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This is an essay on the principles of film form. A film form is a system of principles and relationships to those principles. It indentifies the interdependence of various systems of elements of that fulfill defined roles in the whole system. There are five generally accepted principles of film form namely; Function, Similarity and repetition, Difference and variation, Development, and Unity/Disunity. Function: This principle will determine the significance of an element in a film and indentify other elements which justify its presence. Similarity/repetition: This principle is concerned with significant elements (objects, character traits, places, lines of dialogue, or pieces of music) that show up repeatedly in the film. Difference/variation: This principle is concerned with the elements that do not recur and demonstrate variety and function to contrast with other elements in the film. The differences may include; tonality and texture, scenes, settings, actions, objects, and stylistic devices as portrayed in the film. However, there might be some repetition but not exact repetition. Development: This principle deals with and explains the patterning of similar and different elements in the film. Unity/disunity: This principle deals with elements that cohere strongly exhibiting a closed structure in a film. It also analyzes elements that stick out and hence exhibiting a systematic or structured use of disunity (David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, 2004).The essay will in detail explore the five principles of film form in the context of the movie, "Road to Perdition". Road to perdition is a movie directed by Sam Mendes based on the novel Road to Perdition by Allan Max Collins and released in 2002. It is a tragic narrative revolving around father and son relationship during the Great Depression (Fard, 2010).
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Function: In this movie the principle of function is demonstrated in the town of Perdition, road/journey to Perdition, Sullivan's car, and the Thompson submachine gun. In the movie, the town of Perdition is the fictional town where Michael, Jr. and Michael, Sr. are headed towards. This town is very significant in the movie. This is because the plot of the entire movie is based on the journey to this town; It is in the journey to this town that father and son bond(Fard, 2010), it is on the journey to this town that Michael Jr. understands his father, it is in this town that they escape to as they plan their revenge against the Rooney family who killed Sullivan's wife and younger son, and they come to this town as they escape the hired assassin (Jude law) whose target was Michael Sr. Hence the town is relevant as it also leads to the actual journey that describes father- son relationship. The Journey to Perdition is described as the road to hell which Michael Sr. must take in order to save his adopted son, Michael Jr. not only from the hired assassin but also from repeating the violent crimes that were passed to his father as he grew up by Rooney. Most of the cast is built in this journey as the survivors try to outdo the assassin on their tail (Wampler, 2010) .Sullivan's car is also an element of significance in this movie. This is because it is in this car that Michael Jr. secretly hides in order to find out what his father does for a living. It is while in the car that he witnessed the tragedy (killing of Finn by his father and Connor). Through this he was able to know what his father does for a living. Maybe he would not have found out if he did not hide in Sullivan's car. In addition, the tragedy he witnessed while in the car brought him and his father together as his father sought to save him from getting into violent crime (Fard, 2010). Thomson machine gun is another significant element in this movie. It is by using this weapon to kill Finn that Michael Jr. realized what his father does for a living. The Thompson machine gun consequently led to the tragedy that brought father and son together. The above elements are therefore significant in developing plot in the movie.
Similarity and Repetition: In this movie the principle of similarity and repetition is demonstrated in the character traits of Rooney, Sullivan, Connor, and Jude law. Also in Sullivan and his wife, Annie and story action. In the movie, we learn that the trait of violent crime was passed to Sullivan from Rooney. Hence both have a similar trait of killing. At the same time we are told that Sullivan and Connor killed Finn, hence they possess the same trait in that context. After all both were sons of Rooney. We are also told that Sullivan was a killer for hire just like Jude law (Plume Noire, 2010), hence both posses the same character trait of murderers. Similarly, Sullivan and his wife, Anne have a similar character trait of being secretive in that none would tell Michael Jr. what his father does for a living. Similarly, Michael Jr. was sworn to secrecy by his father and hence adopting the same character trait of being secretive. On the other hand, the story action depicts similarity and repetition. Finn, Annie, and Sullivan's youngest son, Peter were killed ruthlessly. Again, Connor repeatedly killed the three. Also in the movie, the relationship between Michael and his son is paralleled to those between Rooney and Connor, and Rooney and Michael. However, in all the relationships between father and son shown in the movie, the father takes responsibility with dignity to the end (Plume Noire, 2010); Rooney sends his son Connor away for protection after killing Annie and Peter, and Sullivan protects Michael Jr from the assassin and from joining violent crime. Again, Sullivan takes the same journey with the same mission of vengeance. The two serial killers meet in the same hotel.
Difference and variation: In this movie the principle of difference and variation is demonstrated in the character traits of Sullivan, Rooney. The film exposes Sullivan as a serial killer for a long time but we are told that in contrast he lives a conventional, prosperous, comfortable and innocent life at home. Sullivan had been on a revenge mission against Rooney's family for six weeks yet when he gets a chance to eliminate Jude law in a hotel, he in contrast doesn't finish his task. After killing Finn, Annie and Peter, Connor is sent away for protection by his father Rooney. Contrastingly Rooney protects a killer from being killed. John Rooney is feared but dignified, while his natural son, Connor is just the opposite: cowardly, jealous and incompetent. On the other hand, the movie also recognizes religion and the existence of different choices; good and evil. The religion introduced and the criminalities in the movie are different things. The gangsters know they're effectively dedicated to hell and Michael Sullivan gets a chance to stop before going too far. Surprisingly, after being robbed of thousands of dollars, Frank Nitti is not bitter and allows Michael to go about his business. Finally, a significant difference between the graphic novel and the movie is drawn. The acts of violence in the movie are more deliberate which is rare in most gangster films (Fard, 2010).
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Development: In this movie the principle of development is demonstrated by patterning similar and different elements. We are introduced to a killer for hire, Sullivan who plays innocent and lives comfortably with his family. His career is a big secret to his sons. Sullivan and Connor kills Finn and Michael Jr. witnesses this secretly hence knowing what his father does for a living. The witnessing of Michael Jr raises a tragedy as Connar fears that he will betray them. The tragedy brings Sullivan and his son together .Connor assassinates Peter and Annie on mistaking Peter for Michael Jr. Michael Jr. and Sullivan escape to Perdition with a revenge mission at heart. Connor was sent away by his father, Rooney for protection as another killer, Jude law is hired to eliminate Sullivan. The journey to Perdition is tricky as the survivors try to outdo the assassin who is on their tail. On the same journey, father and son bond and understood one another. The two serial killers meet in a hotel and although Sullivan had a mission to avenge the assassination of his family, he could not eliminate Jude law.
Unity and Disunity: In this movie the principle of unity and discontinuity is demonstrated through the relationships. The relationship between John Rooney and Connor is that of a father and natural son. The relationship between Rooney and Sullivan is that of a father and an adopted son. The relationship between Sullivan and Peter and Michael Jr. is that of a father and natural sons. Relationship between Sullivan and Annie is that of husband and wife. Connor and Sullivan are "brothers". Relationship between Jude law, Finn and Rooney is purely business. All these relationships are clear and economically interwoven, hence the movie has unity.
The movie, "Road to Perdition" meets all the generally accepted principles of film form which includes; function, similarity and repetition, unity and disunity, difference and variation and development.