Topics for M 11/11

Here are some topics for our discussion of The Florida Project on M. Feel free to suggest additional topics or start the conversation here.

  • The use of color.
  • Setting: how does the film show us that this place is centered on tourists and what that means for the people who actually live there?
  • How the film makes the mundane beautiful.
  • The use of props, costume and make-up to develop character.
  • The use of editing to fragment m-e-s.
  • What's up with the helicopters?

Topics for M 10/21

Here are some topics for our discussion of Goodfellas on M. Feel free to start the conversation in comments or to suggest additional points for discussion.

  • The characters as demonstrations of marginality and marginalization as contingent and relative depending on context and the kinds of relationships someone has with other people.
  • The use of sound in the movie and how it affects our interpretation of m-e-s, especially the voiceovers and music choices.
  • The use of freeze frames.
  • The camera as a "character" in the film.
  • Violence as part of m-e-s.
  • M-e-s and "the life."

The Long Take

One of the hallmarks of both this past week's film, Children of Men, and this coming week's film, Goodfellas, is the use of the "long take," or the use of a shot or shots of longer duration than the norm. Did you notice this while watching either film? What was the effect? This article provides additional examples and critical commentary on the use of this device. What do you think? How does this device affect your experience of mise-en-scène?

Happy ending?

In the Learning Assessments this week a number of students had questions about the ending of Eternal Sunshine, like: Is it a happy ending? Should it be happy ending? What do the final shots mean in terms of what we see Joel and Clementine doing and where they are doing it? What do the jump cuts (editing) mean?

Long take follow-up

This article by film scholar David Bordwell is a detailed critical discussion of the purposes and uses of the long take.

The following is a compilation of long takes from Children of Men:

Children of Men - every shot 45 seconds or longer from Refocused Media on Vimeo.

 And here is a feature on how the long takes were accomplished:


Here are links to the excerpts we watched in class: Russian Ark (1 & 2), Big Night, Citizen Kane, The Long Good Friday, Birdman, and Children of Men

Formal Analysis of GRAVITY part 1

The task (which we will discuss in class on W 5/20):

  • Write an analysis of the use of the long take at the beginning of this week's film. Address the following points:
    • How does the use of this extended shot affect your experience of mise-en-scène?
    • In particular, how does the movement of the camera affect your experience of mise-en-scène?
    • Where do your eyes go? What visual elements are used to guide your attention?
  • I have provided a pair of excerpts as references (the first excerpt shows more of what happens before the debris arrives, and includes what is shown in the second). Remember, the DVD is available on reserve at Hamersly Library. The library also has a Blu-ray copy for checkout. Unfortunately, it does appear to be available to stream.


  • I will look first at the precision and formality of your language. Be as specific and as technical as possible.
  • I will also be look at how clearly you explain your interpretation in visual terms. Being articulate is more important than being "right."
  • I will also be looking at how carefully your analysis is composed and edited and that you have addressed each of the required points for each image.
  • I think that one to three single-spaced pages is a reasonable guideline for length.


  • You should submit your assignment via Moodle by T 5/26 at 5:00 pm. Additional details on Moodle.
  • This assignment is worth five (5) points.

The images:




Supplemental material: on pacing

I've added a link to the excerpt from Goodfellas (1991) we watched in class this week, as well as a link to a compilation of long takes from Children of Men (2007) and a discussion of David Bordwell's analysis of Average Shot Length (ASL) in films over time.

Go to the supplemental timeline.