Reading Movies – Techniques and Strategies

Roger Ebert, a well-known film critic, wrote about his experiences studying, dissecting, and reviewing films. He explains that conducting these actions are much more than an exercise he goes through, its the fact that he essentially “reads” the movie by using a technique called “Cinema Interruptus” –  stopping the film when something stands out or exhibits some sort of suspicion. A film can be stopped to observe the composition of a shot within it with regards to the “Rule of Thirds” a concept we learned during our week studying images. I was interested in this concept when taking photos and I am happy to see it also applies in video. Ebert explains in his article that the rule of thirds revolves around positive and negative composition, where the person in position “right of center” is more dominant than the person on the left. Ebert goes on to say “movement to the right seems more favorable” and therefore objects on the right-side of the screen seem to hold more substance in the context of the film. Just as I agreed with this concept in images I still agree with it in use for movies and Ebert sums of the reasoning when he says, “the future seems to live on the right, the past on the left.”

The two videos are watched were:


First, the video on editing techniques. Although there was no narration in this video, I still thought it was very useful, especially for someone like me who has no video editing experience whatsoever. It goes through some of the scene transition editing techniques such as a “wipe transition” or a “jump cut.” It also goes through some examples on editing the frame such as “freeze frames” and “still/thaw frames.” All of these techniques I had never heard before but have seen happen in movies, commercials, TV shows, etc. The second video I watched was a star wars bloopers video which pointed out some of the subtle differences or “mistakes” the director and his crew made. These are things that when watching the movie you may never catch since they are so minor, but as Roger Ebert suggested, when using “cinema interruptus” these are things that can be caught when “reading a movie.”


One thought on “Reading Movies – Techniques and Strategies

  1. I’ve also heard the left/right difference desctibed as based on the western reading movement of left to right, which feels natural, versus right to left (though one might want to study Chinese and Hebrew movies??) there is someing similar of up and down camera angles. It changes movie watching when you start looking for these, eh?

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