LOOKING AT MOVIES
LOOKING AT MOVIES RICHARD BARSAM & DAVE MONAHAN
AN INTRODUCTION TO FILM
W.W. NORTON & COMPANY B
RICHARD BARSAM (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is Professor Emeritus of Film Studies at Hunter College, City Univer- sity of New York. He is the author of Nonfiction Film: A Critical History (rev. and exp. ed., 1992), The Vision of Rob- ert Flaherty: The Artist as Myth and Filmmaker (1988), In the Dark: A Primer for the Movies (1977), and Filmguide to Triumph of the Will (1975); editor of Nonfiction Film: Theory and Criticism (1976); and contributing author to Paul Monaco’s The Sixties: 1960–1969 (Vol. 8 in the History of the American Cinema series, 2001) and Filming Robert Flaherty’s Louisiana Story: The Helen van Dongen Diary (ed. Eva Orbanz, 1998). His articles and book reviews have appeared in Cinema Journal, Quarterly Review of Film Studies, Film Comment, Studies in Visual Com- munication, and Harper’s. He has been a member of the Executive Council of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the Editorial Board of Cinema Journal, and he cofounded the journal Persistence of Vision.
DAVE MONAHAN (M.F.A., Columbia University) is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. His work as a writer, director, and editor includes Things Grow (2010), Ringo (2005), Monkey Junction (2004), Prime Time (1996), and Angels Watching Over Me (1993). His work has been screened internationally in over fifty film festivals and has earned numerous awards, including the New Line Cinema Award for Most Original Film (Prime Time) and the Seattle International Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Best Animated Short Film (Ringo).
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
To Students xvii Preface xix Acknowledgments xxiii
CHAPTER 1 Looking at Movies 1 Learning Objectives 2
Looking at Movies 2 What Is a Movie? 3 The Movie Director 5
Ways of Looking at Movies 6 Invisibility and Cinematic Language 6 Cultural Invisibility 10 Implicit and Explicit Meaning 11 Viewer Expectations 13 Formal Analysis 14 Alternative Approaches to Analysis 19 Cultural and Formal Analysis in The Hunger Games 22 Analyzing Looking at Movies 32 Screening Checklist: Looking at Movies 33 Questions for Review 34 Student Resources Online 34
CHAPTER 2 Principles of Film Form 35 Learning Objectives 36
Film Form 36 Form and Content 36
Form and Expectations 39 Patterns 41 Fundamentals of Film Form 45 Movies Depend on Light 45 Movies Provide an Illusion of Movement 46 Movies Manipulate Space and Time in Unique Ways 48
Realism and Antirealism 55 Verisimilitude 58
Cinematic Language 59
Looking at Film Form: Donnie Darko 61 Content 61 Expectations 61 Patterns 62 Manipulating Space 63 Manipulating Time 64 Realism, Antirealism, and Verisimilitude 64 Analyzing Principles of Film Form 65 Screening Checklist: Principles of Film Form 65 Questions for Review 66 Student Resources Online 66
CHAPTER 3 Types of Movies 67 Learning Objectives 68
The Idea of Narrative 68
Types of Movies 71 Narrative Movies 72 Documentary Movies 73 Experimental Movies 77
Hybrid Movies 83
Genre 85 Genre Conventions 88
Story Formulas 88 Theme 89 Character Types 89 Setting 89 Presentation 89 Stars 90
Six Major American Genres 91 Gangster 91 Film Noir 93 Science Fiction 96 Horror 99 The Western 102 The Musical 105
Evolution and Transformation of Genre 108
What about Animation? 111
Looking at the Types of Movies in The Lego Movie 115 Analyzing Types of Movies 119 Screening Checklist: Types of Movies 119 Questions for Review 120 Student Resources Online 120
CHAPTER 4 Elements of Narrative 121 Learning Objectives 122
What Is Narrative? 122 Characters 126 Narrative Structure 130
The Screenwriter 135
Elements of Narrative 136 Story and Plot 136 Order 141 Events 142 Duration 143 Suspense versus Surprise 147 Repetition 148 Setting 148 Scope 149
Looking at Narrative: John Ford’s Stagecoach 150 Story, Screenwriter, and Screenplay 150 Narration and Narrator 152 Characters 153 Narrative Structure 153 Plot 154
Order 154 Diegetic and Nondiegetic Elements 154 Events 155 Duration 155 Repetition 155
