Chapter 12: Analysis of the Whole Film

Questions to ask:
How well does the film succeed in what it tries to do?
Why does the film succeed or fail?
Which elements or parts make the strongest contribution to the theme and why?
Which elements or parts fail to function effectively?  Why do they fail?

Subjective Evaluation: What is our personal reaction to film?  What are our personal reasons for liking or disliking it?

Film as Technical Achievement: The Matrix, Memento
How well does the film utilize the full potential of the medium?
What inventive techniques are employed and how impressive are the effects they create?
As a whole, is the film technically superior or inferior?

Film as Showcase for the Actor: Personality Cult: The Dark Knight, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
How well are the actor’s special personality traits or acting skills suited to the character and to the action of the film?
Is the role tailored to the actor or does the actor bend to fit the role?
Compared to past performances, how difficult and demanding is this role for the actor

Auteur Approach: Psycho, Memento
Focus is on the style, technique, and philosophy of the film’s dominant personality: the director as complete filmmaker.
How does each element represent the auteur?
How would you describe the style based on other films by same director?
Does this film suggest growth in some new direction away from other films?

Film as Moral, Philosophical, or Social Statement: Humanistic approach Metropolis, Memento, Das Boot
What statement does the film make?  How significant is the truth we learn from it?
How effectively do the different film elements communicate the film’s message?
Is the message stated by the film universal, or is it restricted to our own time and place?
How relevant is the theme to our own experience?

Film as Repeated Form: Genre approach Apocalypse Now, Matrix
What are the basic requirements for this particular genre?  How well does this film fit them?
Does the film work in such a way that all our expectations for films of this type are fulfilled?
What variations make this film stand out?
What basic regional or national beliefs, values, and myths are reflected and reinforced by the film?

Film as Political Statement: Metropolis
What is the socioeconomic level of the main character?
How do members of various social classes interact?
Are ambition and the acquisition of wealth important to the characters?
Does the film celebrate a traditional value system, or does it question mainstream views?

Film as Gender Statement: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Psycho
Are the main characters male of female?  Do their roles reflect gender stereotypes?
How are women or gays portrayed in the film?  Passive and victimized or active and important to the development of the story?
Did the film advocate any specific political ideas about the rights and equality of women or gays?

Film as Insight to the Mind: The Psychoanalytical Approach Psycho, Das Boot, Blade Runner, Memento, Dark Knight, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Apocalypse Now

Freudian Criticism: Neuroses, psyche, sexual repression
What qualities suggest that its true meaning lies beneath the surface and requires psychological analysis to unravel?  Where does the director cloak and mystify events and ideas?
Recognize any basic Freudian concepts: the Oedipus complex, the ego, id, superego, libido, unconscious desires or sexual repression?
How do you respond to symbols in the film?  Do you think they are unique to you or are they universal?

Jungian Criticism: Shared social psychology, archetypes, monomyth – hero struggles to become independent being.
Do characters seem familiar?  Do they possess characteristics of archetypes? 
Are there possible relationships between the characters, conflicts, and resolutions in relation to monomyth?

Eclectic Approach: All of the above!

Develop your own personal criteria
Did the film change the way you look at things?
Did you find more (or less) in it when you watched it the second, third or fiftieth time?
How does it stand up over time?