Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: Marily Burns, Gunnar Hansen
Objective Analysis: (give a few examples and provide text to support your examples)
1. Visual component (such as the art direction, camera angles and movement, cinematography, lighting, visual style, etc.):
The film is very gritty, with a dark visual style, heavy use of shadows and more. The visual style is very stripped down and gory, with close-up camera angles to capture the horror.
2. Editing component (like the pacing, rhythm, transitions, etc.):
The pacing of the film is very tense, with situations and shots lingering long after they should to make the audience uneasy – like when Leatherface swings his chainsaw around in insane joy and defeat at the same time. Hard cuts are also used to shock the audience, and to disorient them during the chase through the forest.
3. Audio component (like the soundtrack, ambient sound, dialogue, etc.):
The soundtrack is full of disturbing sounds, like jangling keys, scratching noises and more to make the audience uneasy. The sound is very atmospheric, meant to set a scary industrial mood.
4. Narrative component (such as the plot, characters, acting, setting, pace, symbolism, etc.):
The plot is a very simple ‘scary killer dismembers teenagers’ story, but told very well. Leatherface’s mask and chainsaw are iconic horror images, showing how inhuman he is and preventing us from relating to him.
Subjective analysis: (this is for you to state your point of view)
1. Discuss your favorite visual component or scene and WHY?
I think the favorite scene is at the very end, when the final girl escapes in the truck and Leatherface swings his chainsaw around in the air in some mixture of anger and insane joy – the fact that I cannot tell is what makes it so scary.
2. Discuss your favorite sound component or line of dialogue and WHY?
I think I love the atmospheric score the most of all – the oppressive sounds of scraping metal and pounding percussion, with no sense of rhythm or melody, makes the whole world of the film seem incredibly scary and hopeless.
3. Discuss your shortcoming of the film and WHY ?
I would say that the acting and the dialogue is not great, but that is simply because they serve their purpose to create a scary setting. The characters are probably supposed to be thin, because there is no time to develop them before the violence starts happening.
Online Course: Film Critique Sheet #2
Genre: Hong Kong Cinema
Director: Ian Taylor
Stars: Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee
Objective Analysis: (give examples and provide text that supports these examples)
What visual components (contributions) do you feel this genre has added to the world of art, if any? What was new visually about this genre?
The kung fu genre has definitely innovated fight scenes in film, as we grew to love complex choreography and long takes of intense fighting that looks like a dance. Hong Kong films captured all parts of this dance in filming it, and used whip pans and zooms to make the scenes more dynamic.
What is the social/political context of this genre? What events or societal trends brought this genre into existence?
Kung fu itself came about from the 17th century ban on weapons in ancient China, which led to the tradition of kung fu being a popular fighting form. The 70s saw a need for Chinese films to compete with American Hollywood cinema, so they released kung fu films by the dozens and cultivated stars.
3. What are the significant audio elements of this genre, if any (such as the soundtrack, ambient sound, dialogue, etc.)?
The punching and kicking sound effects of kung fu cinema are unmistakable and distinct, and the genre is also known for the loud cries and grunts fighters make during battle. Hong Kong film scores also made significant use of old Chinese instruments, and sounds from Beijing opera.
4. What are the significant narrative components (story telling, plot, characters, acting, setting, pace, symbolism) to this genre if any?
Most kung fu movies take place in ancient China, like the 17th century, and involve a single hero fighting for what is right. Often, the Chinese hero Wong Fei Hung is used as a heroic figure and put in movies.
Subjective analysis: (this is for you to give your point of view)
Discuss your favorite visual component or scene and WHY?
I rather liked the footage of the 1930s Wong Fei Hung film shown in the documentary, as it allowed for a peek into early kung fu cinema, and how choreography was used.
Discuss your favorite sound component or line of dialogue and WHY?
My favorite part is John Woo’s explanation of how King Hu manages to capture beautiful action in kung fu movies. About that, he says, “When watching his movies, I feel as though I’m looking at traditional Chinese paintings.” I feel like that is a perfect example of how beautiful the best Hong Kong action films can be.
3. Discuss your shortcoming of the film and WHY ?
If anything, I felt like there was a way to work in other types of Hong Kong cinema besides the kung fu film – since they had John Woo there, they could have talked about some of the gun-fighting movies he made in the 1980s.
4. How did this documentary expand your knowledge of this genre in particular and the world of film in general (give examples and why)?
I learned a lot from this documentary, such as the historical origins of kung fu itself, and the presence of Wong Fei Hung as basically a Chinese superhero. I also loved learning about the ways kung fu films are choreographed and edited, like with the demonstration of how fight scenes cut between several different versions of the same scene.