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CTCS 190 Intro.

to Film Notes


● Aesthetic

● Medium- “in between” or “in the middle”, Film is the medium in between the filmmakers
and the audience

● Content- information being delivered

● Form- the means by which information is conveyed

● Invisibility- cinema’s ability to “hide” its formal qualities by making them feel natural,
such that viewers do not pay conscious attention to the film’s aesthetics

● Cineliteracy

● Subject- what the film is about (ex. love, war, or law and order)

● Theme- the film’s attitude or perspective on that subject (ex. love conquers all, war is
necessary to vanquish evil, or good cop has to break the rules to bring someone to justice)

● Ideology- a set of cultural beliefs or values; a way of viewing the world, an underlying
judgement or perspective on some aspect of culture or society

● Motif-

● Binary oppositions- two ideas set in opposition to one another, set up conflicts between

● Expectations- viewer expectations based on our knowledge, personal past experiences,

certain actors, film directors, etc., films can use or subverse expectations


● Narration- Discourse, the telling of the story (the form, structure, style, and perspective)
● Narrative- The story told, the content (characters, events, and setting) and the means by
which it is conveyed

● Story- A type of content, everything that occurs and exists within the narrative, whether
shown or implied

● Plot- That which is explicitly represented within the film in the arrangement provided

● Traditional Elements of Plot:

- Protagonist (a main character who has a goal, obstacles including antagonists get in the
way of these goals, creates conflict & suspense)
- Progressions & Regressions
- Climax
- Resolution & Conclusion
- Causality- Events being caused by each other (event A leads to event B, event B leads to
event C, etc.)
- Unity
- Exposition

● The Three-Act Structure:

- Act 1 (the beginning that introduces the setting, major characters, and the main conflict)
- Point of attack (ends act 1)
- Act 2 (the middle, regressions move protagonist further from goal, then progressions
move protagonist closer to goal)
- Goal is reached (ends act 2)
- Act 3 (the end, introduces a new goal, climax, resolution, and possible closure)
- Technically 4 acts (act 2 could be divided into 2 parts with the regressions and
progressions, regressions and progressions can happen in any order)
- 8 Sequences (2 sequences per each of the “4 acts”)

● Midpoint- The point where you see a change in progression and/or regression, can have
more than one midpoint

● Achronology- Allowing the audience to experience events in an order different from their
natural occurrence

● Episodic & Thematic Structuring:

- Rejecting strict causal connections to employ a different structuring logic
- Episodic (events have loose causal connections)
- Thematic (events may lack causal connections, but are linked by a common theme)

● 4 Types of Perspective:
1. Point of View (sensory perspective, the literal vantage point from which we see and hear
2. Identification (psychological or emotional perspective, empathy or being aligned with a
3. Focalization (informational perspective, the amount of information provided in relation to
a character’s knowledge, arguably the most essential type of perspective)
- Omniscient narration (we know more than any one character, audience > character)
- Selective or restricted narration (we know as much as a given character, audience =
- Objective narration (we know less than any one character, audience < character, very
rarely used)
4. Narrative Person (discursive perspective, who is providing the information and who is it
- True 1st person (footage provided by the character)
- Framed 1st person (voiceover is used as framing device)
- 3rd person (story is about someone else)
- 2nd person (not really found in cinema, more video game structure, and requires

● Embedded Narration

● 1st Person Narration:

- True 1st Person (films that suggest characters to be providing the very footage we are

● 3rd Person Narration- Traditional mode of narrative filmmaking (the story is simply
about “someone else”)


● Mise-En-Scene (“to put into the scene”):

- Everything that appears within the scene and their arrangement (sets, costumes, actors,
props, lighting, etc.)
- Sometimes defined as everything appearing within the scene and its arrangement plus
composition and the arrangement of the camera
- The elements depicted within the scene and their arrangement in relation to one another
- Shapes and creates the world of the film

