What is Aesthetics in Film

What is Aesthetics in Film?

If you’ve ever taken a course on film analysis or studied the art of filmmaking, you’ve almost certainly heard to term aesthetics before. Aesthetics is frequently mentioned in the analysis of film and cinema. But what is aesthetics in film? As we define film aesthetics and the impact that a film’s aesthetics can have on the creation of characters, narrative and theme. We also take a look at the fundamentals of subject, and style, in regards to film.

What is Aesthetics in Film?

Aesthetics, which can be pronounced “Eh-steh-tics,” is a big and fancy word that is used to describe a complex topic. Aesthetics is the philosophy of art.

Thus, aesthetics in film is the study of film art and the role that various aesthetic perspectives have in the development of film as an art form.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “the film has great visual aesthetics”. But you didn’t know exactly what they meant? You smiled, and nodded. Because that’s what we do when someone says something fancy that we don’t understand. But, what DID they mean?

They meant that they were visually satisfying with the following aesthetic elements on the film:

  • Color
  • Shape
  • Pattern
  • Lines
  • Texture
  • Balance
  • Scale
  • Proximity
  • Movement

Aesthetics in film is essentially the study of film design, as an art form. Thus just like other forms of design and art have visual appeal in the various elements listed above, so too does a film.

Many of the same elements of art aesthetics that we understand in relation to a painting or a sculpture, can be analyzed and reflected upon in film.

Why are Aesthetics Important in Filmmaking?

Aesthetics in film are important for a variety of reasons, just as aesthetics is evident in other forms of art and creative elements. Filmmakers incorporate various aesthetics in defining the style, subject and tone of the film.

For example, a filmmaker might eliminate color, opting instead for black and white film, in order to portray a bleak, hopeless style that closely aligns with the subject of his or her story.

Similarly, this same filmmaker may employ similar aesthetics in the lighting, patterns, and proximity that are used in the film to further build upon the visual representation of the film’s dark, and hopeless theme. 

An Art Medium

When we look to answer the question, “What is aesthetics in film?” It is most important to note that aesthetics represents the study of film as an art medium and that the aesthetics of film are dominated by realism.

We see realism dominating aesthetics of film in the method of production, style, and effect. Applying aesthetics to film, then, combines disciplines of studying specific qualities in filmmaking specifically, “What efforts did the filmmaker put into the creation of the film, and why?”

Disciplines in Film Aesthetics 

Film aesthetics covers a number of disciplines from cinematography to sound recording, from makeup to costume design.

Various aesthetics involved in each of these can range from camera movements, lighting, placement, and colors to digital special effects, presentation, set design, or hair and makeup components.

The elements that go into the production of a film or video can be incredibly complex. Yet they all come together as a result of the aesthetic understanding of the director.

A Careful Decision

Considerations are made throughout the production of a film as to the placement, tone, design. And underlying aesthetics of nearly every single element that is seen on the screen.

As well as many elements that are not inherently visible but which impact the overall composition of the final film.

So, when you consider answering the question, “What is aesthetics in film?” think about all of the different techniques and tactics that are used in filmmaking.

From camera operation to lighting, from sound design to presentation, and how even just changing a single element, such as taking a shot from a different angle, adjusting a character’s costume, or eliminating a particular sound can change the entire outcome of the project — that’s how aesthetics in film are represented.

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