In this assignment, you will have the opportunity to work with the technical vocabulary you have acquired and synthesize all of the art forms we have reviewed. You will focus your attention on the technical structure of a scene from a movie and think about how the construction of the scene contributes to the scene’s – and the movie’s – meaning. Movies should be selected from the approved list below. This exercise is meant to introduce you to the analytic process required of Film Analysis.
This exercise is in two parts. Be careful to read the instructions carefully and complete both parts separately. Both parts must be completed as described for you to receive credit. Be careful to review the sample below to better understand what is expected.
Part One: Brief Description of the Film Clip
First, select a movie from the approved list. After watching the movie in its entirety, select a scene that you feel best summarizes the meaning or purpose of the movie. For the purpose of this assignment you should not pick a scene without much happening formally, but you also won’t want to pick a scene with too much action. A scene is a self-contained sequence of continuous action and your selected scene should have between 15 and 20 shots.
Write a brief description (two paragraph minimum) of the scene (one paragraph) and why you believe it best summarizes the purpose of your selected film (one paragraph). Be sure to include the title, director, start and stop time, and total number of shots.
Throne of Blood
(dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1957)
Part One: Brief Description of Film Clip
This clip shows the interaction of Taketoki Washizu (Toshiro Mifune) and Yoshiteru Miki (Akira Kubo) with the old ghost woman (Chieko Naniwa) in the forest when they approach her strange hut after being lost in the woods. She tells the men their futures while they listen incredulously and question her. She then disappears, and the baffled men rush into and through her hut. The hut disappears behind them, and they silently investigate the piles of bones and armor stacked behind the hut before leaving the area to get lost in the fog again.
This scene best summarizes the purpose of this film because it highlights the overarching theme of predestination. The incredulity of the two men demonstrates their warriness to accept this fate and this is visually communicated… Etc.
Total Length: Four minutes and six seconds
Total Number of Shots: 17
Part Two: Analysis/Shot-by-Shot Description
Again reviewing your selected scene, outline the following information for each shot. A shot is “a single stream of images, uninterrupted by editing. The shot can use static or a mobile framing, a standard or a non-standard frame rate, but it must be continuous.” Observe and take notes on the main technical aspects of the construction of the sequence:
Create a list, table, or outline isolating each shot of the scene. This part does not have to be narrative, but it must be accurate and precise, and your comments must be detailed and careful. You can think of it as an outline of the visual structure of the sequence. Your analysis should include the following for each shot:
Example (List Format):
Part Two: Analysis / Shot by Shot Description
Start/Stop Time – 15:42 – 16:18
Length – 36 seconds
Description – Medium long shot, stationary camera, head on, deep focus. The ghost woman is seated on the floor in the center of the frame in her hut. She sings a song about the dangers of ambition while she spins silk on a wheel. Washizu and Miki enter from behind and to the left of the camera. Washizu opens the door of the hut then stands to the right of the doorway, while Miki stands on the left side. They are on the edges of the frame at a medium distance with their backs to the camera. Washizu questions the ghost about who she is, but she tells him instead of his future. Eerie string music plays quietly with the shot.
Annotation – The perfectly centered framing of the ghost combined with her lack of concern about the appearance of warriors yelling questions at her creates an eerie atmosphere. Her strangeness lends credence to her claims of future knowledge.
Shot 2 –
Start/Stop Time – 16:18 – 16:21
Length – 3.5 seconds
Description – Medium close-up, stationary camera that tilts slightly up, slightly low angle, deep focus. Reaction shot of Washizu questioning the ghost’s claims about Washizu’s future. He is centered in the frame with the edge of the hut’s doorway in the left foreground and the tangle of branches of the woods in the background. The camera tilts very slightly upward to maintain the framing as Washizu adjusts his footing. The music continues as before.
Annotation – This quick reaction shot shows the fear and disbelief in Washizu’s face that could not be seen in the previous shot.
Shot 3 –
Start/Stop Time –
Example (Table Format):
|Shot||Movie Time||Length of Shot||Description||Annotation|
|1||1:40:24||5 seconds||Head on shot; medium long. Camera remains stationary. Shot begins with ambient noise and soft “battle-esque” music and gradually it gets louder. There is what sounds like metal clanging in the distance and a loud scream/screech –almost animalistic. At the end, the shot cuts to next one.||This shot is from Perry’s (Robin Williams) point of view — Looking down the darkened street which is back lit with white fragmented light, giving a misty dream-like effect. Realistically, this lighting could be caused by a construction site which is outlined in the darkness. We see the shadowy figure of the Red Knight riding toward the camera. As the figure gets closer, he begins to breathe fire, while simultaneously a large fireball rises behind the figure. These two elements brighten the scene to an orange glow by mixing with the white mist. As the figure gets even closer we see his red color clearly which is being lit from the left side (his right side). There is another fireball from his mouth and behind him, although not as large as the first. The battle-esque music crescendos from beginning of the shot to the end of shot where it reaches a climactic high volume.|
|2||1:40:29||2 seconds||Camera remains stationary fixed on Perry. This short scene contains his head down to about his shoulder and only includes his left shoulder and right side of head. The rest of his body is cut by the camera angle. The camera is stationed in front of Perry facing upward at about a 45-degree angle. But only his right side of his face is visible due to him looking off to his left. Perry is in the foreground and the only thing in the background is a street pole with a “don’t walk” sign lit in red and a red and white traffic sign. In the beginning of the shot we hear the end of the scream/screech carried over from the last shot. Then the only noise is muffled drumming (tympani). The shot cuts pretty cleanly to the next.||This shot is lit from the right side of the camera and is brighter toward the bottom of the shot. The light seems to be coming from the orange and white caused by the Red Knight blowing fire. The scene, as a whole becomes more dim and Perry appears increasingly dark. The interesting use of camera angle, the contrast of light vs. dark, and the blurred sign in the background translate to the viewer a sense of dizziness and instability. Perry is looking toward the right (his left) where the viewer assumes the Red Knight is riding. We see a pained look on Perry’s face and his mouth opens wider as the shot continues which makes it appear that the Red Knight is getting closer to him. At the very end of the scene, there is a condensed white and gray mist that floats into the shot from the bottom right of the screen. It floats from right to left, toward Perry and creates a connecting transition between this shot and the next.|
 “Yale Film Studies: Film Analysis Guide,” last modified August 27, 2002.
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