There are a number of elements that come together in order to steer the audience through a movie may it be a small independent effort or a blockbuster Hollywood production. Although the most visible element may be the actor, there are many other craftsmen who play equally important role in order to get the movie before the audience. If one is interested in finding out why one movie succeeds and the other one fails, it's important to understand that film making involves so many people with various important roles. For one to conduct an effective analysis of a film, he has to be ready to put in a lot of time in every minute detail. This is because; movie analysis helps the audience to come to a compelling conclusion on the value and the overall meaning of the movie (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 8). This paper is intended to discuss how to analyze a movie as a whole, to demonstrate how one can find and interpret meaning in a movie as well as my own personal criteria for evaluating movies.
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How to analyze an entire movie
Movie analysis may prove to be a very detailed and tedious process. In order for one to provide a complete and clear analysis of a movie, s/he must be in a position to examine the every part of the movie in details. It is always helpful for one to analyze the title and outline of the movie before watching it. This will not only give you the plot of the movie but will also help you to get the flow and identify the motif of the movie (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 5). However, one should not entirely rely on this nor should it affect the overall analysis of the movie. As one starts to watch the movie, s/he should assess the props and the costumes (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 9). What are the characters wearing? Does the attire fit with the mood of the story? Does it go in line with the cultural setting of the movie? Are the props coming in well or are they disruptive? Such are some of the questions that one should ask him/herself when analyzing a movie. A well planned and attractive movie should have well organized attire and props that match with the theme, mood and cultural setting of the movie.
Another aspect that one should consider in movie analysis is the environment and background in which the movie is acted. Questions that one should ask include the relationship between the setting and the scene. Do they fit? Is the background counterfeit or realistic? How well are the background activities planned? Are they distracting or steal the audience attention? Light and darkness are just as important as any other atmospheric effects such as shadow and fog. The background information should however not overwhelm the scene but enhance it (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p.7). Cinematography should be handled with care so that the viewers attention is not distracted by a misplace object in the background. You should ask yourself if the background and the setting distracted your attention from the movie or did it add more to the story. A movie can be judged as either competitive or passive depending on the role background activities and the setting play in bringing out the effectiveness of the theme.
The effectiveness of the dialogue and storyline is the first consideration. A very well plotted movie can turn out to be a mess if it doesn't have interesting dialogue. Although it's the actors and directors who get the highest attention, screenwriters are the architects of any movies. When analyzing a movie, one should check whether the characters are real or not through their speech and acting. Is the acting interesting and believable? Did the audience get all the information s/he needed to go along or was something vague? A good script employs the use of good dialogue that the audience can easily understand and relate to while a less successful one makes the characters feel unnatural or artificial (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p.9). The characters language should not appear interspersed with obscenities and the thoughts should appear to have come from the characters' mind and not the script writer. When analyzing a movie you should look out for the honesty in the dialogue and check whether the scenes flow in a rational progression.
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Individual actor's performance should be considered. The success of the movie does not only depend of the main character, even the person with the slightest role of say a taxi driver contributes to the quality of the whole film. You should not only concentrate on the lead actor's performance but also pay equal attention to all the other cast however small their roles might be. You should also look at what they are doing when they are not part of the main action. A good actor should bring out the feeling of the role he is playing to the best. For instance if he takes up the role of a hero, then he should establish this character to the audience by acting like a real hero (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 8). The presence of the supporting characters should be felt by the audience even if they may not have much dialogue. You should analyze the performance of actors by asking yourself if they truly inhabited their role.
Editing is as important as the final product in fact film critics say 'the real movie begins in the editing room'. Poor editing can make a good movie less successful. Editing makes sure that essential parts are maintained in the final product while those scenes which don't move the plot forward are cut out. Good editing should be invisible i.e. the story line should flow throughout the entire movie. When scrutinizing the editing of a movie, you should look at anything that confuses you. Dialogue scenes should be flawless between the actor speaking the line and those reacting to it (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 6).For the action scenes, they should maintain the momentum that builds to the climax. A well edited movie should have a smooth flow without denying the viewers any information that will make them not follow the storyline.
Another aspect that one should put into consideration is the background music. Is it too noisy or too soft? Is it disturbing or is it useful in moving the movie along? Good music in a movie should be well paced; not too slow or too fast. It should go along with the flow of the movie as well as the mood. It should not be confusing or contradicting. It should be well organized and always contribute to the meaning of the movie. Lastly, one should evaluate the overall quality of the movie. While some episodes may prove to be very catchy, they should not overshadow the other scenes. The entire movie has to be evaluated as a whole since every scene contributes to the whole movie (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 8).
Directors put distinctive style and fingerprint on their movies. While most of their work is surrounded around production of the film, their vision should still be noticed in the finished product. A good director should comprehend the capabilities of the actors, the intensions of the script writer and the skills of the entire crew (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 7). It is therefore important to understand the director's style and body of work. An informed audience member should be able to tell the difference when two directors film the same scene. Every director has his own distinctive features that should be looked out for when analyzing his contribution to a movie. These may include distinctive elements like familiar actors, unique attachment to particular camera angles or exclusive background music.
However, like the analysis of any other literal material, there are some challenges that every movie analyst must face. Movies comprise of pictures that are in constant movement, there are no motionless photos to analyze hence the pausing and continuing may distract the audience from flowing along with the story (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 7).
