Choose a play or movie that you remember seeing, and discuss its dramatic elements.Consider the stage set, characters, dialogue, etc. Finally, try your hand at writing a few of the stage...

Choose a play or movie that you remember seeing, and discuss its dramatic elements.

Consider the stage set, characters, dialogue, etc.

Finally, try your hand at writing a few of the stage directions, based on what you imagine them to have been.

Asked on by ispookey

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ms-charleston-yawp's profile pic

Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I think it's incredibly fun to identify, decipher, and discuss dramatic elements in regards to modern horror films.  In reality, I think it's the successful implementation of these very elements that make a horror movie either "scary" or "not scary."

First, however, it is important to review what dramatic elements are.  I believe it was Aristotle who made up the original list of 12, and this is the list I will be using.  His list was composed of focus, tension, timing, rhythm, contrast, mood, space, language, sound, symbol, conflict, and climax.  (http://www.thedramateacher.com/dramatic-elements/)  In regards to a horror movie such as The Shining, I thought it would be fun to see how sound and mood intertwine.

Almost every one of the iconic scenes in The Shining that are considered the scariest, such as when Danny encounters the two ghostly sisters or when Jack Nicholson bursts through the bathroom door yelling, "Here's Johnny!" ... there is a correlating sound and, I suppose, because the sound is made by cacophonous violins, the sound could be considered "music."  It is an extremely high pitched sound going low-high, high-low.  And it succeeds in the grandest sense in creating the mood of horror, suspense, tension, and fear. In The Shining specifically, I think that Edgar Allen Poe (who created the concept of "single effect") would not be disappointed.  In reality, one can notice that even the dramatic element of tension is present here as well!

In my opinion, it's how Aristotle's dramatic elements intertwine that makes the subject of drama so very interesting to study!

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

First of all, I'm going to suggest that your teacher is truly looking for your own personal experience and is interested in your interpretation of a film you've actually seen.  From the directions, it sounds like this assignment is a preliminary assignment which will be graded primarily on effort and completion.  It also sounds like it includes a lot of creativity, which cannot necessarily be given in the form of an answer on Enotes.  Use the following as an example and then attempt to write your own answer using a film you have actually seen.

In addition to the above list of elements to look at, a few other "dramatic elements" to consider in film are the things which create a tone.  Whatever scene from whatever movie you choose, the first thing you should do is identify the tone or feeling of the scene.  In a way, a scary or suspenseful scene is actually pretty easy to analyze. Think of things like camera angle, lighting, sound elements, and even the use of music.  Though the assignment focuses on stage directions, keep in mind that there are several elements working together to create a tone in each scene.

I think of the final scene in the film To Kill a Mockingbird. In addition to the low lighting (as it takes place at night) and eerie sound effects/music, many of the background sounds are emphasized, such as crickets, the crunching of feet on the ground, and the echo of the children's voices.  From their dialogue, it is clear the children are scared, hear something following them, and that Jem wishes to remain calm and be the protector of his sister.  The point-of-view (the camera angle, here) often comes from inside of Scout's costume, showing her lack of ability to see peripherally.  This also gives the audience the feeling of claustrophobia that may have heightened Scout's fear.

Finally, the scene of course stages a physical fight between Jem and Bob Ewell and a smaller altercation with Bob Ewell and Scout.  Because most of it is viewed from Scout's limited perspective, the specific stage directions for the fight choreography may not have necessarily been possible to actually see, from the audience point-of-view.  Taking that into account, I would create stage directions not from what I was viewing, but from the planning of a well-staged fight.  Keep such an idea in mind with your answer as well.  Remember, what a director plans is not necessarily always noticed by the audience.

 

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