The Art of Overanalyzing Movies

In Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino wrote a funny sequence where a German officer Mixes up the story of King Kong with the story of the American slave trade. Every question He asks has the same answer for both. [German] [German] [German] The German officer and in turn Tarantino clearly think King Kong is an allegory for the slave trade, yet the creators of King Kong have repeatedly denied this interpretation of the movie, saying there are no hidden meanings. It’s just a story to them. This disconnect between creator and audience brings to light One of the most important questions in film discussion. Is an interpretation still valid if it’s not what the artist intended? The answer has broad implications for analyzing art. If meaning is objective, then discussion becomes much more narrow. Critics must take the artist’s word as law, and only look for meanings that the artist consciously intended. On the other hand, if meaning is subjective, a critic can find any message they want in a film, and that means anybody can throw around any theory They want English teachers can overanalyze curtains no matter what the artist says. So where is the line? Let’s have a look at how artists talk about and make their movies to figure out the best mindset towards Analyzing into over analyzing film some directors do clearly state their intentions for a movie in a rare interview from the Coen brothers They mentioned that The Big Lebowski is based on noir detective novels from the 30s and 40s, but with a humorous twist it has the main character in over his head a Complicated and morally ambiguous narrative and an unreliable supporting cast but instead of smoking cigarettes like most noir heroes He smokes marijuana one of the several humorous twists on the conventional detective stereotypes for deeper movie ideas many directors create a movie with an idea in mind but not only will directors hide the meaning of their movies they may even film The movie deceptively in American Psycho director mary harron had William Dafoe Portrayed his character in three different ways the first way the characters thinks Patrick Bateman killed Paul Allen I just wanted to know if you know The second he thinks he didn’t do it people just Disappear and the third he’s unsure to think that one of his friends killed him for no reason whatsoever would be too ridiculous Isn’t that right Patrick? Harran edited these poor trails together to have the character constantly switch his opinion of Bateman between takes the choice creates a movie full of Uncertainty and it adds to the frenzy toxic male dominance within the movie angly used the exact same technique in Brokeback Mountain I played it as though I knew what was going on with Jake’s character Jack and that he had been cheating on me with men And I knew about the gay bashing and I also played it as though I had no idea that This is how my husband died and those takes got merged in the final film So I don’t actually know Aang Knows the truth in his head and it’s not important to me because I think the ambiguity is what is the strength of that scene? And what’s heartbreaking about it when filmmakers create a movie with multiple meanings they tend to keep their intent a secret I’m not gonna say what it is Oh You may not I never talk about themes it’s a very big shame when something is finished and then People want you to translate it back into words. It never will work It never will go back into words and be what the film is. It’s like describing a piece of music You don’t hear the music. You just hear that see the words It’s better to let people conjure up their own ideas having seen and experience the film I mean they want you to say I think you know This is a story of the duality of man of the duplicity of governments something like that and you know, I hear people try to do it sometimes it Usually is bullshit or if the work is good. It’s it’s sort of Kubrick might be the best director to look at when discussing Overanalyzing because his movies are some of the most analyzed in American cinema The documentary room 237 focuses entirely on fan theories about the shining some of the ideas suggested in the documentary are pretty ridiculous Like when they claim Kubrick airbrushed his own face into the clouds as the family drives to the hotel after hearing about his intense shooting schedules and extremely detailed production design fans have seemed to build a mythos around Kubrick believing Put specific meaning into every little thing despite all of the sort of apocryphal stories about me almost all of which are untrue You don’t have unlimited resources and they do watch the budget and you know You do have to account for what you’re doing the stories about cubic largely ignore how he himself described his shooting process He says he actually doesn’t always put a particular meaning in his directing choices I’m pretty good at generalized statements when I’m asked what is this but I still can’t tell somebody what has the glory is about I Find it’s much more of an intuitive process more like what I would imagine writing music is like rather than a sort of Structuring an argument this intuitive approach doesn’t make Kubrick’s films any less meaningful It just means while he’s making the movie his intent isn’t always immediately obvious to him He instead makes choices that feel right instead of constantly dealing with hidden meanings I never deal with subtext when I’m writing ever ever ever. I keep it about the text I keep it about the scenario Because I know there’s a lot there but I don’t want to I don’t want to know it right now So where does that leave room for analysis in both cases where directors hide the meaning and where they don’t work with a specific meaning? In mind the viewer can’t know the objective truth, but that doesn’t mean analysis is hopeless the very basic things Especially from where mr. Orange is coming from I’m dying and I want to go to the hospital but just in writing those words just all this stuff just started pouring out and that was when I realized it was a Father/son story going on and in this interview Tarantino reveals a crucial truth about filmmaking He shows us how he subconsciously put a deeper meaning in his movie It doesn’t matter if directors work with one meaning in mind or work purely on intuition Everybody brings their prior Experiences with them in the creative choices they make and that doesn’t stop at the director every person involved in the process of filmmaking Places their worldview into the work and a good analysis reveals these hidden meanings to me. It’s very obvious I mean, of course King Kong is a metaphor for the slave trade I’m not saying the makers of King Kong meant it to be that way But that’s what that’s the movie that they made whether they mention make it or not This analysis works because it fits with the time period the movie was made it’s not only convincing but the analysis also makes the movie More impactful some interpretations seem to miss that analysis should add something meaningful to the movie in this particular interpretation King Kong shows how white people of the 1930s may have feared the free black elysion in America? not only is that interpretation well supported but it also invites the viewer to think about the movie in a fresh and Interesting way even if it is true that Kubrick airbrushed his face into the clouds How does that add to the movie and strangely enough? Maybe some stories are better enjoyed without analysis Kubrick once said if you submit to a completely logical and detailed analysis of a supernatural movie it will eventually appear absurd the true measure of a great supernatural thriller He says isn’t in it’s hidden meaning but in if the audience had a good fright believed the film they were watching and retained some sense of it with Brokeback Mountain the True analysis of Jack’s death isn’t what matters the fact that Angley leaves the audience Uncertain of Jack’s fate makes his ending that much more heartbreaking. There’s no sense of closure for us or for Ennis So maybe the next time you watch the ending of 2001 a Space Odyssey don’t obsess over the details Kubrick actually did reveal what he was going for in that I’ll link his interpretation in the description but before you click on that watch the ending one more time and think about the emotion It evokes because even with a particular meaning in mind He brick-built that ending based not around his own meaning but around how he wanted it to make you feel So when your teacher over analyzes blue curtains in a story the problem isn’t that it’s not what the artist meant The problem may be that the teacher got so caught up in analysis that they missed what made the book so great in the first place a Big problem with overanalyzing film comes from under researching if an analysis is Inconsistent with the rest of the movie or doesn’t have a lot of concrete evidence It doesn’t hold up Well in most areas of film criticism Education is key to coming up with the best analysis When it comes to actual film production the same principles apply to learn more about filming professional footage with tools You already own you can sign up for the DIY filming class on Skillshare Skillshare has over 20,000 classes that cover tons of topics from business to filmmaking the first 500 people to click on the link in the description below can Get two months of completely free access to Skillshare. That’s the filmmaking class plus thousands of others ranging from creative writing marketing and design Thanks for watching and thanks to Skillshare for sponsoring this video


