Film Studies

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Shaun of the Dead

British Film- NARRATIVE AND IDEOLOGY; 2004, Edgar Wright

KEY IDEAS- Post-modernism, middle-class society V slacker, themes of urban decay, youth, unskilled workers, satire, capitalism

KEY SCENES- Post-Modernism seen in credits, all the workers seem unengaged and unconnected with wider society and their work. Behind Shaun in his job show masses amounts of TV channels and different technology- how society has become obsessed. The middle class is seen through characters like David and Pete, and the 'slacker generation' is seen through Ed and Shaun, mainly Ed, as frequent shots of their messy living room with the diegetic sound of video games and television. The scene in the living room where Ed and Shaun are surrounded by mess and Pete comes in, in his suit etc. Urban Decay is symbolized in the first music track of the film 'Ghost Town' by The Specials, remembered for being a hit at the same time as the riots in Britain. Youth are stereotyped in the opening with costume and performance, many wear hoodies, buy fast food and carry whistles. Unskilled workers, most obvious is the opening or Shaun's work scene. Supermarket in the opening is showing how bored and seemingly disillusioned workers are female cashiers, follow the same, robotic routine as they scan. The ideology presented is that people are already living like zombies. Satire used as Ed and Shaun are coming out of the pub

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Shaun of the Dead

and they spot a zombie, however, they believe him to be drunk like they are. They continue to sing the song White Lies by Duran Duran, and the zombie contributes to the humor by contributing to part of the song like 'AAAH' in the chorus. Capitalism is shown as the film argues that we become like zombies in order to attain our desires and wealth; showing the threat of Capitalist Culture

BINARY OPPOSITION; Claude Levi-Strauss believed that binary oppositions are the central climax of the narrative structure, driven forward by conflict until a balance is resolved.

Pete V Ed-     Shaun V David-     Human V Zombie-      Feminism V Patriarchy-     Young V Old


Post-modernism, Capitalism, Feminism, Patriarchism, Liberalism, Materialism

ALLIGNMENT- Shaun and Ed are the focus and most relatable and therefore the audience is aligned with them

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This is England

British Film- NARRATIVE AND IDEOLOGY; Shane Meadows 2004

KEY IDEAS- National Identity, working class, skinheads, politics in the 80s/Thatcherism, Nationalism, social realism

KEY SCENES- National identity factors into many scenes, a site of struggle constantly undergoing a process of reaffirmation or redefinition, also like shared stock images of the English Flag, norms, and values, so can be seen in the national front meeting where they want tradition and an English flag is proudly presented or the end scene. Working Class can be seen in the first scene as all the audience are introduced with is ripped wallpaper, Shaun walks around a street where there are obvious signs of graffiti and the scene where they all go out to an abandoned house and trash it shows the working class and its youth. Skinheads play a vital role, the scene where they shave his head or the scenes where he gets his clothes; factors into cultural identity. Thatcherism can be seen most strongly in Combo's speech scene, shows the impact of the war on people like Shaun, and how hatred was brewing against Thatcher, Combo close-ups show his passion. Also shows s the result of Thatcher racism and nationalism brewed, the focus of Milky's face is important in this scene. Nationalism is seen in the speech and national front meeting, 'that's what this nation was built upon', 'do you consider yourself English or Jamaican. Combos speech makes a suggestion as if he thinks himself the victim

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This is England

Nationalism is also seen in a different way through multiple shots of the countryside, showing the beauty of England, offers a counterpoint of the nationalism Combo carries. Social realism is presented about having the true troubles of the time, like Falklands war, Thatcher, Working class, Nationalism, uses mise-en-scene like houses and areas that present verisimilitude to portray the struggle of the working class. Costumes like a shaved head, doc martins etc present style and cultural identity at the time


Racism, Nationalism, Thatcherism, Patriotism, Structuralism, Social Realism, Feminism, Patriarchy, ethnocentrism, Multiculturalism, Capitalism