● Elements of Mise-En-Scene:
- Sets, decor, & locations
- Costume, hairstyle, & makeup
- Performance
- Lighting
- Color
- Staging
- Stuntwork, practical effects, & CGI

● Functions of Mise-En-Scene:
1. To shape setting and create the world of the film
2. To delineate character and convey states of mind
3. To enunciate theme
4. To establish mood & atmosphere
5. To create metaphorical connections
6. To structure the film via visual motifs
7. To direct our attention or convey information
8. To elicit spectacle and visceral experience

● Diegesis (the story):

- Everything inside of the world of the film
- Emphasizes the world of the film
- Does not emphasize the chain of events as a story does

● Objectivity:
- Foregrounds the object of thought

● Subjectivity:
- Foregrounds the thinking subject

● Verisimitude

● Mood- Internal, emotional quality

● Atmosphere- Physical quality

● Worldbuilding

● 3-point lighting:
- Key light
- Fill light
- Back light

● Key light

● High-key lighting:
- Brighter
- Has low contrast
- Has a lot of fill light

● Low-key lighting:
- Darker
- Has high contrast
- Does not have a lot of fill light

● Hard light:
- Direct light on a subject from all directions

● Soft light:
- Diffused light on a subject from different directions
- Helps to soften the edges of shadows

● Realism:
- Aesthetic style that privileges a sense of objectivity
- Doesn’t mean it’s realistic


● Acting- Transforming human experience on the screen

● Types of Acting:
- Naturalistic (seeks one to one correspondence between the performance and normal
human behavior)
- Stylized (stresses performance and theatricality, parodies humans)
- Pantomime (actors present emotions instead of embodying them)
- Representational (most common acting style of the studio era, what you see outside
defines who the character is inside, the persona of the character is a defining factor)
- Method (actors work from inside to outside, create emotions the characters should feel
through affective memory and perceptual observation)
- Ensemble (group acting, emphasizes reacting to the other people’s performances instead
of simply delivering your lines)

● Persona:
- Perceived image of a celebrity actor constructed through their roles, public life, and
discourse around them
- Appears when the distinction between star-as-person and star-as-character collapse

● Typecasting:
- Generally the supporting actors playing the same character in every movie
- Genre movies use type casting heavily

● Actions- Movements carried out by actors

● Posture- How the actor holds their body in a scene

● Gesture- Body movements used by the actor to enhance delivery

● Business- Movements carried out by actors to fill screen space that do not advance the

● Facial Expression- How an actor uses their face to convey thoughts and emotions


● Extreme long shot- Shot of the whole scene or environment

● Long shot- Who what and where shot, typically balance information, often
establishments of the first part of a scene

● Full shot- Covers the whole human body from head to toe, human is now the subject
dominating the shot, no longer standing back looking at the entire scene but moving into
● Medium long shot- Frames subject from the knees up, allows multiple characters to be in
the frame with objects they’re interacting in, balances strengths of long shot and medium
shot in appearance and function

● Medium shot- Frames the subject who dominates the frame, personal but not intimate,
ideal for showing personal interactions between characters, can fit maybe 2 or 3 people

● Medium close-up- frames the subject from the chest up, balances the strength of the
Medium shot and the close up

● Close-up- Frames the subject’s face, attention to face allows subtle shifts in expression to
make a difference,

● Extreme close-up- Focuses on a small detail or object, makes small things appear
monumental, can make us focus more on abstract ideas

● Telephoto lens- Flattens space, minimizes depth, makes object appear closer

● Wide angle lens- Exaggerates distance, elongates depth

● Normal lens- Approximates the way the human eye perceives depth

● Rack Focus-

● Crane-

● Rule of Thirds- originated in painting and photography but can also apply to cinema,
balances and compelling composition created in units of 3, makes image more
aesthetically pleasing, can divide the image into thirds in depth as well

● Aspect ratio-

● Over-the-shoulder shot- Often used to simulate sight lines, camera placed over the
shoulder of someone looking at someone or something, analog for seeing point of view
without doing full POV shot, can be multiple characters

