CWRU film scholar publishes handy "Pocket Guide to Analyzing Films"

News Release: Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Students and moviegoers may find a helpful resource in a new pocket-sized guide to better understanding and interpreting film.

Case Western Reserve University film scholar Robert Spadoni has published A Pocket Guide to Analyzing Films (University of California Press, 2014), a compact overview of the elements that make up a film and how they work together.

The 192-page book is designed to serve as a low-cost alternative to current introductory film texts, or as a supplemental text professors can assign in a film course on a director, genre, historical period, or a topic such as film adaptation or women in film. The book contains nearly 200 images from films and provides sample analyses that demonstrate ways to write persuasively about film meaning. It is divided into three main sections.

• Film form: outlines an approach to film that centers on the viewers’ experience, defining and illustrating such concepts as genres, conventions, meaning and motifs.
• Film narrative: defines narrative as a part of a story film’s overall composition, laying emphasis on film narration.
• Film style: surveys and illustrates the concrete techniques that make up a film, from camera angles to settings to different kinds of edits to film sound.

The book describes the elements that make up most films, regardless of who directed it or when or where it was made. Spadoni is aiming for, in addition to portability, broad applicability.

While the needs of film instructors inspired this book, Spadoni hopes that general readers will also find it useful as a way to further enhance their enjoyment of movies.