Suspense 155 Setting 157 Scope 159 Analyzing Elements of Narrative 161 Screening Checklist: Elements of Narrative 161 Questions for Review 162 Student Resources Online 162
CHAPTER 5 Mise-en-Scène 163 Learning Objectives 164
What Is Mise-en-Scène? 164
Design 173 The Production Designer 173 Elements of Design 176
Setting, Decor, and Properties 177 Lighting 179 Costume, Makeup, and Hairstyle 181
International Styles of Design 188
Composition 196 Framing: What We See on the Screen 197
On-screen and Offscreen Space 197 Open and Closed Framing 199
Kinesis: What Moves on the Screen 202 Movement of Figures within the Frame 203
Looking at Mise-en-Scène 204 Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow 204 Analyzing Mise-en-Scène 209 Screening Checklist: Mise-en-Scène 209 Questions for Review 210 Student Resources Online 210
CHAPTER 6 Cinematography 211 Learning Objectives 212
What Is Cinematography? 212
The Director of Photography 212
Cinematographic Properties of the Shot 215 Film Stock 215
Black and White 217 Color 219
Lighting 222 Source 222 Quality 223 Direction 223 Color 227
Framing of the Shot 233 Implied Proximity to the Camera 235
Shot Types 236 Depth 238 Camera Angle and Height 242
Eye Level 243 High Angle 243 Low Angle 245 Dutch Angle 246 Aerial View 247
Scale 247 Camera Movement 248
Pan Shot 249 Tilt Shot 249 Dolly Shot 249 Zoom 251 Crane Shot 251 Handheld Camera 254 Steadicam 254
Framing and Point of View 255
Speed and Length of the Shot 258
Special Effects 261 In-Camera, Mechanical, and Laboratory Effects 262 Computer-Generated Imagery 263
Looking at Cinematography: Richard Linklater's Boyhood 265 Analyzing Cinematography 269 Screening Checklist: Cinematography 269 Questions for Review 270 Student Resources Online 270
CHAPTER 7 Acting 271 Learning Objectives 272
What Is Acting? 272 Movie Actors 273
The Evolution of Screen Acting 279 Early Screen-Acting Styles 279 D. W. Griffith and Lillian Gish 279 The Influence of Sound 281 Acting in the Classical Studio Era 282 Method Acting 286 Screen Acting Today 287 Technology and Acting 292
Casting Actors 293 Factors Involved in Casting 294
Aspects of Performance 295 Types of Roles 295 Preparing for Roles 297 Naturalistic and Nonnaturalistic Styles 299 Improvisational Acting 301 Directors and Actors 302
How Filmmaking Affects Acting 303 Framing, Composition, Lighting, and the Long Take 304 The Camera and the Close-Up 307 Acting and Editing 308
Looking at Acting 309 Looking at Acting: Michelle Williams 311 Analyzing Acting 315 Screening Checklist: Acting 315 Questions for Review 316 Student Resources Online 316
CHAPTER 8 Editing 317 Learning Objectives 318
What Is Editing? 318
The Film Editor 320 The Editor’s Responsibilities 323
Spatial Relationships between Shots 323 Temporal Relationships between Shots 324 Rhythm 329
Major Approaches to Editing: Continuity and Discontinuity 333 Conventions of Continuity Editing 336
Master Scene Technique 337 Screen Direction 337
Editing Techniques That Maintain Continuity 342 Shot/Reverse Shot 342 Match Cuts 342 Parallel Editing 345 Point-of-View Editing 347
Other Transitions between Shots 348 The Jump Cut 348 Fade 349 Dissolve 349 Wipe 350 Iris Shot 351 Freeze-Frame 351 Split Screen 352
Looking at Editing 353 Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund’s City of God 357 Analyzing Editing 361 Screening Checklist: Editing 361 Questions for Review 362 Student Resources Online 362
CHAPTER 9 Sound 363 Learning Objectives 364
What Is Sound? 364
Sound Production 366 Design 366 Recording 367 Editing 368 Mixing 368
Describing Film Sound 369 Pitch, Loudness, Quality 369 Fidelity 370
Sources of Film Sound 371 Diegetic versus Nondiegetic 371 On-screen versus Offscreen 372 Internal versus External 373
Types of Film Sound 374 Vocal Sounds 374 Environmental Sounds 376 Music 378 Silence 383 Types of Sound in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds 385
Functions of Film Sound 389 Audience Awareness 389 Audience Expectations 390 Expression of Point of View 391 Rhythm 392 Characterization 394 Continuity 394 Emphasis 395
Looking at (and Listening to) Sound in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane 397 Sources and Types 398 Functions 398 Characterization 400 Themes 401 Analyzing Sound 402 Screening Checklist: Sound 402 Questions for Review 403 Student Resources Online 403