Nationalism V Patriotism-     Feminism V Patriarchy-     Ethnocentrism V Multiculturalism    


Power and Control, Change and Action, Equality and Responsibility, Tolerance, Rights and Respect, Democracy, Community, Diversity, Identity, Youth, Freedom

ALIGNMENT- Shaun and Woody's gang

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American Film- SPECTATORSHIP AND IDEOLOGY; Todd Haynes 2015

KEY IDEAS- Feminism, heteronormative society, life in the 50s, materialism, capitalism, stereotypes, patriarchy

KEY SCENES- Feminism can be seen all throughout the film, most notably the film is hardly shot in the male gaze, only right at the start when the man identifies Therese, the rest of the film is shot through women, mostly Carol and Therese', perspective. The first lunch scene, the waiters perspective is never given, only over Carol or Therese' shoulder. Heteronormative society is clearly present throughout the film, and the film using scenes try to reject this in order to consider other perspectives, Homosexuality is explored in Carol and Therese' first meeting at the store, there is continuous shot-reverse shot between them to highlight the attention caught. The way they are clearly slightly nervous around each other also symbolizes this. This is contrasted to the way they both have male partners. Life in the 50s factors into the heteronormative society aspect but also some lines are a clear nod to the struggles at the time. The House of Un-American Activities is mentioned by a drunk man, this is a nod at the communist threat and scare that was going on at the time due to McCarthy etc. This can also link to homosexuality and Hardge's suspicion of Carol to hire a detective as at the time everyone was suspicious about everyone and people wanted to expose people who were different

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Materialism and Capitalism can be seen in Carol, she wears extravagant outfits and looks clearly wealthy. In some ways this is done so the audience notices her, however, it is also a clear nod to wealth etc. In the lunch scene, her dress and scarf are red which match the surroundings of the expensive bar, she seems at ease with the higher class atmosphere. Therese is contrasted in black and white and seems to follow Carols lead in ordering. Stereotypes also place a key part, for the women and men in the film. On the bike at the start of the film, Richard is steering and Therese is the passenger, this also factors into patriarchy. Picture of Carol's daughter that she shows Therese shows the classic mother stereotype and the scene where she is brushing her hair. The line 'what did you want when you were little' in the store and the fact Carol is there buying a doll for her daughter shows the inclination that all girls would want feminine things. This stereotype is broken as Carol and Therese are both looking at the train set. Patriarchy again plays a big part, factoring into heteronormative society and how men are trying to be dominant figures in the film, which Haynes by disregarding the male gaze. 'I'd like you to be there' is a controlling line pushing Carol into coming. 'I bet you thought it was a man who sent you your gloves' is Therese acknowledging society norms

ALIGNMENT- Carol and Therese/ women with only their perspective, no male POV. Focus on Carol and Therese' journey

STRUCTURE- Cyclical, beginning and end scene is the same. Three act structure. Episodic at the beginning. Told by flashback

AESTHETIC- Grainy, grey, focus on photography at the time- link to Therese

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Winters Bone


KEY IDEAS- drugs, poverty, Ozarks, family, feminism, patriarchy, CAMPBELLS, HERO JOURNEY FRAMEWORK

KEY SCENES- The film is centered around drugs, as Ree's father was murdered because of drug issues and how he owed many people, poverty and drugs overlap which also overlaps with the Ozark region as Granik clearly uses hots of the landscape to portray a rundown aesthetic. It portrays a sense of rural America and the effects of capitalism. Granik also focuses of the sense of community and culture going on in the Ozarks, seen in the beating up of Ree, seeing many people and together to seemingly get rid of her, and the culture of animals making it a motif of the family's many pets and t-shirts that have animals on them. The aesthetic of the film is a social realist one, the cinematography was filmed on location to achieve this. Family is seen through Ree and how she takes care of her mother and two siblings, taking up the 'father' role almost when Jessup leaves. The quest she sets out on to find her father clearly symbolizes the importance of family. The military scene where she goes to find out how much she will get so she can supply for her family shows this. Feminism is seen in character Ree as we are aligned with her through POV. Jessup's closet scene where she is looking down at his shoes symbolize her taking up the male role in her family. 

