Film sequence analysis

Topic: film sequence analysis

Order Description

Analyse any sequence from any one of these films:

Le voyage dans la Lune (Méliès 1902)
The Impossible Voyage (Méliès 1904)
Frankenstein (Dawley 1910)
10,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Paton 1916)
Aelita (Protazanov 1924)
Metropolis (Lang 1927)
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Mamoulian 1941)
White Zombie (Halperin 1932)
The Black Cat (Ulmer 1934)
Things to Come (Menzies 1936)
Flash Gordon (Stephani 1936)
Dr Cyclops (1940)
The Crimson Ghost (Witney 1946)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Wise 1951)
Monkey Business (1952)
Gojira (Honda 1954)
Forbidden Planet (Wilcox 1956)
Alphaville (Godard 1960)
Eyes Without a Face (Franju 1960)
The Last Man on Earth (Ragona & Salkow 1964)
Solaris (Tarkovsky 1972)
World on a Wire (Fassbinder 1973)
Zardoz (Boorman 1974)
Coma (Crichton 1978)
Stalker (Tarkovsky 1979)
Death Watch (Tavernier 1980)
Starman (Carpenter 1984)
Lifeforce (Hooper 1985)
Days of Eclipse (Sokurov 1988)
They Live (Carpenter 1988)
Tetsuo the Iron Man (1989)
Angel Dust (Ishii 1994)
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (Kaneko 1995)
Cure (Kurosawa 1997)
Avalon (Oshii 2001)
The Wild Blue Yonder (Hertzog 2005)

Length: 2000 words

Recommended breakdown of word count:

Introduction, Narrative Function 100-200 words; each section on stylistic element 300-350 words; Conclusion 100-200 words


Using the concepts studied in the second Block of the unit, analyse any sequence from any one of these films:

The sequence should be approximately 3 – 5 minutes in length.

Structure your essay in the following way, clearly using subheadings as listed below and bold the key concepts utilised in your discussion:


Introduce the film you are analysing. Describe the genre of the film – i.e. what kind of film is it? (you might name two or three other films similarly located within

the genre here) What are the key stylistic and formal features of this genre? What sort of narratives were common in this genre at the time the film was produced? What

sort of expectations do audiences bring to this genre?

Indicate which sequence will be analysed and when this sequence occurs in your version of the film e.g. 01:45:00 means the sequence occurs one hour and forty-five

minutes into the film from its opening. You may use any version of the film but as for the Narrative Report should check the details of possible different releases by

using and explain which is being used.

Describe the sequence itself, the characters in the sequence, and the most significant action/s in the sequence. Briefly outline the key themes in the film’s narrative

that the sequence is developing.


Explain the point of your chosen sequence in terms of its contribution to the overall film. Answer the following questions:

* What is the function of the sequence in terms of narrative? Remember: ‘narrative exposition’ is the telling of the story, so here you explain the way the sequence

develops storytelling.

* What contribution does the sequence make to the development of character/s?

* What is the sequence attempting to achieve in terms of audience viewpoint and sympathy?

* What thematic issues does the sequence help to develop? One of the best ways to consider themes is in terms of binary oppositions (For example, one of the themes

developed in Rear Window is male/activity vs female/passivity). Discuss themes flagged in the Introduction in detail here, and ensure you return to these throughout

your essay to show how the technical codes analysed are working towards the development of your film’s themes.


Describe how the elements of mise-en-scene interact in the sequence in order to visually represent, and develop, the main point/s and theme/s as outlined earlier in

the section on NARRATIVE FUNCTION above. Remember to refer to the development of themes explored in the film as a whole in this section.

Some issues to consider/discuss when analysing mise en scene:

Setting; décor; props; costume; make-up:

• How do these relate to and contribute to the overall story?

• What do these tell us about character? For instance, are there any particular uses of colour, or other motifs occurring in this scene that form part of an overall

pattern of character relations in the film?

Consider action and performance, gesture and manner, the uses of space.

Consider the effects of casting on the look of the character – how does this add to characterisation?

Consider shadow and lighting:

• Is it drawing attention to/away from certain areas or characters?

• What is the direction and intensity of lighting? What is the key of the lighting, and why has this been selected for this scene? How does the lighting reflect the

convetions of the film’s genre?

• Is there a specific use of one significant source of light? Remember to consider all sources of light: room lighting; candle or firelight; window light; sunlight and

moonlight; neon lighting; streetlights; vehicle lights; fireworks; strobe lights; computer, television and mobile screen light.

• Are there any lighting effects and if so, what is their affect?

• How is lighting important for telling this story? What does lighting say about a certain scene, setting, moment, mood, character? How is the lighting contributing to

the development of the film’s themes in this scene?

