Saturday, March 31, 2007

Come get it in the yarbles!: A scene analysis.

The final project that I was assigned in the Film as Literature class was a shot-by-shot analysis of a scene of my choice. We were studying Kubrick at the time, so we were restricted to his films, which wasn't a problem, of course. In doing this assignment, I discovered an incredible method for probing deeply into a scene, for gaining a greater understanding of how it affects and reflects the rest of the film.

It's a lot of work, so it isn't something you do casually. However, for that particular scene that you love, that scene that makes you want to watch the whole movie for the umpteenth time, it can truly enhance your appreciation and understanding.

Essentially, it consists of watching the scene in slow motion, and separating it into the component shots. Descriptions are written along certain parameters, which you shall see. From these observations, conclusions can then be drawn on various subjects such as tone, point of view, and character. It was a pain in the ass to do, but when it was done I felt it had been very much worth the while and trial. I bring it up here because it may come in handy during a future discussion here at the Club.

The scene I chose was from A Clockwork Orange. I won't describe it here because I do so in the analysis. The analysis comes in two parts. One part was done on Excel, and was the actual shot-by-shot descriptions. The grid form is very handy for this part of the exercise. The other part was better served by Word. It gives an introduction, a scene description, and the conclusions drawn from the observations. Naturally, the Excel part goes in the middle. If you wish, print it out and read it that way.

Here is the Excel part.

Here is the Word part.

I'd be interested in knowing what you all think of the process and its possible value to this blog, as well as your thoughts on this analysis in particular.


Jeff K said...

Just saw your comment on my blog, Joe -- obviously you figured it out, so glad to see you posting!

The Fez Monkey said...

Joe -

My personal feeling is that the level of deconstruction you did for this assignment might be too "technical" for the purposes of the discussion. Certainly, there is a lot of non-tech information as well (i.e. how the angles and scene construction relate to character development and mood), but this is pretty pointy-headed academic stuff.

That being said, I bet a few of these little treatises would certainly bolster the chatter.

Ook ook

Paula said...

Joe, I find it helpful because I don't know where to start in discussing films, other than lame-o statements such as "Ooh, I liked it," or "Blah, it was boring." Reading your papers gives me some things to look for while watching.

O' Tim said...

Yeah, I wouldn't worry about being too pointy-headed here at Film Freaks. Those so inclined to dive in may and those not can glare at Paula and say, "Well what's wrong with just liking something?"

Nobody said...

I'm sorry I can't give any feedback on this particular analysis, because, brace yourself, I've never!seen!Clockwork Orange! But never one to resist a spreadsheet, I opened this up and read it all.

I'm generally one to think and talk about story over form. In other words, I'm much more likely to discuss a character's motivations than a camera angle. But of course they all work together so it's interesting to think about that stuff. I will definitely pay more attention to things like lighting, soundtrack, and camera work.

As far as using it for the blog, I think it's great for people who are more interested in technique. I personally wouldn't do a spreadsheet for one scene out of every movie we do - too much like homework, not enough like watching a movie. I have that problem with reading, actually, now that I write - it's harder for me to get into stories cause at least part of me (though for really good stories I can squelch it pretty small) is focusing on how the writer did it. But anyway, certainly the more technical aspects have a place in the discussion and I think everyone should do what they want and focus on those topics that interest them.

Lucyp said...

I'm with Paula on the subject on discussing every nuance on what made a film good or the angles or use of light etc etc.
Sometimes a film is just good and i cannot explain why and could not begin to analyse it.

Jeff K said...

One of the many things that gets me excited about this blog is the potential for so many different conversational directions and analyseseseses. I do think that the conversation should be guided by the Filminati member who chose the month's film, but that certainly doesn't mean tangents won't develop. Hell, I know you people -- I can guarantee tangents will develop.

Joe the Troll said...

"Hell, I know you people -- I can guarantee tangents will develop."

So what's everyone's favorite cookie?

Nobody said...

So what's everyone's favorite cookie?

I make these meringues with chocolate chips and pecans inside. Yummiest cookie evah.

O' Tim said...

Ooh, they do sound yummy-deelish, Jen.

So, do you think we'll have a marketable form of hydrogen fuel cell technology within 10 years?

Joe the Troll said...

"So, do you think we'll have a marketable form of hydrogen fuel cell technology within 10 years?"

What's that got to do with kitties?????

Jeff K said...

Yes, I work in marketing.