Post-Carroll: Functional Elements of the Moving Image

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Analyzing moving images is one of the fundamental practices in our attempt to understand the medium. Building on Noël Carroll's functional theory of film style, this article attempts to define a taxonomy of functional elements of shot composition in order to establish a clear methodology for the analysis of a moving image. Carroll criticizes forms of stylistic analysis that limit themselves to a few pre-selected aspects of the moving image, for example, genre motifs, individual filmmakers’ personal traits, or broad studies of film movements. Numerous writers have presented breakdowns of component parts of a moving image, often in wider discussions of film form. However these lists are often incomplete or do not have a clear methodology. This article identifies the key components of a moving image that could serve a functional purpose in individual films.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)72-89
Number of pages18
JournalProjections: The Journal for Movies and the Mind
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Film
  • Cinematography
  • Aesthetics
  • Analytical Aesthetics
  • Noel Carroll
  • Functional Theory


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