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Film criticism as emphasized by Bordwell (2004:15) is “a judgment about the value or worth of a film, giving enough information to support your judgment”. The following tips serve as a guide to critics while performing the act of film criticism:
Questions that Guide Film Criticism
The film is a visual medium of communication which uses light and shade as well as words and music to create an effect, (Wainwright, 1982). The critic must therefore answer certain questions that throw light on the leading roles and how well or otherwise they are portrayed, (Baldock, 1996). These questions as summarized by Bordwell (2004:17) include the following:
Kernodle cited in Anunike (2005:61) lists three basic steps for film criticism as follows:
It is pertinent that the critic at the first paragraph gives his/her overall impression or assessment of the film. This is followed with comment on plot and performance at the body of his/her work. He/she finally writes the final impression in the film in the last paragraph.
Omanney and Schanker in Anunike (2005:61) gave designed questions that help in assessing a film. These questions are treated under the indices used in the critique of a film. They are as follow:
The theme is the central idea which is communicated in the film. These questions need be answered concerning the theme:
(a) Is the fundamental idea true or false in its concept of life?
(b) Is the theme adversely affected by warped or limited experience of life?
(c) Does seeing the film add something positive to your understanding and experience?
(d) Are you in agreement with the philosophy of the film?
(e) Do you think the film is consistent with the setting and plot and characters in the film?
(f) Should the general public be encouraged to watch the film, should it have been produced?
The plot is the story structure, the plan, arrangement of the shots, scenes, episodes, incidents, acts in the film. These questions show what is expected in the plot:
(a) Is the arrangement of events in the film clear?
(b) Does the plot rise to a strong climax?
(c) Do you think the suspense held until the end?
(d) Are you satisfied with the final outcome or do you think another would be more satisfactory?
(e) Which do you find more interesting, the events, the people, the style or the shock value of the film?
(f) Is the story emotionally stirring?
Characters are the human beings gods, spirits, animals etc about which a story is told (Mgbejume, 2002). These questions aid the understanding of the role of characters in the film.
(b) Do the actions of the characters fall in line with their motives?
(C) Do the characters fit into the social and geographical background of the story?
(d) Do the characters arouse sympathy, amusement, affection, disgust, admiration or hatred?
Language refers to the scriptwriter’s method of communicating the film to the viewers (Duruaku, 1997). These questions should be asked about the language use:
(a) Is the language brilliant and entertaining?
(b) Do you consider the language consistent with the characters and setting?
(c) Does the language advance the plot?
(d) Do you think people of the social class represented by the characters in the film would speak that way in real life?
The actors /actresses are assessed based in the following questions:
(a) Do you believe the actors interpreted their roles well?
(b) Has the actor made the character living individuals?
(c) Do you think the actor is natural or artificial?
(d) Does the acting grip emotionally?
(e) Is the actor’s voice pleasing?
(f) Does the actor distinguish between the character depicted and himself/herself?
(g) Is the actor consistent in character.
(h) Does the actor relate well with others in the film?
(i) Does the actor fit into style of the film?
The design elements are evaluated based in the following questions:
(a) Do you consider the set, costume, make-up, lighting, prop etc proper in the film?
(b) Does any of the design elements draw attention to itself?
(c) Do you consider the design elements conducive to the emotional reaction of the film?
(d) Are the costumes, make up and props in harmony with the background?
(e) Is the setting proper for the social class or other classes of people depicted in the film?
Source:NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA
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