Archive for form

Film Form and the impact of manipulating a viewer through form

Posted in film with tags , , , , on September 25, 2008 by rafi


This is a scene from the movie “Closer” which is an excellent example when discussing form, as described in Chapter 2. Sorry if this is ruining the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. The film has a very different feel to it as things that may occur in other stories that are very typical scenarios, such as a cheating spouse, occur and play out very differently but it takes a bit to realize why what you are watching seems so different. The stereotypes and expectations in our minds are constantly broken. These two do not break out into a screaming and crying battle. They both seem pretty reserved and the body language isn’t what we’re used to. Also, in terms of sound and cinematography, many films would take a dramatic revelation like this and make it into a major crisis and dramatic scene but adding music and loud sound effects like steps or breaths. Also, traditionally we would probably expect to see more close ups of a characters distraught and betrayed hopeless expression. Larry (Clive Owen) and Anna (Julia Roberts) are two of the four main and pretty much only characters in this entire film. With a story about love, automatically the ABAC or typical formulas imbedded in our brains, even through how some of us feel and act in our own lives, come to mind when dealing with any love or dramatic situations and films. This is just one scene that comes completely out of the blue and is pretty much unexpected by the viewer, causing excitment without any obvious and overt excitment. I really enjoyed this film by Michael Nichols because it isn’t telling you what you should be thinking, expecting, or feeling. They never showed Anna (Julia Roberts) and Dan (Jude Law) together earlier that day or having an affair through out the year. Because the film was created from the play ‘Closer’ it seems to have kept a different format with more in depth and complex characters and scenes, but fewer of them, fewer fancy film effects, and less given away causing more thought to be provoked in a deeper sense from the viewer. The form stays consistent only in that it seems to always be about love, but my favorite part of this film is the final scene, where the idea of the story you thought you were focused on and watching completely changes and brings you back to the beginning which started with just one girl walking down the street, telling the viewer now that they have just happened to witness some sort of exerpt of a memoir of this one interesting girl’s journey and schemes. Translated from it’s play format, the audience still cannot know too much more than any or all of the other characters without it being too difficult. So, as we are used to watching movies and knowing all of the characters’ secrets and plans and true identities, it’s a shock to us to realize that we almost become a part of a story in a different way by not knowing and being tricked by what we take the other characters to be and what we chose to beleive. The movie and it’s original live theatre design seemed to have a bit of a twisted form compared to a typical light hearted love drama and it makes a tremendously different experience for the viewer. Here’s the closing scene that won’t make as much sense unless you’ve watched the entire film but still wraps up the film in a pretty shocking and powerful way that I doubt any audience member or viewer could resist being drawn into and captured by.


Ch 2. Form in Film: Gamers are people too…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 19, 2008 by meitanteibilly

Movies are ideas transmitted through art.  But they are not just unformed blobs of ideas.  Movies have forms that give a movie structure and help to engage us.  The form of a movie is decided by set elements such as story structure, the framing of shots through knowledge of an audiences prior experience and knowledge given to them earlier in the move.  The meaning behind the work and the basic principles that many movies follow also help to make the movie the movie.

Most movies contain all of these basic elements to create the film’s form.  For this post, I will be analyzing the form of the movie: The Gamers.  The gamers is a short movie about a group of gamers who are playing a dungeons and dragons-esque game.  The movie follows their in game characters as they adventure and try to save a princess. The movie is a comedy and isn’t very long.  It’s a pleasant watch if you’re bored.

The structure of the storyline is one of the important parts of a movie.  The structure of the movie, the meaning and symbols shown within the movie, and continuity are all very important to the structure of the movie as a whole.  An example of the structure would be that because A happens, B happens, and because of this C happens.  This order helps to engage us to become involved with the movie and the storyline, though because to do something expected all of the time is boring, movie makers often include new developments in a plot to keep us on our toes and try to force us to rethink what is going to happen.  In The Gamers the story follows a very simple ABC model.  The characters are given a quest and after facing the challenges of the evil villain, they finally face and defeat the evil.

