Learn How To Read A Movie & Cinematic Techniques

I remember when my brother, sister, father and I used to always sit around in living room at least once a week to have a movie night. We would go to a Redbox somewhere, either at Walmart, Wegmans, or CVS and get a movie. If we couldn’t find a movie from the Redbox then we would just watch one of the many movies we had that we have not watched in a while, and was really in the mood to watch it again. As we watched the movie my dad would point out how camera angles, and how the camera work would tell us things about the character(s). I have always loved watching movies and trying to analyze them because of my father, so doing this assignment was like a movie down memory lane.

Reading Roger Ebert’s How to Read A Movie article was very insightful. I could really tell from the article that he enjoys movies/films and is someone that I would describe as a movie reading guru.

One thing that was eye-opening to me about what Roger Ebert said in the article is that anyone can do film, it is not some expert only doing thing, or some “esoteric exercise” because “the audience and the film itself is your most help collaborators”. I was really drawn into the rest of the article because of that phrase. We always take videos on our phones and then post them on social media or just keep them to show at a certain time. Some people may like the video depending on the audience, and then that tells if you should keep posting videos, or not. That same thing goes for films, any ordinary person can do film.

One method Ebert gives to do for reading a movie is to stop and pause the movie, and think about what you see in that particular scene. I think this is a great thing to do. He suggested to do this with a group. Someone just yells out the word stop during the movie, and which ever scene was stopped on, that’s the one to analyze. After you stop the scene have a discussion about what people are seeing and what they got from it. This is a great way to make watching a movie group experience, a learning experience and one to enjoy as well. He also tells how “you don’t simply creep along and talk about what you’re looking at,” and that “it helps to have a grounding in basic visual strategy. “Teach yourself how to read films or take a course to help learn some basic strategies on reading film. This is great for people who don’t really watch film and have trouble following films. Roger also suggest to read book on understanding how to read film. He read a book that talked about the concept of intrinsic weighing. He believes that intrinsic weighing, “means that certain areas of the available visual space have tendencies to stir emotional or aesthetic reactions.” Intrinsic weighing methods are not laws and if not used in the right way can actually means that your are using them in the right way, which is your way. He also suggest to look at the way characters are places in the scenes. Look at the positive placement and negative placement of the characters. He says that positive and negatives are tendencies, and that in “general terms, ┬áin a two-shot, the person on the right will “seem” dominant over the person on the left.”

I loved Roger Ebert’s thoughts on how to read movies. I will think about them the next time I watch a movie, whether I pause it, and see what’s in the scene and think about intrinsic weighing by identifying the type of placement of each character is taking and what emotion it’s giving.

The videos that I watched on cinematic technique were Hitchcock Loves Bikinis and One-Point Perspective. What I learn from Hitchcock is that film cuts can really influence the audience on what type of characters are presented and what feelings they have toward a certain character. In one scene you may believe a character is sweet and kind, but in then you may see the character as a bad, rude character base on the cut. I didn’t get much from the One-Point Perspective video, but one thing that I got is that providing some sort of focal point is important in film making. You want to be able to follow the film just like you want to be able to understand and follow what’s happening in a picture. Being able to focus on one thing is important because there can be a whole lot of things happening in one scene that has nothing to do with what that scene is trying to to convey, so having a focus point can be very helpful in reading films.

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