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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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Underexposure (see Exposure)

Underground film A term that was widely used during the 1940s and 1950s to describe films that (1) were personal, non-commercial films; (2) sought to break away from the established traditions of the feature, narrative film; (3) dealt with personal, taboo themes not permitted in commercial films; and (4) sought to elevate “pure” cinematic techniques—superimposition, slow motion, speeded action, and pixilation—over the story film. The underground film movement had its greatest raison d’être when Hollywood pictures were more traditional in form and technique. In the 1950s and 1960s, as feature films became more personal and innovative, many of the goals, intentions, themes, and techniques of underground filmmakers were absorbed into the commercial cinema. See New American Cinema.

Urban drama A motion picture in which the narrative focuses on the issues and problems confronting contemporary urban life. A strong sense of social consciousness often develops as an assortment of city dwellers interact with one another. John Sayles’s City of Hope (1991) interwove the lives of a large cast of ← 273 | 274 → characters in its dissection of the problems of a city in turmoil. Lawrence and Meg Kasdan’s Grand Canyon (1991) presented a sprawling, multicultural study of urban concerns in a tense Los Angeles, as did Crash in 2005. John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood (1991) analyzed the lives of young black urban males growing up in a violence-prone, inner-city environment. Do the Right Thing (1989), a Spike Lee film,...

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