While a very simple movie, it is a good example of a movie that relies on the previous experience of the audience.  The Gamers, being about a group of gamers, has a lot of “in jokes.”  From jokes about the unreliability of the dice roll, to jokes about gamers with girlfriends, a lot of the humors is based off of stereotypes about geeks and knowledge that geeks would know.  While one may think that this would not appeal to a wide range of audiences, it has been able to make audiences all over laugh.  It’s success can probably be attributed to the fact that most people are familiar with at least some form of the “D&D geek” stereotype, or even just the geek stereotype.  In addition the storyline is easy to follow.  This doesn’t detract from the movie because it’s such light humor.

Posted in Actuality, Simulation, Virtuality with tags , , , , on September 18, 2008 by Kelli Koga


To see a Jackson Pollock painting in person is to have an experience.

The underwhelming reproduction in an art history textbook can do no justice to the fact of standing before an 8 ft high, 15 foot wide expanse of movement and color and vision.  Pollock’s often room-sized works fill your field of vision, and you become submersed in an atmosphere that is at once violent and still, loud and metatative.  Pollock’s own life and history, his writing about the bomb and the nuclear age, his existential thinkings, and his fears and frustrations filter into the work, yet it is not that entirely.  With its lack of specificity and definition, the painting becomes a place that says something to you, that you can use to say something with, that creates a space for your own reflection and projection.

It is said that sitting benches are often provided solely in front of the greatest works of art, because those are the ones that you get lost in, that you must sit down to compose yourself, that you linger in front of for a long period of time after you initially approach it, for it consumes you, absorbs you, compels you, and draws you into its space.  With Pollock’s paintings, what you realize the more you look at them, is how terribly structured they are.  Pollock’s avant-garde approach to artmaking as a cathartic process were what gained him both respect and notoreity, but the longer you look at a Pollock painting, the more methodical they appear.  Pollock didn’t just go crazy, flinging paint in every direction.  His actions were deliberate in their intention, and there is order and rhythm and movement within his paintings that gives them such a strong visual effect.

It’s not so unlike film.

In visual arts, in poetry, in prose, in film, and fiction, the marriage of form and content is necessary for success.  In art, you learn at the beginning level that there are elements and principles that we respond to, even on the most basic, visceral level.  Certain colors are harmonious together; others create dischorrd.  The operation of the human eye means that the relationship between objects can be pleasant or distracting.  Pattern, proportions, focus, and balance can be structurally manipulated to appealing effect.  There are technical reasons that underlie why people have an immediately positive or negative reaction to something.  If you were a cook, you would learn how to harmoniously balance tastes; if you were a writer, to make sentences flow and to select words that are effective.  The end result of any successful piece of art is in how its technical and creative work together.

The interplay between actual and virtual comes together here.  There are certain aspects of both form and content that we become immediately aware of.   In the film Casablanca, for example, one scene has always resonated with me.  It is the scene in the nightclub, when the Germans begin to sing, Rick responds by commanding his band to play the “Marseillaise.”  

What makes the scene is not the set, the characters, the story, the framing, the makeup, the lighting, even the songs.  It’s harmoney comes from the way context and emotion, technical perfection and artistic execution come together.  It is the meaning of those songs against the backdrop of the war, the feelings of nationalism and pride that are so difficult during those times, the human dignity that is contained in so simple a gesture.  All these things coming together is more than enough to make one’s heart surge with emotion.

Casablanca remains one of the greatest movies ever created because it succeeds on so many levels.  Its famed dialogue alone can be considered in terms of form and content: the words are well-written, but Bogart’s execution is what makes many of the scenes.  The merger of the technical and the artistic, what we understand and the mechanisms that work underneath, all factor into whether or not we walk out of the theater and feel something.

Film offers something unique in that watching people move onscreen most closely mimics the way that our lives are or aren’t.  We react to people moving and acting and carrying out their lives, and they have a direct effect on ours because we relate to those experiences.  For this reason, we are probably most critical of film.  When it is successful, however, film is an experience that is unlike any other.