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How To Watch Movies As A Director, Actor, Screenwriter!

Discover How Movies Can Show You How To Write Movie Scripts!  Your Ultimate Movies Electronic Book!

Included FREE with Screenwriting Collection Ebook!

Chapter One

Screenwriting CollectionWe all have read about “the making of” this movie or that movie, of the many obstacles that filmmakers face during the filming of a movie.  These are all interesting because they make us realize the work and realities that go into creating beautiful pieces of fantasy on the screen.  These fantasies appear to us in a variety of ways.  Some to shock, scare, and make us laugh.  Some to draw attention to social messages or concerns.  Some to point out universal truths such as love.  Some a combination of these and the list can go on. 

Whatever the purpose of these fantasies, they are meticulously calculated and created.  While filmgoers may have kept the ATMS busy to go see Gladiator, for example, many possibly cannot quite put a finger on all the things about the film, besides Russell Crowe’s excellent acting, and the great acting of everyone else in the film, that makes them like the movie.  Thus, in this electronic book “the making of” has this definition:  What details give the movie that additional mile that makes it excellent or “really good?”  For example, in Gladiator, why are the small, clay sculptures of the wife and son used?  In A River Runs Through It, what is the purpose of the black and white photos?  In A Room With a View, why are the piano scenes repeated?  In Ocean’s Eleven, why is the prison setting used in the beginning and end?  In Chocolat, how was the wind used?  In A Beautiful Mind, what was the purpose of Russell Crowe’s hand gesture the first time he meets Martin and Alicia?

The answers to these questions are why this electronic book has been written, to show that “those details in movies” are not included by chance, but are deliberately included to make film not only entertainment, but also well-crafted pieces of art.  This is defined by the Oxford American Dictionary when it says that “art film is a motion picture produced as a form of artistic expression rather than as mere entertainment.”  Many movies fit this category and this electronic book will focus on Gladiator, A River Runs Through It, A Room With A View, Ocean’s Eleven, Chocolat, and A Beautiful Mind to illustrate those details that give them that extra, artistic edge. 

After seeing these movies, you probably concluded, “the movie was good.”  Besides the apparent reasons of the beautiful sets and costumes, the great acting, and the interesting story, why is the movie good?  This electronic book will point out the details that make a movie good.

To explain this point further, the movie classic, East of Eden, starring James Dean and directed by Elia Kazan, shows how deliberate details must be included in a movie to give it more artistic power.  This movie is an adaptation from the latter third of John Steinbeck’s novel. 

First, however, it is important to note that novels and movies are two different mediums for artistic expression and should be studied as such.  A novel can take a hundred pages of words to describe a character through their clothing, facial expression, or smell.  A movie can only take seconds of moving, camera film to depict the same character. 

Again, each medium has a different tool.  Novels have words.  Movies have moving pictures, acting, sound, costume, etc.  For instance, readers of the Harry Potter books who have watched the movie say the movie loses the passion of the character.  Fine, but again, words have the luxury of hundreds of pages to bring about the passion, while a movie has only about an hour to characterize and may concentrate on the plot and the setting instead.  Because movies and books are different mediums, instead of comparing how the film stays true to the books, the movie should be studied by itself as its own piece of artistic expression.  So again, each medium should be viewed separately.  That is why movies are “adapted” or “based on” and not “copies of” the book.

That said, how does Elia Kazan use details to reinforce the situation in East of Eden?  In the beginning of the movie, Kazan has James Dean riding on top of the train from his town, Salinas, to the next town, Monterey, which is over the mountains.  This is intentionally done to depict the two worlds of the James Dean character, that of his father on one side of the mountain, and that of his mother’s on the other side.  Literally, his parents are on opposite sides of the tracks and on opposite sides of the mountains.  Kazan deliberately creates this shot to reinforce the situation of the James Dean character.  Another example is when the father is reading the Bible to his two sons.  Kazan makes the angle of the camera at a very odd angle.  The same is done when James Dean takes his younger brother to find out the true identity of their mother.  When the younger son sees his own mother, the angle of the camera isn’t upright, but at an odd angle.  This is showing how the parents are viewed similarly by the older son.  Such details, when a viewer becomes fully conscious of their reasons for being in the movie, makes movie viewing even more enjoyable because it is then placed to a deeper level when the movie becomes a piece of well-crafted art. 

Thus, the purpose of this electronic book is to explain those details that make Gladiator, A River Runs Through It, A Room With A View, Ocean’s Eleven, Chocolat, and A Beautiful Mind appealing not because they are subconsciously seductive because of photogenic actors, for example, but because of details that can be recognized consciously.  By being fully aware of the details, movie viewing becomes more enjoyable because of the added depth of finding details that reinforce the point of a scene, for example. 

Others may argue, why bother dissecting a movie in the first place?  Shouldn’t it just be enjoyed?  Everyone has this choice to make.  View the film simply as entertainment?  Or view the film as entertainment and artistic expression.  The latter guarantees a more enjoyable, movie experience.

