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Cinema: History and Criticism Notes, Week 10

by: annazeberlein

Cinema: History and Criticism Notes, Week 10 ENGL 212

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About this Document

These are the notes for the week of 3/22-3/24, going over film narrative and The Godfather.
Cinema: History and Criticism
Dr. Colleen Glenn
Class Notes
Cinema, film history, film criticism, the godfather, film narrative
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by annazeberlein on Tuesday March 29, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENGL 212 at College of Charleston taught by Dr. Colleen Glenn in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see Cinema: History and Criticism in Foreign Language at College of Charleston.


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Date Created: 03/29/16
Cinema: History and Criticism Notes, Week 10 Film narrative - Narrative follows a 3 part structure (beginning, middle (problem introduced), and end (problem solved)) - Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of humanity - Narrative is how we organize patterns of time and history in our lives - As technology advanced, so did our ability to tell more complex stories in film o Now that we have editing and special effects we can make the stories even more complex - Stories trump style in Hollywood o Tends to be classical in adherence to traditional narrative - Elements of narrative film o Story o Characters o Plot vs. story § Plot – it is the thing that orders the events and actions of the story according to patterns of time • Also describes everything we see in the film before us § Story – what we understand has happened, even what we don’t see o Diegesis § The entire world that a film story describes or infers § Our outside knowledge of stories add to the effect of the film o More about characters § Combine ordinary and extraordinary qualities § Allows them to be relatable and interesting at the same time § Types • Protagonist • Antagonist • Character types – characters that are already familiar with us because we’ve seen them before • Figurative types – so exaggerated or reduced that they become more of an abstraction § Coherence, depth, grouping • Character coherence – the character remains consistent throughout o This doesn’t always happen, then we have a divided or an inconsistent character • Character grouping – social arrangement of characters in relation to each other § Characters change • Internal changes - Do they progress? Become better? Do they regress? Is there moral deterioration? • Physical changes and internal changes usually work in tandem, but it can also be as simple as aging - Narrative patterns of time o Most of them follow a linear chronology, but it can be warped to create an effect that means something o Deadline structure – common temporal scheme o Parallel plots – two narratives that exist side by side and intersect o Flashback o Retrospective plot o Flashforward o Duration vs. frequency § Length of time vs. how often something is seen happening - Narration or narrative perspective o Narration – usually done with a voice over (first person) where the voice describes the action o Omniscient narration o Limited third person o Unreliable narration o Always there, sometime with cinematography, sometimes with voice over - Classical film narrative o Classical Hollywood style used classical film narrative rules § 1 or more central characters § Cause and effect logic § Linear chronologies § Limited or restricted narration § Beginning, middle, strong degree of resolution at the end - Alternative film narrative o Challenge linear structure (chronology) o Undermines a character o Questions realism - Think about how the story is told, what elements of the story does the plot include, and think about if a story is radically different The Godfather (1972 – Francis Ford Coppola) - Dichotomy of inside (business) vs. outside (family) o Old world vs. new world - The godfather is in a position of power through demanding respect and friendship with money - While there’s a division between business and family, there’s an impossible blurring of the two - The trajectory of the film is to get Michael in the business - Sonny’s temper is predictable - Italian song v. Johnny Fontaine is old vs. new world - “That’s my family, Kay, not me.” o He resents the business, but he loves his family o But his feelings aren’t exactly clear; will he enter into the business with his family? o He chooses to tell her this story in the beginning but by the end he tries to shut her out but appears to let her in, despite the fact that he’s lying - When Corleone’s power stretches to LA, it emphasizes the pervasiveness of the Don’s power - When Michael goes to visit his father at the hospital, it’s a switch from Michael’s civilian status to criminal status, he’s just been given the motivation - Michael is the only logical heir to the Don Corleone because Fredo is lacking mentally (he’s a follower, not a leader) and Sonny’s temper is too volatile - Sonny is passion (id), Tom is logic/reason (ego) - In the final church scene, the cutting to the murders shows he’s orchestrated shows the invisible pervasiveness of his power, like the power his father had


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