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MICRO ELEMENTS
Cinematography - Camera shots, angles and movement.
Mise-en-scene - Actors (gestures, facial expressions body language, composition in shot), hair and make-up, costume, decor (set design, colour), lighting (high key, low key, natural), props (iconography, signs, symbols), setting (location).
Editing - Shot reverse shot, match-on-action, eye-line match, cross cutting (parallel editing), 30 degree rule, jump cuts, continuity editing, discontinuity editing, pace (tempo), time lapse and slow motion, screen time, graphic match, transitions and CGI.
Sound - diegetic and non-diegetic, synchronous and asynchronous, incidental music, score, sound bridges, motifs, stings, sound effects, Foley, dialogue, voice-over, ambient music. 

Below are some examples of other textual analyses, mainly focusing on just one micro element to show you how much meaning there is in each extract using one focus.

This clip (left from Broadchurch) is a third of the length of a typical extract you would get in OCR's G322 exam, however, look at how much is in here.  It might not seem much, but   Below is an exemplar of the type of things you could write about.  And remember, you can develop this and write at least double in an exam. Focus in on gender.
 

"The sequence begins with some grainy home footage of males playing football, a stereotypical activity enjoyed by men.  The sequence cuts to a medium two shot of men watching the footage, signifying to the audience that they are reflecting on fond memories of playing sport, this is supported by their relaxed body language and simple dialogue.  The men, however, look very out of place through their costume and props, wearing smart black suits and holding cans of lager as though they were at a pub and not being able to express emotions at a wake.  These reinforcements of male gender roles are challenged however because of the gentle use of incidental piano music; it soon becomes clear to the viewer that the men are trying to show their softer side by expressing emotions at a funeral wake.  

 

The scene cuts to a wide shot of more people wearing smart but toned down clothes; other men and women are in nuptial pairings and conform to gender roles with women in long dresses and men in suits.  The setting of a family home also suggests that gender roles will be more obvious.

A medium shot of a young man talking to an older woman ensues through a variety of medium shot/reverse shots.  What follows during this exchange is an enforcement of gender roles: the smartly dressed, aspiring man, possibly a son or nephew, and the elderly, more cautious woman who represents the maternal figure.  This is highlighted by her facial expressions in the over the shoulder shots when he says he might leave – throughout this interchange he remains dominant within the frame, is given more screen time and remains in control by taking important career decisions.  However, this inequality of power is broken down when he agrees to stay, which is highlighted by the careful use of a handheld two shot of man and woman embracing.  Incidentally, the use of handheld camera work also adds more realism to the scene and supports the natural pace of continuity editing and making representations of gender more believable within the clip.

Whilst the wake continues, our attention is drawn towards the gaze of two lead characters, the journalist and David Tennant’s detective character, through a carefully crafted eyeline match and careful shot composition.  Such a technique would not be uncommon to show two strangers, man and woman, seeing each other for the first time and falling in love, enforcing stereotypical gender roles that single men and women often meet partners at weddings and funerals.  However, because of their body language and the fact that the music has ceased, the audience are positioned to believe that these characters have a history and are, somewhat, of equal importance to the story.  Furthermore, David Tennant’s character is unshaven and holding a cup of tea, juxtaposing the representations of smart men at the beginning of the sequence who drink lager. Likewise, the woman is not drinking any wine or tea and looks out of place, not showing her emotions as much – this challenges the gender stereotype of grieving woman, replaced by a tough empowered female.

 

The dialogue acts as a natural sound bridge to show a passing of time and we are dropped into a conversation between the two characters.  Despite the journalist being framed in a high angle shot with David Tennant’s chest occupying the screen, this contrasts against her direct mode of address and strong body language of folded arms.  She is also given more screen time, showing her importance.  The reverse, over the shoulder medium shot gives the audience more focus on Tennant’s character who is represented as a troubled individual because of his erratic head turning and unkempt appearance.  By filming from a low angle, Tennant is shown to be the more dominant of the two characters.  However, as the scene progresses we see his body language weaken as he reflects on a decision he made and the power shifts back to the journalist, who remains assertive.  Seeing an opportunity, she tries to use her feminine charm to woo him into giving her information.  However, this backfires at the end of the scene, as Tennant regains his composure and asserts his masculinity, saying he doesn’t talk to the press and exiting the frame, leaving the female alone and isolated."

 

 

THE FOCI

For this particular exam, the focus will be on one of the following areas: gender, age, disability (physical ability), regional identity, social class and status, sexuality and ethnicity. 