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Winters Bone

Patriarchy can be seen through the toxic masculinity that the men in the film supply. The men appear to represent power and authority, with Thump serving as the tribe's patriarch. Teardrops wife tries t press her husband of Ree's behalf, he warns her to 'Shut up' and then adds ' I already told you to shut up once with my mouth' as a threat to show his power and dominance.  The heroes journey is seen through Ree's quest, call to adventure by the sheriff, mentors, and helpers along the way, neighbors giving her food, Megan and the Milton's giving her small amounts of help. Tests and trails, Ree is warned to carry on her quest, she is violently beaten. Companion is Teardrop when he saves her. The climax is when the Milton's take her 'to (her) daddy's bones'. Flight is going to the police station. Return is Ree returning to look after her family and peace with Teardrop

STRUCTURE- Chronological, audience knows as much as the character does, dream sequences

SPECTATORSHIP- Preferred reading is to align with Ree, to understand the community within the Ozarks and respond sympathetically to the community that s struggling against a range of societal problems that make their lives hard, particularly for women living in a masculine world. Oppositional is that women are the problem as Ree suffered at the hands of women that surround Thump

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The manipulation and crucially the montage effect of the using the footage alongside the interviews is what gives the fil it power. Combination of analouge and some early digital recordings reveal a perspective on her childhood, adolescence and early part of career

KEY IDEAS- Personal life, drug use, media, relationships

KEY SCENES- Personal life is explored from a young age by archive footage from right at the beginning where she is singing happy birthday. the invasion of her personal life is first really seen in the paparazzi picture of her and blake in the park. Drug use is also somewhat present throughout, becoming more of an issue when the film goes on. Amy is filmed with weed by her friend Nick, here she looks happy. The injection of hard drugs comes with Blake, where she is seen losing weight rapidly, more aggressive; this can link to both media and relationships. Drinking becomes more prominent as well after back to black, rehab etc. The media's role is presented as vital. Kapadia, on numerous occasions, including harsh flashing lights and the loud diegetic sound of cameras clicking. It is shown even at the beginning when Nick says 'Give us a smile, then we can turn the camera off'. 'If I could take it back, just to walk down that street without hassle, I would', this is right  

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in the end, but shows the extent of how the media affected her, she also became the laugh of many puns and Kapadia used clips from shows like Graham Norton where she is the joke. Relationships factor into her personal life, her father, Blake, and her mother. Father is St Lucia, where he brings a camera crew. Kapadia makes it clear that many of her relationships are toxic, Blake with the drugs, her father seemingly using her, mother not being firm enough

DOCUMENTARY ASPECTS- uses existing footage from media sources, personal material recorded by her friends and some unofficial shots from performances. Kapadia underpins these with a series of interviews with family, friends and some musicians like Tony Bennett- challenging the spectator with her predicament. The audience is always looking at Amy, a metaphor for how Amy's private life became affected by the rise of social media etc. Kapadia way of filmmaking is different to that of say, Moore, as there is no injection of his voiceover. Even so, he does shape the audiences allignment by cleverly making certain people like Mitch appear bad, aligning the audience with his own perspective like Moore tries to do. 

With the film including little actual original footage, seeming to largely consist of captioned establishing shots of London, either with drone or helicopter, they are clearly digital and offer a brief counterpoint to the rest of the film

