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What Makes A Movie Great?

With thousands of motion pictures released each and every year therefore few succeeding either commercially or fiscally, you have to cause the question: what is it, exactly, which makes a film great? From an audience's point of view, people watch videos to be entertained: they are looking, most of all, to listen to a good report that allows them to talk about encounters with the characters and with their friends; to see spectacles; to go to other worlds to that they could never otherwise travel; and also to break free the boredom with their day-to-day routines. Remarkable films have the ability to accomplish all of this with skill and artistry. But even regardless of the power of statistical checks put forward by leading psychologists to unearth the solution for cinematic success (Simonton, 2011), there a wide range of who believe that the grade of a film is impossible to define, being absolutely contingent upon personal interpretation. I intend to dig deeper to research this problem, looking at length at the specific tools and techniques a filmmaker has at their removal to captivate an audience.

Before we can truly treat the issue of what constitutes entertainment, I'd like to take the time to consider why it is that anyone does anything. Relating to Anthony Robbins, 'Everything you and I really do, we do either out in our need to avoid pain or our desire to get pleasure' (Robbins, 1992: 53). With this thought, exactly why is it that stress and discord, both which are painful in and of themselves, are greatly regarded as two of the central tenants associated with an engaging story? I recommend that watching a character learning to avoid pain is a learning experience in which the viewer, too, is able to learn how to avoid pain. Comparable in many ways to the experience of working hard for a greatly attractive objective, this alone can be considered a pleasurable thing to observe; we, in such a situation, are able to cherish the end result even more because of our appreciation of what proceeded to go into reaching it. This is precisely the sort of 'pleasure' provided by most videos, and is known specifically as 'delayed' or 'deferred gratification' (Kim, 2006).

Generally speaking, then, audiences watch films to have an emotionally satisfying experience. So how can a film be made more emotional? Probably the most crucial step we can take towards answering this question is to understand that the viewers is not simply passive when enjoying a film; in simple fact, if Elkins' explanation of 'simply looking' as with fact pertaining to 'expecting, desiring, never just taking in light, never just collecting habits and data' (Elkins, 1996: 22) is assumed to be accurate, they will get started to express their own expectations about what they could see even before the movie begins. It is the therefore the responsibility of the filmmaker showing and tell the viewer the story so as to meet, and go over, these prospects.

There are as many different models that can be used to create fascinating tales as there are stories themselves, but, in the easiest possible form, a story can be described as the narration of a chain of occurrences pertaining to a character who wants something (Johnson, 1995). The goal is to organise that report into a composition which allows it to be narrated plainly and dramatically. But what's story composition? In broader conditions, structure refers to the relationship between the elements of something, or can normally function as support for something. Whereas the human body relies on a skeletal framework of bones to aid itself, the parts of a film story are comprised first of all of a series of narrative questions, along with the delays and answers to prospects questions. The composition is simply the way the questions and answers that make up that report are presented, which photographs are chosen and in what order, and it is this structuring of happenings that can make the difference between a straightforward narrative and one that is unforgettable and emotionally profound.

The marriage between form and content has been analyzed extensively by many film writers. David Bordwell, for occasion, identifies the terms employed by the Russian Formalists, relying greatly upon the conditions 'fabula' and 'syuzhet'. The previous, corresponding to Bordwell, is 'a pattern which perceivers of narratives create through assumptions and inferences' (Bordwell, 1985: 49). Quite simply, the fabula comprises the cues and perceptions the viewer receives from the film, and is likely to change from viewer to viewer if the task is intricate. The syuzhet, on the other hands, refers to 'The actual agreement and presentation of the fabula in the film' (Ibid: 50); it's the plot, or structure, of the narrative. Bob Foss instead uses the conditions 'airplane of situations' and 'plane of discourse', or 'The what and how of film narrative' (Foss, 1992: 2).

