AS Revision Notes

Section A

FM2 Section A Essay Guidance

1. What are the key factors influencing what kind of films get made today?

Audience Demographics 16-25 is the biggest target audience – influences producer choices – RomCom, Horror, Comedies, Action, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Younger Audiences – Children’s films Up, Shrek, Toy Story, Frankenweenie, Paranorman

Success or Appeal of Certain Genres:

RomComNew Years Eve, Valentine’s Day, The Ugly Truth,

Action – Bourne franchise, Taken,

Horror, Chainsaw Massacre 3D, Saw franchise, Paranormal Activity, Nightmare on Elm Street,

Fantasy & Sci-Fi, – Avatar, Blade Runner, Prometheus, Harry Potter and the Batman series

Comedy – Shaun of the Dead, Ted, Paul, Hot Fuzz

UK Independent Production – Control, London to Brighton, Fishtank and Wuthering Heights – the role of the UK film Council – The audience is more diverse and has a wider set of tastes than the distributors imagine. Note the example of Crouching Tiger which couldn’t get a distribution deal for mainstream theatrical release and then following an independent release distributors woke up! Also note that this was NOT an independent  UK production.

Different UK Film strands:

Museum / Heritage / Costume Drama piece

Elizabeth, Atonement, The English Patient, Wuthering Heights, Young Victoria, The King’s Speech, Chariots of Fire, A Room with a View.

Social Realism

London to Brighton, Nil by Mouth, Quadrophenia, Trainspotting – availability of funding through the UK film council, popular with a loyal and significant minority of cinemagoers and in the case of Quadrophenia and Trainspotting were also massive commercial successes.

Tourist View –  Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill – earned huge worldwide revenues – can drive more of the same

Comedy – Mr. Bean, Johnny English, Simon Pegg’s trilogy very large popular appeal

Franchises – trusted by audiences and producers. Why?

Audiences – familiar territory, characters and narrative, allows for narrative development. Different directors handle the franchise in different ways and bring new twists – Harry Potter and Bond, typically English but have universal appeal. Producers trust franchises, cheaper, already established audiences. Established cast and Crew, past record of box office success, they can capitalise on the hype surrounding the franchise.

Dominance of UK distribution by Hollywood majors. UK produce has fierce competition to even get a release. 80% of UK distribution owned by Time Warner, Universal etc. Rise of the Multiplex – lends itself to multi screenings of mainstream and usually Hollywood products.

Economics – merchandising, DVD sales, television and internet rights, soundtrack resales. Drives production towards the derivative, safe and mainstream. Foreign language films are less likely to get theatrical release because they are less likely to secure a TV distribution deal.

Technology – 3D – spectacle over substance, e.g. Avatar, Life of Pi, Titanic re-release in 3D

Remakes – Generic, Formulaic, Mainsteam, Blockbuster, Spectacle – largely due to Hollywood dominance

Documentaries – mainstream audiences are showing an increased appetite for documentary. E.G. Bowling for Columbine, Touching the Void, Super Size Me, Man on a wire. These are cheap to make and therefore hugely profitable.

2. What are the ways in which films of the past are made attractive to contemporary audiences?

TCM – Turner Classic Movies – one of the largest film libraries in the world, readily available on cable and satellite. Catalogue dates back to the 1920s

The internet – Youtube, accessibility of clips, P2P and file sharing, iTunes Movie Store, Netflix, Blinkbox (good appeal because films are often free and legal) LoveFilm (70,000 +) instant sharing. Internet marketing through social networks. Increased corporate presence on facebook with promotions.

Remakes might stimulate interest in the original, e.g. Psycho (1998) might stimulate interest in Hitchcock’s 1960 original. The Italian Job, Alfie are also examples of 1960s classics remade for a contemporary audience

DVD – re-release in the form of anniversary box sets. Star Wars, Alien, ET, Jaws, Bond. Director’s cuts.