The presentation (right) effectively summarises each representational area (slide 17 onwards) and what the common stereotypes and counter-types are for that particular focus and the questions to ask of the clip when you are analysising.  

Key words: stereotype, conform, subvert, archetype, counter-type.  A full glossary is also on this presentation.  Below are some more examples of textual analysis in action.

Textual Analysis for TV Drama.

Tools and Exemplars...

Any Human Heart - how is age constructed through the use of mise-en-scene?

This exemplar response highlights some of the ways age is represented, despite there being a lack of adults or elderly people in the sequence; we can still reference objects that signify older environments and represent historical importance.

 

It is important to remember this, so use mise-en-scene as a methodical clue to look for signifiers that can match the focus of the exam question.

The sequence begins with several close ups and long shots of the boys racing on their bikes.Youthfulness is represented, therefore, through the use of props; the three boys are presented as energetic, fun and competitive as they are riding through a very traditional, historic street in Oxford.The use of smart tweed suits represents not only represents wealth, but tradition and longstanding success of a University like Oxford; their costume also contrasts the typical attire that young people may have used to ride bikes at their time, suggesting that they are trying to behave like adults. Setting is equally important to represent youthfulness as later in the sequence they are seen laughing as they race through a park, a more conventional setting where you may see youths engaging in recreational activity.

 

The competitive element of their behaviour is continued in the sequence through gambling and alcohol, both very adult past-times which are presented in a darker adult setting.  This contrast shows how the youths are deliberately trying to behave like grown-ups in a much gloomier, serious situation yet the wager between the three young men about losing their virginity reminds the audience that they lack maturity about serious situations, such as love and relationships.The boys are framed in a medium long shot to show that they are rigid, sitting up straight and acting very serious in order to look like men compared to the hunched, laughing behaviour during the bike race.

 

At the home of Tess, the boys arrive pushing their bikes rather than riding them up to the door, which suggests that there is a transition in the way youths progress from children to adults, wanting to be received as adults.Peter’s comment about the Three Musketeers not only adds an element of playfulness, however, but also suggests that one of them is young and inexperienced. Inside the home, the boys adopt similar body language to that of the pub, making the situation seem formal and serious (and less relaxed).

The pouring of the tea and accentuation of the synchronous sound of water dripping into cups could represent their anticipation and excitement of meeting a girl that they could lose their virginity to.When the tea runs out, each boy acts gentlemanly and stands to help the girl.This is, of course, met with surprise and Tess humours them through her facial expression which highlights their immaturity and competitive spirit to be the first to help.The traditional décor also stifles their energy and seems oppressive, keeping them quiet and in check.

 

The shot reverse shots between the boys draw attention to their facial expression and the notion that they are playing a game.Peter humour’s Tess by encouraging her to call them by their first name, inadvertently allowing her to play their game which is why she sits down at their level; the remaining boys are naïve however and cannot tell whether she is laughing with them or at them.

 

The latter part of the scene represents more traditional ideologies of youth when Logan is battling with hormonal urges, fantasising about girls and sex.This is shown through the use of low-key lighting and as he browses mild pornography, adopting a very serious, pensive face as he attempts to write down his thoughts and feelings about the situation.Other signifiers include props such as cigarettes, bottles of wine and endless piles of books, which support the idea that young people think they know everything; however, Logan does not understand the hormonal yearning taking place with his thoughts.

The cross cutting between his confused expression looking at paintings of naked women, enhanced by asynchronous narrative voice-over as he writes the word ‘sex’ supports this further, showing how youths struggle to understand complex adult emotions and feelings.In the long shot, the décor is arranged to highlight his confused state of mind from a nice tidy bed with a book on it to him reading the magazine.

 

This is just some analysis predominantly using one micro-element.Think what you can write when you reference all four.

In the beginning of the sequence it appears to be an investigation led by men.  Gender is represented through the use of dialogue between the two male agents and the man in the control room, this conforms to the idea that men, with the help of technology, will be able to get the job done.  The male character realises that he and his team have ‘been played’ and he subsequently leads them on a hunt, this reinforces the idea that men are competitive and active in their investigation through doing rather than waiting for instructions.  The use of computer sound effects also highlights the male techy character’s importance in the scene as someone who is omnipotent (god like) and can be trusted.

