How to Read a Film

It can be very overwhelming to analyse and read a movie as a whole as there are so many different aspects of the film to talk about, so it is easier to break it down into different sections so that you can analyse the film section by section and then put it all together. You can break a film down into three parts; Literary aspects, Dramatic aspects and Cinematic aspects.

The Literary aspects of a film are the aspects that film share in common with written literature. An example of this would be the plot. A film or a book would always have a storyline, meaning they would first give the background to the story and introduce the characters, there would then be a problem that would heighten the action in the film, there would be the climax and then the action would lesson and the problem would be resolved. Another example would be the characters; all stories need characters to move the plot along and add emotion to the film or literature. The characters can either change and develop through the plot or they can stay the same, for example, the evil characters can stay evil or improve throughout the film or book. Some characters in films and literature carry the plot, whereas some are just used to fill or for a comedic aspect. All films and written literature have a setting, meaning they have a time period and a location. They both have themes within the storyline, this could be the message that the author is trying to give to the audience about moral situations, for example. The last literary aspects would be the point of view of the text, meaning if it was written in first, second or third person.

The Dramatic aspects are the aspects that films shares with live dramas, for example a musical or a play. This is when you look more at the visual side of the film, in comparison to the written aspects. This is when you look more into the actors or actresses that play the certain characters and how they would suit playing certain characters i.e. how/why the actors are cast into the film or live drama. You could also look into the costumes, makeup and hair within the film and how they suit their characters and what they could say about the characters. You could also look into the set design and how well it suits the certain time period or mood of the film. Another thing you could look at is how they speak and their facial expressions and if that suits their character.

The Cinematic aspects are the aspects that make film its own medium and that can’t be done in literature or in live theatre. These would include how the cinematography, i.e. how the movie is filmed, the angles of the camera etc. Another aspects would be how the film is layered with sound and what impact that has on the mood or pace of the film. You could look into how the film has been edited, for example are there loads of short frames to make the mood more panicked and fast paced or are the frames very long and calming. The special effects used in film are getting more and more advanced and this is where you can evaluate what you think of them and if you think they are effective.

WARNERJORDANEDUCATION, 2012. Film in Three Levels 2.0 – [6 October 2015]. Available from:

WARNERJORDANEDUCATION, 2012. Film in Three Levels 2.0 – [6 October 2015]. Available from:


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