CHAPTER 10 Film History 405 Learning Objectives 406
What Is Film History? 406
Basic Approaches to Studying Film History 407 The Aesthetic Approach 407 The Technological Approach 407 The Economic Approach 408 The Social History Approach 408
A Short Overview of Film History 409 Precinema 409
Photography 409 Series Photography 410
1891–1903: The First Movies 411 1908–1927: Origins of the Classical Hollywood Style—The Silent Period 414 1919–1931: German Expressionism 418 1918–1930: French Avant-Garde Filmmaking 420 1924–1930: The Soviet Montage Movement 421
1927–1947: Classical Hollywood Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age 424 1942–1951: Italian Neorealism 428 1959–1964: French New Wave 430
1947–Present: New Cinemas in Great Britain, Europe, and Asia 433 England and the Free Cinema Movement 434 Denmark and the Dogme 95 Movement 435 Germany and Austria 436 Japan 437 China 440
The People’s Republic 440 Hong Kong 441 Taiwan 442
India 442 Contemporary Middle Eastern and North African Cinema 444
Algeria 444 Egypt 444 Iraq 444 Iran 444 Israel 445 Lebanon 445 Palestine 445
Latin American Filmmaking 445 Argentina 445 Brazil 445 Cuba 446 Mexico 446
1965–1995: The New American Cinema 447
Looking at Citizen Kane and Its Place in Film History 452 Analyzing Film History 454 Screening Checklist: Film History 454 Questions for Review 455
CHAPTER 11 How the Movies Are Made 457 Learning Objectives 458
Money, Methods, and Materials: The Whole Equation 458
Film and Digital Technologies: An Overview 460 Film Technology 460 Digital Technology 463 Film versus Digital Technology 464
How a Movie Is Made 466 Preproduction 466 Production 467 Postproduction 468
The Studio System 468 Organization before 1931 468 Organization after 1931 469 Organization during the Golden Age 471 The Decline of the Studio System 473
The Independent System 474 Labor and Unions 476 Professional Organizations and Standardization 476
Financing in the Industry 477
Marketing and Distribution 479
Production in Hollywood Today 483 Audience Demographics 485 Franchises 485 LGBT Movies 486 African American Movies 487 Foreign Influences on Hollywood Films 487 Looking at the Future of the Film Industry 487 Thinking about How the Movies Are Made 490 Screening Checklist: How the Movies Are Made 490 Questions for Review 491
Glossary 493 Permissions Acknowledgments 507 Index 511
The movies, born in 1891, have flourished for 124 years, yet there have always been those who believed that they were a passing fancy, or a poor cousin of the more tradi- tional arts like literature, painting, architecture, dance, and music. In 1996, shortly after cinema’s one hun- dredth birthday, cultural pundit Susan Sontag mused on the state of the art:
Cinema’s 100 years seem to have the shape of a life cycle: an inevitable birth, the steady accumulation of glories and the onset in the last decade of an ignominious, irre- versible decline. . . . the commercial cinema has settled for a policy of bloated, derivative film-making, a brazen combinatory or recombinatory art, in the hope of repro- ducing past successes. Cinema, once heralded as the art of the 20th century, seems now, as the century closes nu- merically, to be a decadent art.1
Yet, 60 years before that, the art historian Erwin Panofsky had a very different insight into the movies as a form of popular art:
If all the serious lyrical poets, composers, painters and sculptors were forced by law to stop their activities, a rather small fraction of the general public would become aware of the fact and a still smaller fraction would seri- ously regret it. If the same thing were to happen with the movies the social consequences would be catastrophic.2
Both, of course, were right. The commercial cinema, driven by the box office, has not fulfilled the promise of cinema’s potential, yet today, we would hardly know what to do without movies. They are a major presence in our lives, and an influential beneficiary of our techno- logical age. Since their invention more than a hundred years ago, movies have become one of the world’s largest industries and the most powerful art form of our time.