It is the lead woman’s insight, however, through her dialogue which shows that she plays a more active role in the workplace and subverts the traditionally stereotyped role. This is in contrast to the older woman who sits and says nothing during the entire sequence, suggesting that her role is to be seen and not heard, reinforcing an outdated patriarchal ideology that society is run by men and that women should simply follow instructions.  Having a woman being bossy and relaying instructions to a team led by a woman supports the idea that women are organised and talk about their problems.

 

The idea that women are emotional and react differently to stress, however, is upheld during the bomb sequence as women can be heard screaming during the arrest.  The female agent leading the team is also assertively screaming orders which reflects positively on her as a strong leader (subversion), but when she realises that her team are in danger (shown through shot reverse shots) she gasps just before the explosion.  This is emphasised through slow-motion and edited so that the audience can see her emotional response to the situation as the incidental music stops for effect to draw our attention to her fear.  This could have reinforced the idea that women are intuitive and realise that danger is imminent, a very traditional maternal stereotype of women. 

Incidental music is used to aid story development and set the mood, but also reinforce gender roles. A good example is when the sequence cross-cuts and music is added to create tension and bridge scenes.  When the main villain appears, however, he is introduced using very deep drumming to highlight his power and villainy.  Furthermore, when he detonates the bomb we can hear the effect of his power through the use of asynchronous sound of an explosion in the distance highlighting his ruthlessness. 

 

In contrast to this, when the women and the agent are reacting to the bomb blast, the score is largely redundant, presented as a low hum suggesting their alienation in a field of work typically associated with dangerous men.  Additional static sound effects of are added to accentuate the confusion after the explosion; this also adds to the effect of the long shot of the team in the control room, slowly zooming out to show how she is no longer in control and out of tune to the situation.  However, she does reassert her authority through dialogue by using commands for the agent to ‘respond’; the female agent regains composure as she sits up to acknowledge her orders like a soldier would, subverting the idea that she would need saving in such a situation and can continue to act in a traditionally male role to assess the damage.

If you added this to the rich elements of cinematography, editing and mise-en-scene then you have a varied and detailed textual analysis.  The key message: dialogue and sound help position audience.

Spooks: the bomb that got away - how is gender represented through the use of sound?

We often take for granted that what we hear matches what see.  In an exam situation you will not have time to close your eyes and listen to the whole extract, instead you will need to pay close attention.

 

Focus on how dialogue positions the audience to respond in a certain way, how incidental sound motifs highlight a character’s importance or the effect of actions that are taking place in the scene, what sound effects are being used to accentuate a character’s state of mind, and also which characters and background artists say nothing!  Let’s look in more detail using this clip as an example.

Cinematography is used to construct common and subverted representations of ethnicity in this extract.  The opening  zoom shot on a microphone is used to draw the audience’s attention to everything that is not only seen but said.  This could connote that people make assumptions about ethnicity and some of them are challenged in this extract, therefore the audience have to listen and not just see.


The use of composition and what is in focus allows audiences to identify key elements of mise-en-scene.  In a mid-shot, British soldiers are in focus and presented as covertly operating in the background which could be a political message reinforcing the idea that Britain polices other countries’ problems. A long shot of foreign men, possibly Arabian or African, pushing a car highlights that they (the enemy) are undeveloped in terms of technology which also reinforces the idea that British culture is more advanced than others.  This juxtaposes the shot of soldiers who have high tech equipment and later board a helicopter to launch an assault.


A low angle shot of the female prisoners drinking water whilst being watched by a black boy subverts the idea that white people or foreigners are often the ones delivering aid, which subverts Alvarado’s idea that people of different ethnicity are often pitied.  The reverse, medium close-up highlights the western women’s vulnerability which supports a common stereotype that women need protecting from foreign men. However, the arrival of a white terrorist leader (a central focal point in a long and medium shot) also subverts the idea that white British people are usually the victims of terrorism or victims of crimes committed by ethnic minorities.  This is also highlighted as he comes down to their level (eye level shot) but stands and moves away out of frame, highlighting that he sees himself above his own type/race.

Later in the scene, close ups are used to show that the women are trying to manipulate the young boy into freeing them which supports the idea that young people from other cultures are vulnerable, uneducated and need guidance and support.  However, through a low angle shot reverse shot we can see that the boy is maintaining power over the women and not prepared to reason with them, which supports the idea that other cultures are dangerous, not listening to what is being said to them, challenging the dominant hegemonic western values.  When he discovers their identity, the leader promotes him to a soldier (shown through a medium close up), essentially ending his childhood.  The angle of the camera remains at eye level on him like the rest of the men in scene.  His transition if further heightened through a close up of his face and the over the shoulder shot of the gun, signalling his transition into a violent youth, conforming to a stereotype black youths and gun crime.  This is developed further when we see the aftermath of the execution through a POV shot as Georgie tries to save the female victim, and his isolation in a mid-shot as the remaining terrorists walk out of the frame, suggesting that he has thrown away an opportunity to help which supports the stereotype that people from minority ethnic groups do not contribute positively to society.


