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Film Styles

Page history last edited by Sheridan Hay 15 years ago

Film Styles


“subject matter plus treatment equals content.”   (Understanding Movies, p.2)


how does form shape content in film?






Films that attempt to reproduce reality on the screen.  Realists “try to preserve the illusion that their film world is unmanipulated, an objective mirror of the actual world.” (Understanding Movies, p. 2)

-         filmmakers more concerned with what is being shown rather than how it is manipulated

-         more concern with content than form

-         a high premium is placed on simplicity, spontaneity, and directness

-         camera is used conservatively

-         -Lumiere Brothers’ films good examples



The Naked City (1948) (director:  Jules Dassin)


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Further information on the Naked City.





Films that emphasize form over content.  Formalists “deliberately stylize and distort their raw materials…expressing their unabashedly subjective experience of reality.” (Understanding Movies, p. 2-3)

-         camera is used as a method of commenting on the subject matter

-         these films have lots of manipulation and re-forming of reality

-         most extreme examples are avant-garde cinema

-         Melies’  films good examples



American Astronaut (2000) (director:  Cory McAbee)

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Classical cinema is a style that avoids the extremes of realism or formalism.  Classical cinema is story-oriented with the “pictorial elements…subordinated to the presentation of characters in action.” (Understanding Movies, p. 6)


-         audience is encouraged to identify with the characters

-         entertainment value of the story important

-         images determined by their relevance to the story and characters


Example:  The Magnificent Seven (1960) (director:  John Sturges)


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Three main TYPES of film:



A broad category of visual expression that is based on the attempt, in one fashion or another, to "document" reality. Although "documentary film" originally referred to movies shot on film stock, it has subsequently expanded to include video and digital productions that can be either direct-to-video or made for a television series. Documentary, as it applies here, works to identify a "filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception" that is continually evolving and is without clear boundaries.



The genre of imaginative narrative, including novels and short stories. More generally, fiction is written and oral imaginative literature, including comic books, fables, fairy tales, films, plays, poems and video games. Works of fiction need not be entirely imaginary, and may include real people, places, and events.



Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm, or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm.

(definitions taken from wikipedia.org)



You will be asked to refer back to this information for the final assignment of the unit. 



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