The Third Man--How many different ways can you watch it?
September 17, 2016 5:58 AM   Subscribe

Michael Winner once stated that those studying film should watch the Third Man one hundred times instead of going to film school. Could some people offer at least 25 suggestions of specific things I can watch for while viewing this film to learn more about making movies? (I realize, of course, that to make movies, you need to just film as well, but much is learned from viewing.)
posted by JTLowry473 to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea but I have learned a lot by watching the series on YouTube called Every Frame A Painting.
posted by tilde at 6:18 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

• Sound off
• Only sound
• Watch with screenplay in hand
• Paying attention to music
• Paying attention to editing
• Paying attention to sound editing
• Paying attention to acting (facial expressions, how they use their eyes, etc.)
• Paying attention to the blocking of the actors (are movements motivated?)
• Paying attention to locations/sets
• Paying attention to lighting
• Paying attention to composition
• Compare and contrast how the dialog is written for each character
• Just watching for screen direction/movement of characters within frame and from shot to shot
• Paying attention to continuity
• Watching to identify symbolism
• Identifying and describing the moral compass of each character (or make a moral continuum and try to put each character on it)
posted by starman at 6:25 AM on September 17, 2016 [23 favorites]

Watch it backwards. Not like on rewind, but watch the very last scene, then rewind to the next-to-last scene, etc.

Pay attention to how the characters change and how "inevitable" (or not) it seems.

Pick one character. Focus in on that character. When that character isn't on screen, imagine what they're doing in service of the movie off-screen. Do this for every character.
posted by Etrigan at 6:36 AM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Try it with the brightness turned down on your tv so that you can only see half the visual information in any given shot.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:58 AM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I find imagining where I would need to be in the scene to see what that frame shows/wants me to "see". Then how/where/what/how close was the lens to get that view, then know I am not a director at all. Miss you Orson.
posted by Freedomboy at 7:59 AM on September 17, 2016

Take acid first.
posted by Coda Tronca at 8:17 AM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

• Watch it with someone who's never seen it before and ask them about it afterwards.
• Watch it with that same someone plus someone else who's never seen it before and ask them both about it afterwards.
posted by kimota at 9:59 AM on September 17, 2016

Starman has it.

The idea here is that you watch it multiple times to pay attention to various aspects of the production.

Let's say the first time you see the movie, most of what you're getting is just basic storyline, characters, and the most general aesthetic stuff.

So you watch it a second time, again just for general viewing, to sort of watch how all the moving parts work together, the stuff you hopefully weren't paying attention to the first time if the movie was any good.

Then maybe you watch it a third time, just for the mis en scene.

Then maybe you watch it a fourth time, but turned away from the screen so you hear only the dialogue, sound effects, and score.

Then maybe you watch it a fifth time, with the sound off.

Etc etc etc so that you can isolate each element of the film, down to something like how the score works, what the costumes tell you about the characters, and how lighting is used.

For what it's worth, I think the quote you started from was hyperbole (watching just one movie 100 times isn't equivalent to film school, even just the film analysis parts of film school). But I think watching a really good movie multiple times in this way can be a useful tool to learn to read a film on a higher level. Also, good filmmakers absolutely do this, and it's a useful habit to get into.

I watched the "It's Raining Men" music video five times this week as research for a short comedy project I'm doing. This is something you will absolutely have to do if you have any interest in the creative side of filmmaking.
posted by Sara C. at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Then you learn zither, and play the theme over and over again.
posted by nickggully at 2:46 PM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Watch with screenplay in hand

Also, watch for the evolution from Graham Greene's original story, after reading the story of course.

(Related: Page to Screen article "With The Third Man, Graham Greene wrote a book to write a movie" from the A.V. Club)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:47 PM on September 17, 2016

By the way, if you actually try it, consider writing about it on the FanFare page.
posted by starman at 7:23 PM on September 18, 2016

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