The soldiers are typically presented in long shots and two shots, so it is hard to determine their race or culture other than by their accents (dialogue) which are either very classic or cockney in their tone and nature, to affirm that they are perhaps the heroes or liberators; long shots also show a variety of mise-en-scene through their use of technology and weapons (and that fact that they look more active and larger in number).  The use of long shots and mid shots also highlights their team work and supports the ideology that Britain is united. 

   

In contrast to this, the 3/4 shot of the white leader of the terrorist group, who have captured Georgie, shows him to be less active than his British counterparts yet he is in control over an army of mixed nationalities; this could support the idea that British people are multi-cultural and integrate well into society (post colonialism), however it could also support the idea that people from other cultures are easily led by dominant groups.  The mission of the army is to break down this group, shown through a range of long shots preparing to engage battle, hence the British are fighting an ethnic group brought together by a conflicting ideology which does not meet British values.

Remember, each shot counts and is significant.  There is much more that can be said and you could probably argue for or against the above, as long as you use evidence.

Our Girl - Georgie is rescued: how is ethnicity represented through the use of cinematography?

Courtesy of @MrHunterMedia here is a walking talking explanation of how to answer 2016's Q1 paper.

A great resource, so please watch and make notes.

And here's a great piece of work by Jax F, either a student or media teacher.  There are live annotations as you watch the video.  Again, think about how the clip is positioning you as the audience - how are you being directed to read the text?

Past Paper Exemplars

Peaky Blinders - How is Class represented in this extract?

Most exam papers are written at least 18 months in advance, therefore you can expect a clip to be based on a programme that was popular in 2015/16.

 

This extract is a good exemplar of a piece that could contrast two main characters and also feature secondary characters that fulfil stereotypes.

 

Break the sequence down into parts.  Part 1 - exposition; where are we? The introduction shot places Shelby at a very posh hotel (the mise-en-scene gives this away) and an exchange (through a medium head and shoulder, shot reverse shot) instantly sets up our first class war.  The hotel receptionist makes assumptions about the character of Shelby, whilst Shelby remains indifferent throughout the whole sequence.  

There are also key transition points, for example when the sound of the money thumping the reception counter is accentuated to reinforce Shelby's status as a wealthy businessman creates a degree of tension (and silence) before the receptionist/manager changes his character in favour of Shelby.

 

The scene cuts to a very large shot (match frame to what the receptionist said about caviar) and we see a Russian oligarch-type character greedily guzzling down wine and rich food to live up to the expectation of wealth and status in front of Shelby.  Interestingly, the editing (screen time) of Shelby shows him to be judging the character and disbelieving what is said through a series of reaction shots.  There is lots we can say about stereotypes here.

 

The next transition point is where Shelby and Romanov light a cigarette and Shelby reveals what he knows.  Focus on the use of camera shots (CU and BCU) on Shelby as he continues to deliver his verdict.  Romanov then brings his chair over to Shelby (emphasised in a Long shot), hence revealing who has the most power and status within the scene.  Pay close attention to the composition of these shots (who if foregrounded, in focus, and at what angle?).

The focus is next on the diamonds and sapphires (both connote wealth) that Romanov discloses to Shelby.  As Shelby takes the sapphire there begins a sound bridge, signalling the end of the scene, but also an attempt by Romanov to reassert his class and status on Shelby by saying they will no longer be weak (inferior) which leaves Shelby somewhat troubled.

 

Key areas to focus on: some of you may think there is not enough here, but there is.  The scene is rich in mise-en-scene and that of high society and social class, however the contrast in accents and language is intriguing and an element that is often overlooked by media students as they are so focused on the visual that they neglect what is said and how the language is used/delivered by characters.  The editing is also key here because screen time allows for characterisation to flourish (the fast cuts of Romanov gorging on lavish food versus the slower cuts of Shelby's temperate character).  Remember, TV drama is all about characterisation.

 

If you watch this clip four times you will see just how much you can unravel.  Give it a try - work in pairs of small groups to dissect this seqeunce.