Steven E. Alford is a professor of Humanities at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
 


WRITING ABOUT FILM

I.  WHEN YOU CONSIDER AN ART WORK, YOU ARE ENGAGED IN TWO ACTIVITIES:

a.      ANALYSIS

b.      EVALUATION

 

II.  IN THE CASE OF FILM, YOU FIRST ANALYZE IT:

    1. CREATE A PLOT SEGMENTATION
    2. ASK “WHAT IS THE FILM ATTEMPTING TO COMMUNICATE?”

                                                              i.      REFERENTIAL MEANING

                                                            ii.      EXPLICIT MEANING

                                                          iii.      IMPLICIT MEANING

                                                          iv.      SYMPTOMATIC MEANING
 

III.  IN MOST EVERY CASE, ONE ASKS THE QUESTION, “WHAT IS THE FILM ATTEMPTING TO COMMUNICATE?” WITH RESPECT TO ITS IMPLICIT MEANING.

IV.  ONCE YOU DETERMINE ITS IMPLICT MEANING, YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF IF THE FILM IS SUCCESSFUL IN COMMUNICATING ITS IMPLICIT MEANING.

 

V.  THE FILM IS SUCCESSFUL IF IT (MORE OR LESS) SUCCEEDS IN FULFILLING THE AESTHETIC CRITERIA FOR A NARRATIVE ART WORK:

a.      COHERENCE

b.      INTENSITY OF EFFECT

c.      COMPLEXITY

d.      ORIGINALITY
 

VI.  TO DETERMINE WHETHER IT FULFILLS THE CRITERIA, YOU HAVE TO FOCUS ON THE TWO LEVELS OF THE FILM.  TO PUT IT ANOTHER WAY, YOU ASK TWO QUESTIONS. 

FIRST, “DOES THE NARRATIVE SUCCEED IN COMMUNICATING THE THEME?”  SECOND, “DO THE CINEMATIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM FUNCTION SUCCESSFULLY IN SUPPORTING THE NARRATIVE INTENT OF THE FILM?”

    1. NARRATIVE LEVEL (FORM)

                                                              i.      SIMILARITY AND REPETITION

                                                            ii.      DIFFERENCE AND VARIATION

                                                          iii.      DEVELOPMENT

                                                          iv.      UNITY AND DISUNITY

    1. CINEMATIC LEVEL (STYLE)

                                                              i.      MISE-EN-SCENE

                                                            ii.      CINEMATOGRAPHY

                                                          iii.      EDITING

                                                          iv.      SOUND