Film analysis (quick and dirty version)

Textual analysis is my bread and butter. I love analysing media texts – it’s the reason I went into the humanities.

Here’s the thing: every scholar has their own way of analysing a media text. Most of us have honed our skills over several years. But I don’t remember ever being taught how to read a text. Even in high school, most of the teachers were more interested in discussing themes without explaining how we can recognise those themes without their guidance.

There are some resources out there that will help you with learning the skills necessary to study and analyse texts. Those are very comprehensive and worth exploring. What I’ve got here is a very quick and dirty version of film analysis that I developed for a group of students who’d had absolutely no experience in analysing texts themselves. These students were considering doing semesters abroad in humanities departments where they would be expected to inherently know how to analyse a text. So I knocked this presentation out for them. Remember, this is a quick and dirty presentation. There’s a lot more to this methodology than is here. This is just my way of introducing the most important things to students with very little practical experience in the area.

This powerpoint was designed for 30-45 minutes of lecturing followed by some discussion and practice. If you’d like, you can use it for yourself – you can change the examples, develop it a little more, whatever you like.


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Note: I included this scene from the second Avengers movie to allow the students to compare two characters’ stated values and how they are supported by their characterisation

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Note: Isn’t this scene goddam beautiful? I love the colour; I love the contrast. I think it’s damn useful for explaining some of the ideas in this slide. You can use your own example

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Note: Pretty Woman, though… That outfit is actually pretty tame by today’s standards, isn’t it? But it was enough to indicate that she was a prostitute in the film (1990). And in the old school film noir genre (40s and 50s), cigarette smoke was an indicator of mystery and sexiness – so much so that vaseline was used to mist up the camera lens when the actresses were the focus in the scene. Knowing the context of the film maker will help to understand the choices being made

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Note: no matter what, I like to end a presentation with a roundup that gives the students everything they need in a single slide (as far as is possible)


Hope that helps! Go forth and analyse texts!



PS – I love writing and I love eating! If you want to help with the latter (and ONLY if you want) you can maybe buy me a coffee? 🙂

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