Micro Analysis

Your initial proposal

Please complete this form prior to our lesson on Wednesday 13th January

Group Meeting

I will be meeting with groups of students studying each film early this week.

Your work is assessed in three areas:

  1. Cultural / historical / institutional context surrounding the film (8 marks)
  2. Your analysis of how meaning is constructed in your 5 minute scene (12 marks)
  3. How these micro features link to macro features in the whole film (8 marks)

For a reminder of the assessment and marked exemplar, please click here.

The meeting agenda will be:
  • To share research sources
    • Everyone should have at least one beyond those which I gave you.
  • To clarify the important cultural context surrounding each film
  • To identify key features of the whole film:
    • Genre
    • Representation
    • Narrative
      • Structure
      • Character journey
      • Themes & Conflict
    • Motifs

During the rest of the week you should be completing a close micro analysis of your sequence…

So, let’s get down with the micro…

This is a process that you should be familiar with:

  1. Identify specific examples of production techniques:
    • Cinematography
    • Editing
    • Sound
    • Mise-en-scene
      • These examples must be named with a technical term
  2. Analyse the impact that technique, in combination with others, on the audience?
    • How do ‘we’ read the sequence?
  3. Evaluate how these micro features relate to the whole film

Studying the sequence

You should watch the sequence a minimum of five times.

  1. The first watch without stopping to get a clear gist of the sequence and place it the narrative context of the whole film.
  2. The second and third time should be a stop start screening, where you are looking for specific examples of the film element you are focusing on.
    • You should also consider the immediate emotional impact of the technique (in combination with other micro areas) on the spectator.
  3. The fourth time should be to consider the representation of the characters. What do we now know about the characters that we didn’t know at the beginning of the scene?
  4. The fifth is to try and think about the scene within the whole film how does it contribute to the development of the characters and themes within the whole film

Help Sheets

Here are note making documents to help you as you watch the sequence

Textual Analysis Film Research Sources

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
  • 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 continue to use your copy of this document to record the research that you undertake this week.

Some Sources to Get you Started

The Handmaid’s Tale (2017) Miller

Media Magazine Article

Reference: Worrow, K. (2017). A Woman’s Place is in The Resistance. Media Magazine, (62), pp.50-56.

Across the Universe (2007) Taymor

New York Times Review of the Film

Julie Taymor (director) on Across the Universe

Moonlight (2016) Jenkins

Media Magazine Article

Reference: Nunns, J. (2017). The Oscars 2017. What Really Happened. Media Magazine, (62), pp.56-61.

Micro Analysis Refresher

So, let’s get back down to the micro…

This is a process that you should be familiar with:

  1. Identify specific examples of production techniques:
    • Cinematography
    • Editing
    • Sound
    • Mise-en-scene
      • These examples must be named with a technical term
  2. Analyse the impact that technique, in combination with others, on the audience?
    • How do ‘we’ read the text?
Previous blog posts that contain most of the terms your need:
Sound Design
Production Design


In small groups create a spider diagram for one of the four micro areas, which you will share with and present to the whole class.


Identify some of the micro features within your category within this sequence:

Sound 101

We have already done some basic exploration of sound when we did the foley sound exercise. This week we are going to go into much more detail in terms of how to describe sound in film and analyse the meaning communicated.

You will be completing an analysis for independent study.


You need to be able to describe all the elements of sound that feature in a film. Here is a diagram of those elements that you need to describe and analyse.

Sound Diagram

Diegetic Sound (includes foley)

Non-Diegetic Sound

We’re going to do an analysis of the sound in this sequence from The Return of the Jedi (1983) Marquand, from the beginning to 5.04.

Watch through the clip and make notes using a copy of this document to make your notes.

They key to this is to describe the examples of the various sounds from your text clearly. Here is a blog with some useful ideas about how to describe music.

Editing 101

Editing, the connectives in Film Language

Think of cut as connectives in a sentence

…so, and, then, but, however, meanwhile…

How then does does editing create meaning if it’s just simply links in the film?

Well first of all, the edit constructs the meaning in the minds of the audience.

Task 1

Recap by defining and exemplify the Kuleshov effect…

Editing – Time, Space and Attention

So…OK…it’s the connectives of film, such as: ‘so’, ‘and’, ‘then’, ‘however’, ‘meanwhile’… which the audience link to make connective sense of two images.

  • It’s also think about how editing shifts the film in time…such as, ‘Later that day’, ‘Earlier’, ‘The following morning’, ‘8 years later…’, ‘Flashback…to recap important narrative information’…
  • It can also be used to draw audience attention to specific elements of mise-en-scene which are important. This is usually in the shape of characters view of what they see, although not always (often the audience know more than the characters) and this gives rise to dramatic irony.
Textual Analysis of Editing

Identify the editing techniques used in this sequence.

