ML Film Studio

Ten Principles of Cinematic Art

Ten Principles of Cinematic Art

Written by The Movie Love Ambassador ©


Should a film tick all, or most, of these boxes, you can be sure it’s a work of cinematic art.

  1. The film brings visual dynamism to the screen through a system of intriguing, well-designed images showing a world-in-motion, with examples of human life unfolding in time.
  2. The film blends imagery and the soundscape into a highly expressive visual-sonic architecture.
  3. The film displays a strong, coherent narrative structure, with its events, actions and characters in a cause-and-effect relationship. The structure will be characterised by ebbs and flows of tension heading in a direction towards the climax of conflict. This leads, ultimately, to a resolution or denouement.
  4. The whole film has a unity of form and content which conveys the film artist’s cohesive, personal vision.
  5. The film’s montage, or editing, adds resonance to the filmed material by smart juxtapositions of images, creative use of transitions between images as well as dubbing and mixing of the soundtrack.
  6. The film communicates a passion for its subject-matter and themes, which are meaningful and significant in interpreting human experience. The passion conveyed impacts the viewer’s emotions and thoughts, generating a wholehearted perceptual and personal experience. As a result, the viewer becomes an active participant, immersed in the drama.
  7. The film captures the living textures and well-observed details of the characters (including their personality traits) and of the settings. This will add immediacy and descriptive richness to the depiction of the story. At the same time, the actors will bring intensity to the communication of their states of mind, revealing their inner worlds beneath their exterior appearance.
  8. The film’s mise-en-scène work creates compelling compositions within the frame of its shots and scenes, using expressive, contrasting lighting (whether natural or artificial light), varied and mobile camera work and deft placement of actors and objects against each scene’s background.
  9. The film traces interesting character developments, with one or more characters gaining in knowledge, or changing significantly as a person, as a result of living through the situations in the plot.
  10. The film has atmosphere, mood, tonality and style, created by a palette of colours or of black, white and greys, well-timed use of sound and its tones, expressive acting, flashbacks, evocative imagery, use of filmic figures of speech like symbols, motifs or metonymy, among other aspects of filmmaking which determine the overall “feel” of the movie.

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