Retrospectives – e.g. recent Hitchcock retrospective at the BFI. Theatrical re-release Titanic, Blade Runner, The Shining

Television – documentaries on past film makers or on the making of films e.g. Dangerous Days: The Making of Blade Runner might stimulate interest in the original

Controversy – films subject to past controversy can find new audiences. The Exorcist was refused a home certificate for almost thirty years. It’s DVD release created a demand amongst a new younger audience. On a smaller scale the same thing happened with Straw Dogs which was also refused a home certificate for nearly 30 years. Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (banned from UK distribution by the director himself) found a new audience following Kubrick’s death in 1999.

Independent and Art House Cinemas often show reprints or limited re-releases of classics such as Lawrence of Arabia.

3. How do independent films sometimes achieve success?

Good Festival Reception (Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Sundance, Venice) often be used in the poster design and in Billboards

Clever marketing strategies that are cost effective such as viral campaigns e.g. 28 Days Later

Critical Reaction – often quite positive from film critics. Conventional reviews that support the marketing

Prior track record of the production company (Working Title has a near 30 year reputation for producing excellent independent films)

The audience is more diverse and has a wider set of tastes than the distributors imagine

Word of mouth –peer reviews both in person and on social networking sites

Good track record of the director widens or broadens the appeal (Andrea Arnold)

Independent and art house audiences are very loyal

4. How far are new technologies changing the way audiences watch films?

Steaming Services Netflix, iTunes, LoveFilm, Blinkbox – streaming on demand or purchases. Airplay function from laptop through Apple TV.  iCloud allows an iTunes Library to be streamed wirelessly to other devices such as iPads. Increasing trend towards on-line viewing and away from television. Audiences are no longer limited to television schedules. Also Youtube.

Television Services; Sky Box Office and Sky Plus. – 3D television screens more widely available. 4oD and BBC iPlayer. Amazon

DVD and Bluray – immersive interactivity features such as in screen menus. Features: Commentaries, Hidden Features, Subtitles, Interactivity, Chapters, Games, Featurettes
+ directors cut’s, alternative endings, out-takes, trailer campaigns, filmographies

problems of watching 3D on hand held portable devices

Exhibition technologies – Digital Distribution (Experiment at the NFT January 2005), More digital cinemas than anywhere else in Europe, IMAX, IMAX 3D, Futuroscope 360 Screens Pirate Rides

5. How important is film marketing in attracting an audience? [40]

Film Marketing is promotion of the film upon completion. There are a range of strategies including posters, press screenings, previews, media presence including interviews, physical advertising such as billboards, press advertisements, festivals, posters in commuter spaces, special television previews, cinema trailers, radio advertisements.

There are also a range of methods which make heavy use of new technology such as viral marketing through social network sites (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube). There is also a heavy web pop-up presence on sites such as yahoo, imdb and Lovefilm.

In addition iTunes features trailers very heavily.

All of these methods suggest that an effective marketing campaign is critical to a films success.

It is also the case that pre –release marketing can kill a film – John Carter.

References to the marketing campaigns of ‘Paranormal Activity’, ’28 Days Later’, ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Kids are Alright’.

Some students were able to draw on historical examples studied in class such as ‘King Kong’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘The Godfather’  – the distribution for this was innovative in that it was a huge simultaneous theatrical release across the USA after heavy advertising

The use of ‘bankable’ selling points such as directors, stars, genre.  The new Tom Cruise film Jack Reacher where the film’s name appears only once on the poster but the star’s name appears twice.

The very best candidates were also able to consider the role of producers and audiences in film marketing. There were many possible approaches to this question and students were not expected to use them all.

6. What are some of the issues for UK producers and audiences in Hollywood’s domination of the UK film industry? [40]

UK produce has fierce competition to even get a release. 80% of UK distribution owned by Time Warner, Universal etc. Rise of the Multiplex – lends itself to multi screenings of mainstream and usually Hollywood products. “Temples of American culture which do nothing to promote diversity”

Hollywood’s international circulation is due to a number of factors acting in concert:

  • Hollywood’s textual attributes (Generic conventions, star vehicles, narrative closure, spectacle)
  • its quality of the image
  • its system (Studio System)
  • its production in the English language
  • its commercial media marketplace (web of connections worldwide)

Hollywood’s popularity is partly an economic and structural consequence of its positioning in the international audio-visual system.

