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What is Classical Film Theory?

Understanding the basics of film theory is important. Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker or someone that simply thrives on having background knowledge on various subjects. Film theory represents a scholarly approach to the psychoanalysis of film or cinema. Classical Film Theory represents one of several “theories”. That have been derived over time to represent unique eras in filmmaking or period of time in cinema. Exactly what is Classical Film Theory? And what does all of this mean?

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What is Film Theory?

Film theory represents the scholarly approach to academic cinema studies. Which look to question the essentials of cinema. While providing a conceptual framework upon which film can be understood in relation to reality, various other arts, individual viewers, and society as a whole. 

So what does all of this mean? It basically means that film theory represents a way of breaking down the movies, television shows. Or other forms of film that we watch based on things like how they are made, how they interact with society, or how they impact viewers. 

Moreover, film theorists break down movies and film based on various aspects to help them define their place in society. Thus, as you learn to analyze a film or television show, you’d better come to terms with the idea of film theory and the basic understandings for different types of film.

Film theorists break down films based on:

  • The type of film
  • The shots taking place
  • The angles that are within the film
  • The lighting that is used
  • The colors used in the film
  • The sound that is included in the film
  • The film editing techniques
  • Mise-en-Scene

What is Classical Film Theory?

Classical Film Theory represents a mix between Realism and Formalism. In which films emphasize the authentic interactions between real people with a manipulation of the creative production elements taking place.

Theorists believe that these types of films will have the following characteristics:

  • Professional actors
  • Filmed on location or in a studio
  • Use lighting and sound to create the desired mood
  • Include editing to create a time-lapse
  • Add minimal use of special effects if any

A Form of Film

Furthermore, classical film theory typically includes dramas that focus heavily on the interactions between real people, with minimal investment into special effects or elements that would make the film less realistic.

Classical film theory is a form of film, not the type of film you would watch on certain channels known for “classic” movies, although many are “Classical” too.

So what is Classical Film Theory? It’s the theory that films can be produced with a view of real people that have unique connections, and which – through the manipulation of creative production techniques – their interactions can be authenticated.