How to analyse a film
There two ways of how a film is directed; Genre and Auteur. Genre follows
conventions, where as an Auteur director doesn’t. Mean girls, 2004, follows the
conventions of a teen comedy.
It is the point of view of the ‘popular’ girls in a school. The film Napoleon Dynamite,
2004, has a different take on a teen comedy. It focuses mainly on the ‘geeks’ in the
school. Conventions are followed by some directors because it is less risky to the
public. Directors Ray Kellogg, John Wayne follow conventions in the film The Green
This film shows the Americans fighting for their country, showing they were heroes.
Director Francis Ford Coppaler is an Auteur director. He doesn’t follow the
conventions in the film, Apocalypse Now, 1979. This film has a scene that portrays
the American army as the ‘bad guys’. You see the American army in helicopters
with guns, coming towards this village. In the editing it cross cuts to a village, where
you see a school filled with children and women. This implies that the Americans are
Films follow seven key areas;
Codes and conventions
Codes and Conventions
Codes and conventions are usually followed in Genre films. Quantum of
Solace, directed by Marc Forster in 2008, is an example of a genre film. It
follows the conventions of an Action film. James Bond is seen as the hero, well
dressed, drives nice cars and drinks martinis. James Bond in the film, gets the
girl, fights the enemy and wins. On the other hand, the film Leon, directed by
Luc Besson in 1994, is an Auteur film because the codes and conventions are
not followed. Leon is still seen as the hero, however, he doesn’t dress well, his
key drink is milk and he keeps to himself. In the film he doesn’t get the girl.
In James Bond you get the rich culture and the sunny places. James Bond
lives a rich life style with posh hotels. In Leon, he lives in New York City in a
dingy apartment. With these two different settings you can see that both
characters live a different life. This could also show what background they
have. Leon has a past, with James Bond you don’t see what kind of past he
has, because the film is all about the action, the fighting and the girls. The
setting of New York in Leon could have an element of rich within the storyline,
this shows that he is a good fighter and has made good money from doing
this; he just decides to not spend it on his clothing or anything else. This shows
that he could be very lonely and doesn’t see the point in wasting his money,
he keeps his money saved.
With the characters in James Bond it is very, protagonist, antagonist. There are
not many actual characters in the film. The women in James Bond are more
of a sexual object, than a character. This adds to his rich lifestyle. Even though
the women in James Bond might be able to fight or use a weapon, this is just
for the action in the film. The enemy in James Bond is usually a common
enemy. There are a few people James Bond may have to fight before getting
to his common enemy, but in the end he always gets to him and has the end
fight. James bond is the protagonist in the film, the hero. He is the hero for
Britain, the reason he is fighting is to save his country. Also, you know that
James bond will never die because that won’t follow conventions of an
In Leon, however, Leon is the protagonist; he is the hero for the 12 year old
girl. Leon is fighting to ensure that Matilda has a home. This shows that Leon is
a hero for a personal reason. Matilda in Leon is a 12 year old girl who has had
a troubled childhood and is left with a lot of anger. Even though she’s very
young, she acts older and tough. She gains skills, where as in James Bond
they are already skilled. The enemy, Stansfeild in Leon, follows the
conventions of an antagonist. He dresses well, is in charge of the gang and
has a mental issue which makes him almost crazy.
The themes in action films are usually the same, good triumph over evil,
revenge and life and death. In both films they follow these themes because
that is what makes an action film. Themes in a film are to set out the narrative
and why the characters are fighting. In James Bond the revenge is the death
of his love, he then fights meaning it is either life or death, and at the end of
the film it is good triumph over evil. In Leon it isn’t Leon who wants revenge; it
was Matilda, her revenge being the death of her family, mainly little brother.
At the end of the film both Leon and Stansfeild die, Leon at the end admits
defeat, but doesn’t go without taking him with him, Leon says to Stansfeild,
‘this is from Matilda’ and then the bomb explodes. This is so that the film does
follow the theme of good triumph over evil. The life and death theme in
James bond is for when he is fighting, it is a matter of life or death. With Leon,
the life and death was Leon’s death and Matilda’s life, even though Leon
dies, Matilda goes back to school and shows life by planting Leon’s plant,
giving it roots, a metaphor for Leon having no roots in his life.
These two action films follow two very different narratives. James Bond is more
for the action and is about James Bond defeating the antagonist. The film is
about James Bond’s revenge and seeing how he does this. With Leon you’re
not sure what the film is going to be about. You see Leon doing his job as a hit
man at the start; it’s when he meets the little girl that the story changes and it
almost becomes about her story of revenge. The film Leon breaks it’s
conventions by almost making Matilda the lead role or having Matilda as a
side kick. The story of Leon is based on his relationship with Matilda and how
they deal with her losing her family. With James Bond all the audience cares
about are the girls and the action sequences, with Leon, even though it is an
action film, it has more heart and you begin to care about the characters.
The film is almost a drama/action genre.
In Leon, the iconography is similar to the setting. Thing’s such as the yellow
taxi’s and the New York skyline, you know where the film is going to be based.
It sets the scene and is part of the mise en scene. The New York based setting
does follow the conventions; however, this could be to draw the audience in.
The milk that Leon drinks is part of the iconography. It shows Leon’s
personality, that he could be rather vulnerable. You see during the film that
Leon is like a little kid, not following conventions of an action/thriller film
because the lead fighter is meant to be independent. The scene where he is
talking to Tony about his money, Tony acts as if he is responsible for Leon, like
a father figure. The iconography is just what stands out a film to set the scene
or to give you an insight on the characters.
The ideological message follows the conventions of an action/thriller film. It is
the life/death situation between the protagonist and the antagonist.
However, another message in the film is revenge, not for Leon, but for
Matilda. This gives the female role a narrative, this doesn’t follow conventions.
Pulp Fiction, directed by Quentin Tarantino, another auteur director, doesn’t
follow conventions in this film. Pulp fiction focuses on the hit-men showing
more than them killing people. The film consists of many different narratives,
which is shown in sections. The storylines cross in some places and also time
disordered. This already doesn’t follow conventions of a crime thriller. There
are different main characters through-out the film because of the different
story lines, giving us chance to understand them. Quentin Tarantino directs
pulp fiction with an understanding of each character. Usually we don’t get to
know the hit-man’s name in a crime thriller, in this we get to know their
personality. The language Tarantino uses is very risky the way the characters
talk about race quite freely.
This really sets the scene for the audience. We also see the unprofessional side
to the hit-men in the film. The scene where Vincent shoots Marvin’s by
accident shows a clumsy personality, also leading the characters into the
struggle of covering it up. In action films such as Batman, you would never see
any of mistakes made by the protagonist, which is Batman, or the antagonist,
which is the MOB. Quentin Tarantino writes narratives and dialog realistically,
making the film more believable. This shows that Tarantino is an Auteur