Reading Moves

Today I read “How To Read A Movie” by Roger Ebert’s this article was published date is August 30, 2008 . In this article  Roger starts by reminiscing about his early years and how he go into film reading. He reminisces that he started really getting into film around 1969 when he started teaching a class film class at the University of Chicago. His mane inspiration was his fellow teacher John West. John West was a film enthusiast who was responsible for inspiring/encouraging  the school body at University of Chicago to watch movie reals so they could study shot by shot. They described this process as “democracy in the dark.” Later he gave it a name: Cinema Interruptus. Roger attended many of these film “lectures” or sorts and began to understand principles about film making. Roger enjoyed this and become of  the mindset that he wasn’t the teacher and his students weren’t the audience, we were all in this together. As time progressed Roger became more advance in reading films, he learned from anything he could get his hands on. For instance,  he found that the book Understanding Movies, by Louis D. Giannetti, was very helpful in educating himself. Watching films helped him in grasp the idea of “Golden Mean,” or the larger concept of the “golden ratio.”. Which really in the end meant a person located somewhat to the right of center will seem ideally placed. A person to the right of that position will seem more positive; to the left, more negative. A centered person will seem objectified, like a mug shot. He called that position somewhat to the right of center the “strong axis.” Other rules of thumb that he discovered was, right is more positive, left more negative. Movement to the right seems more favorable; to the left, less so. The future seems to live on the right, the past on the left. The top is dominant over the bottom. The foreground is stronger than the background. Symmetrical compositions seem at rest. Diagonals in a composition seem to “move” in the direction of the sharpest angle they form, even though of course they may not move at all. Also, a composition could lead into a background that becomes dominant over a foreground. Tilt shots of course put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance.  He also goes into depth of about tilts saying that tilts that are down to the right than to the left, perhaps suggesting the characters are sliding perilously into their futures. Left tilts to suggested to him helplessness, sadness, resignation. Few tilts feel positive. Movement is dominant over things that are still. A POV above a character’s eyeline reduces him; below the eyeline, enhances him. Extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns; low angles make them into gods. Brighter areas tend to be dominant over darker areas, but far from always: Within the context, you can seek the “dominant contrast,” which is the area we are drawn toward. Sometimes it will be darker, further back, lower, and so on. It can be as effective to go against intrinsic weightings as to follow them. He also studies principles such as  color, lighting, shadows, construction, characters, dialogue, acting, history, sources, influences, and messages both obvious and buried. The article  then goes into a full discussion about how Roger analyzes movies.


Since I honestly don’t know much about movies this is the part  in which I will stumble the most. I am not sure if these positions that he talks about might work or not but I understand that maybe what is going on when they are using this positions is they are trying to evoke some emotions from the audience. The positions personally hold  no meaning because something with meaning are usually discussed before hand. Maybe the positions  has been before prescribed in a book or something but I am not well qualified to give that judgement.

Also, I had a chance to watch the following videos

Kubrick // One-Point Perspective from kogonada on Vimeo.

The Shining – Zooms from Ian Kammer on Vimeo.

Tarantino // From Below from kogonada on Vimeo.


I think I have two favorites the Kubrick // One-Point Perspective and Tarantino // From Below . The video in One-Point Perspective  was amazing I noticed that one point perspective is about centering and making it so the object that the camera is manly focused on becomes the center of focus. In otherwards the objects around it are put in such a way that your eye is drawn to the object, I thought this was most useful for dramatic scene. Next, I thought that the video for the perspective of “from Below” was a very power angle to use for a movie scene because it gives the prospective of another object. It is somewhat mysterious to because you are unable to see the object that there looking at in some cases. Even though I did watch The Shining – Zooms I felt like it is a less powerful perspective but if used in the right way can bring attention to a certain item or person. My key take away from the article and the videos is that  when analyzing videos people should be creative in  their analyzation. Also, I learned the everything has meaning and can be translated to give the film extra meaning, it also can be translated into a million different meanings.


2 thoughts on “Reading Moves

  1. I was wondering if you could find anything you learned from Ebert’s article in the three videos? I watched the same videos and found a few things Ebert was talking about and explained them in my post just to connect the two assignments!

    • no not really I am not even sure what the article was really about sure he had some good ideas about angles and what they mean. Do I really understand what that means maybe not. I really feel underqualified for this class was there prerequisites for it? I tride to write what I knew about films. These are the days I wish I was a film major… I wish I could have been a better help. I truth I though the videos below the article where going to offer some explanation….

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