The frame

Topics for M 11/25

Here are topics for our discussion of Carol on Monday. Feel free to start the conversation here or to suggest additional topics.

  • Framing & decor: the use of windows and mirrors in framing shots.
  • Lighting.
  • How the filmmakers use mise-en-scène to create a film that not only looks and feels like the period, but also looks and feels like a film from the period.
  • Action and performance: how Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara use facial expression and body language to show emotion and change. We can also talk about how costume and make-up support these performances.


Topics for mid-term theory review

On M (10/28), we will be using some of our time to start a series of review sessions on film theory. So, if there is a concept, or part of a concept, like mise-en-scène, the frame and the shot, that you are confused by or want to know more about, post those here and I will address them in our discussion.

In future sessions, I will also be asking for topics that might be unrelated or adjacent to our core concepts, e.g., editing and sound. But for this week, I'd like to stay focused on our primary ideas.

The film we will be screening next, Leave No Trace, will afford us some time to also review on W.

Topics posted by noon on M 10/28 will be addressed in class. Topics posted after that deadline, may be addressed on W or at a future date.

Notes for re-watch of Twelve Monkeys

Here is what I have from my notes and the Post-Film Writing:

  • Cole's dream/memory.
  • Parallel shots and recurring images (sounds) in different settings.
  • Use of props as markers of time-space.
  • Use of canted or "Dutch" angles.
  • Landscapes (setting, architecture, decor) in "past" and "present."
  • Scene from Vertigo.

Theory questions: mise-en-scene, the shot, the frame

Next R (5/3), I want to spend time in our discussion reviewing our key theoretical concepts. Do you have questions or things you would like me to include in that review? In future weeks, I will ask for more wide-ranging film questions, but for this class meeting I want to focus on our core concepts. Get your suggestions in by noon on Wednesday (3/2) if you want me to include them in class.

Formal Analysis of APOLLO 13 part 1

The task (which we will discuss in class on W 5/6):

Write a visual analysis of one of the following frames. You choose what is interesting or important about mise-en-scène, the shot and/or the frame to discuss. Be sure to explain why the elements you are writing about are worth noting. Your reasons could be purely formal, the frame represents a demonstration of a particular technique or convention, or related to meaning, how the frame fits into the story or plot or significance of the film, or a combination of reasons related to form and meaning.


  • 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. Being articulate is more important than being "right."
  • I will also be looking at how carefully your analysis is composed and edited.
  • I think that one to two single-spaced pages is a reasonable guideline for length.


  • You should submit your assignment via Moodle by M 5/11 at 5:00 pm. Additional details on Moodle.
  • This assignment is worth five (5) points.

The images:

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UPDATE (M 4/28): If needed, you may take until F 5/2 to submit this Frame Analysis.

Choose two (2) of the following frames based on contrasts between one or more of the following. Write an analysis that compares and contrasts the frames on the relevant elements.

  • Shot angle and distance.
  • Focus (depth).
  • Framing.
  • Form.
  • Composition.
  • Staging positions.
  • Setting.

Go here for full instructions.

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