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Discussion/Meta How to read a film/tv show

Discussion in 'Predictions' started by Barbarossa-TWD, May 15, 2016.

  1. Barbarossa-TWD

    Barbarossa-TWD Ricktator

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    We are used to watching films purely for entertainment. When we watch in this way, we are mostly passive observers of the action, not really thinking much beyond our feelings and impressions of what is on the screen. As scholars, though, we have to be more diligent in how we treat a film. A film is something we can read just as carefully and consciously as a book or poem. Here are some things to look for when “reading” (not watching!) a film:
    • The first important thing to do when you watch a film is to not merely pay attention to the story, plot, and characters, but to how they are presented by the camera. We tend to think of film as “realistic” because the medium renders people and objects in such a life-like detail. Remember, we as an audience can only see what the camera’s “eye” shows us, and that nearly everything we see on the screen is manipulated by the director and others who make the film. So, pay careful attention to how the director “sets up” a shot in any given scene:
      • Is the director using a long shot, a medium shot, a close up, or an extreme close up? Is the shot taken from a high angle, a low angle, or from eye level? Is the camera placed in an “objective” location, or does it represent the point of view of one of the characters? Does the camera move or does it stay in place? Is it handheld or stable?
      • Consider also the composition of the scene. That is, how has the director arranged actors, objects, lighting, etc. to make the effect of the scene? Is there something implied going on off screen? What does it convey? Why is it so effective?
      • Does the film utilize effects like voiceovers, text, direct addresses to the camera and other narrative devices? What is the effect of these devices?
    • Pay attention to how the movie opens and ends. The first thing you see in a movie is the credits. What images are shown in these credits? How is music used to set the mood of the film?
    • Editing: Most people do not pay attention to how a film is edited or how it cuts from shot to shot and scene to scene. This, though, is an important part of how film has an effect on an audience. Pay attention to whether the rhythm of the editing is fast or slow, does the director use long takes in a scene or does he/she divide the scene up with many short takes? Does the editing make for a unified and continuous effect (i.e., you don’t really notice it) or is it jarring or destabilizing? Does the editor/director use effects like fade in/fade out frequently?
    • Consider the overall mood of the film as created by acting, music, lighting, sound effects, costumes, colors, sets, etc. (All of these things taken together is what film scholars call mise-en-scene, French for “put before the camera.”) These small details, all of which filmmakers often pay a great deal of attention to, often go unnoticed but play a crucial role in a film.
    • Look for repetitions that cue you in to the things the director or writer thinks are important. Is there a recurring song, music, camera technique, special effect that adds meaning to the film? Just as when you read a book or play, pay attention to these repetitions.
    • Finally, think about how your observations relate to the over-arching ideas, issues, and themes of the film. How do these particulars help your understanding of the whole?
    Source
     
  2. Barbarossa-TWD

    Barbarossa-TWD Ricktator

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    What this article doesn't mention is to also look for themes. I was shocked watching the AfterBuzz recap of S6.15 "East" and none of them picked up the Adam and Eve reference when naked in bed Michonne gave Rick an apple to bit. Which iIMO is one of the most iconic images in the world. I also think that this is why some people are so disappointed in the show because they have missed key elements of the plot. Yes it is about zombies but the level of writing is surprisingly good.

    For instance I would say my favorite episodes over all is S5.E10 "Them" and S5.E11 "The Distance". I thought it was brilliant at cementing the family unit and Rick's (and Michonne's) authority. If these episodes didn't happen then there would have been no way for the family to be effective in ASZ. Yet there is some guy on youtube that says S5.E10 is one of the top 10 worse episodes over all. Why? Because all he was was people walking around... not much happening.

    Unfortunately, I haven't seen too many good analysis of this show. This forum is the best I've seen by far. First of all it is friendly to all sorts of input so at least you can develop and idea here. IMDb is just a bunch of 12 year old boys who've got ahold of a keyboard. Many of the forums I have seen are borderline racist and actually encourage their members to write and depict horrible things about Michonne/Danai.
     
    #2 Barbarossa-TWD, May 15, 2016
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
  3. Doctor Grimes

    Doctor Grimes Not Your Governor
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    I do believe the writing on TWD lends itself to great analysis, but also this writing makes the interactions between characters seem stilted on occasion. Unauthentic. Which I understand.

    Most people aren't in this for any sort of cerebral exercise, truth be told. It's sad but true.

    Gimple needs to learn to inject his ladeb symbolism into the dialogue more naturally.
     
  4. Barbarossa-TWD

    Barbarossa-TWD Ricktator

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    I agree but Adam and Eve is really low hanging fruit... pardon the pun.
     
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  5. lovingdead

    lovingdead The New Mrs. Grimes

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    I am really into film and at one point wanted to be a director, so I always view entertainment this way. I get that the GA doesn't and they don't have to. It is entirely possible and valid for people to only watch on the surface and get enjoyment that way. But, you can totally watch this show on a deeper level and be fulfilled. For instance my brother is total GA and loves the show, my daddy in-between and loves it, and I am an analyzer and love it. The thing is different episodes will resonate more with different audience members depending on their viewing perspective. And that's ok. I think part of the success of the walking dead is that it can be read on many levels. People like to say the show is written horribly, I disagree. It's not at the level of my other favorite, Mad Men, but there are a lot of deeply profound episodes. I think the thing is consistency. With Mad Men, there was never an off moment of dialogue or even cinematography. It was all seamless and confident. TWD is strong overall, but at moments drops the ball on character interactions and experimental directing. I say yes, try to elevate, but make sure it makes sense.

    For instance, we don't really see much fallout with Carl losing his eye. I feel like Rick should have shown more guilt in the aftermath. Why did Ron shoot, because of Rick's actions ultimately. This may have happened in the two month time lapse, but it's odd to me that Rick's actions with Jessie and the impact they had were never really addressed. Also, Carl makes one comment about his eye but we don't see much impact on him otherwise. Do I want them to dwell on Rick and Carl and this incident forever? No. But it did seem swept under the rug. And Maggie never really mourned Beth's death, it was bizarre. Also, the red flashbacks of Jessie during the chop. It was a call back to the conversation between Rick and Morgan about his walker wife, but I didn't get that until someone on tumblr pointed it out. Great attempt at artistry, but it wasn't executed in a a way that was compelling.

    On the other hand the excellency displayed in how Richonne was developed is a shining example of the best this show gets. I could go on about it, but I won't.

    I am happy to have this forum to discuss the show on a deeper level. I loved Mad Men, but I had friends that watched on the same level a me, so didn't need an online outlet for my musings. None of my friends watched TWD on this level so I am here. And I ship Richonne hard now, haha. I was in the online fandom for True Blood and have to say, that show started out really layered and then just got such a hot mess towards the end that it wasn't worth discussing. It was a kooky show but it started with a lot of symbolism and deeper meaning. Overall, to compare it to TWD, TWD is much better cinematically. So I am pleased and never go too far down the TPTB suck and are ruining the show train. Only time will tell how they handle it as it ages though.
     
    #5 lovingdead, May 15, 2016
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
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  6. Barbarossa-TWD

    Barbarossa-TWD Ricktator

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    I cut my teeth on Sherlock which is brilliant. This is writing that is so rich and thick you sink your teeth in. Also it has some of the most incredible fans that write pages and pages of mind-blowing analysis. Spoilers are great but give me a good plot that I can tear apart anyday.