● Two shot- Two people occupy the frame and are given relatively equal attention, people
can technically be in the frame in background but not usually
● Camera movement-

● Stationary camera- Pan (turns the camera horizontally), tilt (turns the camera vertically),
zoom (changes focal length in order to magnify or demagnify the image)

● Moving camera- Truck (moves the camera horizontally), crane (moves the camera
vertically), dolly (moves the camera forwards or backwards)

● Shallow focus-

● Dolly-

● Focal length- Allows us to see the same shot type in different frames because of
relationship to background image and the subject, lens’s have different focal lengths

● Off-screen space-

● Medium close-up-

● Depth of field-

● Triangular composition-

● Tilt-

● Split focus-

● Academy ratio- 1 unit of height- 1.375 units of width

● Widescreen- 1 unit of height- 1.85 units of width aspect ratio, became more popular in
the past

● Anamorphic widescreen- 1 unit of height- 2.35 units of width, also called CinemaScope
or panavision

● Medium shot-

● Angles:
● Eye-level angle- About 5 or 6 feet above the ground at eye level of actor

● Low angle- Can make a character seem very powerful, menacing, or noble

● High angle- Can make a character seem vulnerable or weak depending on context

● Canted angle- Sometimes called Dutch angle or tilt, usually has some indication of an
off-kilter situation, camera is literally tilted, creates an unnatural point of view, may
convey a sense of the surreal or a comic sense of cartoonishness or a sense of the world
being out of balance

● Spatial relationship to scene- How we as an audience are visually situated within or

outside of the scene

● Focus-

● Rack focus- When we shift focus in the middle of a shot

● Depth of field- The range of depth in a shot that remains in focus

● Shallow focus- low depth of field,

● Deep focus- high depth of field, objects on multiple planes appear in focus
simultaneously, requires a lot of light

● Split focus- artificial depth of field, achieved through device called split field diopter

● Soft focus- gauzy effect used to make the subject of attention a little bit out of focus

● Off-screen space- what is not shown, can sometimes be just as important as what is
shown, don’t actually see what we want to look at, uses the audience’s imaginations to
make things seem like more than they are

● Composition-

● Aspect ratio- The ratio of the horizontal vs. vertical side of frame

● Imbalance-

● Montage:
- The juxtaposition or the assemblage of elements
- Another term for “editing”

● 5 Types of Editing:
1. Continuity editing
2. Parallel editing
3. Elliptical editing
4. Collision editing
5. Kinetic editing

● Continuity Editing:
- System of cutting meant to create the illusion of continuous time and space, also known
as invisible editing
- Primary purposes (maintain spatial perspective, maintain temporal continuity, and remain
“invisible” to the viewer)

● 180-Degree Rule- Staying on the same side in order to maintain consistent screen
direction, 180-degree action line on actors

● 30-Degree rule- Rule that says if you’re going to change the shot angle than you have to
make sure to change it by at least 30 degrees, otherwise might look like a jump cut

● Shot/Reverse Shot- When character A is looking left and character B is looking right,
switching between them creates a conversation facing each other

● Eyeline Match:
- Follows the characters off-screen gaze
- Similar to the shot/reverse shot

● Cutaways- Shots that are inserted into the main action to view something else

● Inserts- Close ups of a detail within the main action

● Cutting on Action:
- Shot A is the beginning of an action and shot B is the end of an action
- Editing matches the action between the two shots
- The action continues in the shots and bridges the two shots together

● Cutting on Dialogue:
- Shot A is the beginning of dialogue and shot B is the end of dialogue
- Editing matches the dialogue between the two shots
- The dialogue continues in the shots and bridges the two shots together, shots tend to flow
much more easily

● Ellipsis:
- Cutting out the boring parts
- Creates the illusion of continuity
- Cheats so that everything happens a bit faster (ex. Walking down a city block or going to
answer a door)

