Cinema Seminar Summary #3

  • today were focusing on classical narrative: style than comes from the classical hollywood system
  • A (prestige pictures) and B pictures
  • classical hollywood narration: system in itself. still most dominant today. was developed in 1920s, and all films are a variation of this. presents plot in a way that we’ve seen before, e.g. boy meets girl. and it draws on repetition and then variation.
  • CHN: audience are active, constantly trying to work to make sense of the story. the way it cues us on how to interpret, is in a very clear and instructive way. they don’t drawn attention to itself i order to do so (not reflective usually except sullivans travels). we can say its engaging because it gives as cues, and were drawn in but not as hard to understand as some. easy to watchh. clear actions, clear resolutions.
  • if we don’t have clear action, resolution etc… its more ‘arthouse’. doesn’t happen in classical hollywood film, except if information is withheld to generate suspense. CHN is only one way to tell story.
  • pleasure comes from audience working out how the film will resolve its instructions. situation > problem > resolution (most basic level). basic driving force moving through this structure is: psychological drive of individual characters, characters that are goal oriented.
  • things lead to each other using cause and effect. cause and effect helps to build plot and often linear (chronological and linear) in CHN. flashback sequence takes us out of this, but is made clear to audience that a flashback is occurring through film form.
  • whole goal of narrative is about clarity. motivations, goals, space,┬átime
  • Casablanca story (doesn’t begin at the map): when Ilsa is 18.
  • Plot: starts in casablanca, ends in casablanca…
  • using the plot we construct the story
  • Syuzhet = Plot: everything thats explicitly presented to audience in the film. audience uses the plot to understand story. (non-diegetic sound, narration etc.)
  • Fabula = Story: everything thats explicitly presented and also inferred. director uses plot to tell the story. story is generally larger than plot.
  • usually 2 story lines:
  • (casablanca) romance: heterosexual
  • (casablanca) political/war
  • Bordwell says not only does film have this, but also each scene has elements of both lines.
  • each scene looks forward to the next: helps to maintain clarity across structure

Casablanca scene:

  • Establishing: establishing shot: were at the bar, its closed. sets up the geographical location (we’ve seen the bar before). the papers are important, were actually seeing them exposed (sense of tension). the guy quickly puts them back in their envelop (approaching deadline: the score builds up to a sense of urgency). over the shoulder shot: like secretive, were watching the valuable info. ‘secret’ on the envelope, clarity is build through the film form in multiple ways.
  • established the space of where he is sitting, entrances and exits (spacial awareness) repetition of over the shoulder shot, like a surveillance camera. the lack of people foreshadow the fact that he’s leaving and ’emptiness’ and ‘this place will never be the same without you’.
  • ‘sams piano shot’ very set up to explain CLEARLY
  • score implies that something will happen, also tension is built by letting audience know where everything is before the ‘big moment’. all the ‘players’ arriving and placing themselves in the scene. a setup of characters. the mise en scene is setting up everything.
  • medium close up shots so we pick up all info.
  • climax: actors move to the side, very choreographed so we can see.
  • resolution: not a complete res, must leaving hanging in order to move to the next scene.


  • (at end of film) instead of closure: closure effect/pseudo closures….
  • casual agent in the CHN system are the characters. its what they do but also their traits which cause things to happen.


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