How to Appreciate a Quality Movie

How to appreciate a quality film

If you think that the subjective opinion of the viewer can be competent, then here are some specific criteria for Appreciating a movie according to all the rules.

Let’s immediately agree: the thesis ” on taste and color — is false, false, and false again. There is no more absurd phenomenon than the confidence of a mass viewer (reader, listener) that a work of art cannot be objectively Appreciated, but can only express a personal attitude towards it. Such self-forgetful promiscuity, called “subjective opinion”, grows out of ignorance, and that’s all.

Our goal is simple: to prove that a well-made movie can be distinguished from a movie made badly. And here are the criteria.


The first and most popular criterion by which a movie is judged by a mass audience is the plot. Was it interesting during the whole film (constantly maintained intrigue and unexpected twists of the story), did he empathize with the characters, was he able to immerse himself in the “world of history”, did he get the proper feeling at the end — the so-called catharsis? Understanding the plot as an entertainment background is a simplified approach.

Usually, the viewer’s favorite stories are built according to the rules familiar to everyone from school days: there is a three-act structure (or five-act, seven-act), a plot-climax-denouement, and the action develops with the help of a conflict of parties defending different values.

One of the favorite films of Kinopoisk users is “The Green Mile” (an adaptation of the Stephen King novel). The plot is a variation on the theme of the Crucifixion of Christ. The miracle worker innocently condemned to death, evil and good robbers, soldiers-guards, sponge, the Green Mile itself (also known as Via Dolorosa) and Golgotha, called here “Cold Mountain” — all these are familiar images. We empathize with J. C. (the initials are also easily recognizable), because he is innocent, suffers undeservedly, and does good deeds. We are intrigued by whether John will be executed or not, whether his enemies will be punished, whether he will be able to cure all his friends. At the highest point of the climax, we will probably be moved. And a cute mouse runs — a control shot for impressionable natures. 

The plot twists are somewhat artificial (the criminal is close at hand, miracles work, the good guys are tired of the evil around them), and the plot itself is quite speculative, the audience’s tears are written into it with cold calculation. The division into acts with a mini-climax at the end of each of them is easily detected. The atmosphere is curious, seemingly familiar, but specific. The camera — both prison and cameraman-is such that it is comfortable to watch. Nevertheless, this film is one of the favorites of the “ordinary viewer”, which makes you think, as these same viewers like to write.

Probably, this ability to present well-known material deserves respect. On the other hand, this is only one way to narrate and interact with the audience. The plot here serves as a decoy, holding attention. The audience’s empathy for the hero is a” trick ” of cinema, but not its necessary elements. Some people need a roller coaster ride, some just need a simple story, a love triangle. And other films can even do without a plot in its usual sense, raising questions and identifying problems through a visual series.  Unexpected twists and stunning climaxes are not always necessary.


Just as a text consists of related sentences, and sentences consist of words, so a movie consists of frames and editing phrases. Edited if the movie is sloppy, then the production will be hard to watch. Just like reading my previous sentence. And imagine if there is a grammatical error in every word of this article. And through the word — an unnecessary, um, interjection. Especially inventive editing phrases become textbook phrases.

In some cases, they enrich the content, and in others, they simply correctly maintain the pace of the picture and are almost invisible, without distracting us from the action. Still from the movie “Birdman”.

Procrastination or too frequent changes of personnel, which go into “flickering” (as other would-be batalists sins!), sloppy change of plans-there are many mistakes. Can we, ordinary viewers, detect these errors? We can. Although some will recall “The Rope”, “Birdman” or other films shot “in one frame” – great examples of how the director builds a picture on intra-frame editing.

And it is always worth remembering that a symphony of form and content is good, this is the power of art. Conflict of form and content as a technique is also good. And indifference to the interaction of form and content is bad. Hot, cold, and warm — nothing new.


Something is always happening somewhere in the frame. A person, as we know, can not even just imagine an object outside of time and space. You have to build the composition of the frame, the mise en scene. An artless composition is another kind of “blank page” in a movie. Alexander Sokurov in” Faust ” achieves amazing picturesqueness of the frame. A shot from “Faust” by Alexander Sokurov. 

Andrei Tarkovsky, on the other hand, believed that “to build a mise en scene based on any works of painting is to kill the cinema.” No one, however, denied that the mise en scene should be built. Only the rules differed: in the era of silent black—and—white cinema-some, in the era of color-others, and in the author’s refraction-others.

Sometimes the frame composition becomes a kind of reference field. Directors quote famous paintings and sculptures in their works or other movies. Sometimes this move turns into a game, which somewhat devalues the technique, truncates the meaning, and the quote does not add anything, but serves only as an intellectual “wink”. However, such a quote becomes justified if the quoted item interacts with the content or visual solution of the film. The form, again, works for the content. It’s good when Stanley Kubrick quotes Victor Shestrem’s The Charioteer because we can “cross” these two plots, discover a new layer in a familiar story, and capture their similarities.