The internet is filled with video essays dissecting movies to its last frame. The field seemed to have exploded after the emergence of Tony Zhou’s Every Frame a Painting. For me, they have been quite helpful. So while we all are homebound during this lockdown period in the battle against COVID-19, here’s a curated list of some of my favourite video essays. Many of them you must be familiar with, some may turn out to be a pleasant discovery. Hope you enjoy them.
1. Harry Potter: How J.K. Rowling Writes Mystery
I’ve always considered Harry Potter movies as more of mystery thrillers instead of fantasy adventure. Sage Hyden of Just Write reaffirmed my belief.
2. The Social Network – Designing Dialogue
Lewis Bond’s dissection of dialogue is probably the best one I’ve come across. His channels, Criswell and Cinema Cartography – co-created with Luiza Liz Bond, are also among the best out there.
3. Who Is The Best Screenwriter Of All Time?
This video helped me reassess one of my favourite filmmakers in a new light.
1. Chernobyl – A Masterclass in Perspective
It is the only series I have seen twice. A rare series that is as cinematic as any great movie out in the cinemas.
2. Holding Long and Cutting Short: 2 Brilliant Moments in Editing
Two extremes of editing choices from two different cinematic cultures presented with detailed analysis.
3. Sicario: 1 Brilliant Moment of Tension
When it comes to creating tension purely through images and sound, there’s no one better than Denis Villeneuve and this video explains how he does that.
4. One Way To Deconstruct There Will Be Blood — Or Any Movie
Average shot length is one of the best ways to understand how movie construction is progressing with the apparent falling attention span. PT Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is a good reminder of how falling attention span is largely nonsense.
5. Satoshi Kon – Editing Space & Time
We rarely notice editing in animation films. As a trained animation filmmaker myself, I can attest to the fact that nobody cares about editing more than an animator. Satoshi Kon is a prime example of that.
1. Martin Scorsese – The Art of Silence
Fun fact: Two years after the release of this video, Scorsese came out with a movie titled Silence.
2. See With Your Ears: Spielberg And Sound Design
Not only this video essay is a great dissection of a fantastic scene from Spielberg’s Munich, it is also a masterclass in making video essays.
3. Harry Potter: What Magic Sounds Like
Here’s a question, how many of you thought about this? I didn’t until I say this essay.
1. The Brilliant Music of The Irishman
How the music is used in cinema is one of my favourite things to explore and there’s no better exponent of that than Martin Scorsese.
2. The Marvel Symphonic Universe
I think somebody at Disney saw this video which then resulted in the now-famous Avengers theme.
3. Wonder Woman: The Impossible Task
This channel’s content is inclined more towards the academic side of music creation. The content is quite repetitive as well. However, there are some gems like this one.
4. Lord Of The Rings: How Music Elevates Story
Howard Shore’s score of Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest film scores ever. Evan in this fantastic essay explains how.
These three videos shed light on how a simple prop in a movie holds great storytelling potential. A smart writer and/or a director will bring out more from an inanimate object than most would from an actor who’s alive and kicking.
1. Never Just A Car
2. What Food Says About a Character
3. In Praise of Chairs
Themes and Big Ideas:
1. SO YOU WANNA BE A FILM NERD EPISODE 1: an introduction
When it comes to video essays about movies, Shannon’s StrucciMovies is my favourite YouTube channel after Every Frame a Painting and unfortunately, she is one of the most underrated in this game. Her deadpan, no-nonsense, in-your-face style is something that I cherish the most. Her 5 part series, SO YOU WANNA BE A FILM NERD presents material for someone who wants to begin her journey into understanding the art of cinema. This is an introductory episode.
2. SO YOU WANNA BE A FILM NERD EPISODE 2: approaching movies
Every individual has her way of approaching movies. Shannon explains in her idiosyncratic way how one should approach and explore movies.
3. SO YOU WANNA BE A FILM NERD EPISODE 3: categorizing movies
In this episode, Shannon explores the problems with categorizing movies into genres. I urge you to explore the remaining two episodes from the series as well.
4. SHAME | Opening Shot
Darren of Must See Films is also a highly underrated video essayist. His analysis and exploration of themes and ideas from various movies are second to none. In this video, he dissects themes of Shame through the lens of film form from the very first shot of the film.
5. THERE WILL BE BLOOD | The Search for Family
This is probably the best analysis of There Will Be Blood I have come across.
6. Why do we laugh at violence? A crash course on comedy
In our exploration of underrated YouTubers, I present you Margarita; the creator Is This Just Fantasy? She, however, is now on indefinite hiatus. In this fantastic essay, she explores how comedy works and to what extent it can be pushed.
7. Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence: An Analysis
What matters more, love or the idea of love? This video essay tries to explore the answer through a thoughtful analysis of The Age of Innocence – one of Scorsese’s finest works.
8. David Foster Wallace – The Problem with Irony
I have a love-hate relationship with post-modernism. So when Will Schoder came up with this video using my favourite writer’s scathing criticism of the philosophy to critique the popular television shows of the US, I latched onto it.