 Difficulty lies in the need to remain totally
“immersed in the experience of the film while
also sustaining some level of objectivity and
 Types of Viewing: Single viewing, double viewing, or
going back and re-watching key scenes
 Ideal Viewing: Double Viewing (After you see the
film once and understand what happens and the
overall purpose, the second viewing allows you to
begin analyzing particular elements and “see”
more in the film.)
 Theme: The central purpose of the film
(plot, character, emotional effect, style,
 Questions to help determine theme:
 What is the director’s purpose or
primary aim in making the film?
 What is the true subject of the film;
and what kind of statement, if any,
does the film make about the subject?
The Relationship of the
Parts to the Whole
 After identifying the theme, the viewer will then
go back and analyze the different elements of film:
story, dramatic structure, symbolism,
characterization, conflict, setting, title, irony,
cinematography, editing, film type and size, sound
effects, dialogue, the musical score, the acting, the
film’s overall style.
 Questions: How do all the separate elements of
the film relate to and contribute to the theme,
central purpose, or total effect?
The Film’s Level of Ambition
 We should judge a film based on what the
film/director has set out to do. The viewer needs
to adjust expectations of the film based on the
film’s ambition.
 It is unfair to judge a comedic film against a
serious dramatic epic. These two films have
different levels of ambition (Example:You should
not judge the ambition of Superbad against
Shindler’s List.)
 Important Questions: What is the film’s level of
ambition? What have the filmmaker's set out to
Objective Evaluation of the Film
 First Step: Given the film’s level of ambition,
how well does the film succeed in what it tries
to do?
 “In order to answer this question, the
viewer must go back and review the
effectiveness of all the other cinematic
elements in light of its ambition.”
 Second Step: Why does the film succeed or
fail? Why and Where?
Objective Evaluation, cont.
 Third Step: Which elements or parts make
the strongest contribution to the theme
and why? Which elements or parts fail to
function effectively? Why do they fail?
 Caution: Do not be overly critical or
focused on small, inconsequential technical
Subjective Evaluation
 As human beings, it is impossible to remain
completely unbiased and objective in our
evaluation of a film. Our experiences,
beliefs, personalities will invariably affect
our judgment and our reaction to a film.
 Question to guide Subjective Evaluation:
What is our personal reaction to the film?
What are our personal reasons for liking or
disliking it?

Chapter 12 Watching, Analyzing, Evaluating