On The Art of Observation or How Film Theory Ruined Movies

A bit overdue but thought it would be worth posting.

There is a term in the film world called mise-en-scène, it is a term for everything in the camera’s field of view; it is everything that the camera captures. Not a single thing found before the camera is arbitrary. From the color of the room, to the trinkets in the character’s home, to the furniture arrangement, everything is placed with the deliberate intention of telling the story in a visual manner. Studying film theory changes the way one views movies. You start to predict outcomes based on the information given or inferring information about the character behavior. Although most of us do this without thinking to some degree, being aware of the inferences we are making by the information presented cue us in to something deeper: the predictability and patterns in human behavior.

Moreover, this way of seeing a movie becomes a way of seeing the world. Your eyes become like two little viewing scopes watching the movie of someone else’s life. You begin to keenly observe and take note of people, and their homes, and the things found in their homes, with the same ferocity as you would if you were writing a mid-term paper on the Freudian overtones in the film Lolita.

From the information gathered, one infers quite a bit of information from the people around them. Gestures, mannerisms, patterns in behavior, or the disruptions of these patterns behavior, it is all so telling.

2 thoughts on “On The Art of Observation or How Film Theory Ruined Movies

  1. I don’t know who posted this, but this is a great way to think about informal interpretation and how to read the cues of the visitors. Are they interested? Do they wish you’d wrap it up? Is it over their head?

    Also, like I was telling people at my program today, a lot of science is simply observing and noticing little things. So we tried to really observe what the bats were doing.


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