  • Steve Seguin

    I enjoy when analysis is followed up with facts, rather than personal interpretation being presented as fact. I do see it a lot with these movie analysis channels, but some will present their opinion as an argument, rather than an outright statement. An argument needs Claims, Reasoning, and Evidence.

  • Knowbrains

    A quote from the Big Chill – Sam: What's this? Nick: I'm not sure. Sam: What's it … Like what? Nick: You're so analytical. Sometimes you have to let art… flow … over you …

  • Paintnamer

    I want to know about how electric fans are placed for effect, some seemingly quasi subliminal.

  • Ryan Daniels

    Could the same not be said about poetry and playwriting? I always felt as though Shakespeare was overanalyzed. I'm not sure the man himself would pass a high school exam on Shakespearean literature

  • Tore Lund

    I always thought that the ambiguity in William Dafoe's character is interrogation technique, to probe him and not to trick the audience.

  • Multi Stuff


  • Harrison Kane

    When I was in secondary school studying English literature we spent literally two weeks over analysing the "fog" outside of the house and what it means and one girl actually got so sick she emailed Susan hill, the author and asked her exactly what she meant.
    Her reply: "it's literally just fog"

  • Arch Malagant Maraggun

    So Batman was in a movie with the green goblin once?

  • Hearthcore

    I like the idea that with analyse, you can recreate the original object with your own ideas. That way both the creation and its interpretation by the author and the interpretation of any viewer are valid.

  • Cutie Fly

    Man, one of my mums friends thought a painting I did was about sexual abuse but uh, no. Very no. I had to have an extremely awkward converstaion with my mum about it. I'm glad they both cared enough to talk to me but… yea. Made me a little nervous to draw naked women for a while.

  • El Catrin C

    they are trying to see thing that arent there

  • Daniel Clark

    My Humanities professor said that when it comes to art, everything the artist does is intentional. Every word choice, every bit of information passed to the reader or viewer, everything. As someone who writes, I can assure you that isn't the case. Most of the time, descriptions are completely arbitrary and characters do things because it pushes the plot forward.

  • cubeincubes

    That music in the background is very distracting, I wonder if that has meaning?

  • joel beck

    Could you maybe say Spoiler before you spoil?!


  • Nick

    The overall Subtext/meta narrative of "Mother!" is obvious to anyone who knows Aronofsky's prior work or has a good understanding of History.

  • pato perez

    Great fucking video

  • Hermetic Dragon

    "The true measure of a great supernatural thriller isn't in its hidden meaning but in if the audience had a good fright, believed the film they were watching and retained some sense of it." KUBRICK

  • Crocoshark

    Regardless of intent, the parallel between King Kong and the slave trade pointed out in Inglorious Bastards is still there. It's not the meaning of the film, but it's there.

  • MrKyel17

    I see even in this part of YouTube we can't escape from mentions of "toxic men" and "whites are racist". Good shit.

  • MrSnowman

    Does he? Seems appropriate to show where he says that. It's very topical to the video that there's a potential misunderstanding.


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