● Transgressing or Manipulating Continuity Editing:

- Reasons for breaking continuity rules (wants the audience to be confused or disoriented,
wants to make a conversation between characters feel awkward, or to suspend spatial

● Parallel Editing:
- Intercutting two or more separate lines of action, also known as cross-cutting
- Most commonly used to depict clips of actions that are happening simultaneously but in
different places
- Can also be used to depict clips of actions that are happening at different times

● Elliptical Editing:
- A technique used to compress time, also known as a hollywood montage or montage
- May show one continuous action happening faster than it would take or a bunch of
actions taking a longer time than they would take

● Collision Editing:
- Intercutting of footage in juxtaposition, also known as intellectual montage or soviet
montage (pioneered by Soviet filmmakers)
- Often discussed in opposition to Hollywood montage editing

● The Kuleshov Effect:

- Exact same shot A cut together with different shot B creates different meanings
● Eisenstein’s Theory:
- Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis
- Editing creates new ideas when combining shots that would not exist if it were not for the

● Kinetic Editing:
- Used to create movement, motion, or some other visceral sensation, also known as
rhythmic montage
- Creates a sense of rhythm that builds up to something and makes it more exciting
- Based on instinct, more gut level feeling for viewer rather than intellectual


● Wurlitzer- Piano that could play sound effects

● Benshi- Performer who would act out a film scene in person

● Star Wars (& its role in sound design):

- Made breakthroughs in sound design to create another world
- Made surround sound big so that sound could be felt just as much as heard

● Components of the Soundtrack:

- Sound Effects (volume, pitch & timbre, acoustic qualities, rhythm, and fidelity)
- Vocal Sound (voice, volume, pitch & timbre, acoustic qualities, and vocal characteristics)
- Music (the oldest type of sound associated with cinema, two types are source and
underscoring, volume, pitch & timbre, acoustics, patterns, lyrics, instrumentation, and
cultural significance)
- Silence (creates a sense of weightlessness, awkwardness, or emptiness)

● Sound Design:
- Helps define the world of the film (part of the mise-en-scene)
- Can be used in realist ways or expressionist ways
- Creates aural perspective
- Creates aural arrangement
- Functions just like imagery design in terms of mise-en-scene

● Pitch & Timbre- Describes the sound being heard

● Acoustics- Define the environment in which we are hearing a sound, volume plays part of
this as well

● Fidelity- The realism of sound effects

● Source Music:
- Music that is sourced in the scene (Ex. Someone turning on a radio)

● Underscoring:
- Does not exist in the film but goal is to emote the audience
- Audience is only meant to half notice it (known as one of cinema’s “unheard melodies”)

● Sound Mix:
- Different sounds being brought to the foreground or background
- Adjustments made to sound to compliment the film
- Important to sound to making special effects believable and helping the audience emote

● Interpretive Sound:
- Complimentary sound vs. Contradictory sound


● Film adaptations are highly common and often win awards (3/4ths of our best picture
winners are adaptations and sequels to adaptations)

● Adaptation and Fidelity:

- Literal/Strict adaptations (using a work as a screenplay, not changing much or taking as
many liberties, fan base often expects them to remain as true to the original(s) as
- Faithful adaptations (attempt to remain true to the spirit of the material but accepts that
there may be some changes, reinterpret the narrative in cinematic language
- Loose adaptations (retain the core elements of the original but feel no allegiance to the
original material)
- Radical adaptations (no expectation for the same story, takes the broad shape of a story
and redoes it)

● Medium:
- How a story is told (ex. Film, books, plays, TV shows)
- Part of the message of a story (affects the information we are receiving)
● Medium-Specificity- Each medium has its own borders and boundaries

● Books vs. Film:

- Description vs. depiction (telling vs. showing)
- Spatial freedom
- Narration
- Summary
- Temporal freedom
- Past-tense vs. present-tense

● Theatre vs. Film:

