Film Study Questions

  1. Make a list of expressionist film techniques that have become linked with gothic horror- Chiaroscuro lighting is applied to create dramatic contrast between light and shadow to suggest the presence of dark aspects in human and nature.Low-key lighting is practiced to construct a dark story world. The elongated shadows appearing as the darkness enveloping and haunting the characters instill fear in the audiences

    – Dramatic shadows are seen as an element of the horror story to give off the shady and ominous feel. Shadow plays an important role in the narrative in which the shadow becomes the storyteller by reflecting the actions of the characters.

    –  Gothic makeup and clothing along with exaggerated movements of the actors are also expressions to the distortion of reality that further suggest ill psychological states.

    – The integration of these elements in mise-en-scene creates an overall graphic composition that gives a painting-like impression to the scenes.

  2. One particular technique, chiaroscuro (the contrast of light and dark) is particularly memorable in Sweeney Todd’s attic room. What are the key features of this setting that develop chiaroscuro?Firstly, there is no lighting in the room so the only light that can be seen comes through the window, from the outside which is still quite dark and gloomy as well. As the window is quite large, it creates large shadows as well, which creates even more darkness to the room.
  3. Think about chiaroscuro and its presence in Sleepy Hollow. Can you describe a setting in Sleepy Hollow that utilises this technique?The forest, it is again dark in there as well from the trees creating shadows which adds to the darkness. the forest floor is covered by a mist which takes away the brightness of the colour on the ground so makes it feel more of a dark vibe. Also, as there is so many trees you can’t see very far in front of you which causes a dark vibe too.
  4. Expressionist film making also favours colour to develop an idea. How is colour used in Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow pay particular attention to the connection between past and present?In the past, looking at flashbacks it is all in quite a bright colour which portrays quite a warm vibe and its happy. But in the present it is all monochromatic so is quite dark which is quite cold and sad vibe.
  5. A feature of gothic horror is the claustrophobic fear that there is no escape. Consider techniques that are present in both films that develop this fear.
  6. What is the “Hammer Horror” style? Describe its defining features and explain what influences you can see in the two films.Many films readily exploited the moral and cultural anxieties that came with the rise of atomic warfare, creating giant, mutated monsters that terrorized cities. Hammer, on the other hand, found great success in the atmospheric dread of the gothic. Within the gothic aesthetic, there’s a focus on supernatural terrors. But atmosphere in particular is key, with huge, cavernous castles with hidden tunnels; seemingly inexplicable movement of objects; and a general sense of foreboding, with fog and rain accentuating the mood. Hammer, with its focus on creating eerie atmospheres while weaving stories of supernatural mystery, helped propel gothic horror back to popularity. This is evident in both films through the eerie vibe they both create. I believe this comes from the darkness and the feeling of always having to watch your back when your in the scene.

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