Based on the course of Dr J Hirsch at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.
|Author's note: I am tutoring a student who is taking this class during the Fall of 2005. These essays are based on the lectures of Dr. Hirsch and the readings for the class.|
Humanistic thinking is more emphasized than any scientific data in film. Critical studies of film will benefit one in several ways. Learning formal vocabulary, and theorizing cultural significance while viewing many different films will present examples of a range of ideologies.
A new concept of culture will evolve from these studies. Culture is the set of beliefs held by members of a society, and the embodying values of right and wrong that society has. Those of the same culture have these customs and habits in common. The society as a whole, can be divided further into its individual members. Which society one identifies himself with is part of the individuals make up. Society has to do with one's individual identity.
Narratives can be divided into Classical and Non-Classical. Non-Classical narratives are the art form films, which have neither protagonist or antagonist.
Focus will be on the Classical Narrative. These types of film make more sense. Elements include:
1. Individual characters
2. Coherence of the story
3. Intelligibility (vs. nonintelligible)
4. Events, and their usage in:
5. Time (elipsis and suspense, flashbacks)
7. Cause and effect
8. Point of View (and omniscience)
9. Goal of the film to attain something good or bad.
10. Private Goal
12. Public Goal
13. Plot and Subplot
14. Extraordinary events
The formal motivation for the film is in its narrative, style, meaning, and emotional effect.
The narrative structure is the way things are organized in the story, the way the story is told. The premise of the story is what the story is about. One will discover these in exploring the structure of events in the story. The narrative primacy is to get to the action, cut to the chase, so that certain parts may be left out between the story and the plot of the film.
Incoherence is a thing to be left out. This would involve following a tangent thought on to the screen.
A narrative consits of characters, the events which take place in the time and space of the film, and the theme of the film. Suspense is the building of anticipation, a delay of the outcome. The audience is engaged in how things will turn out, especially when unexpected events happen. Implicit telling may leave certain events out. The classic Hollywood style film is full of anticipation.
The narrative story may have come from a book, or a place other than a screenplay. The chronological order of events that happen is called the story. When the story is taken on to film, it becomes the plot, which the director may alter for his own purposes, shifting forward or backward in time. What happens in the plot is the film makers choice. The story is what the plot comes from. The plot is the events which are organized for film, or theater. The story may be simple, chronological, or linear.
The flashback has been in common usage since the 1940s. Time will not always be chronological in a film. How these items are arranged is the style of the film. The plot is the reordering of the story events.
A motif is an element which recurrs because it has a salient meaning to the dominant idea or central theme. A motif may be a free association is in the female lead in "Fatal Attraction." Alex lives by a slaughterhouse. She slaughters the family's pet rabbit. Violent gruesome images are a free motiff which appears in several ways in the film. These are free motifs because they are not absolutely necessary for the telling of the story, but do add to the details about this character.
A bound motif, on the other hand is the dagger and the knife in Kuroswawa's "Roshoman." The telling of the plot could not pass without the inclusion of the knife and dagger. These items are essential to the events which pass. A bound motif must be included for the events of the story to play out. A bound motiff is necessary to the story.
Stasis is the time where there is no change, such as the time waiting for the rain to pass at the monastery gates of "Roshoman." There is no change happening. There is no conflict presented. When events happen that bring conflict there is no longer stasis. Music, for example, may mark the end of stasis, and the suspenseful music begins. The lighting of the scene may change. These are hints to the audience that conflict or change is about to take place.
A classical narrative will have interruption of the stasis by presenting some kind of conflict. The narrative will be interrupted because events have to happen. However, seeking is not stasis. There is a stage before the suspense builds.
This set of vocabulary will be incorporated into the next essay.