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Intro to Film Analysis and Theory (but first, a brief overview of Cultural Studies). o verview of the “Introduction” from Film Analysis , edited by Jeffrey Geiger, 2005, Norton Press, NYC (with some stuff from JC thrown in here and there). Standard Cultural Studies Critical Approaches.

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intro to film analysis and theory but first a brief overview of cultural studies

Intro to Film Analysis and Theory(but first, a brief overview of Cultural Studies)

overview of the “Introduction” from Film Analysis, edited by Jeffrey Geiger, 2005, Norton Press, NYC (with some stuff from JC thrown in here and there)

standard cultural studies critical approaches
Standard Cultural StudiesCritical Approaches
  • Content Analysis
  • Semiotics
  • Ideological Critique
  • Discourse Analysis/Theory
approach content analysis
Approach: Content Analysis
  • Quantitative (counting!) technique measuring specific frequency of various occurrences
  • Produces raw data
  • Limited in application
approach semiotics
Approach: Semiotics

Sign = Signifier + Signified

Signifier = the word or speech sound (rain)

Signified = mental concept (the concept of water droplets falling from the sky)

semiotics types of signs
Semiotics: Types of Signs

Iconic: (physically resembles what it “stands for”)

Indexical: (“A” points to “B”)

Symbolic: (arbitrary connection)

semiotics levels of signification
Semiotics: Levels of Signification

Denotation = Literal Meaning (1st level of signification) -- that ring is literally compressed carbon encased in platinum.

Connotation = Cultural Meaning (2nd level of signification) – that ring represents love, engagement, commitment

semiotics culture bound
Semiotics: Culture Bound
  • Signs are arbitrary cultural constructions
  • Myth = transformation of historical into natural
  • Meanings change
approach ideological critique
Approach: Ideological Critique

Ideology = a system of ideas and ideals

Ideological Critique looks at cultural power and is focused on how meaning maintains the social order

ideological critique marx
Ideological Critique: Marx

Social relationships are based on domination and injustice and these are seen as natural and inevitable by those who benefit least.

ideological critique gramsci
Ideological Critique: Gramsci

Hegemony = process through which a group is able to claim, through consent, leadership or power throughout a society – it is not domination.

approach discourse analysis
Approach: Discourse Analysis

Discourse = all forms of talk and texts

Discourse analysis interested in texts themselves, rather than seeing texts as a way of “getting at” some reality behind the discourse

it s not just a movie
It’s not just a movie
  • Films are not simply entertainment. They are meaningful cultural and historical documents.
  • Film criticism isn’t simply a matter of opinion; instead, film analysis examines the narrative, thematic, and stylistic choices with the goal of deeper understanding.
getting started
Getting started . . .
  • Analysis doesn’t kill the pleasure of watching the film, it enhances the discussion.
  • Analysis examines assumptions and situates the film in particular historical, cultural, and aesthetic contexts.
  • Reading the film requires more than a surface viewing. It requires an understanding of sign systems (semiotics), including the denotation and connotation of words and images.
reading a film
Reading a film
  • Consider the film a text with meaning that has obvious as well as complex and even contradictory connotations.
  • Films/texts have multiple meanings and interpretations
  • Reading between the lines to get to the layers of meaning – the more cultural, historical, and technical understanding you have, the deeper you can read.
  • There isn’t a “true” or “right” meaning
  • Interpretations aren’t purely subjective and they aren’t equally valid.
  • Some interpretations are more relevant, enlightened, and thought out than others
  • Interpretation strives to provide insight and uses persuasive language and solid evidence to support it
freud latent content
Freud: Latent Content
  • Connotations, ideas, and beliefs that lie unnoticed within the text of a film could be seen as “subconscious” or “unconscious”
  • Freudian approach looks as uncovering the latent content to analyze meaning (making the implicit explicit)
connotations and ideology
Connotations and Ideology
  • Connotations and meaning are culturally and historically determined
  • Ideology is the broadly held cultural or social beliefs of the time (ideology in the film analysis sense is a set or system of ideas so widely accepted they are only rarely examined in a conscious way – it’s culture’s unconscious)
  • Ideological beliefs are “the way things are supposed to be” – and those change
context is crucial
Context is crucial
  • Context includes anything that has an influence or bearing on a particular film.
  • Films are never culturally or ideologically neutral, but are informed by their contexts.
approaches to film analysis
Approaches to Film Analysis
  • First things first: Opinion is not Analysis (analysis requires that we question our own opinions and stay focused on the text/context)
  • Starting out: Formulate a thesis or argument that uses a particular point of interest or a particular theoretical approach to focus you
  • Context: Learn about (research!) the cultural and historical period
types of contexts
Types of Contexts
  • Production Context of a Film: the situation in which it is financed and produced (which will subject it to a range of influences and pressures)
  • Filmic Context: consider the film in comparison to others of its type or genre (and the critical context)
  • Historical and Cultural Context: what was going on at the time? What version of the world does the film give us, and why?
examining major themes
Examining Major Themes
  • What is the film about? (not the plot, but what are the latent meanings, the main ideas, issues and themes at an implicit level)
  • What are the major conflicts?
  • Don’t oversimplify.
role of narrative
Role of Narrative
  • Narrative analysis breaks the film into its narrative segments and then looks for patterns of repetition and difference (and compared to genre considerations)
  • Narrative analysis considers what is excludedand withheld as well as what’s included
style considerations
Style Considerations
  • Style = all the elements of how the film is constructed: cinematography, editing, mise-en-scene, and sound
  • Stylistic analysis considers the stylistic choices and what they mean or communicate
theoretical approaches to film
Theoretical Approaches to Film
  • Film History: investigates the film according to their place within a historical context
  • National Cinemas: discuss films in terms of their cultural or national character
  • Genre: examines how a film organizes its story and its audience’s expectations (genre is a category for classifying films in terms of common patterns of form and content)
more theoretical approaches
More Theoretical Approaches
  • Auteur Theory: identifies a movie by a director and analyzes common themes and stylistic traits of the filmmaker
  • Formalism: confined to the film itself and the matters of structure and style
  • Ideological Approach: analysis of the ideological messages of the film