Many people consider movies as paramount features that add value to life. Movies serve to entertain human beings and perhaps educate them on certain issues in life. They therefore serve as tools for entertainment, enlightening and disseminating people. After work or during free time such as weekends and holidays, people enjoy watching movies as a form of leisure. However, the art of movie watching depends on one’s perception and the ability to make meaning out of a movie.
For instance, depending on one’s perception and art of viewing, the moving image within a movie can entertain, educate or inform. The moving camera is also paramount in giving meaning of the movie to the audience. In most cases, a positive perception towards movies helps the audience to understand the elements of film production hence, analyze it. For example, an informed awareness instills dexterity and background instructions as ingredients of film understanding.
In addition to entertainment and education, critical and conscientious film watching is vital when it comes to creating awareness on what is happening in the society and the world at large. It is important to note that viewing a movie not only lifts up a person’s celluloid experience, but also enable persons to understand the complexity, dense language, principles, cryptograms, and signs cinematic attributes exhibited during viewing.
Thus, for a person to analyze a movie effectively, he or she must understand these elements on top of reading some facets of cinematography and familiarizing with the terms used in order to comprehend the film language-one of the prerequisite of movie analysis. This will stimulate thought as regard to the film, hence making the viewers cinematically literate. Most importantly, with an informed awareness, every viewer can interpret and analyze a film without any complication (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, pp.1-5).
Analyzing an Entire Movie
The art of film analysis involves many features and not just sections in a movie. Thus, a movie analyzer should devote much time in order to do an effective movie analysis. Before engaging in the movie analysis process, an analyzer should read the synopsis of the movie to understand its progress and development.
The synopsis is fundamental in that it helps the analyzer to know the topic of the movie, the actors involved, and successive developments. To start with, it is better to define to understand the meaning of movie analysis. Movie analysis involves breaking up the entire movie into numerous sections aimed at ascertaining the scenery, proportion, purpose, and correlation of the scenes.
Each movie has its own plot as designed by the director or cinematographer. However, the plot cannot make the film entertaining or educative without good action. Actors are the one who give meaning to the plot of the movie. For instance, the critique emotions and moods of the actors are potential ingredients that add vitality to the plot hence, success of the movie.
Without further deliberation, the art of film watching calls for decisive analytical approach in order to understand the plot of the movie. In addition, this analytical approach enables the audience to understand the fundamental elements of cinematography. Thus, movie analysis entails prior pertinent preparation aimed at understanding the rationale of the movie and an inquisitive thought of adjudicating the basic elements, which compose the movie.
Ordinarily, the credibility of analyzing a movie lies in the question “how”. Additionally, part of the movie evaluation involves proper deliberation on the role of music and other special effects as elements that compose the movie. For example, illumination, actors, colors, locale, wardrobe, and frame composition are some of the elements behind film production (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p.6).
Thus, in order to do an explicit movie analysis, an analyzer must be in a position to comprehend the talent and delirium of various actors, the roles played by producers and directors, the reason of using different types of costumes, and the inclusion of makeup artists or actors.
For instance, if a viewer is in a position to combine these elements, the probability of divulging the theme of the movie is high. Nonetheless, what matters most in the art of film watching is the end as it is vital in laying out the theme of the movie. There are certain times when viewers fail completely to understand the entire movie. They therefore cannot analyze the movie. However, to arrive at the first-pace action, producers must first focus on the plot making it hard for viewers to comprehend the movie easily.
However, repeated watching of the movie institutes impressions of the plot, and as time goes by, viewers are in a position to depict the mood and theme of the movie. For instance, if actors are acting a movie titled “Life”, laughter and emotions are imperative in order to furnish meaning to the plot. Below are steps for analyzing the entire movie (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p.7).
Efficacy of Dialogue and Storyline
The efficacy of storyline and dialogue are imperative elements when it comes to movie analysis.Many movie analyzers tend to forget the role of a screenwriter and instead, focus on the roles played by actors and producers.
On the other hand, they should understand that screenwriters as chief architects of the movie may choose to acclimatize a book and abrogate it to script form or write an original story for action. Whichever the way, viewers should be in a position to identify minutiae of dialogue and plotlines. For instance, research shows that a flourishing movie script characterizes with authentic dialogue and scenarios easily manageable by artists and actors.
On the other hand, most screenwriters use full of personal obscenities and thoughts easily understood by viewers. Thus, part of the analysis entails establishing dialogue honesty and the flow of scenes in a logical manner. Furthermore, the scenes must remain on the storyline.
Background and Set Pieces
In order to understand thebackground and set pieces of a movie, it is paramount to interpret the role of movie directors. These are the one responsible in building the ambiance of the movie. Thus, when a person decides to analyze a movie, he or she must first examine the color of the panorama, costumes and sets.
During this time, the analyzer will assume that actors and dialogue do not exist- at least for a moment. This is because color, costumes and sets develop the mood and atmosphere of the movie. Good movies have excellent backgrounds that add vitality to scenes without overwhelming the movie. On the contrary, poor cinematography leads to anachronism and inadvertent focus.
Individual Performance of Actors
This is also another important aspect of interpreting a movie. Before analyzing a movie, it is important to know what actors who are not in the main action do. For instance, good actors are those who understand their roles especially in generating the plot of the movie. For example, a character acting as villain should exhibit redoubtable opposition to the one portraying intrepidness. Thus, an analyzer should ask whether these actors play their roles effectively to attract other actors who will counter them.