How to find and interpret meaning in movies
Finding and getting the meaning of a movie come from illustrating and investigating several elements such as theatrical, cinematic and literature among other elements that together combine to bring the meaning of the movie. Interpretation of films depends mostly on the social and environmental factors that are depicted within the movie. The first element that helps an audience to get the surface meaning and flow of the movie is language/ conversation (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 6). Following the flow of the conversation and what the characters are talking about will help the audience to get the meaning of the movie. Another aspect is the relationship among the characters. How different actors relate to one another will make the audience understand what the movie is all about. Their relationship may be sour or charming depending on how the acting and conversation bring it out. For instance if some characters are often portrayed confronting each other, then obviously they do not relate in a sociable manner. The tone and pace then follows automatic. Tone and pace are commonly used to bring the mood of the movie. A sad mood always goes with a low tone and slow pace, whereas a cheerful mood will do with fast pace, depending on the organization of the movie.
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Apart from the language you can still tell the meaning of movies by interpreting the images. The brain can interpret what the eyes see and determine what it means. Images, be they on the foreground or background play a very essential role in movie interpretation (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 9). However, the effectiveness of the images is always complemented by the setting of the movie. One gets to know the cultural environment in which the movie was performed by simple looking at the types of images and setting used. The audience can also find the meaning in a movie by analyzing the type of attire that the characters are dressed in. For instance; one can tell whether the movie talks about a royal family by simple looking at the costumes. A king and the queen will always be dressed in costumes that portray authority while their suitors will put on something that will humble them.
Another thing that one should consider when trying to get the meaning of a movie is the time frame in which the movie was performed. To better understand a movie one should have an idea of when and to whom the movie was targeted. Is it a modern or a primitive man? If it is a primitive man, his ability of understanding is very low hence one should not confuse the openness of the conversation to uselessness of the movie. Since modern movies use lots of instruments, expressive costumes and improved technology and brain, one should apply several ideas together in order for him to successful get the whole meaning. One should not just rely on one aspect say costumes to get the theme and meaning of the movie (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 5). Modern society should be all round equipped with knowledge and techniques of interpreting movies.
Like books and any other literature, movies have both surface and inner meanings. To find and interpret the inner meaning of a movie, one should make use of figures of speech such as metaphors, satire and sarcasm, suspense, symbolism as well as the foreshadows. The audience should comfortably be able to interpret the metaphors; whenever one thing is related to another, s/he should relate these things in terms of their characters. For instance, if a human being is related to a lion, s/he is either very protective or a no-nonsense person. The audience should thus open up his/her inner and get the clear meaning of the movie. One should not only look at the surface meaning of the words used. Irony dialogues should not be ignored since they may be holding lots of hidden meaning. In most movies objects and images may be used symbolically to convey a lot of information. Whenever such an object appears on stage, it delivers almost the same meaning in every scene. Hence in any interpretation of movie one should put into consideration all the aspects and details without ignoring even those minute details that may seem to be useless (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 6-7).
Determine your own personal criteria for evaluating movies.
Different people have different criteria for evaluating movies. There are those movies that other people will consider interesting watching while others would passive the same movies as boring or worthless watching. This is because people are created differently and have different interests and varied interpretation abilities. As an individual, I too have my personal criteria that I use to evaluate the value of a movie. First and foremost, I consider a movie interesting or above standard if it shows some clarity in expression and language/conversation. A well planned movie should always catch the attention of the audience through conversation. Words should be clear and dialogues between the actors should be readily understandable. Effective communication among characters gives the audience the courage to continue watching the movie.
Professional use of literary devices such as suspense also makes the audience curious to see what comes next. I consider a movie that uses lots of suspense as interesting because it keeps me glued on the screen, eager to see the next step of action. Use of figures of speech such as sarcasm, satire, metaphors, humanification and symbols also make me rate a movie as professional above average. This is because; such figures give the audience an open mind that enhances deeper understanding of the movie (Boggs & Petrie, p. 8). The quality of the picture and the sound matters as well. Pictures that are dark do not give clear images therefore are as good as useless to the audience since a movie is supposed to be audio-visual and not audio. Photographs that are taken in the night should be edited further so as to avoid ambiguity. The sound should be clear; movies that have music incorporated are very interesting. Music directs the audience and always gives the feeling of the mood. For instance, if a character is moaning following the death of a relative or a friend, an encouraging song would do better than another character coming in to encourage him.
A good movie should put into consideration some social aspects such as the ethical norms and standards expected by the society, the age group in which the target audience belongs as well as the language quality. Movies should be performed in a way that is educative to the society. Ethical standards should be maintained at all times so as to avoid introduction of habits that may violate the ethical values of the society. Habits that are not tolerated by the society should be avoided in movies least they spoil the whole generation. Abusive and dirty language should also be avoided especially if the movie targets young children and youths. A good movie should consider audience belonging to all age groups; it should be watched by all people and at all times. I personally have a bad attitude towards late night movies because most of them use either dirty language or filthy photographs. Such movies can not be watched by parents and children together, something I do not consider ethical.
The category of the film also determines whether I would rate a movie interesting or boring. I think I like action movies more that horror and thrillers. Action movies tend to be fast and adventurous thus making the audience alert and attentive in every move that the characters make. Soaps are always full of tears and can even make the audience cry as s/he sympathizes with the troubled character. Instead of enjoying the movies, the audience is forced to feel sorry for a character s/he does not even know.
In conclusion, this paper has successfully discussed how to analyze an entire movie; it has also demonstrated how to find and interpret meaning in a movie as well as illustrated my own personal criteria for evaluating movies. Just like a narratives and poems, movies engross a lot of thoughtful preparation before the ultimate product is published for community viewing. For a movie to appeal to the eyes of the audience, the director should consider some factors such as culture, age and composition of his audience. S/he should choose proper language, properly select what and what not to include in his/her work as well as consider the values that the movie impacts to the society.