Sequence Analysis Explained
What is a sequence analysis?
A close examination of a short film clip (approximately 3 minutes). The clip should be significant—it should stand out in the film as a whole. Hint: Beginnings are almost always good subjects for a sequence analysis.
How do you do a sequence analysis?
As you watch a scene, record your observations under each of the four main sections (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound). You will have to view the scene several times, looking at a different aspect each time.
Afterwards, consider how your observations relate to the film as a whole, how they affect the meaning and impact of the entire film. Now take your notes and write a paragraph that highlights the most important elements in the sequence and their meanings.
Elements of a Sequence Analysis
The following questions are meant to help guide your sequence analysis. Not all questions will be important in all sequences. The idea is to figure out what is significant and focus on those aspects.
Mise-en-scene refers to what is being filmed. What is the setting of the sequence? Describe the acting, make-up, props, lighting, and colors. Is anything else significant in the mise-en-scene?
Cinematography refers to how the sequence is filmed. What is the look of the sequence? What perspectives (positions) does the camera take? What is being focused on? How is it framed? Is there movement? Is anything else significant?
Editing refers to how the shots are put together. Is it continuity editing? Are there visible cuts? What is the average shot length? Is anything else significant about the editing?
Sound refers to anything present on the soundtrack? What sounds are present in the sequence? Where do they come from? Are there non-diegetic sounds? What else do you notice about the soundtrack?