Analytical Film Review Process
- Just watch the film the first time; take notes on your observations, only after you viewed the movie. Watch it several more times in the course of your essay writing preparations.
- Research the director: he is considered the be all and end all of all films. Read the book on which the movie is based, if applicable.
- View some of the director’s other movies, if applicable. See if he or she favours a particular editor, cinematographer, actor, and so on.
- Consider the following aspects of the film:
- Theme – identify and consider how the film supports the theme
- Spectacle –“(consider) all aspects that make the experience of viewing a performance different from reading the same work on the page.” (Miller)
- Art Direction – the way the world looks in the film (including sets, locations, costumes, hairstyles, and props).
- Cinematography – the ‘mood’ of the film as created through lighting, camera angles and movement, and filtering.
- Soundtrack – influences the ‘mood’ of a film by complementing, contradicting, enhancing, commenting on, or undermining the image and the story with sound/music.
- Editing – the way in which the footage is spliced together determines the ‘flow’ from shot to shot; it enhances or disrupts the narrative and plot.
- Acting – the performance of an actor (as directed by the director) to visualize a character. Discussions of acting should keep previous performances, under the same and other directors, in mind.
- Plot – provide a minimal plot summary (do not give too much away).
- Character – do not confuse the actor with the character. Character analysis in film analysis is always external. A character’s inner life is revealed through mannerisms, vocal inflections, other characters’ commentary, as well as all the spectacle elements listed above.
- Tone – primarily determined through the elements of spectacle, the tone of a film is either consistent throughout or, by weakness or design, shifts somewhere along the line. Different film genres tend to employ different tones.
- Draft your review, roughly responding to the following questions:
- What do the makers of the film intend to do?
- Explain why you think so. Did they manage to do it? Explain why and how.
- Was it worth their effort? Explain why or why not.
- Carefully read your work once again and revise and edit it to take out any remaining grammar, mechanics, or other errors you find.
© Adien Dubbleboer
Coordinator, ENGL 255
Adapted from Joyce Miller’s “Writing a Film Review”