1. Christian Owens
How Do We Analyze a Film?
There are many ways that a film can be analyzed but the main way that a film can be looked into
in the greatest detail is analyzing the Codes and Conventions. Codes and Conventions are the
rules that govern how a piece of media is shot or written. Techniques such as Iconography, Miseen-Scene and Narrative are used that go into the making of a piece but you probably don’t think
about this when you watch a movie.
Looking into these certain techniques breaks the movie down into its key aspects and allows the
person watching to see that across a lot of films that the same techniques and conventions are
used but certain directors like to challenge the typical conventions.
A conventional narrative that is used in a film starts with a Beginning, middle and end. This can
also be known as a Conventional Linear Narrative. In a conventional film for example James
Bond you know that Bond is the hero and as the story progresses you then already that he will
get the girl and ride off into the sunset. This is typical for an action/thriller such as this to have a
set story because it is seen as a corporated project with alots of money being thrown into it. So
the movie must be made to have specific features so that the audience know what will be
Directors who contest the conventional codes and conventions are commonly known as Auteurs
this is French for author. “Any filmmaker who has unconventional ideas or challenges
towards the accepted genre conventions and tries to break away from them.”
Leon is a great example that breaks conformity to the action
thriller genre. You can clearly see this in the way the
characters are formed throughout the movie. Leon is the
male protagonist in this film but is seen as the
unconventional hero, as he hides behind his glasses and hats
and does not look like your typical hero being very tall and
skinny. This is compared to your conventional hero James
Bond, who always wears a suit, never hides his face and he
has a sense of aura that makes him seem powerful. The
director chooses to use these techniques and go against the
conventional methods because it creates an interesting film
when the audience cannotpredict the way the main
protagonists thinks and what his next moves will be.
The biggest difference between these two films that go for
and against the codes and conventions is the way that
women’s representation in their role throughout the entirety
2. Christian Owens
of the film. In James Bonds ‘Quantum of Solace’ women are sexually objectified to the audience
as they end up with the hero (Bond) at the end of the film every time. Whereas the female
representation in the film Leon as seen much differently to the typical codes and conventions.
Although there is still some sexually objectification towards some of the older women who are
seen as quite weak and helpless. Whereas the character Mathilda shows characteristics of an
older strong women as she is stubborn and fights back against the antagonist and the protagonist
Leon. This is unconventional representation of a typical female character by the director because
the audience would not expect such authority and retaliation from a 12 year old girl who fights to
be at Leon’s side bymaintaining an awkward and solid love interest
between the duos. Luke Besson went against the conventions to see
how the audience would react to this weird relationship and if they
would have the same emotion towards the main characters
compared to the typical relationship like James Bond.
Conventional and Unconventional techniques can fit into every
type of genre such as Action, Comedy and War. A conventional
War film that sticks to these conventions is the Green Berets which
was produced in 1968 by director Ray Kellogg and John Wayne.
Which are about two highly trained Green Beret teams that are sent
in for a mission in South Vietnam to fight against the war towards
America to save innocent people. This is a conventional film as it’s
about American hero’s saving lives and showing that they are the
good guys that always win and only fight people who oppose them.
This is shown in the Mise-en-Scene by how the guns are held and
how much gore is shown to the audience.
An auteur film like Apocalypse Now is a good example for unconventional techniques. Francis
Ford Coppola the director of the film shows this in the editing as he uses
cross cut to show the helicopters flying in ready to attack using music to
scare the enemy and say that they are coming. This would be raw footage
of what the American Soldiers actually did in the war. That they actually
killed women and children. This is compared to the clean look of the green
berets. The Mise-en-Scene plays a big part of this with the many helicopter
roaming over the villages and The way that the Americans are setting up
their gear preparing for war knowing what they need to do and what they
are heading for.
3. Christian Owens
Pulp Fiction is a crime/thriller film made in
1994 by Director Quentin Tarantino. Till
this day Pulp Fiction is still the most
invigorating film experience a filmgoer can
ever hope for. The reason this movie was so
success over the years is the way that it
breaks conformity and conventions of a
typical Crime/Thriller film. The way that
the Quentin does this by using character
development of secondary characters that
you would not likely see in a typical crime
The characters Vincent Vega (John
Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel Jackson) are hired hitmen. In films such as James Bond
you would only see the bad guy for certain periods of time usually as they commit the crime and
the time they get captured or killed. In this film they take the bad guy and give them a
background and allowing the audience to get to know them better.
Vladimir Propp defined that there were several types of character sets such as: The Hero, The
Helper, and The Princess/Damsel in distress. If Pulp Fiction followed
typical conventions then the hitmen would be seen as anti-hero that
looked like they wanted to help but ended betraying the hero in the
end because the film breaks conventions and characters are
developed we see them as the protagonists of the movie as we are
laughing at their jokes and rooting for them to come out on top.
The main reason that Quentin Tarantino is seen as an auteur director
because of the way he lays out the narrative. This is known as a
non-linear narrative where there isn’t a defined start, middle and
end. In Pulp Fiction they use the scene of the movie at the start of the
film and then return to that exact scene at the end but at a different
perspective. Also the change in narrative can be seen as they tell the
same story from different perspectives. So if a character dies in one
scene of the movie, they may return in the next scene as it might be
someone else’s perspective. The audience would not be able to piece
the film together till the end.