Literary Analysis Terms for Film:  Refresher

Verbal Irony
:  When a character says the opposite of what s/he means (sarcasm)

Situational Irony:  When the actual outcome of the plot is the opposite or different from the expected outcome

Dramatic Irony:  When a character says words that have a hidden meaning understandable to the audience but of which s/he is unaware

Plot:  Action of the film

Exposition: The introduction of characters, setting, and background information

Rising Action:  Part of the play leading to the climax

Climax:  Highest emotional peak of the play: turning point where the opposing forces meet

Falling Action:  Immediately following the climax

Dénouement:   Literally, 'unknotting.' The final unraveling of a plot; the solution of a mystery; an explanation or outcome

Complication:  Tends to be the middle part;where the problem(s) facing the characters tends to develop

Dilemma:  A very difficult decision in which both choices have equally weighted consequences

Conflict:  Struggle between opposing forces

Internalà Takes place within the character

Externalà Takes place between the character and outside forces

Characterization: character development 

There are three fundamental methods of characterization :

(1) What the author tells us about the character
(2) What the character says and does
(3) The interactions of other characters / other characters’ perceptions


Script:  Written form of a play or film.  Includes dialogue, stage directions, and may be divided into scenes or acts.

Dialogue:  Speech between characters

Monologues:  Long speeches given by an individual character to other characters or the audience

Soliloquy:  Speech given by a lone character

Aside:  Statement meant for the audience or a single character, but not by other characters (Malcolm in the Middle, The Bernie Mac Show)

Act:  Major division of a film—often includes scenes

Scene:  Smaller division within an act—usually marked by the entrance of one or more characters

Suspension of disbelief:  An audience’s willingness to accept the world of the film as reality during the course of viewing

Catharsis:  The emotional release audiences should feel after watching a tragedy