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Analysis and Ideology

Fiction Into Film Presentation - Day 3

Mariya Vaughan

on 3 September 2014

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Transcript of Analysis and Ideology

Film and Literary

Thank you for your attention!
Citizen Kane provides a great many film techniques to study and analyze.
Now to practice what we've learned...
Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide to Writing About Film. New York: Longman, 2010. Print.

Beaver, Frank. Dictionary of Film Terms: The Aesthetic Companion to Film Art. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2006. Print.
all the events that are presented to us or that we can infer have happened.


the arrangement or construction of those events in a certain order or structure.
Individuals who populate narrative and nonnarrative films.

They focus the action and often the themes of a movie (or novel).

We can ask many questions to go beyond the surface of the character to make more sense of them and why they are important.
In its simplest sense: the position from which something is seen and, by implication, the way that point of view determines what you see.

In a more sophisticated sense it can be psychological or cultural.

All films that sketch the life of Napoleon would tell the same story: his birth, his rise to power, the French Revolution, its aftermath, and his exile to Elba.

The plots in these different movies may be structured and arranged in various ways: one could begin with Napoleon’s last days at Elba and tell his story through a series of flashbacks; another could start with his birth and move chronologically through his life.
How is it constructed:
Is the story told chronologically, or does the plot rearrange events in an unusual temporal order?

Is there a reason for that particular plot structure?

What in the story is left out in the actual plot construction?

Are there reasons for including some material and omitting other material?

Does the way the story is told become a prominent feature of the film and thus a central factor in the analysis of it?
Questions to Analyze Narrative:
How do you recognize a narrative structure:
Is there a voice-over, in which a character’s voice is heard describing events and makes it clear that she or he is organizing the plot?

Are there technical elements that give dramatic indications about how the story is structured, such as the change from black and white to color in The Wizard of Oz?

Is the movie especially concerned with questions of time and history, which may influence how the plot is constructed, as in Back to the Future?

What propels the story:

a mystery, a desire to reach a goal, or is it difficult to say?
Questions (cont):
The various relationships between a story, its plot, and a narrative style are numerous. We usually think of a narrative film as a classical narrative:

A plot development in which there is a logical relation between one event and another
A sense of closure at the end (such as a happy or tragic ending)
Stories that are focused on characters
A narrative style that attempts to be more or less objective or realistic
Classical Narrative:
Romantic Comedies:

What are some of our expectations about
the narrative flow of different genres?
Do the characters seem realistic? Are they meant to be seen this way?
What makes them realistic? Are they defined by their clothes, their conversation, or something else?
If they are not realistic, why not, and why are they meant to seem strange or fantastic?
Do the characters seem to fit the setting of the story?
Does the movie focus mainly on one or two characters or on many?
Do the characters change and, if so, in what ways?
What values do the characters seem to represent?
What do they say about things like independence, sexuality, political belief…?
Questions to Analyze Characters:
Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987) presents characters in a more extreme and disturbing way than many films. It follows the development of young men who, drafted to become soldiers during the Vietnam War, are transformed into killing machines.
For Example:
Usually movies use an objective point of view so that most of what is shown is not confined to the perspective of one character.

You see events that are supposedly objective in their scope and accuracy, beyond the knowledge or perspective of any one person.

In certain scenes you might be viewing the action or someone through only one character’s eyes, and in these cases the camera is re-creating that individual’s more subjective point of view.
Objective vs. Subjective POV
Point of view is central in writing about films because films are basically about seeing the world in a certain way.

Use these guidelines:
Observe how and when the camera creates the point of view of a character.
Notice if the story is told mostly from an objective point of view or from the subjective perspective of one person.
In what ways is the point of view determining what you see?
Does it limit or control your vision in any way?
What can you tell about the characters whose eyes you see through? Are they aggressive? Suspicious? Clever? In love?
Analyzing POV
Ideas or beliefs on which we base our lives and our vision of the world.

It could refer to a person’s belief that civilization is basically progressive or focus on specific religious beliefs.

There are messages about life and society in all films.

These could include ideological messages about individualism, gender relations, views of the family, race, patriotism, European history, etc.
To make note of technical information while watching a film there are certain shorthand systems and abbreviations:
In critical writing attuned to ideology, any cultural product or creation carries, implicitly or explicitly, ideas about how the world is or should be seen and how men and women should see each other in it.

Whether we agree or disagree with the values expressed in a particular work (film or literature), you must continually realize that these works are never innocent visions of the world. The social and personal values that seem natural in them need to be analyzed.
Studies of Hollywood hegemony
(the political, economic, ideological or cultural power exerted by a dominant group over other groups) focus on how classical film formulas dominate and sometimes distort ways of seeing the world. (Film specific)

Feminist studies
investigate how women have been both negatively and positively represented.

Race studies
concentrate on the depiction of different races: Latinos, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans and so on.
Six Ideological Approaches
Class studies
analyze the social and economic arrangements illustrated to show how social power is distributed in and through certain works.

Postcolonial studies
examine work within a global perspective, aiming to reveal the repression of or emergence of indigenous perspectives within formerly marginalized or colonized cultures (like India or Iran).

Queer theory
investigates how normative relations can be challenged or disrupted through films, especially through confrontations with heterosexual values.
Six Ideological Approaches (cont)
What message or messages is the work trying to communicate about its world and, by implication, our world?

What is it saying explicitly? What is it saying implicitly?

What does the film suggest about how people relate or should relate to one another? Is individuality important? Is the family important?

Is the film straightforward and direct about those values and what they demand, both gains and losses?

Are these values depicted as “natural” and, if so, why?

Does the movie challenge the beliefs of its audience or support them? Why?

How do the politics of the film and the way it entertains entwine?
Questions for Analysis:
These ideological approaches urge you to be suspicious of what you might normally take for granted.
POV – point of view shot
LS – long shot
CU – close up
XCU – extreme close up
MS – medium shot
FS – full or long shot
3/4S – three quarter shot
PS – pan shot
S/RS – shot/reverse shot
CT – cut
LT – long take
CRS – crane shot
TRS – tracking shot (dolly shot); you can indicate direction by using arrows
LA – low angle
HA – high angle
annotating Psycho (1960)
For Example:
MS - Marion (M); CU ledger; MS
Shower, tight space, CU Marion; CU shower head
Murder: quick CT, CU knife, face, flesh; S/RS M and Murderer; LA towards Murderer; HA towards M
M clawing curtain, CU shower, blood; XCU drain and eye; LT pan out CU-MS

What are some different ways plots are presented?

What are some examples of films that have unusual timelines?
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