Critical attention to the close analysis of film has grown steadily since the turn of the century, with a number of recently published titles making it their central focus for discussion. In turn, analysis itself has enjoyed a resurgence in contemporary film studies, resulting in a number of key titles that make precise scrutiny a defining critical approach. When reflecting on these trends, we are entitled to ask what is involved in the detailed analysis of film: what challenges and rewards are represented in this critical practice? With these questions in mind, this chapter explores processes of analysis through a series of examples from film studies. In building a picture of the various forms and approaches, the discussion seeks to evaluate the enduring centrality of detailed analysis in contemporary film studies.
Film analysis is one of the most if not the most prevalent of academic methods in film studies today. Examples of film analysis can be found across a whole spectrum of writing on topics within film history, theory, and criticism. It is to be expected that this kind of ubiquity might lead us to take film analysis for granted and, as a consequence, that we may neglect to reflect upon what we think we're doing when we analyze films. Certainly, the range and diversity of writings that fall under the general banner of “close textual analysis” in film studies suggests that many different people interpret the term in many different ...