1. Susan Sontag, “The Decay of Cinema,” The New York Times, Feb. 25, 1996. 2. Erwin Panofsky, “Style and Medium in the Motion Pictures,” in Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, ed. Leo Braudy and Mar-
shall Cohen, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 280.
With each new technological development—sound, color, widescreen projection, television, 3-D, computer- generated imagery, DVDs, internet streaming, and dig- itization of the filmmaking process—the movies have changed. Indeed, looking at movies (and the audience that looks at them) has changed as well. Traditionally, we saw movies in a theater, separated from the outside world—although it was a communal experience, sitting in the dark on seats fixed to the floor and a huge image screen. Today, we see movies wherever we happen to be; with whomever we want to be with (but usually alone); standing with a handheld device, curled up on a sofa, or sitting at a desk; and usually with the lights on. The image can be as large as a home theater or as small as a smartphone screen.
A source of entertainment that makes us see beyond the borders of our experiences, movies have always pos- sessed the power to amaze, frighten, and enlighten us. They challenge our senses, emotions, and sometimes, our intellect; pushing us to say, often passionately, that we love (or hate) them. It’s easy to get excited by movies because they arouse our most public and private feel- ings and can overwhelm us with their sights and sounds. The challenge is to combine that enthusiasm with un- derstanding, to be able to say why we feel so strongly about particular movies while others are easily forgot- ten. That’s one reason why this book encourages you to go beyond the stories, and to understand how these stories are told. After all, movies are not reality but only illusions of reality, and as with most works of art, their form and content work as an interrelated system, one that asks us to accept it as a given rather than as the product of a process. As you read this book devoted to looking at movies—that is, not passively watching them but actively considering the relation of their form and their content—remember that there is no one way to look at film, no one critical perspective that is inherently better than another, and no one meaning that you can insist on after a single viewing. Indeed, movies are so di- verse in their nature that no single approach could ever do them justice.
xviii To Students
No other art form has had so many lives. The cinema is alive because it is constantly changing as it adapts to technological advances and audience expectations. Cin- ema evolves because everything we see on the movie screen—everything that engages our senses, emotions, and minds—results from hundreds of decisions affect- ing the interrelation of formal cinematic elements, such as narrative, composition, cinematography, editing, and sound, as well as the influence of film producers whose financial decisions determine which films are made and whose advertising decisions make audiences desire what’s new. Audiences in turn encourage new trends with their ticket purchases and habits of consumption. This book encourages you to look at movies with an un- derstanding and appreciation of how filmmakers make the decisions that help them tell a story and create the foundation for its meaning. After all, in the real life of the movies, it is not historians, theorists, or critics—
important and invaluable as they are—but filmmakers who continually shape and revise our understanding and appreciation of the film art.
If Susan Sontag were alive today, she would prob- ably still lament the decline of thoughtful content in movies. But in an industry driven by what the public wants, the movies are doing just fine, and their formal elements, history, business practices, and cultural im- pact remain fruitful fields for further study. So even as the technology for making movies continues to evolve, and the marketplace in which they are created grows and contracts and expands internationally, the princi- ples of film art covered in this book remain essentially the same. The principles you learn and the analytic skills you hone as you read this book will help you look at mo- tion pictures intelligently and perceptively throughout your life, no matter from which medium you view those pictures.