The sheer size and wealth of the USA market gives Hollywood a domestic market edge not available to other national film industries.

Hollywood is advantaged by the important structural position of English as the wealthiest of the largest languages

It has benefited from the existence within the USA of a media marketplace generally unfettered by non-commercial considerations.

It has at its disposal the USA’s preeminent political, economic and military position in the world economy to garner advantages to it in foreign markets. The Hollywood majors have seized upon these advantages. They have been able to exploit the size of the North American and other English-speaking markets. From this base they have been able to wield market power in other linguistic markets.

Through their continuing overseas sales effort they have been able to function as multinational distributors in the international film, television and video marketplace.

However British Cinema does very well to compete

UK Independent Production – Control, London to Brighton, Fishtank and Wuthering Heights – the role of the UK film Council – The audience is more diverse and has a wider set of tastes than the distributors imagine.

Different UK Film strands:

Museum / Heritage / Costume Drama piece Elizabeth, Atonement, The English Patient, Wuthering Heights, Young Victoria, The King’s Speech, Chariots of Fire, A Room with a View.

Social Realism – London to Brighton, Nil by Mouth, Quadrophenia, Trainspotting – availability of funding through the UK film council, popular with a loyal and significant minority of cinemagoers and in the case of Quadrophenia and Trainspotting were also massive commercial successes.

Tourist View –  Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill – earned huge worldwide revenues – can drive more of the same

Comedy – Mr. Bean, Johnny English, Simon Pegg’s trilogy very large popular appeal

Franchises – trusted by audiences and producers. Why?

Audiences – familiar territory, characters and narrative, allows for narrative development. Different directors handle the franchise in different ways and bring new twists – Harry Potter and Bond, typically English but have universal appeal. Producers trust franchises, cheaper, already established audiences. Established cast and Crew, past record of box office success, they can capitalise on the hype surrounding the franchise.

7. ‘The current revolution in technology is changing the way both producers and audiences think of film and the film experience.’ How far do you agree with this statement? [40]

8. ‘Neither producers nor audiences need stars any more.’ How far do you agree with this statement? [40]

Section B Working Title

Film Studies Basics

1.       Cast & Crew (Director, Screenplay, Cinematographer, Sound Editor, Film editor & Actors and the roles they play)
2.       The Genre – which Genre or sub genre does the film fall within? What features (codes and conventions) are evident that allows for audience or spectator definition or hypotheses with the genre?
3.       The Narrative – how is it mediated? Is it linear or non-linear? Is there a central ‘voice’- that of the narrator? What effect does this have on reception and the way the spectator interprets the film
4.       The cultural context and setting. Where is it set? When is it set? How do we know?
5.       The micro features ( Sound, Lighting, Editing, Performance, Cinematography, Mise en scene)
6.       Critical and audience reception.

Working Title:

“Working Title Films is a British film production company, based in London.

The company was founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe in the late eighties.

It is famous for its Richard Curtis scripted romantic comedies and Coen brothers films.

During the mid 1990s British film was boosted by the success of many Working Title comedies like The Borrowers, Bean, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Fargo.

In 1992 Working Title Films joined forces with PolyGram, and saw the departure of Sarah Radclyffe and the arrival of Eric Fellner as co-Chairman.

All its films are currently distributed by Universal Pictures, which owns a 67% stake in the company, and many of its recent films are co-productions with Studio Canal.

The remaining shares are owned by the company’s founders, BBC Films and private investors.

In 2004 it made a profit of £17.8 million.

Since the turn of the century Working Title has been producing some of the biggest hits at the box office with films such as O Brother Where Art Thou?, Billy Elliot, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Bridget Jones, Shaun of the Dead, Pride and Prejudice and Hot Fuzz.”