Editing of the Movie
A number of literature materials on movie analysis indicate thatexcellent movies are the one manufactured or those that start from editing houses. This is true because there are so many excellent movies that have become poor due to poor editing. For instance, these movies have their storyline cut or scenes that deny forward plot.
Thus, when analyzing a movie, one should consider the flow of scenes in reference to the storyline. Fabulously edited movies do not confuse the audience, as there is a systematic forward plot from one scene to another (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, pp.14-134).
As depicter earlier, movie directors play a significant role in film production. Nevertheless, directors should be in apposition to comprehend the thoughts of the screenwriter, and at the same time, the competence and skills of actors and other persons involved in film production.
Thus, when analyzing a movie, it is important to inquire from the director on how he or she arrived at the actors and their reputation. The analyzer should also examine contributions from the director especially on edgy dialogue, signature elements, the milieu of music, and other perspectives such as photography angles.
Finding and Interpreting Meaning in Movies
When it comes to movie analysis, the difficult part is finding and interpreting meaning in a movie. This area has also attracted a lot of criticism regarding the modalities of finding and interpreting meaning in movies. Nonetheless, this depends on how one view a movie, entertaining, educative or something else.
For example, there are people who believe movies are for entertainment purposes only while some believe that movies can educate people on culture, economics and politics. However, the truth of the matter is movies are substantially real phenomena, which portray something. Movies have great impact on people’s lives especially on historical and social realities.
Thus, the theme of a film can influence people perform social, political and economic duties. Nonetheless, this cannot happen minus first finding and interpreting the meaning of a movie. The meaning in a movie can vary from one viewer to another depending on interpretation. Research shows that there are four levels of meaning in a movie, which help people in finding and interpreting meaning in a movie (Perkins, 1990, pp. 1-6).
The first level of meaning in movie analysis is referential meaning. The plot summary differs from one movie to another. This makes viewers to come up with different interpretations based on individual ability to identify the fundamental elements that make up the movie.
For instance, in the film, Wizard of Oz, tornado knocks a young girl only to wake up in a supernatural world named Oz. This means that she has one option and that is making new friends who will show her the Wizard; the only friend who will return her back home. Thus, the plot summary helps one to find and interpret the meaning in a movie.
Secondly, we have the explicit meaning, which comprises the message in the film. In order to understand the meaning of a film, it is imperative to familiarize with the context of the movie. The context of the movie helps viewers to understand the plot summary and the developments happening from one scene to another. Thus, explicit meaning in movie analysis tries to answer the “how question” and then “why subject”.
Thirdly, we have implicit meaning level that represents the factual interpretation of a movie. The implicit meaning goes beyond explicit meaning pending the fact that every viewer interprets a movie differently. Furthermore, viewers can use the move to refer to their own life and make informed decisions. For instance, in the film Wizard of Oz, young adults are acquainted on the dangers of indiscipline and rebellion.
The last level under this discussion is symptomatic meaning, which explains the social ideology that characterizes the movie. In addition, it also explains the cultural ambience of people living in a certain place at a particular time. This can make viewers strive to work hard and become prosperous or continue celebrating their cultural diversity (Nowlan, 2002, p.1).
Personal Criteria for Evaluating Movies
People have different criteria of analyzing movies depending on their perceptions. Perhaps this is the reason why a particular movie can have numerous interpretations. Nevertheless, if analyzers understand the synopsis and other elements of movie analysis, it is likely that interpretations will appear similar to certain extent.
According to my view of movie analysis, genre plays an imperative tool in movie analysis. I am conversant with many genres, which I apply in evaluating movies that I enjoy watching. In particular, I enjoy watching science, horror, drama and comedy genres and love evaluating them using their synopsis. I have different approaches in evaluating each of these.
For instance, in evaluating a science fiction, I emphasize on the projected realism in order to find meaning. Thus, taking a real worldview enables me to interpret and analyze science movies easily. The same case applies to fictional genres where human beings change into dogs or objects. In most cases, I assume that magic world does not exist and instead dwell on magic free world. As for comedies-dumb and smart, my criterion of interpretation is simple, that is, they must make me laugh for me to make meaning out of them.
For example, comedies like Greedy, While You Were Sleeping and Clue always make me laugh, and by this, I find myself in a position to evaluate them. Other criteria I use in evaluating movies include reading the screenplay, taking copious notes, summarizing ideas, spotting the pros and cons, digesting the meaning, and finally making a critical appraisal.
I also examine the title of the movie in real life situation and relate it to what happens in the society. In general, my criteria of evaluating movies lie in the synopsis of the movie and the elements of movie analysis such as plot, actors, set pieces, and many more.
People do movie analysis for different reasons. To others, movie analysis helps them to understand movies better, while to others, movie analysis educates. Thus, it greatly depends on a personal view on movies and its significance to self.
Boggs, M. J. & Petrie, W.D. (2006). The Art of Watching Film. (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers.
Nowlan, B. (2002). Interpreting Film: Meaning and Representation, Culture and Politics, the Truman Show and Stranger with a Camera. Retrieved September 28, 2010, from
Perkins, V. (1990). Must We say What They Mean?: Film Criticism and Interpretation. Movie, 34(5). 1-6.