- Preserved performance of cinema vs. live performance of theatre
- Playing to the camera vs. playing to the audience
- Projection and stylization of stage acting vs. the meticulousness of screen acting
- “Body language” vs. dialogue
- Chronology vs. discontinuous process
- Dialogue
- Fixed vs. dynamic perspective
- Static vs. dynamic space
- Intimacy with characters
- Rigid time and space vs. flexible time and space


● Style- A consistent strategy of film elements that a filmmaker uses

● Degrees of Realism & Formalism:

- Italian neorealism (overtly realist)
- French poetic realism (heavily realist with some formalism)
- French new wave (heavily formalist with some realism)
- German expressionism (overtly formalist)

● Formalism:
- Styles which use their aesthetics in the forefront
- Draws attention to the camera or editing, or one basic aesthetic

● Italian Neorealism:
- Post-war film movement in Italy (but started during the war)
- An overt reaction to films used as propaganda
- Captured the physical devastation, moral degradation, poverty, and human suffering of
the war years and its aftermath
- Documentary-like in their ability to capture the harsh realities of post-war Italy
- Focused on working class and poor protagonists in the real world
- Addressed the breakdown of traditional social institutions

● Stylistic Conventions of Italian Neorealism:

- Slice-of-life stories including mundane details of daily routines (rather than a problem
that starts and resolves tidily)
- Location shooting
- Natural lighting
- Non-professional actors
- Vernacular dialogue with regional dialects
- Grainy black and white film stock
- Unobtrusive editing that respected an event’s actual duration

● French Poetic Realism:

- Emphasized the complex interplay between the individual and society (depicted
characters whose fates were determined by their social milieu)
- Setting is realistic in that it reproduces the experience of the lived world
- Setting is poetic in that it...

● Stylistic Conventions of French Poetic Realism:

- Realism (pessimistic, focus on downtrodden characters, strong sense of fatalism,
characterized by a strong sense of bitterness, disappointment, regret, and disillusionment,
social critiques of lower class conditions, and exhibit an ominous atmosphere of
pre-WWII France)
- Poetic (embellishment of aesthetics, romanticizing of lower class, sense of doomed love,
and an aestheticizing of squalor, recreated realism rather than social realism or street
realism, strong emphasis on mise-en-scene, heavy symbolism, and deep focus
photography and movement within the frame used to create 3D space)

● French New Wave (International Art Cinema):

- Created an author’s cinema (where the director held the same expressive and authorial
control as literary writer)
- Exaggerated style far beyond what a complacent audience had come to expect
- Made audience aware of film technique, constructed nature, and filmmaker’s function
- Pointed to cinema’s ability to capture reality
● Stylistic Conventions of French New Wave:
- Narrative (experimental ways of telling the story, episodic structures, deliberate and
transgressive use of genre, sudden shifts in mood)
- Mise-en-scene (thematic use of color, nontraditional lighting, extensive use of location)
- Cinematography (split and decentered framing, off-screen space, lenses of varying focal
- Performance (improvised dialogue, deliberately artificial performance)
- Editing (jump and shock cutting, alternating long takes with montage)
- Sound (eclectic use of music, source music slapped over image rather than directed into
image, use of music to created choreographed passages)

● German Expressionism:
- Emergence of German art flourishing
- Social conditions were right for artistic achievement after WWI and expressionism was
- Uses mise-en-scene to convey extreme states of subjectivity
- Expresses interiority of film’s subject
- Unified and solidified German film industry
- Ex. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligary (filmed to look like an expressionist painting)

● Stylistic Conventions of German Expressionism:

- Angular, hallucinatory, violently emotional imagery
- Chiaroscuro lighting
- Diagonal lines, jagged shapes, distortion, set design irregularity
- Oblique and canted camera angles
- Distorted bodies with mechanical, abrupt, or explosive acting

● Rules of Dogme 95:

