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Select a sequence from one film discussed in Modules 1 and 2 of the unit (see Detailed Tutorial Schedule below)and offer an analysis of the function of ‘film form’ within the sequence. While a film sequence is relatively open as a descriptive category, I encourage you to limit the sequence to a manageable duration.
For your analysis, please make sure you use a clip from one of the feature film screenings on the course: _The Cabinet of Dr Caligari_, _Casablanca_
Please do NOT use a clip from the archive of film clips on Blackboard. These are off limits for this first assessment.
In your analysis, you may wish to consider the following formal film elements:
1.The Shot as film unit (Bordwell and Thompson, Chapters 4 and 5).
A film sequence is a collection of shots strategically set in relation to each other. Prior to embarking on your written analysis, you should view your sequence as a breakdown of individual shots. Consider how these shots impact on the sequence as a whole.
Within the shot, you may choose to consider mise en scène (‘in the frame’) and cinematography (including lighting, position and movement of the camera, and duration).
2.Montage (Bordwell and Thompson, Chapter 6).
In Bordwell and Thompson, the concept of montage (shots in relation to each other) is covered under “The Relation of Shot to Shot”. What is the ‘montage strategy’ employed in the sequence you have chosen? Is the sequence founded upon a series of shots building ‘continuity’, ‘discontinuity’ or a combination of the two? And what is the effect of this series of cuts within your chosen sequence? To take an example, what is the effect/function of the ‘jump cut’ in an early sequence in Godard’s À Bout de Souffle [Breathless], examined in week 10?
3.Sound (Bordwell and Thompson, Chapter 7)
Consider the effect of diegetic and non-diegetic sound in your sequence. In what way does sound work with (or even against) the visual field? What is the overall effect of sound on your engagement with the sequence as a whole? Can sound enhance the function of visual formal elements? Can sound work autonomously – that is, can its function ever be separated from the visual image of film?
4.Narrative (Bordwell and Thompson, Chapter 3).
Mainstream film has evolved primarily as a narrative form. However, narrative is more than simply ‘story and character’. In your analysis, consider the how of storytelling. How does your sequence reveal a ‘narrational strategy’ above and beyond story, character and theme? How is this story being told to us? And what is the purpose of this mode of storytelling?
In this assessment, you may build on your sequence analysis by strategically drawing on topics discussed in Module 2: film sound, film genre, auteur cinema, film and ideology, new digital cinema, etc. However, your sequence analysis should draw on and identify formal elements outlined above: ‘the shot’, ‘montage’, ‘sound’, and ‘narrative’, exploring their function as formal strategies in production, and their effect on on the spectator. For an example of a formal examination of a sequence, see my analysis of a scene in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, in the ‘Film Clips Archive’ in Blackboard.
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