Regardless of the conditions used, nearly all film theorists are decided on the importance of plot in relation to the creation of engaging cinema, as Seymour Chatman articulates along with his recommendation that narrative composition in reality 'communicates indicating in its right, in addition to the paraphrase-able articles of its report' (Chatman, 1980: 23). Relating to Vogler (2007: 6), some Hollywood professionals were concerned a lot with this paradigm that they would look only at scripts that have been either a 'fish-out-of-water tale' or around 'an unholy alliance', and it was not before publication on the Hero with one thousand Faces before executives were given yet another way of analysing testimonies. The Hero's Journey was originally defined by mythology professor Joseph Campbell as a voyage of self-discovery and self-transcendence (Campbell, 2008: 17), and appeared to encompass a number of different types of narratives that may normally have been disregarded. More specifically, The Hero's Quest acted as the paradigm for all stories. Having analyzed common myths, fables, and folktales from all time periods around the world, Campbell found out that there was a common framework that underlined the trip each and every protagonist would take.

There was a good reason because of this: at its most fundamental level, the Hero's Trip addresses the key psychological theory of what Milton Erickson identifies as 'life junctures'; defined as moments of changeover from one level of life to another, Erickson demonstrates that most people become psychologically caught at such occasions (Erickson, 1977). The parallel with Campbell's work becomes more obvious whenever we consider that Erickson also suggests that the most typical reason behind this stasis is the unacceptable generalisation of fear from a youthful trauma to other situations; doubtful of how to handle new demands positioned after them, they keep trying to use old methods that are no longer functional as of this new level. Broadly speaking, it is accurately such moments of stasis at which nearly all film characters are introduced to the audience. In this regard, the Hero's Voyage exists as the story of human growth placed into a dramatized form, which is another way of stating that the storyline is externalised in visible action. It is because these heroes solve their internal conflicts that they can win the exterior issues, and the audience gets reborn along with the heroes.

But what separates the 'visible action' of your film from the framework of the narrative, and why is it that the audience will not consciously spot the latter? The traditional Hollywood style 'asks that form be rendered invisible; that the viewer see only the presence of actors within an unfolding storyline that seems to be existing on its own' (Hill and Gibson, 1998: 16). It does not take too much in the way of thoughts to see this concept in practise, such that, if you were to view the first short while of a film and then leave from it, it should be relatively easy to provide a simple bank account of the plot and the motivations of the heroes therein. But do you hear the backdrop music? Would you notice the shot sizes and framing, or the trimming up of time and space? Probably you'd be too busy working out what was happening and what it meant to let your attention wander to such a structural level. It is not that these things are invisible, but simply that they drop below the viewer's threshold of attention.

Any part of the structure can certainly cross that threshold; so long as the world of the film is seamless and doesn't break the spell by phoning focus on itself, however, the audience will not be watching the performing, cinematography or editing, but enjoying real people facing mind-boggling obstructions in their battle to achieve their dreams. It is therefore the job of the filmmaker to point the audience's attention towards these happenings through careful attention to narrative framework. The Hero's Trip provides a means of doing just this; given its attractiveness even today throughout Hollywood, however, there's a threat that the experiences created using it might appear similar. When that occurs, it bursts through the threshold of conscious attention and the audience is taken out of the story.

Just as there are several issues that can arise when we speak, however, the most common types of speaking problems likewise have a filmic equal: whereas verbally, for example, we discuss one thing at the same time, one of the primary issues when informing a story with pictures comes from the simple fact that pictures can say too much. This issues with the 'theory of selective attention', which says that the mindful mind can only just pay attention to one thing at a time (Dewey, 2007).

The attention of the individual head is a important commodity, and it is important to recognise that the viewer's potential to concentrate on the material they may be being offered is affected by a great number of factors including tiredness, interest and basic state of mind. When we multitask, for illustration, we feel like we are accomplishing significant amounts of work, whereas in reality the brain is juggling attention rapidly between multiple items. This is why drivers discussing on a mobile or speaking with a traveler are statistically much more likely to be involved in an mishap, as their attention is divide even though they think they are simply focused on travelling (Myers, 2008: 87). Ideas of Neuro-Linguistic Programming state that one of the functions of the mind is to act as a filtration system, regularly deleting, generalising and distorting the info we acquire about the world to be able to protect us from information overload (Burton and Ready: 65). In other words, we don't focus on a whole lot of information we face, but instead delete it. When the film is sporting past at twenty-five fps, which part of the image will the audience be looking at? Assume they see the wrong part, and so skip the thread of the storytelling entirely?

