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Dictionary of Film Terms

The Aesthetic Companion to Film Art – Fifth Edition

Frank Beaver

Now in its fifth edition, Frank Beaver’s Dictionary of Film Terms has become an indispensable reference tool for the study of films and filmmaking. This trusted and practical handbook clearly and concisely defines the essential terms of film analysis and film art, with a special focus on the aesthetic parameters and values of filmmaking.
The updated and expanded edition includes new definitions ranging from «bullet-time» optical effects, to the coming-of-age narrative, and LED lighting technology in science fiction films such as Gravity. More than 200 film title references not cited in previous editions have been added. Many classic and contemporary photo stills are included to illustrate terms. Extensive cross-referencing among individual definitions ensures easy access to interrelated terms, and a comprehensive topical index relates to larger concepts of film art.
This up-to-date and comprehensive resource is a useful companion for film students and filmgoers, who will find it illuminating in its range and clarity.
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Tableau A static grouping of live characters within the film frame (in theater, within the stage picture). Although more common in theater than in the motion picture, tableaux were often used ← 263 | 264 → for dramatic effect by film directors during the era of silent pictures. D.W. Griffith, for one, was fond of the tableau as a means of introducing scenes or providing a visual contrast with action shots—for example, A Corner in Wheat (1909). Christopher Miles uses a tableau in The Virgin and the Gypsy (1970) to present the stifling formality of a young woman’s family when she sees them for the first time after returning home from boarding school. Tableaux are used extensively in Terence Davies’s Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) to convey photo-album-like family groupings. The large cast films of Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001, or The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014) often contain tableau groupings.

Tableau. The tableau, as seen here in D.W. Griffith’s A Corner in Wheat (1909), permits a stylized grouping of characters for dramatic and symbolic effect. Griffith suggests the plight of common workers who are caught in a world of spiraling food prices.

Take A run of the camera for the purpose of filming a shot or a scene. Each run of the camera from start to finish is referred to as a “take.” See Long take, Shot.

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