What We Talk About When We Talk About Film Style

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The SYNOPTIQUE STYLE GALLERY springs from film lovers talking about film and realizing that whether they were arguing about films they loved, films they hated or films that just seemed unavoidably “important” most of their talk was about film style. But we (yes, this writer was among these talkers) also realized that the same aspects of film style were not equally important to each of us. We also began to suspect that our ideas of what style meant varied wildly. How to peg the concept down?

At first the task seemed daunting: as the conversation spread wider and more people became involved more films began to be cited, more differences seemed to creep in, and the talk tended to become more abstract and hypothetical.

This gallery became a way to capture this expanding conversation without closing it off or narrowing it down. It became a way to collect concrete examples from actual films that individuals were willing to stand behind and point to and say, "Yes, this is a moment of film style." It became a way of helping us to see and to hear what the conversation is about and to give us hints of what still manages (somehow) to slip through the cracks. More importantly, it become a way to expand the conversation into new territory.

The Gallery you see is composed of people’s responses to a prompt : we asked people to identify and describe a moment of film style. That moment could be anything and was. A raised eyebrow, a sequence, a motif recurring throughout the film, all of these and more were potential style moments. Everyone approached the question differently and talk about what should be in the gallery quickly produced a variety of alternate prompts:

   1. Free associate on film style: what example keeps coming back to you?
   2. Do you have an acid test moment you compare all other style moments to?
   3. Do you have a favorite film moment? Would you call it "stylish"?
   4. What was the first moment where you remember watching a film and thought of its "stylishness"?
   5. If you were a teacher and someone asked you to explain film style, what example would you use ?

Movies in the style gallery include : The Sopranos Solaris Vivre sa vie Velvet Goldmine Suddenly Last Summer Picture of Light Persona Flowers of Shanghai Barry Lyndon Flaming Creatures Stolen Kisses Pulp Fiction Une femme douce The Royal Tenenbaums The 400 Blows The Age of Innocence Rushmore Taxi Driver Lost Highway The Thing Olympia

But The Gallery is not finished and the conversation about style has barely begun. We want more examples of films style, more descriptions of what makes them valuable, more arguments about why style matters and how. We want this so we can begin to see films better. This gallery is full of moments chosen for one of the best possible reasons: they moved us emotionally, mentally, aesthetically, etc. Let’s speak about style in these moments and see what sense we can make of them.

How do you take part in the Gallery and discussion? Use our contact form form to submit a style moment you think we should feature, or your thoughts about film style. And remember, Synoptique is always looking for new writing by new writers. Use the style gallery to spark your thinking about film style and then share your idea in an article; simply click on the "add a comment" link for the clip you want to comment.

This gallery makes liberal use of the Real Video Player.
Click here to download this free software.

Please visit often; we will be updating the gallery regularly.

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