Reading a FILM is not passive. To watch a movie actively, you must learn to "read" the screen, to ask yourself questions as you watch, to notice the elements which make a film succeed or fail. You can't simply plunk yourself down in a theater, popcorn in hand, and let the images wash over you for a couple of hours. Pay special attention to how the MUSICAL SCORE and specific CAMERA TECHNIQUES advance the PLOT, develop CHARACTERS, and even reveal THEME and SYMBOLISM.
A film introduces itself through the OPENING CREDITS and TITLES. These may establish MOOD, present the CONFLICT, introduce CHARACTERS, etc. High Noon is unusual because no words are spoken for several scenes. Instead, this film introduces itself through picture and song. The following are approximate LYRICS to the opening song of High Noon. Read along during the opening and listen carefully throughout the FILM for the use of the MELODY and its two distinct RHYTHMS.
1. How do the LYRICS contribute to the EXPOSITION? In other words, what background information do we learn?
2. What CONFLICTS do the LYRICS introduce? What is FORESHADOWED?
3. What THEME or MORAL do the LYRICS suggest?
4. Since the singer of the song is speaking for the hero of the film, what do the LYRICS reveal about Will Kane's CHARACTER?
5. How is the MELODY varied to establish different MOODS during the film? Consider which STANZAS or LINES are associated with specific SCENES and CHARACTERS.
6. The first three CHARACTERS introduced are Jack Colby, Ben Miller, and James Pierce. Which specific REACTION SHOTS best show that these are the "Bad Guys"?
7. The first MAJOR CHARACTER introduced is Will Kane. What three CHARACTER TRAITS best describe him and what three specific events reveal each of those traits?
8. Another MAJOR CHARACTER is Kane's bride, Amy Fowler. Is she is FLAT or ROUND? Is she STATIC or DYNAMIC? Cite specific evidence to support your opinion.
9. A FOIL is any character who is used to point out the TRAITS of another CHARACTER, both similarities and differences. The two women, Amy Fowler and Helen Ramirez, are FOILS for each other. COMPARE and CONTRAST the specific ways they are alike and yet also opposites.
10. Also, Ben Miller and Harve Pell are FOILS for each other. How does the film demonstrate the immaturity of each? Does either character "grow up" in the course of the film?
11. The townspeople include several MINOR CHARACTERS who are important to the film, even though they are essentially FLAT and STATIC. Select two who serve as FOILS for each other. COMPARE and CONTRAST the specific ways they are alike and yet also opposites.
12. Badges serve as a LEITMOTIF (or recurring IMAGE) throughout the film? List each time the film focuses on a badge and explain the significance of each IMAGE.
13. Although a badge obviously SYMBOLIZES law and order, what other SYMBOLIC MEANING (or meanings) does a badge take on in the course of the film?
14. How are LONG SHOTS used to establish the Kane's independence and isolation?
15. How are CLOSE-UPS used to create SUSPENSE? What is the significance of the chair and the clocks, etc.?
16. We have anticipated Frank Miller throughout the film. What FILM TECHNIQUES are used to establish him as the baddest of the "Bad Guys"?
17. What FRAMES are used in the final shoot-out to focus our attention on Amy?
18. How does High Noon fit the four PLOT PATTERNS we have studied? Write a paragraph for each pattern. Define what the patterns mean and give specific examples from the film.
A. RITE OF PASSAGE
C. FALL FROM INNOCENCE
19. According to this film, what are the qualities of a hero? Will Kane is obviously offered as an archetypal American hero. Select three very specific actions performed by Will Kane and explain what each action reveals about his heroic nature. Discuss the qualities of a hero as presented in the film and whether they still represent the American idea of a hero.
20. In the Saturday Review of Literature, Hollis Alpert had this to say about the movie: "The good of law and order is pitted against the evil of lawlessness, and the issues are clear and simple." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain, citing examples from the film to support your opinion.