Themes Tones mood and motif

Tone is the creator’s attitude towards the subject. It is the way the content is presented to the viewers. The use of visuals, writing style, and light music are all used to convey the tone of a film. It can be considered the creator’s intention to evoke a certain emotion in the audience, which is known as mood. Mood is the emotional atmosphere created for the audience. So, in a way, tone is used to create the mood of a film, depending on the maker’s intention.

There are many types of tones. For example, if a film has an optimistic tone, it means that the main character’s approach towards life is optimistic, which will evoke a hopeful and positive mood for the audience. One of the best examples of this is “The Shawshank Redemption.”

On the other hand, if a movie has a suspenseful tone, it will create an atmosphere of tension and anxiety. Take any suspenseful movie, such as “Rosemary’s Baby,” for example. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it.

Next comes the theme, which is the most important element in my opinion. The theme is the ultimate reason why movies are made. It is the idea that the creators want to convey. For instance, “The Shawshank Redemption” is a movie about hope and resilience. Similarly, “Inception” is a movie about the power of the subconscious, the concept of dreams, and the sense of reality. It also explores the theme of guilt and redemption that the main character is searching for. Films can have multiple themes that may or may not be explicitly defined in the main plot. Themes are often found in the subtext of the film and are rarely clearly stated. So, when you watch a movie, think about what the director or writer wants to convey through it.

It’s important to note that a film can have multiple tones and moods, which can change as the movie progresses. For example, “The Shawshank Redemption” starts with a serious tone, creating an atmosphere of sadness and bleakness due to the prison’s harsh reality. However, the character’s optimistic approach towards life and the power of friendship create an atmosphere of hope in the movie.

After tone, mood, and theme, another key element of storytelling is the motif. A motif is a symbol in the film that conveys the theme, helps bind the narrative, or expresses deeper meaning or subtext. It can be an object, a pattern, a sound, a gesture, or even the resolution.

For example, in “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” the aspect ratio of the movie changes with different time periods, binding the two different times into one narrative. In “Inception,” the spinning top is used as a motif to distinguish between dreams and reality. It appears multiple times in the movie, and when the main character uses it at the end, it leaves the audience with ambiguity, creating a thought-provoking experience.

Now, let’s analyze another film, “Before Sunset.” Identify the theme, tone, mood, and motif for this film and let me know in the comments section what you think they are. Remember, these elements can be perceived differently, and there is no right or wrong interpretation. Ultimately, they give meaning and depth to the film and provide clarity of the creator’s intention.

As a filmmaker, understanding these elements provides clarity and purpose for your project. Personally, I don’t write a single page of screenplay until I am clear about these elements, as they drive the story and bind it together, ultimately giving a purpose to the film and clarity about what I want to say through my work.