- Shooting must be done on location
- Sound must never be produced apart of the images or vice versa
- Camera must be hand-held
- Must be in color (special lighting not acceptable, if there is too little light scene must be
cut or single lamp attached to front of camera may be used)
- Optical work and filters are forbidden
- Must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc.)
- Temporal and geographical alienation forbidden (film takes place here and now)
- Genre movies not acceptable
- Format must be academy 35 mm
- Director must not be credited

● Classical Hollywood Style:

- Straightforward 3-act structure
- Omniscient perspective
- Clear plot
- Transitivity (the viewer doesn’t need to do any work, film carries through story)
- Easily reducible themes
- Socially affirmative
- Generically redundant (easy to understand and follow, know what happens/know basic
- Pleasurable experience

● Stylistic Conventions of Classical Hollywood Style:

- Transparency (the effacement of formal technique, formal elements “erase themselves”
by seeming natural and thus going unnoticed)
- Mise-en-scene designed to be relevant to the story
- Cinematography (centers on human body and keeps action front and center)
- Performance (naturalistic and upholds recognizable star personas)
- Editing (“invisible editing,” changes in perspective feel natural, is a seamless experience)
- Sound design (centers on human voices and sound effects that contribute to realism and
music underscores emotional impact)

● Idealized Realism:
- Created by classical Hollywood style
- World is homogenous, larger-than-life, and idealized
- Adheres to and upholds societal social norms (heterosexual romance central, good and
evil clear cut, and dominant ideologies and social order reaffirmed)
- Endings are reassuring
- World is meaningful

● Film Noir:
- Dark black and white films
- Often adaptations of novels
- Focus on anti-heros, paranoia, psychosis
- Create a sense of claustrophobia and pessimism

● The Hollywood Renaissance (New Hollywood):

- 1960s filmmaking movement

● 10 Things to Remember About Genre:

1. Not all films are genre films (movies don’t have to follow a generic narrative formula)
2. Amorphous and intangible (lacking strict definitions, generalizations can be made, do not
have concrete borders, and boundaries are nebulous and permeable)
3. Genres are not stable (change over time just like a language, frequently redefined)
4. Genres often fragment into subtypes (subgenres)
5. Genres are used as an alternative to a name-brand (offer simple, straightforward
packaging that tells you what the movie is going to be about)
6. Genres can function as an ingredient just as readily as a whole recipe (strategy for
reaching the broadest possible audience)
7. Genres are not only filmmaking formulas, but viewing strategies
8. Genres are communal experiences (create implicit connections between the fans who
enjoy them, shared common ground, and awareness that there are other people out there
who enjoy a certain genre)
9. Genres are cultural artifacts (films speak for society at large at different times, genres
made by people through the culture of the box office, and genres act as cultural myths)
10. Filmmakers can self-consciously explore genres through experimentation,
deconstruction, and revision

● Why Genre is Used:

- Viewers know what to expect (wouldn’t buy an item without knowing what it does first)
- Lets you know how the movie is trying to impact the consumer
- Makes movies easier to produce, design, and market (genres often bring in a pre-made
- Provides familiarity and uniqueness for the audience
- Makes the viewers job much easier when watching (have a general idea of what to expect
from the story)
- Repetition breeds quality (filmmakers can stick with a genre’s formula)

● Genre Myths (Commonalities):

- Story
- Thematic concerns
- Settings
- Characters

● Genre Conventions:
- Style & formal techniques (Ex. elliptical montages in sports films, dreary, normal, setting
in domestic melodrama, war films shot documentary style for realism)
- Narrative tropes (Ex. evil villain acting on an evil plan, hero’s progression and
- Spectacle (type of content typically drawn out from what is specifically necessary to the
- Affect & tone (the way that genre films make us feel, Ex. horror films scare us, romance
films make our hearts ache and swell, comedies make us laugh)

● Genre Iconography- Recognizable visual and aural elements (announces to the viewer
that this is a genre film and what to expect, Ex. robots = science fiction, blood = horror

