Engaging Cinema

Select and watch a film from one of the American Film Institute’s lists of 100 greatest American films (on Wikipedia or on the AFI’s own website, which requires free registration).  (There are two lists, one compiled in 1997 and one in 2007; either is fine.)  For your review, select one scene in the film and carefully observe it from a formal perspective.  How many edits are there?  What is the average length?  What is the shortest and what is the longest shot?  Label each one (establishing shot, close-up, shot/counter-shot, tracking shot, pan, reaction, etc.  For a short demonstration of various shot types, see this short video blog) After observing these details, comment on the illusion of continuity and film as a mosaic of bits of time.  Comment on how the small elements add up to an expressive purpose.  Also notice the mechanics of dialogue – short, realistic fragments of speech, or elaborate speeches?  Comment on the use of music as well.


(When you identify the scene you are describing, mention the start and end time, and, if available, the DVD chapter on the disk.)


DC Meckler

the arts the senses & the imagination