Last week I posted a sample essay analysing five key scenes from the film Iron Man (2008). It has been used in a Media Studies unit exploring film technique in genre cinema to demonstrate required structure to students – albeit when they were required to analyse a different film.
To provide an idea of the groundwork involved in getting students to focus on useful aspects of the scenes, this and the next post will consist of the question sheets provided to the classes that actually studied Iron Man. Throughout, the focus of the analysis has been on use of camera, lighting and sound as production elements, and characterisation alongside cause & effect as story elements.
‘Iron Man’ Key Scene Analysis #1: Desert Attack
Complete your answers to these questions in your workbooks. You can begin making notes while the scene is playing, and there will be writing time afterwards.
1. This scene introduces Tony Stark, the main character. Describe what we learn about his character, especially in contrast with the way the soldiers are portrayed.
2. What story elements happen in this scene that set up later story events?
3. What does the lighting tell us about the setting? Compare the lighting inside and outside the jeep.
4. How is music used in this scene? Is it diegetic, non-diegetic or both? Are there any parts without music? Why do you think that is?
5. What especially important sound effects are in this scene? What do they add to our understanding of the story?
6. Describe the way different camera shots and angles establish Tony Stark.
7. Do the types of shots and angles change when the scene moves to outside the jeep?
a) Describe some of the changes.
b) One reason for this change is because the setting has moved from interior to exterior. State a story reason why the camera style might have changed.
‘Iron Man’ Key Scene Analysis #2: ‘Operation’
1. What do we learn about the character relationship between Tony and Pepper Potts in this scene?
2. What story elements happen in this scene that will be important later?
3. a) What shot types and camera angles are used in this scene?
b) Thinking about what happens in this scene, why do you think these shots and angles were chosen?
4. Describe the lighting in this scene. Which parts of the image is our attention drawn to by the lighting?
5. Is there any music in the scene? Why or why not?
6. What kind of tone is the dialogue spoken in? What does this tell us about the relationship between the characters?
‘Iron Man’ Key Scene Analysis #3: First Fight
1. Why is this an important moment in the movie for the character of Tony Stark?
2. What part do the events of this scene play in the story of the battle between Tony and his enemies?
3. a) What shots and angles are used throughout the scene? How do they reflect the type of scene it is?
b) Are any particular shot types or angles used to visually define Iron Man in a particular way? Describe these.
4. What does the lighting tell us about the setting? How does it tell us that we’ve seen this kind of setting earlier in the movie?
5. How is music used? Compare it to the way music was used in the first action scene we analysed: how is its use similar and how is it different?
6. Some of the dialogue is spoken in another language. What effect does this have on the story and on how Tony understands the events that are unfolding?
The question sheets for the two remaining key scenes to follow.