Framework for Analyzing Film[1]




Literary Aspects

Dramatic Aspects

Cinematic Aspects


Relationship between Artist and Society

 Economic, Political, and Cultural contexts embedded in the film










Camera angles

Sound and vision


Integrated skills with a greater focus on speaking and writing.


Narrative (the story, story line, what the story line is based on; binary oppositions; disruption of an equilibrium and how a new equilibrium sets in).

Characters (heroes, villains, helpers, main characters, supporting
characters, and how characters function and contribute to our understanding of the story).

Setting (physical environment in which filming occurs, indoor or outdoor setting, its significance).

Theme (general statement about the subject).

Signs (anything perceptible that has significance beyond its usual function or meaning; an object, a sound, a person, an act, a color). Signs may function symbolically or metaphorically in a film. Pay attention to the repetition of certain images or tropes (for example, harrowing images of Ground Zero in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour, or the image of the mockingbird in the opening scene of Robert Mulligan’s film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird).

Genre (romance, comedy, suspense, a combination of different genres).

Acting (the performance of actors, whether it is convincing or not).

Costumes (formal clothes, informal clothes, their color, and their
contribution to the film).


[1] As cited in Frank Baker’s website (suggested in “The Third Eye: Critical Literacy and Higher Order Thinking Skills Are Improved Through a Film Studies Class,” Ali Nihat Eken, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Nov. 2002, v.46, i3, p220 ). I modified this paradigm to include cultural aspects of film as well.

 [2] See, for example, John Mihelich’s reading of Sherman Alexie’s film, Smoke Signals, “Smoke or Signals? American Popular Culture and the Challenge to Hegemonic Images of American Indians in Native American Film.”