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Film Methodologies – Point Break (1991) Essay

Many different methodologies are vital when examining film. Different aspects and methods of cinema analysis provide critics and audiences with various approaches to establishing certain genres or films. This essay will examine the specific methodologies of the action genre, a consideration of the art cinema and an auteur study. These styles are recognized in Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break (1991) which provides strong examples of these techniques. An action film is commonly recognized by audiences. The action film portrays strong characteristics and identifiable elements unique to the action genre.

Fights, stunts, cars, foot chases, sex appeal and explosions are fundamental sequences of the action genre whereas; character development and well thought-out plot lines are often overlooked. The action genre therefore develops a stereotype that characterizes a film by incorporating such certain elements. Bigelow’s Point Break is stereotypically an action film, as it embodies these, and many more aspects essential to the action genre. Many events in Point Break centre on powerful adrenaline pumping action sequences.

Fighting takes place frequently and in many different environments. These situations build tension and provide entertainment. Fist fighting is not the only conflict confronted in Bigelow’s film. Shootouts involving rifles, pistols and shotguns are believed to be essential classics to a good action film. The predominant theme of bank robbery incorporates a mixed bag of violence, weapons and aggressive language. These events evoke powerful emotions from all characters on-screen, creating stronger action elements. Stunts involving explosions intrigue audiences.

The imagery of a building or car exploding into the air is typically high intensity action. The situation before, during and after such events provides compelling entertainment. High spectacle stunts and effects are commonplace in the action genre such as Point Break. Both car and foot pursuits are worth noting in the films action archive. High speed car chases deliver an adrenaline and intensity only action audiences are frequent too. This intensity in Bigelow’s film heightens during the foot chase between Reeves and Swayze.

Finally, sex appeal and the portrayal of the human body in the film, provides a core of entertainment in Point Break. Through its social theme of surfing and its objectification of both topless men and women, the genre contributes to its already profound stenotype. We must consider these themes in relation to an action genre study to entirely understand and examine and analyze the film Point Break; however, these are not the only themes and features to consider when establishing methodologies specific to the action genre. There are elements of art house technique evident in Bigelow’s Point Break.

Although typically an action genre film, it not only controls emotion, mood and style through themes and events on screen but also through its use of audio and visual manipulation. Focusing on visual styles Bigelow echoes a complexity, often introducing elements resembling art house aesthetics. The less conventional filming methods utilized in Point Break reveals an array of long shots, point of view shots, use of intensified continuity and quick cutting. The films themes primarily revolve around the typical action genre story which provides the film with a lot of its power.

However, it is worth taking into account what and how these art cinema traits take affect to an audience in Bigelow’s film. Long shots, usually of conversations frequently occur throughout Point Break. These shots sustain a level of depth many other films lack in the action genre. For example, during the fourth scene there is a long pan between Reeves and his partner. This could be used as a rendition of the conventional shot-reverse-shot film technique. The camera moves from left ? right slowly however, because the camera is moving on a semi circle dolly track, we are able to view the conversation from an array of different angles.

This stops the need for frequent cutting between shots and shot sizes. Long takes and shot size manipulation are well known examples of art cinema examples in Point Break. Although not common in the action genre, they are uniquely obvious in this film. A framed long shot of Reeves and Swayze stays stationary as they walked towards camera, however the camera continues to frame them from long wide shot ? mid shot. This is very interesting as conventional cinema pieces tend to change shot angles and sizes frequently to make their films visually entertaining.

Handheld point of view (POV) shots balance emotion and intensity with reality. Through the use of first person perspectives, Bigelow is truly able to direct audience’s attention and emotions. This method of filmmaking provides a uniquely odd action characteristic. Bank robbery is one of the main themes in Bigelow’s Point Break. The intense topic of armed robbery and violence creates powerful emotions. Intensified continuity and frame cutting allows Bigelow’s film to multiply tension and fear while its being played out onscreen. Shot sizes change repeatedly giving strength to specific visual keys and detail.

Bigelow’s attention to vision extends to even the smallest technical details in Point Break. Thus scenes of heightened intensity can not only be controlled by what characters and events are taking place, but that of the camera movement and sound direction. These are the technical elements of art cinema throughout Point Break. Finally, by examining the auteur study of Point Break we must analyze the films director and creative owner. In this auteur study we will examine Kathryn Bigelow, her previous works and inspirations in tie to Point Break.

The director was born in California in 1952 and is one of the only female directors to achieve successful Hollywood fame. Her films usually concern the male dominated arena of big budget action cinema. Bigelow has been noted to revise genres similar to violence, voyeurism and sexual politics. Point Break’s genre mix of bank robbery and surfing makes it obvious that Bigelow has a desire to consistently approach and push cinematic boundaries. Her marriage to big time director James Cameron could have provided Bigelow with a stepping stone into the industries top elite.

Bigelow first entered the cinema by way of the art world. Her flair for traditional masculine genres in respect to Point Break is exampled by her previous works such as Blue Steel (1990) and art house film The Loveless (1981). Both films clearly represent Bigelow’s style of masculinity action mixed with art house cinema. Bigelow is essentially an important contemporary auteur. In conclusion, methodologies are vital when examining film. Throughout this essay we have analyzed the action genre, a consideration of art cinema and an auteur study. All these methodologies are recognized in Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break (1991).

By concluding with these studies we have deduced that different aspects and methods of cinema analysis provide critics and audiences with various approaches when establishing genre and film. References Allon, Y. Patterson, H. Cullen, D. Contemporary North American Film Directors: A Wallflower Critical Guide. n/a. Published: Wallflower Press n/a. 2003. {http://qqq. cercles. com/review/r11/jermyn. html} n/a {http://movies. yahoo. com/movie/contributor/1800091098/bio} A Strange Gaze. {http://www. popmatters. com/pm/books/reviews/39697/cinema-of-kathryn-bigelow/} 5. 10. 07

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