Defining Britishness:

“Britishness is the state or quality of being British, or of embodying British characteristics, and is used to refer to that which binds and distinguishes the British people and forms the basis of their unity and identity, or else to explain expressions of British culture—such as habits, behaviours or symbols—that have a common, familiar or iconic quality readily identifiable with the United Kingdom.”

Hot Fuzz (2007)
– “Nicholas Angel: [shouting] Have you ever wondered why, why the crime rate in Sandford is so low, yet the accident rate is so high?”

1. Crew:

Director: Edgar Wright
Cinematographer: Jess Hall
Screenplay: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
Editor: Chris Dickens

Cast:

Simon Pegg – Nicholas Angel
Nick Frost – PC Danny Butterman
Martin Freeman – Met Sergeant
Bill Nighy – Met Chief Inspector
Joe Cornish – Bob
Chris Wait – Dave

2. Genre:

Action comedy
Explosions
car chases
running around
police and crime aspects such as murder
guns

3. Narrative – typical cop character, very successful, is relocated to the country side and solves the problem of the town.

4. Cultural Context and Setting – The typical British settings and location sculpt the cultural context; as does the humour, filmmaking style and the chosen talent.

5. Micro features: (Sound, lighting, editing, performance, cinematography, mise en scene)

The special effects and editing – such as explosions – give the film its sense of action. Musical allusion to Bad Boys – when Nicholas returns.


Shaun of the Dead (2004) – “You’ve got red on you”

1. Crew:

Director: Edgar Wright
Cinematographer: David M. Dunlap
Screenplay: Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright
Editor: Chris Dickens

2. Genre: – “Romzomcom” zombie film: zombies, killing, blood, gore, military involvement, national news, survival rom-com: love subplot, romantic resolution

3. Narrative

the film is a mission/adventure style narrative, which is utilized to comment on the monotony of our daily routines and the attitudes taken to them- satirized by the link of monotony and mundanity with that of zombies themselves. Uses Todorov’s narrative theory, offering an equilibrium, disequilibrium and at the end, a return to the same equilibrium. Almost bleakly though, as the ending portrays life exactly as it was at the start, despite their contentment, they are still effectively going nowhere in life.

4. Cultural Context and Setting – Again, a very English setting – the film focuses on an apocalyptic zombie attack on the United Kingdom

The settings are also used to infer a sense of childishness. Especially through Shaun, who lives at home, plays video games, works in middle management in a digital store, says ‘mummy’ and lives with an old room mate. He effectively makes no progress in self-actualizing throughout the course of the film. The settings heighten this childishness- with their living room, the pub, the garden being such significant locations.

5. Micro features: (Sound, lighting, editing, performance, cinematography, mise en scene)

Jump cuts – used to compare the humans to zombies, also to generate the sequence with the underlying zombie warning, switching through channels on the TV.

visual matches – also comparing the humans’ monotonous ways to the zombies (opening scene and the establishing of zombies later on)

Quick cuts and zooms – enhances speed when characters are getting ready closeup shots of spreading butter on toast, pouring tea, etc. (British idiosyncrasies)
video game references in editing – (dream sequence and planning the ‘mission’)

political dimensions: – These people hate and fear the zombies; and it could be seen as a pathological hatred for the working class (the proletariat). Illustrated later, when the zombies are working in ASDA. The dark lighting juxtaposed with flash lighting in the pub, zombie-killing scene. The use of music here is also very important, as their fighting is synchronized and cut to the beat of the music.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) – “Ignore her. She’s drunk. At least I hope she is. Otherwise I’m in real trouble.” (Angus, about his new wife)

1. Crew:

Director: Mike Newell
Cinematographer: Michael Coulter
Screenplay: Richard Curtis
Editor: Jon Gregory

Cast:

Hugh Grant – Charles
James Fleet – Tom
Simon Callow – Gareth
John Hannah – Matthew
Kristin Scott Thomas – Fiona

2. Genre: Romantic Comedy

use of humour; archetypal characters – young attractive female and male characters; the premise of the weddings

3. Narrative Confirmed Batchelor eventually gets ditched then hitched

4. Cultural Context and Setting

English – offers the same view as many other working Title films do of English or British life- beautiful london apartments and postcard picture style houses.

