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Cinema Characteristics

most familiar and most accessible art form; like theater, but without the spontaneity of "live" performers

James Cameron

Titanic 1997, a Marxist-Socialist critique of America

Cinema Definition

aesthetic communication through the design of time and three-dimensional space compressed into a two dimensional image


series of still pictures

Persistence of Vision

motion picture does not really move due to an optical phenomenon


astronomer who discovered persistence of vision

Classification of film (3)

narrative, documentary, and absolute



Narrative is also called______



tells a story


familiar literary style

genres (3)

detective, western, horror story

Example of Narrative film

ET-- symbolizes the innocence and beauty of childhood


attempts to record actuality using primarily either a sociological or journalistic approach; does not use professional actors normally;gives illusion of reality

Example of documentary


Leni Riefenstahl

"Triumph of Will" -- Nazi Germany under control of Hitler (charismatic)

Absolute Film

record of movement or form; tells no story, but exists solely as movement or form; an artistic experience

Mise-en-scene (film)

"how the visual materials are staged, framed, and photographed" (Louis Giannetti "Understanding Movies"


converts the mise-en-scene from three dimensional to two dimensional space

Auteur Theory

whoever controls the mise-en-scene is the true "author" of the film

Cahiers du cinema

french journal that described directorial dominance in film art- auter theory


the quality of film that enables it to be cut, spliced, and ordered according to the needs of the film and the desires of the filmmaker


joining together shots in the editing process

Jump Cut

cut that breaks the continuity of time by moving forward from one part of the action to another that is obviously separated from the first by an interval of time, location, or camera position

Form Cut

cuts from one image to another-a different object that has similar shape or contour

Example of Form Cut

D.W. Griffith's silent film "Intolerance"--battering ram


most aesthetic use of the cut in film; handled in two ways, first; as an indication of compression or elongation of time, and second; as a rapid succession of images to illustrate an association of ideas

Example of Montage

Sergi Eisenstein--Russian army officer and the peacock

Angle Shots

open up the range of possible comments on the subject being filmed


what the camera records over a particular period of time and forms the basic unit of filmmaking

Master Shot

comprises a single shot of an entire piece of action, taken to facilitate the assembly of the composed shots in which the scene will finally be composed

Establishing Shot

long shot introduced at the beginning of a scene to establish the interrelationship of details, a time, or a place

Long Shot

far away from the subject

Medium shot

closer to the subject than a long shot

Close Up

closer than a medium shot

Two Shot

two people within the frame

Bridging Shot

inserted in the editing of a scene to cover a break of continuity

Tightly Framed Shot

the closer the shot, the more confined a figure seems

Loosely Framed Shot

suggest freedom

Jane Anderson

used tightly framing in "The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio" to suggest nurturing intimacy in her film based on an Ohio housewife

Closed Form Films

the shot is carefully composed and self-contained

Open Form Film

frame is de-emphasized, suggesting the temporary masking

Gillian Armstrong

"Mrs. Soffel" uses open form for realism

Objective Viewpoint

third person viewpoint; universal spectator

Subjective Viewpoint

the audience feels like they are actually participating in the scene

Cutting Within the Frame

avoids editing process

John Ford

"Stage coach" uses cutting within the frame




uses cutting within the frame

Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott

"Gladiator" uses cutting within the frame


transitional devices where the scene fades in and out

Lap Dissolve

Fade in and out occur simultaneously


invisible line moves across the screen

Iris-out and Iris-In

closing or opening an aperture lens

George Lucas

"Star Wars"--uses iris-out technique

Depth of Focus

if both rear and distant objects appear clearly at the same time

Rack or Differential Focus

when either the foreground or background appears blurry and one appears clear


a shot taken as the camera moves in the same direction and speed as the object being photographed


taken by rotating the camera horizontally, keeping it fixed vertically--uses in TV


moves the camera vertically or diagonally and adds variety to a sequence

Dolly Shot

moving the camera towards or away from the subject

Zoom shot

negates the need for camera movement

Cinema Verite

when natural or outdoor lighting is used and the camera is hand held, the film appears unsteady

Saving Private Ryan and We Were Soldiers

uses Cinema Verite

Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho--sense stimuli

Giovanni Bologna

Rape of the Sabine Woman---psycho remade this

Male Gaze

from a males perspective

Louis Genannetti and Mira Nair

Vanity Fair--uses male gaze

Cross cutting

alternates between two separate actions related by theme, mood, or plot

Parallel Development

The God Father--religious service, men destroying enemies

Direct Address

when characters look at or talk to the audience ex. tom jones

Camera Look

Buster Keaton-stare at audience, Charlie Chaplin-wink, Stan Laurel-gesture "how did all this happen" Bing crosby and bob Hope-comment to the audience

Magnitude and Convention

the means by which the film is communicated

Visual Metaphor

The Mission (Robert Dinero) guilt is felt by weaponry cut from him and tumbles down the mountain relieving him of his grief


La Dolce Vita--symbolic villain in black


symbolic x when someone is about to be killed

John Ford


Edwin S. Porter

The Kleptomaniac---parrallel development--wealthy woman, poor woman sent to jail

Fred zinnemann

High Noon--waiting for train

The grapes of wrath

"red river valley" audio theme when mother leaves

Frank Spotnitz

"the score is like a second screenplay, commenting on and enriching the first."

Nora Ephron

Sleepless in Seattle--classical tunes by contemporary singers

Voice over Narration

spoken commentary to display a characters thoughts


sound not derived from an obvious source

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