Gillian Rose

Pub Date: 11-2011

Pages: 408

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Gillian Rose

Compositional Interpretation

The Open University's Open Arts Archive hosts a broad range of material on the fine arts; it has an especially good collection of podcasts from Open University Study Days on various topics related to fine art.  Several of these use compositional interpretation.

You might like to take a look at clips from the various films that the chapter mentions; you can find them here:

Ocean's Eleven


The Player

The Incredible Hulk

The film historian and theorist David Bordwell has a blog with Kristin Thompson here.

Summary of Monaco's descriptive vocabulary

James Monaco's schema for analysing the composition of film images is narrated in his book How to Read a Film: Movies, Media, Multimedia (Monaco 2009).  Here is a summary of his terms.

The mise-en-scène can be understood in terms of its:

  • frame:
    • screen ratio.
    • screen frame: open or closed.
    • screen planes: frame plane, geographical plane and depth plane.
    • multiple images.
    • superimpositions.
  • shots:
    • shot distance: extreme long shot, long shot, full, three-quarters, medium, head and shoulders, close-up shot.
    • shot focus: deep or shallow, sharp or soft.
    • shot angle: angle of approach, angle of elevation, angle of roll.
    • point of view: character, third person, establishing, reverse angle.
    • pans, tilts, zooms and rolls, when the camera remains in one position.
    • tracking and crane shots, when the camera itself moves.

The montage of a moving image can be described with reference to its:

  • cuts:
  • type of cut: unmarked, fade, dissolve, iris, jump. The Open University's iTunesU podcasts 'The Final Cut' have an editor discussing how cuts work. You can access iTunesU via the iTunes Store – it's on the main menu list.
  • rhythm

The sounds of moving images can be described by considering their:

  • type: music, environmental sound, speech.
  • relation to the image: source, parallel, contrapuntal.