How easy is it to read Movies?

Democracy in the Dark
Democracy in the Dark

Revealed in the Roger Ebert’s guide “How to read a Movie” was the shot by shot technique. I knew of shot by shot used in sports, but I had never heard of it being used to dissect movies in any post editing process. This is where Ebert is talking about stopping a movie randomly during a scene to analyze what just transpired. I remember doing something like this on cassette tapes with music as a youngster with friends. We use to bring our Go-Go tapes and compare with each other, to see who’s tape was the best arguing about different segments of music on our tapes.

Now that I know a films positive character should show up right of center,  it should be easier to identify bad characters in the who-done-it films. I agree with the positive stable characters being in the foreground, because this resemble the lead characters being downstage in theatre. When Ebert spoke about few tilt shots in movies were ever positive, this can be a good indicator and useful tool when analyzing films; because if anyone watched horror films they know when the shot is slanted and people start to looking sideways something bad is about to happen. This tilt shot also gives the audience a feeling of being unease or confused. I also think using adjectives like positive/negative/stable/good/bad are relative when wanting to get a meaning of a movie. Some people intentions of interpretations are different. Let us take for example a police chase, there may be a particular audience who want the bad guy to get away, so when they view the police from right of center it will be a different interpretation.

Tarantino From Below
Tarantino From Below

I watched the Tarantino/From Below clip, and no matter what the character on top was doing the character (seen or unseen) below somehow seemed vulnerable. The person on top could be making a joke, angry, being helpful, or cynical it did not matter. The scene with the two women (showed above) one on the ceiling and one with the sword in the upshot threw me off at first. The lady with the sword appeared first to be the character with the upper hand because she is the upshot, then panned in you see the character on the ceiling with no weapon and the feeling quickly changes putting the lady with the sword in the more vulnerable position. It was really strange for me the viewer feeling such a change in feelings so fast.

Transition to a cutaway
Transition to a cutaway

The second clip I watched was the Examples of Editing Techniques. This showed different transitions and cutaway techniques that could be used in the editing process. The first one shown was a cutaway between a couple of characters in conversation called the jump cut. I did not care for this technique at least at the speed it was done. It was too fast and left me feeling confused about what was going on in the scene. The slow motion gave more feeling to the rock scene not letting the over-acting look silly. The wipe transition I have always associated with a new scene not particularly associated with the previous seen, so when the wipe just let the characters in the other room I was confused. The rest of the transitions were pretty self-explanatory, but the form cut I did not understand. There seem to be a couple of cuts in that segment then the last one into space made no sense. I am thinking the other form cut was when the bone went into the air and a form cut at the top then showing the bone returning back toward the ground.

I do believe these techniques are helpful when telling a story, so emotions can be conveyed during non verbal acting. What I like about what Roger Ebert said about everybody should be able to read a movie with some knowledge of the these different techniques. I hope this helps the next time you watch a movie.

One thought on “How easy is it to read Movies?”

  1. Thanks for posting. It help me validate my points and thoughts on my blog. I read the blog post originally and I was confused, but your post helped me organize my blog. I will follow your example.

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