Students in an introductory film course who read Look- ing at Movies carefully and take full advantage of the ma- terials surrounding the text will finish the course with a solid grounding in the major principles of film form as well as a more perceptive and analytic eye. A short de- scription of the book’s main features follows.
An Accessible and Comprehensive Overview of Film
Recognized from its first publication as an accessible in- troductory text, Looking at Movies covers key concepts in films studies as comprehensively as possible. In ad- dition to its clear and inviting presentation of the fun- damentals of film form, the text discusses film genres, film history, and the relationships between film and culture in an extensive but characteristically accessible way, thus providing students with a thorough introduc- tion to the major subject areas in film studies.
Film Examples Chosen with Undergraduates in Mind
From its very first chapter, which features sustained anal- yses and examples from The Hunger Games and Jason Reitman’s Juno (2009), Looking at Movies invites stu- dents into the serious study of cinema via films that are familiar to them and that they have a reasonable chance of having experienced outside the classroom prior to tak- ing the course. Major film texts from the entire history of cinema are also generously represented, of course, but al- ways with an eye to helping students see enjoyment and serious study as complementary experiences.
A Focus on Analytic Skills
A good introductory film book needs to help students make the transition from the natural enjoyment of mov-
ies to a critical understanding of the form, content, and meanings of movies. Looking at Movies accomplishes this task in several different ways:
Model Analyses Hundreds of illustrative examples and analytic readings of films throughout the book provide students with con- crete models for their own analytic work. The sustained analyses in Chapter 1 of Juno and The Hunger Games— films that most undergraduates will have seen and en- joyed but perhaps not viewed with a critical eye—discuss not only the formal structures and techniques of these films, but also their social and cultural meanings. These analyses offer students an accessible and jargon-free introduction to most of the major themes and goals of introductory film course, and show students that look- ing at movies analytically can start immediately, even before they learn the specialized vocabulary of film study.
Each chapter also concludes with an in-depth “Look- ing at Movies” analysis that offers a sustained look at an exemplar film through the lens of the chapter’s focus. New analyses of Donnie Darko, The Lego Movie, and Boy- hood join existing chapter summations on Citizen Kane, Stagecoach, and City of" God to provide clear models for students’ own analyses and interpretations of films.
Interactive Tutorials New interactive tutorials created by the authors pro - vide students with hands-on practice manipulating key concepts of filmmaking and formal analysis. Stu- dents can work at their own pace to see how elements such as lighting, sound, editing, composition, and color function within a film. Available in the ebook and on the Looking at Movies student website, both found at digital .wwnorton.com/movies5.
Video Tutorials A series of video tutorials—written, directed, and hosted by the authors—complement and expand on the book’s analyses. Ranging from 2 to 15 minutes in length, these
tutorials show students via moving-image media what the book describes and illustrates in still images. Help - ful as a quick review of core concepts in the text, these tutorials also provide useful models for film analysis, thus helping students further develop their analytical skills. Available in the ebook and on the Looking at Movies student website, both found at digital.wwnorton .com/movies5.
“Screening Checklists” Each chapter ends with an “Analyzing” section that in cludes a “Screening Checklist” feature. This series of leading questions prompts students to apply what they’ve learned in the chapter to their own critical view- ing, in class or at home.
The Most Visually Dynamic Text Available
Looking at Movies was written with one goal in mind: to prepare students for a lifetime of intelligent and per- ceptive viewing of motion pictures. In recognition of the central role visuals play in the film-studies classroom, Looking at Movies includes an illustration program that is both visually appealing and pedagogically focused, as well as an accompanying moving-image media that are second to none.
Hundreds of In-Text Illustrations The text is accompanied by over 750 illustrations in color and in black and white. Nearly all the still pictures were captured from digital or analog film sources, thus en- suring that the images directly reflect the textual dis- cussions and the films from which they’re taken. Unlike publicity stills, which are attractive as photographs but less useful as teaching aids, the captured stills through- out this book provide visual information that will help students learn as they read and—because they are re- produced in the aspect ratio of the original source—will serve as accurate reference points for students’ analyses.
