Reading a Movie? What the Hell Does That Mean?

I read Roger Ebert’s Article on “How to Read a Movie”, which informed the reader about techniques on how to read in between the lines when watching a scene in a movie. It definitely opened my eyes to subtle video techniques that some directors use. The concept of visual space and how the use of positive and negative space in a cinematic composition can stir emotional and aesthetic reactions was something I found to be very true. A good director and cinematographer can create a very powerful scene by properly using visual space. This involves things such as knowing what pieces of the environment to include, where to place actors, the angle of the camera, etc. All of these techniques are used to compliment the actual story being told in the scene.


The television show Breaking Bad was in my opinion one of the best shot television shows. This is just one of the many great camera angles that were used in the show. This still from one of the scenes tells a great deal to someone who has never seen or heard of the show about what is going on. The director of this scene uses visual weighting excellently, everything is placed with a purpose. A person can easily pick out who is the main focus of this scene and could probably even conclude that there could be some criminal activity taking place judging by the colors used. Ebert also mentions that “low angles can make them into gods”. That is very evident in this shot and a person looking at this can deduce that these characters are being portrayed as being above or held in a high light.

I watched the “Examples of Editing Techniques” video which gave quick examples of editing styles with short clips, some of which were a little strange. Although after watching this, it made me consciously realize all these techniques that are used in post-editing of a video which I have seen allover but have never really “noticed” it. It made me think more closely about these subtle post-editing techniques, and it will probably make me notice these things whenever I watch a movie or tv show now.

I also watched the “From Below” video which was a compilation of from below shots from the films of Quentin Tarantino. Some of my favorite movie have been directed by him so I really enjoyed watching this clip. It also made me realize how effective and powerful this camera angle is in film which is why we still see it used today. I noticed that the lower the camera angle was, it gave the actors in the shot sense of being more above. It also creates some intimacy for the viewers with the actors, especially when the people in the shot are dominating the visual space. It is difficult for me to explain exactly why these shots are and have been so popular in cinema, but there is something about it that makes a simple scene of a person or multiple people more interesting and engaging.



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