It is easy to say, for example, “Maximus loves his family” after viewing Gladiator, because by viewing this movie simply as entertainment, that is an apparent conclusion.  That’s nice, but how would you put this on film?  What details would you add to visualize the same thing?  That’s when the artistic expression comes to life.  For example, everyone can remember those dream sequences of Maximus.  There is an article where Russell Crowe says that he and Ridley Scott are at a pub.  Mr. Crowe is drinking Jack Daniels and Ridley Scott is on his second bottle of champagne.  Mr. Crowe says that it is at this time that he and Mr. Scott come up with the idea of the dream sequences.  Why are those dream sequences added in the movie?  They have a deliberate purpose.  By knowing why the dream sequences are included, next time the movie is viewed, it can be appreciated more.  The movie has stronger breadth.  Viewing the movie gives it a wider angle, a way of connecting with the filmmaker, in this case, Ridley Scott, of his intentions.  This electronic book will explain why the dream sequences and other details are integrated in the movie.

So why bother looking for the details of artistic expression in a movie?  Because art, any kind of art, especially the art of movie making, needs to expand the scope of quality in filmmaking to keep audiences interested.  The movies mentioned here are a necessity in the film industry because they continue to demand a higher degree of exemplary work for the future.  These movies, like their counterparts, fortunately for us the audience, are special, and will keep audiences going to the ATMS to buy tickets for the need to be entertained and for the need to appreciate great works of art.

Russell Crowe, the leading actor in Gladiator, says that Ridley Scott is “Picasso.”  There is much truth to this because of the way Gladiator is made through the camera-lens eyes of Ridley Scott.  Imagine Gladiator as a painting, and Ridley Scott as the painter, only this time, he doesn’t use a brush, paint or canvas, he uses the camera lens, actors, costumes, sets, dialogue, sound, music and all the other, important details that finishes a film.  It is true, Gladiator is a commercial success, but much more than that, Gladiator is a noteworthy example of “artistic expression.”

Thus, we can all probably agree that Gladiator, A River Runs Through It, A Room With A View, Ocean’s Eleven, Chocolat and A Beautiful Mind are movies that are special.  This electronic book will bring to our consciousness why.  We like the story, the acting, the costumes, the sets, the main points but why?  By looking closer at the details, we will better understand consciously why we like these movies and why they have been given deserved recognition or acclaim. 

These movies exhibit exemplary filmmaking, where they have taken artistic techniques from the past and have added their own, to let the future know of the standards from which film will be judged.  For example, in the past, many filmmakers did not have the luxury of the computer as a tool for special effects.  Today, with the computer, it is unbelievable what it can do to bring about the imagination of the artists involved in a movie.  Gladiator is an example of how the past meets the present and future, of how the great acting continued from the past becomes merged with the special effects of the future, and the result is magic. 

Thus, the art of motion pictures is alive and well and one of the reasons is because of the deliberate way details are included.  These details raise filmmaking to a higher level so that the art of making movies does not stagnate but instead continues to grow and expand into the endless imaginings that is possible with art.  These possibilities are shown in the details in Gladiator, A River Runs Through It, A Room With A View, Ocean’s Eleven, Chocolat, and A Beautiful Mind. 

As this electronic book will illustrate, recognizing the details in these movies as well as other movies, from the classics of the past, to the masterpieces in the future, ensures that your movie viewing from now on can be enjoyed at a deeper level. 

Not only that, if you want to direct, act, write a screenplay, or become involved in the many aspects of completing a film, you can use everything you learn from this electronic book by understanding the importance of details.  For example, as a director, pay attention to how scenes are repeated, how sets are carefully photographed, how images or props are chosen to reinforce a scene, or why camera cuts and panning are used.  As an actor, pay attention to gestures, props or costume that illustrate the many dimensions of a character.  As a screenwriter, pay attention to all, and especially to dialogue.  Some dialogue are repeated for humor, for emphasis on some of the story’s main points, for emotional impact.  Also, where and when the dialogue is repeated is significant. 

Whatever part of the film industry you wish to take part in, this electronic book and its recognition of a movie’s artistic details can open a whole new world of watching movies not only as a fan, but as an artist taking part in the crafting of a film.  

"I loved reading what you wrote about the handkerchief scenes [in A Beautiful Mind].  I loved your book!"

Aurora McHugh, Elverson, Pennsylvania.  RhodaM41 @ aol.com

I can't wait to order your books.  I studied

filmmaking from the director's point of view.....
this was in 1969 and the chapter from yours 
sounded great....."
 
Andrea White
Sugarplumlamb @ webtv.net
 

"i read your interpretation of Ridley scott's Gladiator and it was marvelous.  I was moved to tears as i read about the symbolism and the art of imagery utilized.  thank you for your enjoyable and good quality work."

- Mariel Villanueva, Bronx, New York

earthsurvivor @ optonline.net 

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