Analyse how these editing techniques create meaning and sense for the audience.

You should use this handout to complete your TEA and then upload to your reflective journal under editing, along with a link to the clip.


The graphic match:

Batman Final Essay

Task – A textual analysis essay.

Essay title

Complete a textual analysis of the denouement of The Dark Knight and answer the following question.

‘Analyse and evaluate the representation of Batman in the final sequence of the The Dark Knight (2008) Nolan.’ You should use specific examples of mise-en-scene and cinematography to discuss how Nolan highlights the messages and themes in the film.

Advice and Guidance
  • The essay will be assessed in how it shows your ability to demonstrate…
    1. …an understanding of the cultural context.
    2. … an understanding of how the extract makes use of film elements to create meaning.
    3. …an understanding of the ways in which the cultural context of the film and the identified film elements relate to each other, as well as to the chosen film text as a whole
  • The essay should be approx 750 words long (+/- 10%). 
  • You should use screen shots of key moments from the sequence that are the subject of your close textual analysis.
Research & Context
    • You should refer explicitly to the Crash Course YouTube video on, ‘The War on Terror’.
    • Quote from the article we discussed in class, Dark Knight, Dark Ideas by Chris Turner. 
      • This article and the Crash Course YouTube Video should be credited and referenced at the end of the essay.


  1. Introduce the Film and the important contexts
  2. Introduce the themes and ideas evident at the end of the film
    • How do these diverge from the narrative / themes of the hero’s journey?
  3. Explore three examples of mise-en-scene and how these are important in reflecting the themes and ideas in the film
  4. Explore three examples of cinematography and how these are important in revealing the themes and ideas in the film
  5. Sum up the essay and the evolution of Batman

Textual Analysis of The Joker

Textual Analysis Question:

The Joker represents, ‘…the spirit of terrorism. The embodiment of anarchy and chaos of a particularly destructive and nihilistic nature’

Douglas Kellner – Cinema Wars

Analyse Christopher Nolan’s use of cinematography & mise-en-scene in one of the six sequences below in order to answer the following question…

How does Christopher Nolan use mise-en-scene and cinematography to represent The Joker as a ‘new’ kind of villain that Batman is unable to defeat?


Embed the sequence and your typed up notes into your reflective journal.

Write a 200-250 word summary of your key findings from the analysis.

Help Documents

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4

Scene 5

Scene 6

Advanced Cinematography


The Rules of Composition in Cinematography are described and exemplified in this video:

Class Presentation on Composition in Film

Use this link to edit

Reflective journal

Embed this slideshow in your reflective journal as a new post called Advanced Cinematography.

Select 3 frames from one or more of the cinematographers in the video below and describe the composition in those selected frames:

Great Cinematographers


Cinematographer (Freddie Young)

The frame uses the rule of thirds and lead space. Places the dead soldier on the point of interest and the expanse of frozen desolation ahead of him. The barbed wire acts as leading lines and the angles posts serve to frame shot.

Pan’s Labyrinth – Final Essay

An IB Film textual analysis essay is multilayered (like an onion). Here is a graphic, which tries to explain those layers:

1) The outer layer is the context layer. This film was made as a comment on the Spanish civil war, the people who rose to power (the Fascists) and the resistance of some, to their cruel ideology. Del Toro is also using cultural references to…

  • Other films
  • Works of Art
  • Historical events
  • Myths and legends
  • Fairy Stories

…to add layers of significance to Pan’s Labyrinth.

How are those references evident in the scene and what meaning is attached to those contextual references that deepens our understanding of the film?

2) The middle layer is on the macro features of the film. During the last few weeks we have covered a lot of macro ground: genre, representation & narrative.

3) The inner most layer must have as it’s focus the micro features of the sequence. So far we have only covered mise-en-scene in any detail and in this essay that should be your focus.

You should try and link the micro to context and macro.

For example:

  • How do the characters, setting & iconography fit (or not) into the fantasy fairy tale genre?
  • How is this scene significant in the representation of Ophelia & to what degree does her characters redefine the ideology surrounding fairy-tale princesses?
  • This scene is important in the parallel narrative structure and reflects on Vidal and the conflict (theme) at the heart of the narrative, how?

The Essay & Sequence

‘A textual analysis of The Pale Man Sequence. How does mise-en-scene in Ophelia’s second task create meaning for the audience and reinforce the themes & messages that Guillermo Del Toro is trying to communicate in Pan’s Labyrinth?’

The essay is set and should be submitted through Google Classroom.

This is the sequence that is the focus of your analyse. 

Please use this document to help you make notes on the key elements of mise-en-scene.