Throughout the semester you have studied the main aspects of formal film analysis: style and form (repetition/variation, motifs, functions, etc.), narrative form, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound, and types. These are the basic tools with which filmmakers tell stories. Each director highlights one or more formal categories to express the a given film’s thematic content. For example, Baby Driverand The Conversation both utilize film sound as the primary expressive technique while also making particularly great use of mise-en-scene and editing. Similarly, Rashomon clearly broke the mold with its narrative, but also presents highly stylized mise-en-scene and cinematography. In all of these cases, specific formal properties are employed to express the film’s major themes.
For your part 2 of your final exam, write a critical formal analysis of Get Out. Your goal is to explain what the film’s major themes are and how those themes are expressed through specific formal properties. But, there’s a catch! You may only work with mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and/or sound.
Be sure to: Explain the film’s themes. What is it about or what is the “main point?” How would you characterize the implicit and symptomatic meanings? (See Chapter 2 for a refresher on these terms.) Identify the formal techniques that express those meanings most effectively. Working only with mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and/or sound, explain which categories are most prominently used to convey the film’s ideas. Explain how your chosen techniques are used to express the film’s meanings. In order to do this you will need to define terms (techniques) and then demonstrate how those techniques create meaning. Additionally, you need to refer to copious examples in detail to prove your point. For each example be sure to use specific terms. Instead of referring to “cinematography,” demonstrate how shot distance (i.e., LS, XLS, CU, etc), angle (i.e., high, low, straight-on, canted), height (i.e., low, eye-level, high), movement (i.e., handheld, track/dolly, etc), focus properties (i.e., racking, selective, etc), lens manipulations, etc., work to create meaning. Screenshots are highly recommended. Compose an essay explaining/demonstrating all of the above; be sure to incude a thesis statement, supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Some additional recommendations: Do not provide a summary. You do not need to summarize the film for this essay. Write as though your reader is very familiar with the film (which I am, obvs). Use Chapter 8 “Style as Formal System.” All of our discussions have been mini version of this assignment (so examples of formal analysis of meaning generation are evident across our work this semester) but you may benefit from seeing the example presented in Chaptter 8.
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