Summarise how the mise-en-scene in this sequence contributes to narrative exposition in your chosen film.


Describe how the elements of cinematography interact in the sequence in order to visually represent and develop the main point/s as outlined in the section on

NARRATIVE FUNCTION above. Remember to refer to the themes explored in the film as a whole in this section.

Issues to consider when analysing cinematography:

• What is the effect of camera distance from characters?

• What is the effect of different positions and angles of the camera?

• What is the effect of camera focus (depth of field) and perspective?

• If black and white, does the cinematography emphasise depth and shadow; if so, to what effect? Is it high contract or low contrast, and what is the effect of this?

• If colour, what sort of colour tones – cool, warm, saturated, desaturated – are used, and what is their effect?

• Overall, how is the cinematography working to communicate the film’s themes?

Are camera movements:

• Reinforcing screen movement, or independent of the movements performed by characters?

• Maintaining or changing the centre of interest?

• Similar to or different from human vision? In what way/s?

• Favouring one character or group by adopting or depicting their viewpoint?

Summarise how the cinematography in this sequence contributes to narrative exposition.


Describe how the elements of editing interact in the sequence in order to visually represent and develop the main point/s as outlined in the section on NARRATIVE

FUNCTION above. Remember to refer to the themes explored in the film as a whole.

Issues to consider when analysing editing:

• Does the sequence feature continuity or discontinuity editing? What general function is the continuity or discontinuity editing performing?

• What is the general pattern of editing in the sequence?

• What is the pace and rhythm of the editing? What is the narrative effect? How is the editing contributing to the development of the film’s themes?

• Discuss interesting and meaningful shot-to-shot relations and the way in which they contribute to the overall meaning and effect of the sequence. How does the

relationship of the shots help to convey the film’s themes?

Summarise how the editing in this sequence contributes to narrative exposition.


Describe how the elements and techniques of sound interact in the sequence in order to aurally represent and develop the main point/s as outlined in the section on

NARRATIVE FUNCTION above. Remember to refer to the themes explored in the film as a whole where necessary.

Issues to consider when analysing sound:

• What does the sonic use of on- and off-screen space add to the scene?

• How are sound effects used and what do they achieve?

• What does the musical score achieve?

• How is diegetic and non-diegetic sound used? How are these kinds of sounds contributing to the development of the film’s themes?

• What is the narrative effect of pace and rhythm?

• How is dialogue used in this sequence? Discuss how tone/volume/timbre/pace of character voices; mannerisms in their delivery; as well as actual words, accents,

slang, specific phrases all work towards characterisation and narrative exposition and the communication of the film’s themes.

In all aspects of sound consider and note issues such as fidelity, timbre, pitch, tone, perspective, and volume, and analyse how these are used to narrative affect.

Summarise how the sound in this sequence contributes to narrative exposition.


Discuss the way in which all four aspects of film style – mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound – interact in order to produce the specific narrative

function (or point) you have outlined. The conclusion should summarise for the reader all your arguments throughout the essay, while making your final point about the

interaction of these elements in the sequence within the larger context of your film.


Your chosen film and the Film Art textbook must be referenced correctly.

Do not use any other references for this assignment as your own understanding of the set readings and your own analysis of the film text is what is required. You will

be expected to reference both Film Art and your chosen film according to the Humanities Referencing Guide available under Assessment on the unit Learning@Griffith



As for the Narrative Report, after your Reference List, you must include a detailed segmentation of your entire film listing all the key scenes in which action takes

place and their locations. You should bold the scene that you are analysing and ensure that this is presented in the most detail. The Segmentation must be written in

your own words and is not counted in the overall word count. You may include images if you wish but these do not override the need for narrative description of your

film (See Week 13’s discussion for more guidance and the advice for the Narrative Report Segmentation).

Further Guidance

NB: In your essay as a whole your aim is to establish the basic narrative point and themes of the scene being analysed, and to consider the most important aspects of

the interplay of the elements of mise-en-scene, cinematography, sound and editing that contribute to this basic point. Your discussion of film style should support

your analysis of how this basic point in your chosen scene contributes to the overall themes of the film as a whole: you are making an argument about what the point of

the scene is and what the themes are, and supporting that argument by discussing how the elements of film style contribute to that overall point, and support the

inherent themes in the film. Your discussion should be concerned with articulating how the concepts we have studied operate in your film to develop the story and

communicate the film’s themes as a whole, with particular reference to the sequence chosen for analysis as an exemplar of this narrative operation.

Remember: you are not to simply offer a check-list of the various elements of film style occurring in the scene as this does not constitute an analysis. You are aiming

to create a structured, well-articulated argument about how these elements develop the narrative point of the sequence.


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