Five Hours of Moving-Image Media The ebook and student website that accompany Looking at Mov ies offer five hours of two different types of video content:
The twenty-seven video tutorials described above were specifically created to complement Looking
at Movies and are exclusive to this text. The tuto - rials guide students’ eyes to see what the text describes, and because they are viewable in full- screen, they are suitable for presentation in class as “lecture launchers,” as well as for students’ self-study.
A mini-anthology of thirteen complete short films, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes in length, provides a curated selection of accomplished and entertaining examples of short-form cinema, as well as useful material for short in-class activities or for students’ analysis. Most of the films are also accompanied by optional audio commentary from the filmmakers. This commentary was recorded specifically for Looking at Movies and is exclusive to this text.
Accessible Presentation; Effective Pedagogy
Among the reasons that Looking at Movies is consid- ered the most accessible introductory film text available is its clear and direct presentation of key concepts and unique pedagogical organization. The first three chap- ters of the book—Looking at Movies, Principles of Film Form, and Types of Movies—provide a comprehensive yet truly introductory overview of the major topics and themes of any film course, giving students a solid grounding in the basics before they move on to study those topics in greater depth in later chapters.
In addition, pedagogical features throughout provide a structure that clearly identifies the main ideas and pri- mary goals of each chapter for students:
A checklist at the beginning of every chapter provides a brief summary of the core concepts to be covered in the chapter.
Extensive Captions Each illustration is accompanied by a caption that elab- orates on a key concept or that guides students to look at elements of the film more analytically. These captions expand on the in-text presentation and reinforce stu- dents’ retention of key terms and ideas.
“Analyzing” Sections At the end of each chapter is a section that ties the terms, concepts, and ideas of the chapter to the primary goal of the book: honing students’ own analytical skills. This
short overview makes explicit how the knowledge stu- dents have gained in the chapter can move their own analytical work forward. A short “Screening Checklist” provides leading questions that students can ponder as they screen a film or scene.
“Questions for Review” “Questions for Review” section at the end of each chap- ter tests students’ knowledge of the concepts first men- tioned in the “Learning Objectives” at the beginning of the chapter.
Looking at Movies is also available as an enhanced ebook free with every new copy of the print book. This ebook works on all computers and mobile devices, and embeds all the rich media—video tutorials, interactive tutori- als, and more—into one seamless experience. Instruc- tors can focus student reading by sharing notes in the ebook, as well as embed images and other videos. Re- ports on student and class-wide access and time on task also enable instructors to monitor student read ing and engagement.
Writing About Movies
Written by Karen Gocsik (University of California, San Diego) and the authors of Looking at Movies, this book is a clear and practical overview of the process of writing papers for film-studies courses. In addition to provid- ing helpful information about the writing process, the new Writing About Movies, Fourth Edition, offers a sub- stantial introduction-in-brief to the major topics in film studies, including an overview of the major film theories and their potential application to student writing, prac- tical advice about note-taking during screenings and private viewings, information about the study of genre and film history, and an illustrated glossary of essential film terms. This inexpensive but invaluable text is avail- able separately or in a significantly discounted package with Looking at Movies.
Resources for Instructors
Clip Guide An invaluable class-prep tool, the Clip Guide suggests a wide range of clips for illustrating film concepts covered in the text. Each entry in the Clip Guide offers a quick overview of the scene, the idea, and crucially, time- stamp information on exactly where to find each clip. The Looking at Movies Clip Guide includes suggestions from not just the authors but a wide range of teachers, offering a broad perspective of insightful teaching tips that can inspire and save valuable prep time.
Instructor’s Guide The Instructor’s Guide to Looking at Movies offers a concise overview of each chapter’s main points and key concepts, as well as suggested learning exercises and recommended tutorials from the book’s extensive media ancillaries.
PowerPoints Ready-made lecture PowerPoint presentations for each chapter as well as art and image slides are available for download at Norton’s instructor resource page: wwnorton.com/instructors.
Test Bank Completely revised for this edition, each chapter of the Test Bank includes a “concept map,” and 60–65 multiple-choice and 10–15 essay questions (with sample answer guides). Questions are labeled by concept, ques- tion type, and difficulty.