Leave a comment





CONTENT: What we see through the window

FORM: The frame. How the elements of the film are arranged to create patterns.

REALISM pays attention to the subject matter. We look at what the film depicts.

FORMAL CRITICISM (FORMALISM) pays attention to these patterns. We look at the film as a work of art.

FORM is a system based on patterns:


  • Symmetry (spatial)
  • Song (a-b-c-b-d-b) (temporal)
  • Story: (exposition – development – climax – denouement)

A movie is a story that takes place in space and time, so there can be many patterns

Patterns create expectations which can be manipulated to create aesthetic responses.

What patterns exist in Night and Fog?

  • Color/Black and White
  • Present landscapes/Actual documentary footage.
  • Chronological Pattern of documentary footage: 1933 – 1945
  • Sections of the movie:  beginning, middle end.
  • Repetition (motif)
  • Rhythm
  • Others (Is N+F a narrative?)

What is the overall effect of these structural elements on the viewer?


  • Referential: From 1933 to 1945, the German state  under the Nazis exterminated millions of people in concentration camps
  • Explicit: A government comes to power, initiates laws that designate some people as “undesirable” and exterminate them.
  • Implicit: Human beings can be led to commit horrible crimes in the name of a “higher” cause. (There can be many implicit meanings)
  • Symptomatic:  Horrible crimes are obliterated by time. As we get farther and farther away, we forget what happened in the past. Today, in 1956, the camps are fading memories. If we forget, history will repeat.


There is a difference between personal taste and evaluative judgment, between “I don’t like it.” and “This is my critical opinion of this film”.

Criteria: (a few, there are many)

  • Historicity
  • Moriality (ideology)
  • Narrative coherence (unity)
  • Intensity of effect
  • Complexity
  • Originality

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: