Film form of the opening sequence from “City of God”

Film form includes multiple aspects of the film language, including cinematography, editing, sound, lighting and color, and mise-en-scene (SAE Film and Media, 2015). Analysing the film form of the opening sequence from “City of God” (Meirelles, 2002), it is vital to pay attention to editing used while creating the sequence. First of all, the high paced editing has been used in order to present the world of the film. The editor uses a lot of cuts, showing the audience the life at the Brazilian slums. Parallel editing technique is used to show different actions happening at the same time: the chasing of the chicken and the main character walking down the street. When the main characters meet each other, the editor uses slow motion to enhance the dramatic effect.

Talking about the sound, many diegetic sounds – “sounds whose source is visible on the screen or whose source is implied to be present by the action of the film” (, n.d.) – are used in the opening sequence, including sharpening of the knife, playing some Latin music, chickens being killed, shouts and gunshots. Apart from that, a non-diegetic music appears during the chasing of the chicken.

The use of color also plays a significant role in the film form of the opening scene of City of God. Mostly the cold tones are being used in the main part of the scene. The image looks a bit desaturated, and the blue color dominates in the color system. However, during the flashback, the colors are rather warm, and the yellow color dominates in the color palette.

References (n.d.). Diegetic Sound. Retrieved February 18, 2018 from

Ribeiro A. B. (Producer) & Meirelles. F. (Director). (2002). City of God [Motion Picture]. Brazil: Miramax Films.

SAE Film and Media. (2015, 30 January). Film form. Retrieved February 18, 2018 from

Soviet Montage Theory

Soviet Montage Theory was invented in the 1920s by Soviet filmmakers, and since then it has become one of the most recognizable techniques commonly used all over the world. It had a great impact on the way of creating movies in the early years of cinema development. Soviet Montage was a new language in filmmaking as it refused the standards of continuity system, trying to express ideas by combining and contrasting the images and breaking time and space unity (Berrance, 2014, para. 1-2).

The history of the Soviet Montage begins after the Russian Revolution and the rise of Bolsheviks in the USSR. Soviet filmmakers were looking for a new language in cinema, which could also be used as a propaganda tool to spread the revolutionary ideas among the working class. “Filmmakers like Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov thought the continuity system was ‘bourgeois’ because it faked reality. They believed in Marxist ‘dialectic’ which was about the conflict between ideas. Eisenstein wanted to use cinema to stir emotions and inspire the audience to get behind the revolution” (Berrance, para. 4-5). Eisenstein claimed that everything captured by the camera is just a raw material which needs to be edited in order to become a film (Renée, 2014, para.1).

Soviet Montage Theory was inspired by the Kuleshov Effect. Lev Kuleshov was one of the early film theorists who made a very important discovery and brought a new perception of cinema. He discovered that the way audience responds to the images shown in the movie directly depends on the shots that go before and after, and placing them in a different order can change how people perceive the ideas (Berrance, 2014, para. 3).


Kuleshov’s experiment

One of Kuleshov’s students, Sergei Eisenstein continued to develop his ideas. He approached to films in an intellectual way, and that’s how the Montage Theory was born. Eisenstein claimed that confines of time and space can be broken in order to effectively communicate the ideas. He created an innovative language that he used in his films including Battleship Potemkin (1925), making a great step in cinema development. Eisenstein used montage to evoke the emotional response from the audience, and he succeeded in it. Eisenstein approached to showing ideas dialectically, creating a conflict between two shots going after one another. The associations triggered by this conflict create a new synthesis idea in viewers’ minds. Eisenstein was mostly interested in intellectual, or ideological, montage, and contributed a lot to its development (, 2014).

There is a lot more to study to understand the whole concept of the Soviet Montage. Dziga Vertov was another filmmaker who took part in the development of this theory, making the editing visible and even obvious to the viewer. Soviet Montage affected the way films are being made, and it is still used in modern movies. Soviet filmmakers contributed a lot to understanding the psychology of the film and made numerous extraordinary discoveries in this sphere.


Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1925). Poster by the Stenberg brothers, 2012


Barrance, T. (2014, February 14). Soviet montage: how the Russian Revolution changed film. Retrieved October 21, 2017, from

Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1925). Poster by the Stenberg brothers [Online image]. (2012, October 26). Retrieved October, 21, 2017, from (2014). The History of Cutting – The Soviet Theory of Montage [Video file]. Retrieved October, 21, 2017, from

Kuleshov effect [Online image]. (2015, August 31). Retrieved October 31, 2017 from

Renée, V. (2014, October 28). Video: The History of Editing, Eisenstein, & the Soviet Montage. Retrieved October 21, 2017, from


Conflict in Scriptwriting

A key to writing a successful story in general and particularly a screenplay is a great conflict which is the driving force of all the events taking place. First, let’s define this term in order to understand its importance. In storytelling, conflict “is the central struggle between characters or competing forces, such as man against nature, society, or himself” (Tucker, n.d., para. 1). In fact, a conflict can be represented in various forms, but it keeps being a vital part of a story. A protagonist tries to achieve his or her ultimate goal while different forces create obstacles to prevent the character from succeeding in it. By overcoming these obstacles this character develops —— in screenwriting, it is called character arc (Kram, 2016, para. 1-3).


Conflict between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in Star Wars 

There are two main types of conflicts: internal and external ones. However, both of them can be present in one story. According to Michael Rabiger (n.d, para. 1), these are the combinations of forces that are commonly in storytelling:

  • Person vs. person, which is an external conflict.
  • Person vs. environmental or social institution, which is also an external conflict.
  • Person vs. a task he or she is supposed to complete, which includes both internal and external conflict.
  • Person vs. him- or herself (if the character suffers from a severe inner struggle), which is an internal conflict.

In fact, most of the films include internal and external conflicts at the same time. For example, such movies as The Silence of the Lambs, Whiplash, Moby Dick or Star Wars (Kram, 2016, para. 11-17).

In many films, conflict is expressed through the battle between what is right and what is wrong. “Stories devised on mythic, heroic or moralistic models usually frame conflict with the clear dichotomy of good versus evil” (Rabiger, n.d., para. 2). However, more realistic scenarios require creating three-dimensional characters with complex psychological motivation. When it comes to real life, it is usually difficult to define the right and the wrong ones. The same thing happens in realistic stories and screenplays, thus conflicts become more complicated (Rabiger, n.d., para. 3).

Why conflict is essential in storytelling? First, it drives the plot forward, provoking the protagonist to take action and overcome all the obstacles he or she faces on the way to achieving the goal (Tucker, n.d., para.3). Character needs motivation, otherwise the story just doesn’t make sense. Another important point is that conflict contributes to creating suspense and engaging the audience, allowing it to deeply immerse in the story. Finally, conflict drives the story towards resolution, which is expected by the audience from the beginning. Resolution is the final part of the transformation of the protagonist, and without conflict it would be impossible (Tuccillo, 2013, para. 7).


Even though Conflict takes a bigger amount of screentime, its importance is equal to Resolution. Driving the story towards Resolution is one of the purposes of Conflict.

It is crucial to realize the importance of a conflict in scriptwriting as it is one of the key elements that can bring a story to success. Without conflict there is no drama, and vice versa.


Conflict vs Resolution [Online image]. (2013, June 24). Retrieved October 31, 2017 from

Kram, W. (2017, August 02). Screenplay Writing: Conflicts & Obstacles. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from

Rabiger, M. (n.d.). Defining Conflict. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from

Tuccillo, D. (2013, July 24). Conflict vs. Resolution: The Importance of Putting Your Characters Through Hell in Your Screenplay. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from

Tucker, K. (n.d.). Definition of Conflict in Literature. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from

Star Wars [Online Image]. (2014, March 19). Retrieved October 17, 2017, from

Documentary: What Is It?

The traditional perception of documentary film is quite common: it is a serious film that showcases real life as it is. However, this term does not have a clear definition, and it can hardly be limited by any confines due to a certain amount of differences between documentaries. Undoubtedly, documentary film cannot exactly represent the real life without manipulating it for a simple reason: they are made by people who have their own vision of the story they are telling. Filmmakers keep arguing about how to achieve truthfulness, which is supposed to be one of the key elements of a documentary, continuing to redefine this term (Aufderheide, 2007, p. 2). Bill Nichols defines documentary as a “representation of the world we already occupy”, pointing out that this includes an inevitable expressive factor hidden in every film. As long as documentaries are created by humans, they show the whole story from a particular point of view of a storyteller (2010, p. 13).


Although the term “documentary” is broad, all the films related to it share some characteristics. “Characteristics documentaries have in common that are distinct from other film types (especially from the fiction films) can be thought of in terms of: (1) subjects; (2) purposes, viewpoints, or approaches; (3) forms; (4) production methods and techniques; and (5) the sort of experience the offer audiences” (Ellis & McLane, 2005, p.1). The subject of a documentary film is usually an actual up-to-date issue which concerns mostly concerns a public matter. Purposes and approaches are varied as they are individual depending on what the filmmaker wants to say about the chosen subject. However, the final goal is usually to inform and persuade people by interpreting actuality in the film (Ellis & McLane, 2005, p. 2). Although form is also variable, it is operated by such tools as sound, images, special effects, and pacing. By deciding upon how they can be used a filmmaker structures the story according to the meaning he puts in it (Aufderheide, 2007, p. 11). Production methods and techniques refer to the way of the shooting process, and the basic requirements are to use not actors but real people and shoot on real locations. Audience response usually depends on two aspects: visual experience and impact on viewers’ attitudes (Ellis & McLane, 2005, p. 3).


Documentary filmmaking plays an important role in the modern society as it shapes public understanding of the world and our place in it. Patricia Aufderheide writes: “Documentary is an important reality-shaping communication, because of its claims to truth” (2007, p. 5). These films are telling the stories about something worth knowing and thinking about, and the art of making documentaries has a significant value in the contemporary culture. Their purpose is not only to entertain the audience but to give it a deeper understanding of an actual public issue, which is important for us as for the members of the society.


Aufderheide, P. (2007). Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, J. C., & McLane, B. A. (2005). A New History of Documentary Film. London: A&C Black.

How To Deal With Ethical Challenges In Documentary Filmmaking [Online image]. (2014, September 23). Retrieved October 16, 2017 from

Nichols, B. (2010). Introduction to Documentary (2nd ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Suitedumonde-blogheader [Online image]. (2014, August 4). Retrieved October 31, 2017 from


Development of Film Music and Its Psychological Impact

Nowadays, it is hard to imagine a great film without a good soundtrack. Cinema and music went together since filmmaking industry’s appearance. Even silent movies were accompanied with live music played during the screenings (Reay, 2004, p.5). With the development of cinema industry, the connection of films and music become stronger. In the 1930s, filmmakers used Classical Scoring technique in order to add music to their movies. It is still a common filmmakers’ tool, which sounds like an orchestra is accompanying the film. These scores consist of repeated patterns of themes and leitmotifs associated with specific topics or ideas represented on the screen. (The Evolution of Music in Movies, 2016, para. 11-14) In the modern cinema, recognizable song soundtracks are also being widely used by filmmakers.


Orchestra accompanying a silent film in the early years of cinema era.

However, not always music was considered essential for films. For instance, the followers of the Dogma style of filmmaking claimed that music in unnatural in movies. They made realistic movies that had sound effects, but music appeared in these films only if its source was visible on the screen. Although this movement took place in the history, others insisted on using scores and soundtracks because of the effect it has on the audience. (Fischoff, 2005, p. 2)

Undoubtedly, scores and soundtracks have a great psychological influence on the audience that should not be underestimated. First, music helps to tell the story through creating a certain atmosphere and mood of the film. According to the article The psychological effects of film music, “it guides the audience in certain ways, for example, emotionally, and it enriches and deepens their experience of the film” (2015, para. 10). A film is an illusive world created by filmmakers, and in order to make people believe in this illusion, they need several tools including scores and soundtracks. Usually we perceive music on unconsciously while watching a film: we do not realize what we hear but mostly we just feel it emotionally. (Fischoff, 2005, p. 3) Soundtracks and scores drive our minds to the proper understanding of the story being told. It also contributes to how we react to what we see on the screen. “Music adds something we might call heightened realism or supra-reality. It is a form of theatrical, filmic reality, different from our normal reality. […] Because films are two-dimensional, extra-ordinary experiences, they may need help, as it were, from music”. (Fischoff, 2005, p. 3)

The purpose of using music in films is not limited by the psychological effects described above. It is just a small part of the huge influence it makes on cinema. Film music is a subject of many researches that prove its importance in filmmaking.



