Approaching the Study and Analysis of the Moving Image: Aesthetics and Representation

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There are 2 Basic Ways to Approach the Study and Analysis and Understanding of the Moving Image:


1. The branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and expression of beauty, as in the fine arts

2. The study of the psychological responses to beauty and artistic experiences.


1. An image, model, or other depiction of something of previous existence.

2. The state or condition of serving as an official delegate, agent, or spokesperson.

3.1. Objective vs. Subjective POV: ALL moving images are shot either from an objective (no known POV) or a subjective (one of the character’s) POV.

3.2 Highly Subjective Main Character:

High subjectivity affects what the character sees and therefore influences content and form:

  • Subjectivity can be explicit, in the form of a character who speaks to the audience
  • More often, subjectivity is more implicit, and the audience is led to empathize with one or more characters. Mise-en-scène (scene design, direction…) contributes heavily to this.

The film may use retrospective POV (a diary or retrospection of memory).

3.3 Multiple Point of View:

Some films, such as Pulp Fiction, Magnolia, Godsford Park… present no dominant POV. The large cast of characters thread in a social fabric and the films prefer to focus on the patterns that emerge out of group situations.

3.4 Dual Main Characters:

The subjects in these films are partnerships involving two equally important POVs. The narrative works so as to merge them into one single POV.

Types of POV:

  • Narrated POV: The film’s ruling POV may come from one of its characters narrating us through the events. For instance, the character may be writing (and reading aloud) his diary.
  • Implied POV: Most films make use of the omniscient narrator and imply POV by involving the audience in the concerns and awareness of whoever is at the center of the work. E.g. in The Wizard of Oz (1939), a number of characters represent an aspect of Dorothy’s own psyche.
  • Subsidiary or Alternative POV: One POV switches temporarily to another POV. This could be done through angles that make us see alternate characters' eyes and emotions, or through parallel action. E.g.: In Schindler’s List (1993), we get to know the character through the eyes of the people who knew him and, at the end, they all converge.
  • Points of View as Russian Dolls: POVs can embrace other POVs, to the extent that they can work like a Russian doll mechanism. Thus, the main character’s POV can embrace that of subsidiary characters, who also have feelings and opinions. Likewise, characters can hold up mirrors to each other. More often than not, the storyteller’s POV encloses all the other characters’ POVs. Finally, the audience POV encloses the storyteller’s and the other characters’ POVs.

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