A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animationtechniques or visual effects. The process of filmmaking has developed into an art form and industry.
Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment and a powerful method for educating – or indoctrinating – citizens. The visual elements of cinema give motion pictures a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions by using dubbing or subtitles that translate the dialogue into the language of the viewer.
Films are made up of a series of individual images called frames. When these images are shown rapidly in succession, a viewer has the illusion that motion is occurring. The viewer cannot see the flickering between frames due to an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. Viewers perceive motion due to a psychological effect called beta movement.
The origin of the name "film" comes from the fact that photographic film (also called film stock) has historically been the primary medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms exist for an individual motion picture, including picture, picture show, moving picture, photo-play and flick. A common name for film in the United States is movie, while in Europe the term film is preferred. Additional terms for the field in general include the big screen, the silver screen, the cinema and the movies.
Preceding film in origin by thousands of years, early plays and dances had elements common to film: scripts, sets, costumes, production, direction, actors, audiences, storyboards, andscores. Much terminology later used in film theory and criticism apply, such as mise en scene (roughly, the entire visual picture at any one time). Owing to an absence of technology for doing so, moving visual and aural images were not recorded for replaying as in film.
In the 1860s, mechanisms for producing two-dimensional drawings in motion were demonstrated with devices such as the zoetrope, mutoscope and praxinoscope. These machines were outgrowths of simple optical devices (such as magic lanterns) and would display sequences of still pictures at sufficient speed for the images on the pictures to appear to be moving, a phenomenon called persistence of vision. Naturally the images needed to be carefully designed to achieve the desired effect, and the underlying principle became the basis for the development of film animation.
With the development of celluloid film for still photography, it became possible to directly capture objects in motion in real time. An 1878 experiment by English photographer Eadweard Muybridge in the United States using 24 cameras produced a series of stereoscopic images of a galloping horse, is arguably the first "motion picture", though it was not called by this name.This technology required a person to look into a viewing machine to see the pictures which were separate paper prints attached to a drum turned by a handcrank. The pictures were shown at a variable speed of about 5 to 10 pictures per second, depending on how rapidly the crank was turned. Commercial versions of these machines were coin operated.
The next major step in the development of cinema was the introduction of so-called "natural color", which meant color that was photographically recorded from nature rather than being added to black-and-white prints by hand-coloring, stencil-coloring or other arbitrary procedures, although the earliest processes typically yielded colors which were far from "natural" in appearance. While the addition of sound quickly eclipsed silent film and theater musicians, color replaced black-and-white much more gradually. The pivotal innovation was the introduction of the three-strip version of the Technicolor process, which was first used for short subjects and for isolated sequences in a few feature films released in 1934, then for an entire feature film, Becky Sharp, in 1935. The expense of the process was daunting, but continued favorable public response and enhanced box-office receipts increasingly justified the added cost. The number of films made in color slowly increased year after year.
In the early 1950s, as the proliferation of black-and-white television started seriously depressing theater attendance in the US, the use of color was seen as one way of winning back audiences. It soon became the rule rather than the exception. Some important mainstream Hollywood films were still being made in black-and-white as late as the mid-1960s, but they marked the end of an era. Color television receivers had been available in the US since the mid-1950s, but at first they were very expensive and few broadcasts were in color. During the 1960s, prices gradually came down, color broadcasts became common, and the sale of color television sets boomed. The strong preference of the general public for color was obvious. After the final flurry of black-and-white film releases in mid-decade, all major Hollywood studio film production was exclusively in color, with rare exceptions reluctantly made only at the insistence of "star" directors such as Peter Bogdanovich and Martin Scorsese.
Since the decline of the studio system in the 1960s, the succeeding decades saw changes in the production and style of film. Various New Wave movements (including the French New Wave, Indian New Wave, Japanese New Wave andNew Hollywood) and the rise of film school educated independent filmmakers were all part of the changes the medium experienced in the latter half of the 20th century. Digital technology has been the driving force in change throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. 3D technology increased in usage and has become more popular since the early 2010s.Theory
Film theory seeks to develop concise and systematic concepts that apply to the study of film as art. It was started by Ricciotto Canudo's The Birth of the Sixth Art. Formalist film theory, led by Rudolf Arnheim, Béla Balázs, andSiegfried Kracauer, emphasized how film differed from reality, and thus could be considered a valid fine art. André Bazin reacted against this theory by arguing that film's artistic essence lay in its ability to mechanically reproduce reality not in its differences from reality, and this gave rise to realist theory. More recent analysis spurred by Jacques Lacan's psychoanalysis and Ferdinand de Saussure's semiotics among other things has given rise to psychoanalytical film theory, structuralist film theory, feminist film theory and others. On the other hand, critics from the analytical philosophy tradition, influenced by Wittgenstein, try to clarify misconceptions used in theoretical studies and produce analysis of a film's vocabulary and its link to a form of life.Language
Film is considered to have its own language. James Monaco wrote a classic text on film theory titled "How to Read a Film". Director Ingmar Bergman famously said, "[Andrei] Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream." Examples of the language are a sequence of back and forth images of one actor's left profile speaking, followed by another actor's right profile speaking, then a repetition of this, which is a language understood by the audience to indicate a conversation. Another example is zooming in on the forehead of an actor with an expression of silent reflection, then changing to a scene of a younger actor who vaguely resembles the first actor, indicating the first actor is having a memory of their own past.Montage
Parallels to musical counterpoint have been developed into a theory of montage, extended from the complex superimposition of images in early silent film to even more complex incorporation of musical counterpoint together with visual counterpoint through mise en scene and editing, as in a ballet or opera; e.g., as illustrated in the gang fight scene of director Francis Ford Coppola’s film, Rumble Fish.Criticism
Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films. In general, these works can be divided into two categories: academic criticism by film scholars and journalistic film criticism that appears regularly in newspapers and other media.
Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media mainly review new releases. Normally they only see any given film once and have only a day or two to formulate opinions. Despite this, critics have an important impact on films, especially those of certain genres. Mass marketed action, horror, and comedy films tend not to be greatly affected by a critic's overall judgment of a film. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can still have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film. For prestige films such as most dramas, the influence of reviews is extremely important. Poor reviews will often doom a film to obscurity and financial loss.
The impact of a reviewer on a given film's box office performance is a matter of debate. Some claim that movie marketing is now so intense and well financed that reviewers cannot make an impact against it. However, the cataclysmic failure of some heavily promoted movies which were harshly reviewed, as well as the unexpected success of critically praised independent movies indicates that extreme critical reactions can have considerable influence. Others note that positive film reviews have been shown to spark interest in little-known films. Conversely, there have been several films in which film companies have so little confidence that they refuse to give reviewers an advanced viewing to avoid widespread panning of the film. However, this usually backfires as reviewers are wise to the tactic and warn the public that the film may not be worth seeing and the films often do poorly as a result.
It is argued that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and true film critics are those who take a more academic approach to films. This line of work is more often known as film theory or film studies. These film critics attempt to come to understand how film and filming techniques work, and what effect they have on people. Rather than having their works published in newspapers or appear on television, their articles are published in scholarly journals, or sometimes in up-market magazines. They also tend to be affiliated with colleges or universities