Fischoff, S. (2005, June 24). The Evolution of Music in Film and its Psychological Impact on Audiences. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from

How indie musicians are reinventing film music [Digital image]. (2014, May 12). Retrieved October 15, 2017, from

Pileberg, S. (2015, May 8). The psychological effects of film music. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from

Reay, P. (2004). Music in film: soundtracks and synergy. London: Wallflower.

Silent film orchestra [Online image]. (2013, March 6). Retrieved October 31, 2017 from

The Evolution of Music in Movies. (2016, April 20). Retrieved October 14, 2017, from

Have smartphones destroyed a generation?

Jean M. Twenge, the author of the article Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?, has been researching generation differences for 25 years of her career. In this article she describes the generation she calls iGens – those who were born between 1995 and 2012. The oldest ones were early adolescents when iPhone was introduced. In fact, iGens never knew a life without a smartphone.

Usually the characteristics of a certain generation appear gradually and stay for a long time. The generation before iGens is called Millennials, and it was individualistic but stable. However, in 2012 Jean M. Twenge noticed abrupt shifts in graphics that demonstrated new persisting trends in generation’s behavior. The new generation seemed to be very different from its predecessors not in just their views but also in how they spend their time. These dramatic shifts of behavior appeared after the Great Recession, but another important factor that affected the teenagers of that time was that over 50% of Americans got smartphones. So this generation was shaped by the smartphone and the social media, and the impact of these factors goes far beyond the usual concerns. They affect every aspect of all the modern teens’ life, from their social interactions to mental health.

To show what she means, the author describes her conversation with Athena, a 13-year-old teenager from Houston, Texas. The girl tells Jean how she spends her time and how she communicates with friends. Describing her own generation, Athena says that they ‘like phones than they like actual people’. They just didn’t have a chance to know life without smart gadgets, and it affected them a lot.

Generation studies show how modern teenagers live their lives now. The changes might be positive or negative, but most could be called both. For example, nowadays teens stay home a lot, so they are safer. However, psychologically they are more vulnerable than Millennials. Moreover, the rate of teenage depression and suicide increased during the last years.

Jean M. Twenge mentions, that no single factor ever defines the whole generation as circumstances, parenting and schooling styles are very changeable. On the other hand, smartphones and social media had a great impact on the iGens that cannot be denied. Their effect is rather profound and actually causes teenagers to feel unhappy.

Boomers – the generation of 1970s – were independent and self-confident, they tended to drink, smoke and have sex in early age, and that is how they expressed themselves. Generation X also sought independence and tried to get as much freedom as they could. For example, they tried to get their driving licenses on the day they turned 16 because driving was a symbol of this freedom. But modern teens are less interested in independence. A significant part of them seldom leaves house without the parents. In fact, 8th graders in 2009 seemed to go out more than 12th graders in 2015. They are less likely to date, and this decline in dating tracks with a decline in sexual activity that dropped by almost 40% since 1991. Generally, iGens have their first sex approximately one year later than, for example, Gen Xers. In 2016, the teen birth rate hit all-time low, being 67% down compared with 1991.

Driving also does not attract teens as much as in earlier years. iGens are usually driven by parents until they insist on their children getting a driving license. Unlike kids from previous generations, iGens almost don’t work or manage their own money. In 2010, the rate of working high-school seniors dropped by about 20% since 1970, and for 8th graders it was cut in half.

iGens seem to delay their adolescence and put off the responsibilities of adulthood. It is influenced by both economical and parenting factors. The information economy changed the demands that teenagers face. Moreover, thanks to smartphones, teens now can socialize staying right in their bedrooms. Although iGens spend a lot of their time at home, they do not study more. According to the researches, students in 2010 studied even less than their predecessors in early 1990s. As modern teens work and study less, they have more leisure time, and mostly they spend it on their phones.

In spite of staying home, teenagers are less close with their parents nowadays. They seem to have certain difficulties with social interactions in general. iGens spend more time on the phone than with actual people, and the fact that the number of teens getting together with their friends dropped almost by half between 2000 and 2015 proves it. Real meetings have been replaced with virtual connections made through apps and the Web.