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Pans Laberynth

Global Film- COREDel Toro 2006

KEY IDEAS- Spanish civil war, fascism, fairytale, nature, gender

KEY SCENES-  The beginning of the film, before the audience even see anything, the words 1944, Spain are across the screen, this sets the scene. The first meeting of Vidal he seems very stern and is dressed in general uniform. The banquet scene and the Pale man scene both signify fascism and the civil war. 'God has already saved their souls, no matter what happens to their bodies', 'new clean Spain'. This signifies Vidal's thirst for 'cleaning' Spain, showing his extremist views This links to the pale man, as the pale man eats children like ancient Egyptians killed Hebrew babies. The fact also that a large banquet is laid out signifies their wealth. The voiceover at the beginning explains a magical princess who escaped the human world, this clearly shows a fairytale aspect throughout. The tasks, huge toad, pale man etc show fairytale creatures and some aspects nod toward other fairytales like Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland etc. The final shot of the film, a flower magically forms on a branch and blooms. The entire film is within a wood, using trees etc to hide the rebels. The first meeting of the Capitan Toro makes Vidal the prominent figure, the use of framing between him and Carmen pushes her out of the frame, and the line 'come do it for me'symbolizes the males have the power. Carmen is bedridden throughout, and all the women work in the kitchen. 

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Pans Labyrinth

The motif of the womb as well is important, seen in the maze, fawn, Carmen and tree.

AESTHETICS- Film is a magical, realist text, combing beautifully constructed but very dark fantasy sequence, with graphically violent scenes. Very green and yellow symbolizes nature and the setting they are in, The house offers lots of grays to symbolize the rigidness of the household and the dark stone it is built with.

SOCIAL- The rep of women is evidence of the social problems women faced in this era. The local priest attending the banquet dismisses the possible pain felt by the rebels. His rep lack humanity and his commentary are that of an out of touch Catholic church. It heightens the sense of corruption in the middle class and the ruling elite.

POLITICAL- Negative depiction is given of Franco's fascist by making them appear corrupt and that to heighten the sense of poverty elsewhere. 

TECHNOLOGICAL- Animatronics and green screen work if effective in it creation, and lots of makeup to create the fantasy characters

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House of Flying Daggers

Global film- CORE; Zhang Yimou 2004

KEY IDEAS- Sound, color, deception, beauty

KEY SCENES- Sound is prominent in the character Mei as at the beginning she is portrayed as blind. The echo game scene is used to emphasis her reliance on sound. Action scenes as well with the heightened sound of flying daggers, bamboo spears, falling leaves, sounds of swords cutting the air. This alligns the audeince with Mei. Elaborate colors used to create visually beautiful settings, and costumes in order to create fantasy, Peony Pavilion shows the rich, ancient China. Bamboo forest is rich with green is used to juxtapose the harsh greys of the prison Mei was in at the start. Harsh blinding white for the last scene to show the harshness of the action and emotion. Deception is a huge part, using muguffins almost to throw the reader off. Vital to the plot as it leads to the end scene of Leo and Jin fighting. Leo appears to be an imperial solider but is actually a mole and former lover of Mei, mei a rebel pretending to be blind etc.  Deception is also factored into beauty. Beaty is used in the character Mei to lead the plot along, leading Jin to the House of Flying Daggers, gaining his trust by seducing him. This also leads to the end fight due to the jealousy between Jin and Leo. Beauty is also done through colour in the film.

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House of Flying Daggers

INFLUENCES- Wuxia pian, origins found in North Chinese Mandarin culture after the 9th century. Rival warlords ruled China and unattached swordsmen could be hired as killers heroes who followed a code of honor against corrupt leaders and officials. Swords, magic, fantasy and the supernatural are central to wuxia

TECHNOLOGICAL- Use of CGI and digital effects and wire work enhance acrobatics and fantasy

MISE EN SCENE- Dramatic effect through visual imagery, color and composition. Highly stylised choreography of fight scsnes. Landscapes bamboo forests, birch forests, meadows, and fields with mountain ranges in the background. Green forests, red and gold autumn leaves in the meadows, white snow provide the setting for the emotion and the imagination of the film

CINEMATOGRAPHY- Exotic interior of the Peony Pavillion, high key lighting, vivid color. Whip pans follow the beans as they hit the drums, high angle shots show the pattern of Mei's dance. Sweeping, whirling fast-tracking movement of the flying daggers. Use of widescreen for dramatic effect

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