Textual Analysis Research

Links to the Films

Your Initial Response

Complete one of these documents in preparation

Context / Film Research.

You’ve got one week to conduct the research necessary to help you understand your chosen film:

  • Character Representation
  • Narrative
  • Genre
  • Visual Style
  • Historical Context
  • Critical Reception (Reviews)

By the end of the week you will submit a proposed sequence from your film as well as an essay question which will help you focus on the sequence as well as link your ideas to the whole film. You should take a copy of this document to record the research that you undertake this week.

Some Sources to Get you Started

Days of Heaven

Lighting in Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven Close Analysis

Reference: Zucker, C. (2001) ‘ “God Don’t Even Hear You,” or Paradise Lost: Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven.”’, Literature Film Quarterly, 29(1), p. 2.


Nerdwriter (Animating Light)

20 Years of Japanese Cinema – Media Magazine Article

Reference: Ramey, M, 2009. Cinema of Japan. Media Magazine, 27, 7-12.

La Haine

Structure, culture and cinematography.

Ghetto Culture – Media Magazine Article

Reference:  Turner, P, 2011. Ghetto Culture. Media Magazine, 35, 19-22.

Research Sources for your Comparative Video Essay

In your final video essay, which compares our two films you need to show that you have done some independent research.

From IB Film Specification:

‘Each student carries out broad research, using both primary and secondary sources, in order to investigate possible areas of film focus and films for comparison from within the areas of film focus, using materials from a range of sources, including original films, critiques, publications and other media.’

In the assessed coursework you should do this research entirely independently and should aim to have between 8-12 sources. These sources will be made up of a combination of:

  1. Your two chosen focus films
  2. Books on your film focus or chosen films
  3. Critics Reviews
  4. Magazine and Newspaper Articles
  5. Video Essays
  6. Podcasts
  7. Websites & Blogs

For this practice unit we have provided some research materials that we would like you to quote from in your video essay. We are also going to go to the library later this week to find book.


In pairs divide and conquer one of these resources, which will be allocated to you by your teacher.

Find 1-3 quote(s) from the source, which you think are useful in developing your understanding…

  1. …the context of the film movement
  2. …the film genre (vampire horror)
  3. …the cinematic style (micro features) of our films

You should also generate a full Harvard reference for your specific source.

Put both the quote and the Harvard reference into this slideshow for the whole class to access when we put together our video essays next week.

Mr G’s Class

Miss H’s Class

1) Horror Monsters Media Magazine Article

Read this article on monsters published in The Media Magazine

2) Crash Course on German Expressionism

3) Film IQ – History of Horror

4) Academic Journals

We subscribe to a huge library or academic articles, books and reviews.

You can access the resources here (see below for user names and passwords)

Here are three articles which I found on Film Vampires:

  1. A Century of Vampires
  2. Warm Blooded – True Blood & Let The Right One In.
  3. Here is a review for Let The Right One In.

Horror Cinematography & Sound Design

Today we are considering cinematography & sound design that is conventional (typical) of horror films.

We will watch Suckablood (BC Horror) in class and use this to consider how the cinematography & sound is typically ‘horror’.

We are seeking to understand how German Expressionist cinematic techniques were the blueprint for horror films.


In pairs, one of you will be exploring cinematography:

  • Framing
  • Compostition
  • Angle
  • Movement
  • Lighting & Colour

Whilst the other considers sound design and music:

  • Diegetic
    • Foley
    • Dialogue
  • Non-diegetic
    • Music
    • Sound Effects
The Video.

Make a short montage in Premiere Pro, which uses titles to identify specific features of cinematography and/or sound, which are conventional of horror.

  • You should aim to find 3-5 examples of sound and 3-5 examples of cinematography

This means the video should be either silent, showing a feature of the cinematography. Alternatively the video should show a still of the scene or a title card and analyse the sound which you are describing as conventional of horror and/or influenced by German Expressionism.


Some monsters to thrill, scare and delight you.

Why do we like to scare ourselves?

A key features of any horror film is the monster. The monster is said to represent the fears, anxieties and concerns of society at that time. That means that the monster and the theme of the film are inextricably linked and intertwined with each other.

To start developing your understanding we are going to look at some classic horror monsters and consider their representation and beneath that what social fear they stand for.


In pairs, do some research and develop a monster profile for your allocated monster.

Mr Gregson’s Monsters

Miss Hales’ Monsters

A study of the horror genre

A study of most films will include consideration of genre.

Here is a slideshow to remind you about how to study genre:

So genre is a comparative study:

  1. In what ways does a given film follow the generic conventions of horror
  2. how is it different and…
  3. …can we account for those differences.
Task for snow days

Watch this short horror film from Bloody Cuts: (In the dark if you can…)

Make a copy of this document.

On page two of the document identify features of this film which you think are  conventional of the horror genre. Create a new page in your reflective journal called Horror. Post the film and your analysis.

This will serve as a useful blueprint and structure (Altman) against which to test our two films, Nosferatu and Let The Right One In. We will ask ourselves the questions:

  • In what ways do our films follow the generic conventions of horror
  • how are they different and…
  • …can we account for those differences.

Remember you should also have watched the two films on the previous blog post!

The Superhero in Other Cultural Traditions


Films are a cultural product and therefore reflect  the period and culture in which they were made.

The super hero then embodies heroic values of a given culture or time.

