Film Form notes

English 299, Film as Narrative Art/Kelley
Form—Structure, shape, Narrative elements, Stylistic elements
Form vs. Content a false dichotomy/ no “inside or outside”
“Everything is there”—things are in a film for a reason
Formal expectations and patterns, such as ABA, ABAC, ABACA, etc.
 Repetition
 Suspense
 Surprise
 Curiosity
Forms and Feeling: emotions represented vs. emotions felt
Form and Meaning:
 Referential meaning—tangible, bare bones: films refers to things or places
already invested with significance; often establishes subject matter
 Explicit meaning—“moral of story,” what characters learn, stated in film/story
 Implicit meaning—issues, ideas, characters’ change, growth, development—
 Symptomatic meaning—values, social ideology, work as part of broad context of
society, illustrating themes prevalent in world or in creator’s life
Function—Motivation, foreshadowing, character development, “message”
 Similarity & Repetition
 Difference & Variation
 Development
 Unity vs. Disunity—closure/open-ended
Content—Story subject, point of view, “meaning”
A chain of events in a cause/effect relationship occurring in time & space
“Plot”==”the film,” according to text—What we actually see in the film
Diegetic (part of story) & Non-Diegetic (not part of story)
“Story”: Includes all events in the “story world”: whether depicted, referred to, or only
implied by plot
 Cause & Effect
 Characters—Events—actions upon each other
 Time
 Order (flashbacks, flashfowards)—Frequency—Duration (story, plot, screen)
 Space
 Story space—Plot space—(Also, screen or frame space)
 Openings (in medias res, setups), Closings, Development patterns: Change in
knowledge; goal-driven plot; searches; “Unities” of time and/or space
Narration—flow of narrative information; not the same as “narrator”
 Range & Depth of story information
 Omniscient—viewer knows much or all
 Limited—viewer follows one or more characters
 Mixed—changes back and forth
Diegesis—The narrative, or story being related
Diegetic—part of the story’s world
Non-dietetic—does not exist in the story world even though we can see or hear it in the
film (titles, background music, some insert shots, etc.)
Deus ex machine
MISE EN SCENE—What appears in the scene itself
 Realism vs. stylization
 Setting
 Art Direction/Set Design & decoration, props
 Costumes and makeup—appropriateness to characters, time period, setting, mood,
 Lighting—quality—direction—source—color--“three-point” lighting style
 Figure Expression & Movement—Staging (“Blocking”)—Acting