5. Micro features: (Sound, lighting, editing, performance, cinematography, mise en scene)

Love Actually (2003) – “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere.” – Hugh Grant (as the Prime Minister)

1. Crew:

Director: Richard Curtis
Cinematographer: Michael Coulter
Screenplay: Richard Curtis
Editor: Nick Moore

Cast:

Billy Nighy – Billy Mack
Gregor Fisher – Joe
Colin Firth – Jamie
Liam Neeson – Daniel
Emma Thompson – Karen
Martin Freeman – John
Keira Knightley – Juliet
Hugh Grant – The Prime Minister
Alan Rickman – Harry

2. Genre: Romantic Comedy

3. Narrative – Narrative is split up into nine parts, all exploring the theme of Love in a similarly sentimental way. Each part of the narrative can exemplify a faction of british society, and also showcases the British talent- Different major stars tend to head each different section. All the narratives are tied together or unified at the end in a similarly romanticized way.

4. Cultural Context and Setting

The setting is distinguishably British- and explores love throughout all the different aspects of British Society. Habits, behaviours and symbols

5. Micro features: (Sound, lighting, editing, performance, cinematography, mise en scene)

bright palette used to infer a sense of Christmas, and the subsequent themes of Love, Family, etc.

snow and christmas trees are a large part of the mise en scene

British elements as part of mise en scene: landmarks, taxi drivers, writers, number 10, christmas radio, the school nativity play,

Elizabeth (1998) – “Kat… I have become a virgin.” Elizabeth I

1. Crew:

Director: Shekhar Kapur
Cinematographer: Remi Adefarasin
Screenplay: Michael Hirst
Editor: Jill Bilcock

Cast:

Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth I
Geoffrey Rush – Sir Francis Walsingham
Christopher Eccleston – Duke of Norfolk
Joseph Fiennes – Robert Dudley
Richard Attenborough – Sir William Cecil

2. Genre: – Historic biopic drama

3. Narrative

4. Cultural Context and Setting

England in the 1550’s

5. Micro features: (Sound, lighting, editing, performance, cinematography, mise en scene)

The lighting and colour palette is low and dark, with lots of reds. It is used to infer a sense of grandeur and royalty, which is very important to the fabrics and finery are often a part of the mise en scene- also to infer the sense of grandeur paralleled to the scene in the prison, and the shaving of Elizabeth’s head, where it is stripped bare the lighting is very low-key, which makes it seem true to the period in which the film is set- lacking electricity, etc.

Paul (2011) – YO! fu*knuts! It’s Probing time.”

1. Crew:

Director: Greg Mottola
Cinematographer: Lawrence Sher
Screenplay: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
Editor: Chris Dickens

Cast:

Simon Pegg – Graeme Willy
Nick Frost – Clive Gollings
David House – Security Guard
Seth Rogan – Paul (voice)
Sigourney Weaver – The Big Guy
Jane Lynch – Pat Stevens

2. Genre: – Sci-fi Action comedy; geek fandom; male bonding; criticizes religion; american references

road trip aspects.

3. Narrative

The premise of the comedy is typical to the genre – two friends on a road trip. It then becomes a mission style narrative as the task of protecting Paul comes along.

4. Cultural Context and Setting

The setting of america drives a lot of gags in the film, which are quite important in establishing this as an action comedy. The setting of san diego ‘comic-con’ is important because of its cultural references and connotations to the subculture of sci-fi geeks, comic nerds, etc. The outback and sprawling desert locations are also an important aspect of the genre.