The binary of the hero is of course the villain and, if the hero embodies our cultural description of heroism, the villain embodies our fears of criminality and ‘evil’ to use a simplistic term.

If we are using Batman The Dark Knight to explore how that Superhero reflect the America Christopher Nolan finds himself in, we can use film to explore other cultures’  values, attitudes and beliefs with regard to the superhero.

In this lesson we are going to look at films from China and Japan and ask ourselves what we can learn about these cultures through their cultural products (films):


Look at the sequences below from excellent films from the orient: What impression do you get of the heroes in these sequences? How are these ideas constructed through the mise-en-scene and cinematography?

Traditional Chinese Superheroes

Hero (2002) Yimou

Modern Japanese Hero

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Nerdwriter Video

Evolution of Batman

‘The world about us has changed and is continually changing at an ever-accelerating pace. So have we. With the increase in media coverage and information technology, we see more of the world, comprehend its workings a little more clearly, and as a result our perception of ourselves and the society surrounding us has been modified. Consequently, we begin to make different demands upon the art and culture that is meant to reflect the constantly shifting landscape we find ourselves in. We demand new themes, new insights, new dramatic situations.’

‘We demand new heroes.’

Excerpt from Alan Moore’s introduction to the The Dark Knight Returns (if you’re a graphic novel fan you can read the complete article here.

The Evolution of the Batman


So let’s explore some recent(ish) iterations of Batman. How is he being treated in these films? What ideologies (values, attitudes and beliefs) seem to be attached to this character? How is the audience encouraged to respond to the character of Batman?

How do you know? What clues are you getting from the text that lead you to this conclusion?

Batman The Movie (1966) Martinson (Batman = Adam West)

Batman 1989 (Burton) (Batman = Michael Keaton)

So after all our study and research, lets look at Nolan’s Batman and explore how he is a product of a darker time. How he satisfies our demands for ‘new heroes’.


Take a copy of the slideshow above discuss and complete.

Embed the slideshow with a brief reflection on the representation of the Batman in Nolan’s trilogy into your reflective journal.

The Archetypes in Film (Heroes and Villains)

Archetypes in literature are fundamental or prototypical characters that are used in stories. They have recurred in literature and art since the earliest writing. They personify universal patterns of human behaviour.

Film uses and reuses archetypes in various forms and with varying degrees of nuance, between realism and hyperbole.

In this exploration of Batman the Dark Knight we are exploring two archetypes, the hero and the villain. We will explore how the context in America, especially the events of 9/11, have reshaped the superhero and super villain in order to help the audience understand the world they live in and help them contextualise their fears. I want to explore how the superhero has become darker and the super villain has been redefined in this time of uncertainty, terrorism and fear.


Complete one slide in this slideshow with an analysis of one Superhero that you have been given. Mr G & Miss H may be open to alternative suggestions of heroes depending on the quality of argument you make, that this superhero represents a fundamental human quality that is significant for the time.

Miss H’s Superheroes.

Mrs G’s Superheroes.

Independent Study

Read this article from the BBC about Hollywood use of Archetypes and their roots in Greek myth. It also goes on to describe what it is about us humans that continue to retell the superhero story across the generation.

Embed the slide show into your reflective journal and also find a clip of your superhero online and reflect on how the film’s narrative at that moment conveys their heroic characteristics and/or their very human flaws.

Narrative in The Dark Knight

Remember Narrative? – The Study of Stories…
Narrative Revision
Task 1

In groups of three review the previous posts on narrative; summarise for each other and then a whole class discussion.

Narrative Part 1

Narrative Part 2

Narrative Part 3

Task 2

Complete a narrative analysis of The Dark Knight

Independent Study

Watch this video essay and summarise the key points in 5 bullet points, in your reflective journal, on the nature of The Joker as the ultimate antagonist.

Superhero Movie – A Study of Genre

The Super Hero Film

We have explored the princess archetype in Pan’s Labyrinth now we are going to explore another archetype, the (Super) Hero. We are going to analyse the genre and the narrative. We are also going to try and understand how the social, political, historical contexts echo and resonate in that film. First off, we need to understand the genre…


Complete a generic analysis of Batman, The Dark Knight.

Sound easy? Well it is! Genre analysis in three simple steps….and, here, we go…..

1 Define the corpus.

That is, agree on a group of films, which you think are ‘pure’ or seminal example of the genre.  So in this instance think of three Superhero movies (not including Batman) which are completely and unarguably within the genre (so no Deadpool, Guardians, Watchmen…(all too Postmodern and up themselves)). I’m talking Superman, Spiderman, The Hulk, Wonder Woman…

2 Decide what features of those films are generic convention.

This means agreeing on a Repertoire of Elements, which are similar across the corpus and indeed necessary for a film to be given a genre label. In this case ‘A Superhero film’.

Use this document:

3 Analyse the text (The Dark Knight)

Once you’ve agreed the blueprint, you need to consider how far our set text,  Batman, The Dark Knight, is similar and/or different compared to those guiding principles, those repertoire of elements that constitutes the genre.

So, after all that, the question is…

‘How far does Batman the Dark Knight use, develop and challenge the ‘rules’ of the Superhero film genre?’

Reflective Journal
  1. Embed the class document on the Repertoire of Elements
  2. Bullet-point 3-5 conventional features of DK within the genre
  3. Bullet-point 3-5 features of the DK that challenge or subvert generic conventions