Reading Film (Fall 2011)

a qwriting blog for ENG 110

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Cinema vs. Literature

September 20th, 2011 by sandra411 · 1 Comment · 1 Diagramming Difference

Hello to the English Department, thank you for joining me here as I would like to present to you my views on why a Film Club would be a huge benefit to our school. I will go over my opinions on the important differences and similarities that cinema and literature share. Both are different types of artistic media and deserve an equal amount of respect, but film club would be a great idea for all the film fanatics who enjoy and appreciate its art form. Both contribute different aspects, with cinema it may be its visuals and sounds as for literature with its text and how much it connects with its reader. I also constructed a diagram to show you all these different elements cinema and literature can provide and what they provide as a unit. (not included here) I hope all my input may be taken into consideration so we can get our very first film club started.

A whole lot in common lies within these two media forms. One of the similarities would have to be how they both portray characterization. Movies may rely more on the makeup and personal styles of the characters, as for literature the author has to use enough information and description about a character so that the reader can visualize it without having to see the actual image. A novel may have more work cut out for itself in order to get the reader to imagine every detail about a characters appearance, personality, and their individual styles. A skilled author can pull this task of with ease. Idiosyncrasies are often used to tell us all the little details and quarks that make a character unique and both novels and films tend to manifest them very well.

Something else books and movies have in common may be their use of structure. Everything on screen connects in away. They both follow a certain sequence that has to make sense to the reader and or viewer. There are certain movies that go with the whole “out of order” theme or genre but always tend to come together by the end. And speaking of genres thats another big thing in common with motion pictures and literature. A genra is described as a  category of artistic composition marked by a distinctive style, form, or content. So as it all comes together everything we see and read should be logical, clear and understandable. As Gordon Harvey stated in his “Elements of the Academic Essay” there always should be a “development” or “complication” and more importantly exploration of the topic presented. Both of these medians tend to use topics that present a structure to them.

Another similarity with novels and cinema would have to be how they try to make us feel a certain way. They try to change our mood, a lot of times with movies it’s with sound. A very eerie sound may trigger that something bad is about to occur or a cheerful song may lead us to think something good will happened. A great soundtrack/score of a motion picture takes a somewhat ok movie up a level. On the other hand I feel like a movie uses much less description because everything can be plainly seen unlike a book which has to describe everything to the last little detail to have a person imagine what something or someone actually looks like. In books the author tries to describe the scene in such a specific way to make us feel as if we can actually feel the emotion the plot or character is trying to evoke. The plots usually make more sense in a book because the point of the book is to tell a story and not have it be visually spectacular. Books let our imagination and creative minds go to work.

Cinematography differs a film from literature. Visually we can’t see anything a book is trying to describe. Sure we can use our imaginations but in a movie everything is in your face. It is much quicker to understand what if being described to us in the film with just one shot of it on the screen rather than having to read a lengthy description of it. Cinematography is a technique of a motion picture photography which is something that books lack. Eisenstein mentioned that “cinematography is, first, and foremost, montage”. This idea of montage also connects these two medians together. Montage according to him was connecting shots that may have one single meaning into a series. This would create a “product” of two things that connect intellectually. Books share the same thing they connect two ideas to paint one big picture for us.

A huge difference between these two art forms would have to be the way they are both viewed. With a novel it is very unlikely that you are reading the same book at once. It is a more personal experience. Reading a book also takes longer than let’s say watching an hour long movie. A film is more so viewed and made for a larger audience, we most often go and watch motion pictures with one or more people. On the movie screen what you see is what you get but with books when you discuss it with your friends they can have a totally different point of view on the characters than you may have. Everyone has a different imagination. Another difference would be that in a novel you have no bad acting or poorly made visual effects. Nothing can ruin a movie more than a poorly chosen actor/actress for the role. In your mind while reading a book you can think a character is someone very attractive and when watching a movie version the character may not meet the expectations the reader will have. Lastly in most cases a movie has to cut out scenes, sometimes huge chunks of the story is removed and or replaced becasue the producers of the movie may be focused more on appealing to a bigger audience. Readers may find that very disappointing. No one wants to see their favorite scene removed from a book.

In conclusion I believe that Queens College is ready to have our very own Film club started in the English Department. Both literature and cinema have a lot of great aspects to offer. They have apparent differences but just as much similarities with each other. I would like to say thank you for letting me present to you my views on everything. I’m hoping everything I mentioned is taken into consideration as the right decision is made.






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One Comment so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    Hi Sandra,

    Two things I think you do really well with in your opening paragraph: you establish a sense of what Harvey calls STANCE (positioning yourself as an opinionated semi-expert on the subject who wants to be helpful) and you also go ahead and tell us some of what you will discuss (in sentences 3 and 4). Most people neglect to do that, so bravo. For revision, the next thing would be to consider what Harvey calls KEYTERMS–words or phrases that capture your basic point or the distinction you’re trying to make. So, instead of something like “how much it [literature] connects with its reader” you could have a one single word to “hold” this idea, which you then explain more fully later (maybe that word is something like “identify with” or “relate to”?). When I get to the second paragraph, I see the word “characterization” as a point of comparison–that right there would be a great keyterm to use more consciously.

    Another thing for revision is to consider what Harvey said about STRUCTURE–look how you begin your third and fourth paragraphs: “something else” and “another.” This makes your writing feel like you’re making a list (this and this and this) rather than having that logical but progressive order Harvey talks about. Can you think of a way to discuss these differences and similarities so that you’re not just making a list, but are complicating or progressing your idea? That might also help you clarify some of the structure within your paragraphs. For example, the second to last paragraph begins by talking about the viewing experience, but notice that halfway through you begin to discuss bad acting or visual effects. Those things seem unrelated to what came before, so you would want to separate them out, or make the connection between them more apparent.

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