● Assembly-line filmmaking

● Instability of genre

● Subgenres- Subtypes of genres (Ex. horror = slasher, comedy = slapstick)

● Genre as viewing

● Genre as command experience

● Genre as vehicle- Using a popular genre as a platform for serious issues (means of
conveying social critiques)

● Demythologization- To destroy or undermine a myth and show that it is false (subverts

the genre, critically asks the audience why they believe in certain things)

● Parody- Making fun of or celebrating a genre by showing the ridiculousness of a myth

(similar to demythologization in its intent)

● Nostalgia & Reaffirmation- Returning to and reaffirming a certain type of genre (often
occurs after the genre has gone through a deconstructive phase, genre is embraced)

● Hybridity- Combining the characteristics of two or more genres (creates something new
by combining the old)

● Musicals:
- Originated with the coming of sound in movies
- Was a spectacle when they first originated
- Musical numbers, light dance numbers, and backstage subplot give characters something
to sing about
- Give lavish, elegant settings
- Common numbers (lover’s duet, grand finale, and reprise)
- Allow for escapism through a blurring of reality and artificiality

● Typical Plots of Musicals (often times the plots combine)

- Making a musical show
- Striving for fame & fortune, making it big and becoming a star
- Romance plot


● Aesthetic Periods of Hollywood:

- Developmental stages (1895 to late 1920s)
- Classical Hollywood (late 1920s to late 1940s)
- Postclassical Hollywood (late 1940s to late 1960s)
- Modernist Hollywood (late 1960s to late 1970s)
- Postmodern Hollywood (late 1970s to present)

● Aesthetic Periods of Painting:

- Developmental stages (prehistoric/ancient art and medieval art Ex. hieroglyphics and
cave paintings)
- Classicism (renaissance art, post-renaissance portraiture, and historic paintings)
- Postclassicism (romanticism (paintings that convey emotion), impressionism, and
- Modernism (abstract expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and rejection of the classical
- Postmodernism (irony, nostalgia, meta-art, pop art, collage and combine painting, and
street art)

● Characteristics of Classicism:
- Idealized narrative realism
- Transparent deployment of form

● Characteristics of Modernism:
- Self-conscious engagement with traditional social norms and values
- Deliberate subversion of classical formal strategies

● Classicism:
- Homogenous world (world is singular and consistent and oppositions can be broken into
simple binaries)
- Universal truth (truth is strict, plain, and clear, can be agreed upon by all, suggests that
there is a universal answer to everything)
- Natural law ethic (one universal social order exists governed by societally accepted codes
of morality)
- Causality (direct cause and effect relationship dictates the chain of events)
- Transitivity (stories follow through with a beginning, middle, and end)
- Plot (films adhere to the traditional elements of plot, Ex. causality, suspense, and unity)
- Omniscient point of view (point of view remains relatively objective and we are given
everything we need to know when we need to know it)
- Single protagonist (narratives are driven by a single character)
- Identification with characters (audiences are brought inside by a sympathetic connection
to the protagonist and other characters)
- Closure (all loose threads are tied up in a narratively satisfactory resolution)
- Transparency (formal elements erase themselves by seeming natural and thus going
unnoticed and aesthetic qualities are effaced)
- Closed texture (film remains a closed text and does not engage with sources outside of
- Affirmation (obeys and upholds classical genres, myths, beliefs, and norms)
- Pleasure (audience’s experience is characterized by comfort and passivity)

