Roger Ebert on reading a movie

roger
I must confess that when I started reading this article this did not make any sense. It was all gibberish to me. I believe what I had missed was to actually read a bit about the writer to know what authority does he has on movies. So I looked at Roger Ebert’s profile on Wikipedia . He was one of the greatest movie critic. This is where the article started to make sense to me. I read the article one and right away started reading it again. Most of the things were then clear. I also researched the different keywords from the article and found some great material explaining the different terms used in the article that I have included in my summary of the article. So here I go.

The first technique that Roger describes is about pausing the movie and think about what you see. This is the technique that he used while teaching to his class at University of Chicago’s Fine Arts program. Roger believes tha analyzing still scenes from the movie can make a huge impact on what you understand about the making of a movie from a critical point of view. This techniques was evolved to the “shot by shot” technique.

Roger has also advised to read a few books about films as it is a useful resource to know about the current trends in the film world. He personally started his book adventure by reading “Understanding Movies”, by Louis D. Giannetti.

Roger used the term “intrinsic weightage” that each visual composition possesses. What I understand is that the visual information we digest has by default some characteristics that emotionally appeal to us. Though I am not 100% sure about it.

Rule of third is another principle that has been described by Roger. This rule applies to the position of different characters in a movie scene. Characters to the right of the center of the screen are more dominant than those to the left of the center of the screen. To know more in depth about this rule, I researched the topic about the importance of axis of a screen. I found the following video which has described the three axes in detail. The reason right is more dominant is because moving from left to right has been seen as moving form past to future. I mean the way we write is left to right, gaming characters move from left to right in 2D games to move to their destination and so on.

There are three axis of movement: right and left, backward and forward and up and down. Moving towards camera shows domination and moving away from camera shows weakness. It is obvious in the movie clips in the video above.

I believe that now, after I have read this article, I will be more vigilant while watching movies and would be able to observe it with a critical eye.

Following are the key points I noted down while I was reading the article.

  • He Learned the “just pause the film and think about what you see” from Chicago film critic, teacher and booker named John West.
  • He used this technique in his class at University of Chicago’s Fine Arts program.
  • This technique evolved to shot-by-shots and later named, cinema interrupts.
  • Ask the audience: There are always people in the audience who can answer any question.
  • Read a few books about films like Understanding Movies, by Louis D. Giannetti.
  • Visual compositions have “intrinsic weightage”. What I understand is that the visual information we digest has by default some characteristics that emotionally appeal to us, I guess so.
  • Rule of third: Person on the right to the center is more dominant than the person on the left.
  • Right is futuristic, left is past, foreground is stronger than the background, movement to the right seems more favorable than the left.
  • Three axis of movement: right and left, backward and forward and up and down.
  • Moving towards camera shows domination and moving away from camera shows weakness.