5. Micro features: (Sound, lighting, editing, performance, cinematography, mise en scene)

Special Effects, CGI in generating Paul the alien. Also used in the opening sequence and throughout, when paul reveals some of his abilities – such as healing and invisibility.
Americana References

Section C American Comparative (Once Upon A time in America and Goodfellas)

FM2 Section C: American Comparative Section.

Goodfellas (d. Martin Scorsese, 1990)

Once Upon A Time in America (d. Sergio Leone, 1984)

Goodfellas

“As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster. To me being a gangster was better than being President of the United States.”

The mythology of the American Dream.

1. Cast and Crew

Henry Hill (Ray Liotta)
Jimmy Conway (Robert DeNiro)
Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci)
Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino)
Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker
Cinematography: Michael Ballhaus
Screenplay: Martin Scorsese, Nicholas Pileggi (Author of the book upon which the film was based – Wiseguys)

2. Genre

Crime Genre – Sub Genre – Epic Gangster saga played out over three decades
Audience identification – the trappings of the gangster lifestyle:

“Scoring a dollar here, a dollar there”
Guns
Protection Rackets
Hits
Drugs
Opulent lifestyle

3. Narrative

Linear narrative with a non-linear opening. Starts in 1970 Queens with the brutal slaying of Billy Batts (Frank Vincent). Goes back to Brooklyn, 1955 and then proceeds through 1963 resumes with the Billy Batts incident in the middle then concludes with the Sunday May 11th, 1980 Last Day as a Wiseguy sequence.

Queens and Brooklyn – fairly run down. “It meant being a somebody in a neighbourhood full of nobodies.”

Narrated by Henry Hill and Karen Hill.

Has the effect of locating Henry as being with the gang but not fully a part of it. Henry for example commits no act of on screen-violence which is gangster related.

4. Themes

Organised Crime
Murder
The American Dream
New York as an Ethnic Melting pot – Tommy – 100% Sicilian. Jimmy ‘Irish Hoodlum’ Henry – Half Sicilian and Half Irish. References to Henry not being Jewish.
Gender Relationships  – women are very much secondary and are essentially used.
Corruption references The Young Henry in Court and the Police being bought off.
Heists – Air France Lufthansa
Betrayal – Henry – betrays Karen and the whole crew
Violence – Portrayed as random, brutal, rough justice, redemptive quality
Redemption.

5. Sound

Soundtrack feels part of the set – Scorsese uses the tracks on set and works with the cinematography to find the right fluidity of camera movement Layla (Derek and The Dominoes)

Scorsese only uses tracks you could have heard at the time

Rags to Riches – Tony Bennett

Last Day as A Wiseguy – mix of tracks that match the jump cuts

Guns were loaded with real cartridges

6. Editing and Cinematography

Fast paced editing
Fluid camera movement
Long Tracking shot using steadicam Copacabana Sequence Karen’s descent into the underworld
Freeze frames – emphasis on Henry’s narration
Jump Cuts

7. Key Sequences

a)     The Beginning – puts the audience right in the film – tagline
b)     Young Henry
c)     Air France
d)     Introduction to the Bamboo Lounge – direct to the camera. Henry in Court. Joe Pesci – homage to Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery
e)     Bruce ‘s pistol Whipping
f)     Copacabana Sequence
g)     Billy Batts
h)    Jail
i)      Lufthansa Heist
j)      Tommy Gets ‘made’ and then whacked.
k)    Last Day as A Wiseguy

8. http://vimeo.com/2312095

Documentary – Getting Made  – The Making of Goodfellas

Once Upon A Time in America (d. Sergio Leone, 1984)

Noodles: I’m not interested in your friends from high places, and I don’t trust politicians!

Max:  You know, if we’d listened to you, we’d still be rolling out drunks for a living! You’ll be carrying the stink of the streets with you for the rest of your life!

Noodles: I like the stink of the streets. It makes me feel good. And I like the smell of it, it opens up my lungs.

“An epic, operatic gangster film, Sergio Leone’s masterpiece deserves mention in the same breath as the Godfather.”

