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A ICAN way of a creative and critical analysis and decoding of movies 

Movie analysis is the ICAN way of learning how to analyze films and their forms by examining how moving images communicate to audiences in a variety of cinematic contexts.

Making an analysis requires a particular structure and key components to create a compelling argument. ICAN is training its students to be able to analyzing film and look outside the box for a complete understanding beyond the movie's entertainment purpose.


Why is ANALYZING MOVIES important?

Analyzing film as visual texts allows students to examine the nuanced play of images and to further assess the deeper meaning or purpose of the film. This provides students, many of whom can easily function in the visual world, the proper critical skills in order to understand the visual messages.

Also, film analysis helps us understand what we're watching and how it affects us. It can help us to understand important themes expressed or encoded by film makers that would otherwise be missed.


can be done through tech?

There are many tools you can use to watch and analyze trailers, clips and movies with students online:

  • For Netflix users: Netflix Party synchronizes video playback for all viewers and has a group chat feature

  • For videos (self-made or YouTube): WeVu (now FREE for all users during COVID-19) allows teachers to upload videos and students to provide time-specific comments. Students can also create their own videos to upload for feedback. 

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What does it mean to include movies as a visual text in the ICAN classroom?

Choice of Film


  1. Choose a film that is appropriate for the classroom and grade level. Think about choosing a film as you would choose a short story or novel for your students.

  2. Think about films that students may not be familiar with and ones that offer varying cinematic techniques.

  3. Some ideas: There are great animated feature films and animated film shorts, such as Paperman. As well, there are many great foreign films that could be studied as well, such as Pan's Labyrinth, Oldboy, and the recently acclaimed Parasite.

  4. Always preview the film!



Let's say the student has chosen the movie DON'T LOOK UP!

Don't Look Up is a 2021 American satirical science fiction film written, produced, and directed by Adam McKay. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity, via a media tour, about an approaching comet that will destroy human civilization. Supporting them are Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, with Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep. The film is a satire of government and media indifference to the climate crisis.


Critical Analysis of the Film


  1.  Students must do their best to cover all aspects of filmmaking that went into creating the final product, including:

  • Plot: What was the movie about? Was it believable? Interesting? Thought-provoking? How was the climax revealed? How did the setting affect the story?

  • Themes and Tone: What was the central goal of the movie? Was it made to entertain, educate, or bring awareness to an issue? Was there any strong impression the movie made on you? Did any symbolism come into play?

  • Acting and Characters: Did you like how the characters were portrayed? Did the acting support the characters, and help them come to life? Did the characters display complex personalities or were they stereotypes? Were there characters that embodied certain archetypes to enhance or diminish the film?

  • Direction: Did you like how the director chose to tell the story? Was the pacing and speed of the movie too fast or too slow? Was the direction comparable to other movies this director has created? Was the storytelling complex or straightforward? Was there a certain amount of suspense or tension that worked? Did the director create a captivating conflict?

  • Score: Did the music support the mood of the movie? Was it too distracting or too subtle? Did it add to the production and work well with the script? Were the music queues timed well for the scenes they were supporting?

  • Cinematography: Were the shots used in a unique way to tell the story? Did the coloring and lighting affect the tone? Was the action coherently shot? How well did the camera move? Were actors or settings framed well?

  • Production Design: Did the sets feel lived-in and believable to the story or characters? Were the costumes suitable for the characters or story?  Did the created environments heighten the atmosphere on camera?

  • Special Effects: Were the special effects believable? Did they align with the era and tone of the movie? Were the effects overboard or too subtle? Did they integrate well to the purpose of the story?

  • Editing: Was the editing clean or choppy? Was the flow consistent? What unique effects were used? How were the transitions between scenes?

  • Pace: Did the movie flow well? Was it too fast or too slow? Was it clearly organized? Did certain scenes drag down the movie?

  • Dialogue: Were the conversations believable or necessary? Did the dialogue bring context to plot developments? Did the words match the tone of the movie and personality of the characters?

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Students can comment on the visuals of the film to practice, enhance and show their NARRATIVE and DESCRIPTIVE SKILLS. 

"Kate Dibiasky, a Michigan State University astronomy PhD candidate doing work with the Subaru Telescope, discovers a previously unknown near-Earth object. Her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy, calculates that the comet will impact Earth in about six months, and is large enough to cause a planet-wide extinction event."


Diving Deeper into the Film


To fully understand a film, students need to understand the pace of the film. Students must admire those beautiful moments that are shown, trees, nature and everything. Those shots are somehow proving a point, they’re not just there to increase the length of the movie or something.

  1. Find the moral story - The moral of a story is the lesson that story teaches about how to behave in the world. Moral comes from the Latin word mores, for habits. The moral of a story is supposed to teach you how to be a better person. If moral is used as an adjective, it means good, or ethical.

  2. Understand the characters - One of the best ways to understand a movie is understand the motives of the characters, why they’re doing what they’re doing. Do they have a different choice? What makes a bad guy distinguishable from a good one?

  3. Understand every dialogue - So you've watched a scene? Now it's time to understand why there was a certain dialogue at a place, understand the meaning behind it. If you don't understand it, watch it again.

  4. Soundtrack - The soundtrack plays a very important role in helping you understand the mood of the movie, analyze it carefully.

  5. Not every part will be exceptional - There's no action movie that will have action in every scene, and similarly not all comedy movies will make you laugh at every second. Understand that. There's a time when character development is necessary too. That's the time you have to focus on. It's not exceptional but necessary.



Students can use WIKIPEDIA to know every bit of detail in the movie and create review focusing on:





"As was clearly its intention, "Don't Look Up" uses satire to spur a conversation about potentially ignoring a crisis until it's too late. It's a sobering message, but one that comes barreling toward us through the lens of an uneven movie.


The film is a satire of government and media indifference to the climate crisis."


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