinds. As seen here:

film noir venetian blinds

Soft light would be used on the face of the female in Film Noir movies when in a scene to make her look more attractive and make the scene more romantic. As seen below.

best-1940s-noir-films

Another common plot point would be a femme fatale, these were female characters who wanted nothing but independence. They would not play the role that society said women should play. Like being a mother and a devoted wife to her husband. By the end of the movie usually the femme fatale would decide to settle down with a husband or was punished for her actions. This made men feel comforted due to the rise in women working in factories and offices during WW2.

Evaluation:

I enjoyed this lesson and learnt a lot about classic film noir techniques that I wasn’t aware of before. Including the femme fatale type character I didn’t know had a specific name to it. If I was ever to do a project that needed a film noir style to it then I’d feel confident that I could recreate some aspects. I knew most of the things that we did about genre, however it was a good refresher.

Week 3: Introduction to genre – Unit 4

Week 2: Introduction to Semiology – Unit 4

Introduction:

In this task I’ll be researching into what semiology is and how it affects the way we perceive the visuals on screen. I will also be getting some examples of semiology from movies and talking about the different rules of composition used in them.

What is Semiology?

Semiology is the study of symbols and signs and how they are interpreted. It is usually conveyed in the way of signifier/signified. The signifier is the signs physical form, for example the colour of red. Then the signified is what we interpret, so the colour red can mean danger or love. Depending on the context of the situation the meaning can change.

Matsurah Well [1]

This shot is from “Lawrence of Arabia” and has many Rules of Composition and Framing. It is a wide shot (WS), and both characters are focused on the figure in the background which draws our attention to it. The shot uses vertical rule of thirds for both characters in the foreground and horizontally for the figure in the background. There is also leading lines used in the shot to draw our attention to the subject in the background. It is also Looking into space. The figure in the background looks completely covered in black/shade, this is the signifier. The signified is that there is an air of mystery around this character, as we can literally not see any details about him . He could be friend or foe, so therefore our brain doesn’t really know what to interpret.

Schindler's List [2]

This shot is from “Schindler’s List”. This is a long shot and attention is draw to the little girl in the red coat, as it is the only piece of colour in the whole shot. The colour red is used as a symbol for Life and Death. This is the signifier, a symbol for the pain and suffering felt by all the Jews around her, but also a symbol of life, as she is going unnoticed by the Nazis. This is the signified, as it is the interpretation that people will do subconsciously whilst watching. The shot uses rule of thirds, as the little girl is on the cross-section of the line. The denotation signified of this shot is that the little girl in the red coat is in danger, however the connotation signified could be that she is alive and not being hurt, when everyone else around her is in pain and suffering.

Saving-Private-Ryan-5 [3]

This shot is from “Saving Private Ryan”. It is a Medium Close Up (MCU). It uses Depth of Field to focus on Captain Miller’s face and body, whilst having the gun out of focus, as we are supposed to be focusing on his emotions and the wound he has sustained. It is using rule of thirds on his face and gun.The only thing out of focus in the shot is the gun, the denotation of this could be that they’re trying to show all the emotion in Tom Hanks face, as he is dying, however the connotation could be portraying the idea that now he’s reached the end of his life the guns don’t matter and the violence never mattered.

Evaluation:

Whilst doing this task I learnt about the different rules of composition that I didn’t know about before, like leading lines and depth of field, however I already knew some things like rule of thirds, but it was a good refresher anyway.

[1] Lawrence of Arabia. (1962). [DVD] David Lean. At: http://www.deepfocusreview.com/reviews/lawrenceofarabia.asp. Accessed: 29th September 2015

[2] Schindler’s List. (1993). [DVD] Steven Spielberg. At: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/mar/04/schindlers-list-actor-traumatised-by-film. Accessed: 29th September 2015

[3] Saving Private Ryan. (1998). [DVD] Steven Spielberg. At: https://drafthouse.com/show/saving-private-ryan. Accessed: 29th September 2015

Week 2: Introduction to Semiology – Unit 4