scene analysis example
The clip begins with a long shot that establishes Lila Crane as just outside the Bates Motel: a place where we in the audience know a killer lurks. This shot is also done at eye level, and as she reaches the end of the porch she seems to look back at us in the audience and wonder if it is safe to go on. (“It’s not Lila. Don’t”!) A low, ominous score under girds the entire clip. It has a somewhat slow tempo, almost like the footsteps that lead her toward the house.
So that you can focus on the technical aspects of the assignment and not have to spend too much time writing a script, we have included a list of possible scenarios to get you started.
Next, watch the scene again, but this time, take notes as you watch. Note camera angles, shots, lighting, sound, narrative. All of these will help you to analyze the scene. You must learn to interpret how film constructs meaning by both traditional and non-traditional methods. Once you learn to look for how film constructs meaning, then you can begin to examine the scene as an opportunity for analysis.
Finally, figure out what the overall impact and / or message of the scene is. As you ponder this, you will want to consider the events that transpire in your scene. Is there dialogue? Is there action? How does the film construct meaning beyond the actions and words of the characters in the film? What film techniques do you see employed in this scene? What are the shot angles? Are there close ups? Establishing shots? Crane Shots? Are there abrupt cuts? Slow fades? Steadicam? Extended shots without cuts? Use of montage? Does the scene violate the 180 degree rule? Does use of sound help to construct meaning? Is there music? What is the music? How does it help construct meaning? Is there information entering the film from outside the diagetic world created by the camera? Is there anything in the scene that draws your attention to the filmic apparatus? How does all of this affect your understanding of the scene?
In terms of lighting, the room is brighter where Brad is. Brad’s career at this moment in time is certainly outshining Lester’s.
Mid-way through the film, the two men meet again. By this point in the movie. Lester has decided he needs to make a change. In this scene, Lester is quitting his dead-end job AND blackmailing the company into paying him off. Emotionally, he is in a very different place.
For this sequence of shots to be considered a scene, there needs to be a clear beginning and end. Both the beginning and the end of the scene are clearly marked by fade-ins and fade-outs- classic methods of jumping from scene to scene. This scene also is its own mark in time; the scene before and the scene after are at different times than this scene. The break in time makes this particular sequence stand out as its own individual scene.
Any subject. Any type of essay.
Second circle: the context of your chosen elements in the work.
Example: “The boarding house scene is lighted environmentally, creating a ‘natural’ effect unlike the obviously artificial directional lighting of the rest of the film.”