Film Analysis

Film analysis doesn’t require a philosophy of deep thought, but merely requires the participation of the viewer. In films the audience will witness aspects of their own lives played out; the actions, emotions and scenery draw from the viewer their frame of reference. The art of film can be analyzed through specific scenes and the meaning they have in reality. For instance in the cult film Citizen Kane the viewer is placed in third person point of view mainly focusing on the story of Charles Foster Kane. The audience becomes part of the film because of the intrigue the writer, director and actors bring to the screen.

The feeling of loss of meaning is very prevalent in the duration of the film; the antics of love, exploit, desire in the viewer and in the end of the film is well orchestrated by the director Orson Welles. That is the purpose of filmmaking, to begin a story and have the audience become so engrossed in its unfolding that they lose a sense of themselves in proportion to reality and completely step into the film, the character’s triumphs and misdeeds become the audience member’s own guilt, and as the story progresses, the audience forgets their own selves in order to better become part of the caste of characters in the script.

This is what Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane accomplishes. The following paper will analyze the following films in their scene presentation, character development, directing, etc. : Citizen Kane, Pulp Fiction, Psycho, The Godfather and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Citizen Kane The opening scene of Citizen Kane begins with a word; ‘rosebud’. Although the significance of this word is not given it is a marker that allows the viewer to travel back to the beginning of Charles Foster Kane. The start of the film shows him in his deathbed at his Xanadu mansion, isolated.

Then the film goes through a series of flashbacks that begin to explain this intricate character and it is through these ‘recollections’ that the audience is allowed to piece together the psyche of this strong, introverted, yet egotistical person. The film focuses on the early parts on Kane’s growth into a tycoon and then his ultimate and undeniable downfall as a moral man who is destroyed by avarice and abuse which eventually leads to the understanding of the clandestine phrase uttered at the beginning of the movie, ‘rosebud’.

The use of light and shadow in this film was innovating; it attempted and succeeds in elements of expressionism (as utilized in such early films as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and Birth of a Nation). The film was so methodical in its constant attention to light and shadow that they begin to allow the audience to see the character’s mood as enhanced by the light or shadow.

This is relevant in such moments as Kane’s lust (when he is caught in bed with another woman the shadow’s dominant the scene), and in his darker moods (later in the movie when he upturns his wife’s puzzles the light is harrowing and the shadows almost swamp the scene) especially when Kane allows the shadow and light from fire to flicker on the faces of his characters. Orson Welles used what is known as the up angle shot or low-angle shot which completely changed how a character was depicted and seen by the audience.

In film analysis it is important to recognize how the film is shot. The use of this camera angle at an up angle shot can be witnessed at the beginning of the film with a Christmas scene at Thatcher’s when old men stand above a little boy. The shot can also be witnessed during the declaration of principles scene with shots of Kane and Jed at the window. In either case there is some quality of overbearing personality with the shots, of eagerness and hunger when the characters are portrayed in this fashion.

In the movie Citizen Kane, one of the final scenes depicts the character’s childhood sleigh with the word Rosebud painted across it; the last words of the main character were ‘Rosebud’ which says that all his life would willingly be traded to have his childhood innocence back. For the film Citizen Kane the viewer is taken through the entire life of Charles Kane and at the end of his life, and the film, there is a coinciding message of lost youth that the protagonist cannot deny he longs for, even on his deathbed, he finally regrets. That is the end message or denouement of the film.

Throughout the horrors that the protagonist has incited in others, and his life, he still longs to be a child, to play, to do it over again and better, less hurtful to his wives, and friends. Perhaps this is the message of the director, a dying man’s desire to be freed of guilt. Pulp Fiction In detail the viewer finds hints of the subject a director wants to relay. The techniques used such as lighting, stills, music, landscape, all lead to the development of a character. In the opening sequence of Pulp Fiction Vega’s character is arguing with his partner Jules about Jules’ affinity of saying bible quotes before and after killing someone.

The repertoire of the director allows these two characters to have a rapport and wit with each other, especially in the famous scene between the two about a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. If a scene is shot on a sunny day and the character is smiling, we must assume they are happy, if its sunny and the character is moody, then the director wishes to portray a dichotomy in life (that of buoyancy, and depression). In the movie Pulp Fiction the director uses the soundtrack of the film (using such vocal artists as Dusty Springfield) to bring to life the environment of the characters.

When the character is finding out the truth of his existence, as Vega does to a great extent but is seen with subtle detail in Butch’s story throughout the film, the audience is drawn to them, not just through their dialogue but through how the director wishes the audience to see them, by way of their costumer (a very funny bit with Butch in S&M costumes, depicting his confusion about his place in life), and the music being played during a certain shot (Panton paragraph 1-3).

Quentin Tarantino is renowned for his choice of music in his movies, and it is through the music that allowance to have empathy with the characters is found, as Tarantino states, “To me it just sounds like rock and roll, even Morricone music. It sounds like rock and roll spaghetti Western music. ” (Dawson 162). In the use of the song Misirlou which is played during the opening credits, the thrill of the music sets the audience in a mood of excitement and anticipation, a type of bad cowboy music.

This makes the movie develop into an art; the art of ephemeral music, of a type of musical photo album, so that the audience may reflect upon the facial features and emotions of the character in just one moment according to the music that is playing (Gladstone paragraph 3-7). The final scene is most important because it allows the audience to picture how the characters will remain in their new lives after the theatre lights come on.

In Pulp Fiction Jules’ character is the focus of the end of the story; as he exits the bathroom and comes into a Mexican standoff with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (two thieves in a diner) and Vega. He states that he is tired of his life of crime and that he wants to change, and as his first action of this change he allows the two would-be robbers to run free, leaving the contents of the briefcase untouched, that is the symbolism of the film, the fact that the characters do change.