Mission Statement
Commerce vs. Art
Film Defined
Film as Literature
The Importance of Theme
Film (mis)Interpretation
Applications of Film
Available Resources

The Importance of Theme

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Theme is a misunderstood concept.  Defining it as the central idea of a subject as a dictionary does is inadequate.  It is the heart and soul of an artistic work - its reason for being.  It takes the form of a social issue that the artist feels strongly about.


Theme is similar to the title of a work.  The title, in theory, should reflect the story as a whole; many, of course, do not, probably to make the reader/viewer think.  Theme is most often character-related. 


There should be one theme which defines the artistic work and can be simply stated.  For example, Full Metal Jacket is a film about _____.  The words which complete the statement is the theme. 


Theme is associated with the truth.  But it is the artist’s truth – the way in which he views reality.  It is a reality viewed through a humanitarian lens which is often confused with politics.  Social issues become politicized and viewed as propaganda when disagreement or self-interest exists.


    An artist should be able to answer two questions which are theme-related: What is this work about, and how am I getting this statement/message across?
Access the featurettes which feature cast and crew and often the answers are heard, but not the questions.  Often the response to a question is what the film is obout, and so the question asks that question.  Almost always the answers are varied with no two alike.  The theme, therefore, is elusive to almost everyone, except the filmmaker.  No one questioned describes the plot of the film, im part, because there is a concern that a spoiler will be revealed.  

An artist should be as conscious of the theme as he is aware of the ending.  Because a theme conveys a moral message, it is often mistaken for the moral of the story which often is the ending. Theme is an element which should be present in every aspect of an artistic work.  It establishes a focus and serves as a reminder to the artist what the film is about.



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