1. Textual AnalysisThis is a featured page

Textual Analysis: Questions to Ask of Film

Textual analysis of film requires observing and questioning all the elements that create meaning within the piece, such as acting, directing, lighting, cinematography, mise en scene, etc. Besides noticing the individual elements that create a film’s meaning, textual analysis also involves understanding how the film fits into the larger context of its social, historical, cultural and political environment. So textual analysis also requires researching a film’s genre, audience as well as its historical, institutional, and socio-cultural significance. It’s only in combining both that we can create a thorough understanding of the film.

For the oral exam, students are expected to complete a 10 minute presentation that addresses these two areas of focus:

1. Analyze and Research the film as a whole focusing on the film’s genre and audience as well as its historical, institutional, and socio-cultural significance.
2. Complete a close textual analysis of a specific scene. Be sure to cite specific examples from within the film that relate to its larger frame work.

Getting Started:

1st. Preveiw the questions for each of the sections below that address the areas that must be included in the presentations.

2nd Watch your film and then focus on what you think is important about the film. As you take notes on the film, refer back to the questions. Be conscious of the many aspects with in the film that create meaning.

3rd Focus on one scene that seems to really illustrate your interpretation of the film. If possible consider creating a screen shots of particular shots that illustrate your points and can be referred to during you presentation.

4th Begin your research and take notes in order to explore areas of genre, history, institutional and socio-cultural context etc as they relate to your selected film. Please cite your research in order to show where your information came from.

Use the following concepts to focus your research and analysis. Each area must be addressed in your presentation.

Part 1
I. Genre and Audience-

1. What tradition or genre is it in?
2. What are the features determining genre?
3. What other work might it be connected to?
4. Who made this? Why?
5. What can we tell about its’ creators?
6. How does it fit within the director’s other work?
a. Does it share significant narrative or thematic concerns?
b. Does it share particular visual or technical elements?
7. What is the film’s theme?
8. What is the target audience? How does it address its audience?

II. Historical and Institutional Factors-

1. What are the institutional factors that may be important?
a. as a production of a specific producer (i.e. Walt Disney), institution (Disney Studios), specific economic factors (Studio Film), or a political background? (U.S. politics 1959)
2. What is the film’s historical significance?
a. as a document of its time?
b. as a part of history of film?

III. Socio-cultural context

1. What is the film’s socio-cultural context?
c. as a work from a specific country?
d. As a work from a specific culture?
e. As a work representing a specific part of its society?
f. As a work made for a specific audience?
g. As a work made for a specific reason?

Part 2
IV. Narrative

1. How is this film constructed according to narrative/story being told?
2. Is the narrative organized by plot or time sequence, or some other way?
3. Does the film use other principles than narrative sequence as a structure (for instance, an argument?
4. What is the nature of our engagement with the story or characters?

V. Film Language and Representation

1. How are characters and issues represented?
2. What is the style and effect of acting and performance?
3. How is meaning created by camera angles, shots, and camera movement?
4. How is meaning created by editing and sequencing?
5. How is meaning created by lighting, shade and color?
6. How is meaning created by sound and music?
7. How is meaning created by location and set design?
8. Does the film make use of symbols, metaphors, or allegories? Share are they and how do they work within the context of the film?
9. How is meaning created by technical elements such as production design, mise en scene, composition, special effects (matte paintings, models or animation, computer generated images….etc.)

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