Film the fifth genre
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Film: the fifth genre. Some preliminary questions:. 1. What’s the difference between Cinema, Film Movie, Motion Picture? 2. How many movies do you watch in a year? 3 . How many books have you read in the last calendar year?

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Film: the fifth genre

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Film:the fifth genre

Some preliminary questions:

1. What’s the difference between Cinema, Film Movie, Motion Picture?

2. How many movies do you watch in a year?

3. How many books have you read in the last calendar year?

4. What is the greatest movie you have ever seen? (this might be different than your favorite movie) What made it great?

Reading vs Watching a film



Base level enjoyment

Subject focused



Easy/No one teaches you how to.

  • Deeper more complex enjoyment

  • Form or content focused

  • Analytical

  • Art experience

  • Difficult. Requires a trained eyed.

Like Art or Literature, Film has Formal elements…

  • Editing

  • Effects

  • Writing/scripting

  • Theme/story

  • Directing

  • Etc…

“Reading” a film is difficult because a film combines aesthetic principles from almost every other form of art—visual, music, theatre, dance, the novel.

I. Literary Elements in Film

  • Symbol

  • Plot/conflict

  • Characterization

  • Language/


  • Tone

  • Theme

  • Setting

  • Allusion

  • humor

Ex: Allusion

Chicken Run, 2000

Steve McQueen , The Great Escape, 1963

Ex. Symbol

  • The bone in 2001: A Space Odyssey


II. Theatrical Elements in Film

  • Acting and directing

  • Costume/makeup

  • Space/set

  • Lighting

Ex. Acting

  • Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life


Ex. lighting

III. Film Elements

  • Camera Work

  • Editing

  • Sound

  • Animation effects

A. Camera Work

Camera work taken all together is sometimes called Cinematography—the art of using the camera

A. Camera Work Cont’d

  • Shot Types

    • Long—shows a great deal of space

    • Short—close up on a person

    • Shallow focus—one thing in focus

    • Deep focus—everything is crisp

A. Camera Work cont’d

B. Camera Movement

  • Pan –movement of camera along a horizontal axis

  • Tilt— movement of camera along vertical (up and down) access

  • Roll— camera spins or rotates in a radial axis

  • Track— camera moves (traditionally on a track but today usually a moving camera with a steadicam does this) through space following some route.

  • Shaky-mimics a handheld camera

A. Camera Work cont’d

  • Mise-en-scene

    • Each “frame” can be thought of as an individual aesthetic moment

    • Composition, layout of each individual frame

    • This includes elements like dominance, balance, contrast and color (visual art things!)

Ex. Mise-en-scene

Ex. Mise-en-scene

  • Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate


B. Sound

  • Music

  • Sound effects (environmental sound)

Ex. Environmental Sound

  • The Birds.

Ex. Music

  • Jurassic Park, John Williams (composer), 1993


C. Animation/Effects

  • Ex. Wall-e


D. Editing

  • What shot, scene or frame leads to the next? How is the movie “put together”

  • This is sometimes called “montage.”

  • The order of images/events/sounds in a film

Ex. Editing/Montage

  • Alfred Hitchcock (dir) Psycho 1960


  • How many shots are in this scene?


  • Watch the following clip and write down as many elements of film as you can find. They can be LITERARY, THEATRICAL, or FILM related.

  • Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal,1957


IV. Practical Strategies for Reading a Film

  • First: Do all (or even most) films stand up to “reading”? What are a few films you can think of that would produce little new enjoyment through careful analysis?

  • What are the qualities of high art? Low art?

  • Separate subject, form content in your head


Ex. Costume

Ex. Makeup

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