In order to prevent this, a filmmaker will need to have the ability to control their images to ensure they are able to converse the desired note to their audience; that's where design, composition, point of view and light each enter into play. Without these, the viewers would not be able to see just what was happening onscreen and would be unable to follow the report. Filmmakers have developed a great variety of specific techniques to solve these kind of problems; rather than showing two things at a time, for illustration, the camera can pan in one to the other, a chop can be made between two shots, or target can be 'racked', or shifted, between your objects in the body. Though all of these solutions have become commonplace in mainstream movie theater, they all provide to simplify what to take a look at for the viewer's sake by showing only one thing at the same time.

Arguably even more powerful than this, however, is the human mind's reliance on stereotypes and cliches, often demonstrating a strong trend to distort those ideas that do unfit into our worldview as a way of interacting with the frustrating amount of information it receives. Specifically, the brain constantly looks for to organise this data into habits; although most obvious habits exist as visual designs, patterns can be found all over the place: in music, in the way people speak, and even in traffic and weather. As we have already explored, narrating a tale is bit more than organising information into a routine, or composition. But so how exactly does this focus on the micro level of filmmaking? How, for case, are we able to make the protagonist stick out in the middle of a crowded arena? Grouping, by classification, pertains to things that are similarly in some way, which could include proximity; by this reasoning, we're able to dress the primary characters in a different way, or keep these things stand a way in addition to the remaining crowd. With all the characters using muted colorings and the hero dressed in black and white, your brain will perceive the public as an organization and the protagonist will automatically stick out.

This is an example of a great way in which 'gestalt' key points can be a useful tool for making use of the speaking metaphor of revealing the viewer only 1 thing at the same time; a German expression meaning 'condition or form', gestalt refers to an organised whole that is more than just the amount of its parts, and functions as a relatively accurate explanation of the way in which the human brain organises our activities of life. In such a example, objects that are either similar or close mutually are grouped, leaving the mind to pick out individual things on which to focus as the rest fades into the background. This is why, when reading, we perceive each term, or clusters of words, instead of individual letters, and do not notice that the rest of the webpage simply recedes from our conscious awareness. Far from mere abstraction, gestalt ideas have been proven to work at almost every level of the taking a look at experience, including perception of images, understanding and understanding of narrative, theme, and even acoustics.

Another key concept of gestalt perception lies in the mind's inclination to complete the blanks, or seek closure: if we pay attention to a familiar musical theme where in fact the last part is omitted, the mind will fill in that absent section itself. In the same way, on a visual level, a stress will be created in the viewer's head that desires to close the form if elements of a physique are slice out. This identifies the gestalt process of 'good continuity', which states that people will assume things to be carrying on; pictorially, lines are recognized to carry on even if another subject obscures part of these from view. The implications of the are deep even on the standard levels of filmmaking theory. First of all, when the audience recognizes a close-up of a character's head, the assumption is to be connected to a body. Filmic slices also work founded totally on the concept that, if the audience witnesses one action and the action sometimes appears to be continuing from a different angle, it is supposing to exist within the same action.

The most significant realisation, however, is the fact that closure works not merely on the perceptual level, but also on the amount of story. In virtually any history, the hypothesis 'What if?' is offered to be true. The article writer is, for all intents and purposes, a masterful liar, offering a wealth of supporting details with which to flesh out a world where the action unfolds that is believable and smooth enough to stay below the audience's mindful threshold of attention. When a narrative question is unveiled, the brain begins searching so that they can make sense of the question, and the cortex produces answers that imbue that question with meaning from what is known of the story thus far. The key point would be that the viewer demands that these questions be replied, so much so that the cortex will continue steadily to generate answers even though the questions do not make reasonable sense: if we were to ask ourselves why the moon is made of cheese, for instance, our brains will try to present us with a rational solution.

Pratkanis and Aronson suggest that, 'Given our finite capacity to process information', we try to simplify complex problems to the level that people will 'mindlessly agree to a final result or proposition not for any good reason but since it is along with a simplistic persuasion device' (2002: 38). So long as the questions are sufficiently participating, the viewer will, without closure in the narrative, exist in an restless express of suspense. It really is this need for closure that drives us to keep reading, hearing or watching reviews of all types, as answers to the questions lifted are found by seeing the film and so relieve the viewer's insufficient knowledge. Only by tying up all of the narrative threads can the storyteller dissipate this stress, and in this sense, the power of advice could easily be considered a filmmaker's best ally.