● Modernism:
- Heterogeneous world (world is comprised of many disparate elements)
- Relativity (truth is based in relativity but the truth is not necessarily absent)
- Situational ethic (morality is relative and often based on mutual reciprocity and
individual circumstances)
- Coincidence (chance and happenstance are the fabric of existence)
- Intransitivity (story is fragmented and obstructing follow through with disruptions,
chapter breaks, and ruptures in space/time)
- Absence of plot (traditional elements of plot are manipulated or rejected)
- Selective point of view (subjectivity dominates providing an individual perspective or
switching between multiple points of view and we are not told which is the correct
- Multiple protagonists (narratives are driven by multiple characters)
- Distance from characters (audiences are kept outside and identification is obstructed,
characters are archetypal, satirical, and/or alienating)
- Open-endedness (narrative threads are left open and unresolved and audience is left
asking questions)
- Reflexivity (film shows itself by referencing the filmmaking process or self-consciously
engaging with formal properties)
- Intertextuality (film goes outside of itself using the conventions, structures, and materials
of other films and/or other discourses)
- Deconstruction (experiments with and deconstructs popular myths, beliefs, norms, and
- Confrontation (audience is alienated and forced to be active)


● Classical:
- Makes you believe
- Makes you invest

● Modernism:
- Backlash
- Frustration
- Innovation
- Experimentation

● Postmodernism:
- Embrace of artifice
- Cynical
- Aesthetic does not have a strong regard for reality (mixing eras, media, unrealistic
worlds, and physics)

● Elements of Postmodernism:
- Bricolage (using whatever is available to create something new or a combination of
already existing media that ends up being original by itself)
- Collapse of high and low culture (collapsed distinction between distinguished elite and
low and embraced “trash,” culture)
- Pastiche (imitation of previous works, empty intertextuality, overt manner of directly
referencing things, and using recognizable images to gain recognition of thematic
- Simulacra (imitating an imitation, a copy of another copy, or representation of
representations, distinction between reality and its representation is blurred, and
representation precedes the original defined through the signs that represent it)
- Nostalgia (longing for an idealized past, looking back at memories, another form of
escapism, and target audience isn’t the people who actually lived through that era but
younger people who only know it through representations)
- Hyperreality and Altered reality (taking place within an alternate, virtual, or magical
reality, facilitated by breakthroughs in technology and special effects, and emphasis on
- Metafiction (self-awareness of being in a fictional world)
- Narrative games and playfulness (audience reinterprets things they see, plays mind
games, audience has to play along to figure it out, and/or mistaken premise)
- Irony, cyniscism, and flattening of affect (consuming pop culture not for genuine
enjoyment but being self conscious and ironic about it)
- “Schizophrenic” experience

● High Concept Film- Asserting a highly compelling premise in a very short pitch

● 3 Parts of High Concept Film:

1. The look (key high-gloss images, compelling visual style, distinctive visuals that can be
exploited in advertising, and can be used in posters, still images in magazines, and on the
2. The hook (marketing hooks such as stars, genre, tagline, poster, teaser, trailer, toys,
merch, amusement park rides, can be released simultaneously as multiple things, all
materials feed back on each other, and why some movies referred to as a franchise)
3. The book (easily reducable narrative, very easy to summarize, and simple characters,
plots, etc.)


● Avant-garde- Film at the extreme ends of modernism

● 3 Principles of Avant-Garde:
1. Experimentation (exploring the capabilities of cinema and rejecting narrative cinema to
see what else the material can do)
2. Subversion (questioning orthodoxies and often works in service of political or
philosophical expression)
3. Expression (using cinema as a tool of self-expression, Ex. avant-garde filmmakers break
away from the mainstream)
● 2 Avant-Garde Strategies:
1. Abstract form (rejects representational meaning for the abstraction of color, shape, size,
and movement and often organized around theme and variation)
2. Associational form (creates associations by grouping or juxtaposing images and/or
sounds that lack an immediate logical connection, thesis + antithesis = synthesis, and
often organized around metaphors and conceptual links)

● Surrealism:

● Documentary:
- The creative treatment of actuality
- Logic organizing a documentary film supports an underlying argument, assertion, or
claim about the historical world

● Rhetorical Strategies of Documentary:

- Actuality footage
- Voice of authority
- Talking heads
- Director participation
- Direct cinema
- Compilation (compiled footage of subject’s own videos)
- Reflexivity
- Re-enactment

● Propaganda films

● Voice of authority

● Direct cinema

● Re-enactment