According to The Monitoring the Future survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens who prefer to spend their time in front of the screen are more likely to be unhappy, and, conversely, those who choose ‘real’ activities tend to be happier. This link is strong and has no exceptions: the survey demonstrates, that screen activities cause the feeling of unhappiness among teenagers.

iGen is a lonely, dislocated generation, and one of the reasons of it are social networking sites. Generally, the less time teenagers spend contacting with others in-person, the more they suffer from loneliness. Although more or less social teens tend to be more or less social in both venue, the overall trend shows that those who prefer virtual interactions are more likely to report the symptoms of depression. Teenagers, who spend three or more hours per day on electronic devices are 35% more suicidal. It is important to notice, that the rate of homicide has gradually declined through the past years, but the rate of suicide has increased. In 2011, the number of suicides got higher than the number of homicides.

Due to constant usage of social networking sites, teenagers are more likely to feel left out. This trend is spread widely among girls although boys also have such concerns. When teenagers see their friends posting about the meetings they were not invited to, they feel excluded. Moreover, teens often complain about their dependence on the reaction of others expressed via likes and comments. Besides the depressive symptoms common among both sex teenagers, girls are closing the gap in suicide rate that was usually higher for boys. Also, girls are more likely to suffer from cyberbullying, and social media is often used for it.

Another important problem concerning smartphones is teenage sleep deprivation. iGens commonly place their phones beside their head while sleeping. The smartphone is the last thing they see before falling asleep and the first after waking up, and it looks as teenagers are seriously obsessed with their devices. While discussing this issue, they often use addiction language. Talking about sleeping problems, the number of teens sleeping for less than seven hours per night increased by a half since 1991. There is a strong link between social media and sleep deprivation, which causes problems with thinking and reasoning as well as physical and mental diseases.

To sum up, parents are better limit the time their children spend in front of the screen. The smartphone and social media obsession might have a severe impact on teens’ future adult life, affecting their mental health and social skills. However, the author mentions that restricting technology is an unrealistic demand in the modern world, giving her personal experience of raising young kids as an example. But still, mild boundary-setting can prevent teenagers from falling into harmful habits.

In the last passage of the article Jean M. Twenge describes her talk with Athena, in which the girl complains that it is hard to make her fellows actually communicate in person. They prefer to look into their phones, ignoring the conversation, and it is hurtful.

Considering all the aspects described above, smartphones have a significant impact on the modern generation. However, while I was reading the article, I did not feel as a part of the generation described. In Russian language we have a proverb: ‘Statistics are the second type of lie’. I cannot claim it, but that is just what I felt when reading the article. The author focuses on the smartphone and social media issue although it is not the root of all the worst. In my opinion, the development of how all the people live their everyday lives affects them complexly. It also includes the way adults changed with the improvement of technology.

Not even once in my life I witnessed like parents just ignored their children being too busy with their devices. I think, it deeply hurt their children. Moreover, technology is an easy and useful way to get more free time for the parents. What is surprising about the fact that children raised by smartphones and tablets prefer to live their lives inside them later? But I do not see the reason to be dramatic about it as this is how life works nowadays, and all we can do is to watch our own actions.

I also noticed that there is a strong tendency to restrict teenagers in terms of going out. I mean, parents are concerned about the dangers their children can face on the streets, so they prefer to make them stay home. Modern teenagers just stopped fighting so hard for their independence as they found a perfect solution – social media. You can stay home and be engaged at the same time, so simple.

But I do not deny that overuse of smartphones is destructive towards the teenagers. In my life I met those who were unable to make real social contacts as they felt rejected and misunderstood, so they preferred their online friends to the antagonistic real world. These people needed help, and I felt wrong to blame them for their views. For teens social media is another great escape from all the real world restrictions, and it is hard to control it.

I was born in 1999, and I cannot say that everything described in the article is true about my fellows or elder friends. We went out often, fought for staying out late in the evenings, we got together, and smartphones were something that just followed us in our journeys. Moreover, they are extremely useful when it comes to search engines, maps, bank apps, music, books, etc. We do spend a lot of time on our phones, but how many things are now available in a little box that fits your hand. We just have to remember about it.

The thing that concerns me is that in the modern world people almost never memorize information. Why would we if we can always search for it? Attention issues are a common concern in terms of the impact of social media, and I also find it important. We got used to getting more information than our brain is able to capture, so we do not value all this information. That is an issue worth noticing and remembering.

We definitely have to pay attention to how we use our smartphones and social media, and we also have to remember about all the other factors that affect our wellbeing. I do not think smartphones destroyed the generation, but I believe smartphones are something this generation must learn to deal with.