Indeed, when many people read lists of the 100 best movies they are often dumbfounded at the inclusion of many films they deem boring or plain bad. Similarly, many film critics will pan Hollywood blockbusters that go on to make millions of dollars. However, in film analysis the writer must go beyond these simple constructs and delve into the filmmaker’s thematic and stylistic intentions. This essay considers varying means by which academic film analysis can be achieved, with specific emphasis on thematic elements, visual elements, and editing, and also posits a personal perspective on the task of analyzing a film for its artistic qualities.
One of the central areas of importance in film analysis concerns the examination of a film for its thematic elements. In these regards, films can be read similar to the means by which one would analyze a work of literature. While there are undeniable similarities between film and novels, writers (Boggs 2006) have argued that there is a distinct difference between examining theme in terms of a film and theme in terms of a novel; while the novel represents theme through an idea, for film the theme is understood as the central unifying concept of the entire text. Another feature that is notable when examining films are the varying stylistic devices that the filmmaker has at their disposal. They include, “1) plot, 2) emotional effect or mood, 3) character, and 4) style or texture” Boggs (2006, pg. 20). Indeed, it’s understood that while all these elements will exist within a film, the filmmaker will choose to emphasize one specific element over the others. It follows that in analyzing a film, one must determine which elements the filmmaker has chosen to analyze and for what purpose.
While these theme elements seem like simple distinctions, the difference between a film that emphasizes plot over style or texture can be drastic; consider for instance the plot driven narrative in a film such as Raiders