What are some of the expectations that can affect the way viewers react to a movie? LOOKING AT MOVIES: by Richard Barsam & Dan Monahan,  NY: W. W. Norton & Company 2009. 3rd Edition

1 Answer | Add Yours

wordprof's profile pic

wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Some of the expectations of the movie-goer depend on their familiarity with the film language, and their experience with the way films tell their stories.  To dissect the way films work, we return to Raymond Spottiswoode’s A Grammar of the Film (1950), in which the effects of cuts, swipes, etc.—the ways a film moves from scene to scene and time to time, are examined.  After only one or two exposures, the film viewer adjusts his/her sensitivities from real-life logic to film logic, so in terms of film language a viewer’s expectations are that the editing will be logical in its own language.  In terms of story-telling, a more psychological set of expectations is brought to the viewing—there will be a main character, a protagonist (the one whose “progress” through the film we follow) who will survive the story; the story will take place in an environment that is self-logical—there will be conflicts and complications (as in any dramatic presentation)—there will be specific moments in which the viewer is surprised or even frightened; there will be false clues and hints, etc.--a distance in understanding between the viewer and the story-teller—and an emotionally and intellectually “satisfying” conclusion.  So, if such expectations are not met, the filmgoer will react negatively to the experience, with such phrases as “I couldn’t follow the plot” or “the characters seemed phony or unbelievable,” or “I was disappointed or left up in the air by the ending.”


We’ve answered 317,652 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question