Total Film

“To see this film is to be swept away by the assurance and vitality of a great director making his final statement in a medium he adored.”

Los Angeles Times

The mythology of the American Dream is also present.

Max: “I swear to God to you Noodles. You and me – we can make it”

1. Cast and Crew


David “Noodles” Aaronson – Robert De Niro/Scott Tiler
Maximilian “Max” Bercovicz / Christopher Bailey – James Woods/Rusty Jacobs
Deborah Gelly – Elizabeth McGovern / Jennifer Connolly
Patsy Goldberg – James Hayden
Philip Stein – William Forsythe
Carol – Tuesday Weld

2.  Genre – Crime Genre – Sub Genre – Epic Gangster saga played out over five decades 1910 – 1968
Audience identification – the trappings of the gangster lifestyle:

Murder
Betrayal
Protection Rackets
Prohibition
Syndicalism (merging of the unions with the criminal underworld)
Hits
Drugs

3. Narrative

Non-linear narrative
Comprised of flashbacks
Complex narrative structure
Seen through the eyes of Noodles (David Aaronson)
Enigma Narrative – mystery, puzzle to resolved
Absence of what is called narrative closure – ends in a mystery – could it all have been an opium induced dream?
Enigma over Max/Mr. Bailey – does he actually meet his fate in the garbage truck? Left deliberately ambiguous.

4. Themes

The film explores themes of childhood friendships, love, lust, greed, betrayal, loss, broken relationships, and the rise of gangsters in American society, prohibition, politics, corruption etc

Organised Crime
Murder
Gang Rivalry forshadowed in the rivalry with Bugsy
The American Dream
New York as an Ethnic Melting pot  – mainly to Jewish organised crime
Gender Relationships  – women are very much secondary and are essentially used and brutalised
Corruption references  – investigation into Governer Bailey’s business activities, Corrupt the police officer
Betrayal – Max and Deborah both betray Noodles. Max fakes his own death
Violence – Portrayed as random, brutal, rough justice
Revenge – Noodles kills Bugsy for killing Dominic

5. Sound

Soundtrack feels part of the set –Leone uses Ennio Morricone’s score on set and works with the cinematography to find the right fluidity of camera movement. Flute used as a leitmotif signifying impending violence. Flute stops just before the violent act to heighten the sound of the violence.

Hyper realistic sound during Bugsy, Max and Noodles alleyway fight sequence.

Deborah’s theme.

6. Editing and Cinematography

Sepia Filters for the 1910 sequences– nostalgic rendering of 1910 New York
Freeze frame at the end – Noodles smiling
Phone Ringing –connecting different temporal locations
Cross dissolves – usually with light sources
Slow motion
Jump Cuts
Match cuts – from the older Noodles to the younger Noodles. Inscription above the Prison and Mausoleum – “Your Youngest and Strongest Will Die by the Sword”
Noodles opens the case in exactly the same spot Dominic opens it.
High Wide Angles from a crane to give an epic sense of proportion and scale to New York

7. Key Sequences

The Telephone – signifies the betrayal (probably the central theme)
Both Rape Sequences
The Pact  – “the proceeds of the gang belong to all and none of us alone”
The Baby switching scene
The Peep hole sequence  – Barrier between Noodles and Deborah
The Prostitution on the roof top – corruption of the police officer
The cream cake sequence
Bugsy’s Gang attack Noodles and Max
Governer Bailey and Noodles
Noodles, Deborah and David
Dominic’s death “Noodles…I slipped”
The diamond double cross  – killing a rival gang
End of Prohibition
The torture of the union delegate
Carol tells Noodles to betray Max
Max on women and ‘business’
Noodles comes out of Prison – Max greets him
The salt invention – their first taste of money
Noodles Sees the bodies of Philip, Max and Patsy –all burned out so they can’t be recognised. “You were too busy crying to realise it wasn’t me.”
The Gold watch connects the first meeting with the last
Freeze frame on Noodles at the end – smiling. The Final Con.

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