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Q: Analysis of films ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Analysis of films
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Movies and Film
Asked by: khk-ga
List Price: $13.34
Posted: 23 Apr 2005 09:42 PDT
Expires: 23 May 2005 09:42 PDT
Question ID: 513104
What books (or other sources) would you recommend to help me better
understand the structure of films?

I am strictly a viewer ? I don?t expect I?ll ever try to write a
screenplay ? but I believe I would enjoy viewing films more if I had a
better understanding of film structure. The following are some of the
things I would like to understand better:

1. How to analyze a film into its constituent acts

2. Types of plots

3. Film genre

4. Identifying the theme of a film

I already have the following books:
Linda Aronson, ?Screenwriting Updated?
Linda J. Cowgill, ?Secrets of Screenplay Structure?
Laura Schellhardt, ?Screenwriting for Dummies?
Denny Martin Flinn, ?How NOT to Write a Screenplay?
Joseph W. Reed, ?American Scenarios: The Uses of Film Genre?
Subject: Re: Analysis of films
Answered By: djbaker-ga on 23 Apr 2005 11:37 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello there!
Film is an amazing medium isn't it?  It is even more interesting when
you understand exactly what is going on and how everything works.  
There are a number of sources both internet and written that can give
you a good peak behind the curtain.


*Screenplay by Syd Field

The bible of screenwriting.  Syd Field made the three act structure
famous.  Best place to start learning about it.

*Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations  by Georges Polti

In 1945 Georges Polti said that there were 36 dramatic situations in
story telling, no more, no less.  Over time this has shown to be
fairly true.  Knowing what these 36 dramatic situations are will give
you a great leg up when trying to identify a genre, theme, etc.

*The Visual Story: Seeing the Structure of Film, TV and New Media by Bruce Block

*Creature Features:  The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie
Guide by John Stanley

*Film/Genre by Rick Altman

Provides a deep look into film genres and genre theory in general.

*Encyclopedia of Film Themes, Settings and Series by Richard and Mary Armstrong

Looks at various themes in film with examples of movies which fall into that theme.

*Cinema 1: Movement-Image by Gilles Deleuze

A look and anaylisis of the visual nature of film.  Examines how film
has evolved as a visual medium over the years and how things like
depth of field, blocking and other things were developed.  To
understand where we are we must first look at where we came from.

*Deleuze on Cinema by Ronal Bogue*

One of the classic books on film analysis.  

*Film Studies (Teach Yourself) by Warren Buckland

A good starter guide for learning to break down a film into its parts.

*Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of
Screenwriting by Robert McKee

Takes a hard look at story and story development.

*Film Structure and the Emotional System by Greg Smith

Looks at the theories of emotion and how they relate to a films
structure.  Basically how a film produces emotions.

*Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film by Seymour Chatman



Wordplay is a wonderful resource for screenwriters which has over 40
columns written by experts in the industry on everything from how to
best write heros and villains to how to write a good ending.  The site
is aimed at aspiring screenwriters but has a lot of great information
on it.  A screenwriter first has to learn the structure before they
can write it.

*The Elements of Good Storytelling

Discusses character development, dynamic settings, plot strategies, Backstory, etc.

*Movie Genres Chart

Lists most of the classic genres with a brief description and a number
of movie examples which fall into those genres.

*List of movie genres -- Wikipedia

A more comprehensive list of movie genres and subgenres.  Links go to
descriptions of each genre.

*Cyber Film School

Learn about lighting, camera movement, etc.  Since film is a visual
medium how things look on the screen is just as or more important then
the story itself.

*What is Three Act Structure

Provides a good look at the three act structure

*The Need for Structure

More three act structure.

*Sharks and Structure - Creating Dramatic Structure for Screenplays

A great look at the three act structure with a step by step
walkthrough of an example movie to illustrate it.

*Mass Media Course: Film Structure

A well written and informative look at film structure.

*Movie Genres

Looks at movie genres from a writers point of view.

Hope this answers your question!

Research Methods

Three Act Structure

Film Structure

Story Structure

Movie Genres

Identify Genres
khk-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
The answer provided a generous collection of sources of exactly the
kind I was looking for.It couldn't have been better.

Subject: Re: Analysis of films
From: fp-ga on 23 Apr 2005 13:45 PDT
In addition to the titles referred to by djbaker-ga I would like to
recommend the following book:

"How to Read a Film" by James Monaco:
Subject: Re: Analysis of films
From: pinkfreud-ga on 23 Apr 2005 13:55 PDT
William Goldman, who is equally proficient as a novelist and as a
screenwriter, has written two wonderfully entertaining and educational
books about the movie industry and his experiences in writing for the

Adventures in the Screen Trade

Which Lie Did I Tell? : More Adventures in the Screen Trade

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