It is regrettable that the vast majority of modern horror filmmaking appears to have forgotten this truth entirely. Essentially, there are two unique approaches to creating a horror film: those that choose showing all of the gory details, and those that instead choose to suggest what might happen. Though each type of film has its place, Personally, i believe the last mentioned to be infinitely more evocative, for the reason that the filmmaker is able to use the visitors' concerns against them. Taking the filmmaker's hints, they'll automatically fill in the blanks themselves from other own encounters and associations, making the knowledge more meaningful for every individual. When we consider that power is not under the viewer's mindful control, the director of any film could, provided an awareness of the mind's infinite capacity to create in the existence of interesting suggestions, be likened to a hypnotist.

Continuing along this train of thought, I believe that other styles of entertainment performers can shed a lot of understanding onto the condition of directing the audience's attention. Magician and conjurer Nathaniel Schiffman, for case, poses an especially interesting question:

'"What is powerful really?" We know magic is imitation. We realize it relies on all sorts of deceptions, but exactly why is it that some deceptions work while others do not? What makes some fakes plausible while some stand out just like a sore thumb? For instance, a animation is fake-mere drawings in writing, that's pretty noticeable. A sculpture is a imitation made of rock and roll. However when we take notice of the fakeness of magic, we don't interpret it as fraudulent. We view it as very real. Even though we know inside our hearts that a person cannot take flight, that a magic sword cannot permeate a body and come out blood-less, even though our eyes betray our common sense, we see magical illusions as real. Why is that? What's these things that magic is constructed of that is false and yet real at the same time?'

(Schiffman, 1997: 77)

Schiffman could easily have been talking about videos: when observing a film, the audience understands that what they are watching is not real, yet often moves along for the drive even to the idea of being shifted to tears and laughter by them. How could it be that videos can be simultaneously false yet real? The solution is based on the unconscious mind's incapability to identify between real world and imagined experience. Despite the fact that we rationally know that a film is artificial, the body and our feelings physically respond in the same way they would in real life: we experience enjoyment, have the powerful release of laughter and shed real tears from being touched. Physiologically, our heart rate increases, our palms sweating and we experience a rush of adrenaline. This is the case as long as the film engages the viewer's mindful head in addition with their body. In other words, a film can require components of extreme fantasy as long as it remains logically plausible. It is the job of the filmmaker to establish guidelines for the world of the film and play within those guidelines, otherwise the audience will believe that they have been cheated and withdraw consciously from the storyline.

In many respect, any film is within its entirety bit more when compared to a magic trick, consisting of a patchwork of fragments which never existed in reality. This illusion is furthered by the mind's predisposition to link up all areas of the experience, even though the truth is no such interconnection may are present. Magicians also use the same kind of structuring as storytellers, narrating a story about magical properties known as 'patter'. Patter can be considered akin to the magician's script, with words used to introduce an illusion, improving the performance with a fanciful account. This is achieved by painting a arena of youth nostalgia, or by inducing various other sentiment in the listener. Words, essentially, are being used to misdirect and direct, and can often provide the additional shove that allows people's minds to simply accept one imagined actuality over another.


Magic wands and gestures serve quite similar function: the magician must be sure that his or her gestures read obviously for the audience. Often, they'll be directing the viewer's attention from something else, perhaps some typically common mechanical mechanism covered from view, in quite similar way as showing stories of high excitement while in simple fact instructing moral lessons. The partnership between a magician's level patter and the secret itself are similar to that of tale events and structure in a film, wherein patter can be considered the storyline of the illusion whilst the trick itself is the matter that remains invisible and makes it work. The filmmaker's trick is merely that of juxtaposing otherwise unconnected images to produce a story, using images to implicitly suggest questions and then delaying the answers, thus generating a stress that engages the audience in reports about characters over a quest to attain a particular goal.

Provided the audience is able to read these images, the brain will automatically develop the storyplot, using gestalt to connect characters and items in action into meaningful wholes greater than the sum of these constituent parts. The gestalt rule of good continuity will ensure that contacts are created between shots, and presuppositions and assumptions will allow an individual version of the story to be created in the viewer's mind that is important for these people.

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