What Is a Movie?


Movie used to mean a video story that ran longer than an hour, required a ticket and could be watched on a theater screen or TV with popcorn. Those days are long gone, but the question of what a movie is remains as complicated as ever. Whether you’re a professional reviewer or just interested in the topic, you need to have a good definition of movie before you can write about it.


The content of a movie includes the plot, characters and setting, as well as its themes and how the formal techniques highlight these elements. This is one of the most important aspects of a film to analyze, as it determines how the movie will be received by your readers.


The director’s style is another crucial aspect of a movie to consider. The way a director presents the story and chooses to frame the shots is what makes the film unique. You can look at the direction of a movie by studying its visual style, how it is edited and how it uses music to set a mood.


Cinematography refers to the use of camera angles, lighting, distance between actors and types of shots in a film. For example, you might study the film Apocalypse Now to learn how Francis Ford Coppola combined a haunting musical score with hallucinatory visuals to create an epic masterpiece about Vietnam. You might also take a look at the film Chinatown to see how Robert Towne and Roman Polanski chose to portray Los Angeles’ Chinatown as a mental state rather than a physical location.