Acting Types and What They Mean to Me

Acting Types and What They Mean
Three actors from my chosen film “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Pakula & Mulligan, 1962) and their types are: Gregory Peck (Atticus Finch) is a star-type actor, Mary Badham (Atticus Finch’s daughter Scout) is a character-type actor, and Phillip Alford (“Jem” Finch) is also a character-type actor (Pakula & Mulligan, 1962).
Gregory Peck in his role as Atticus Finch has star qualities (albeit, I am speaking from hindsight). Goodykoontz & Jacobs (2011) define a star-type actor as: “To define a star, think about a personality actor, only more so. A star is a distinctive screen persona, who is well–known and popular with the movie going public, often to the point that some avid movie fans become deeply curious about the actor’s private life” (chap. 3.4). Gregory Peck is a well-known movie star, has distinctive screen persona, and one can judge a film he is in is probably pretty decent. I think the average movie goer would also be interested in what Peck does in his private life as well as on screen. As Theo James (2014) implies in an article entitled “Well, Hello, Theo James” it is important to choose roles wisely, an actor’s career could hinge on this (Vilkomerson, 2014).
Mary Badham and Phillip Alford, on the other hand, I would classify as a character-types of actors. Goodykoontz & Jacobs (2011) refer to these types of actors as: “Other actors are able to fit invisibly into a wide variety of disparate characters, adapting to the needs of each script and director they work with” (chap. 3.4). Each of these actors would be able to play a wide variety of roles without too much notice as to who they were, yet, be able to fill the role properly. Not quite the “household name status” of Gregory Peck, yet well equipped to entertain an audience in an array of genres. As William H. Macy (1998) in his interview entitled “Straight Arrow” implies, you might not know his name but you will definitely know his face (Johnson, 1998). This could also be said of Mary (Scout) or Phillip (Jem). I may not remember their names, but I will definitely remember their faces.
In the film, Gregory Peck was, although not identified as the protagonist, a central figure throughout the film. From his sit down explanations to Scout and Jem about why they did not act like other members of the town to his acceptance of defending Tom Robinson and, finally, his appearance in defending Tom in court (Pakula & Mulligan, 1962). Peck’s stunning portrayal of a southern attorney during a time of injustice and hatred for coloreds impacted his characterization in a major way and made him the star-type actor he has been identified as.
In the film, Mary Badham and Phillip Alford identified as the protagonist-team, were well placed by the casting-director, fit the roles of Jem and Scout perfectly, yet did not attain the larger than life, long-term, effect which Peck enjoyed. Throughout the film, as they played in the neighborhood, went to the courthouse to see their dad, or were attacked (apparently by Mr. Ewell) they did their job splendidly. Although, even though they did good acting during the film, no brand, or specific actor type was attached to them. This is most likely due to their age, in my opinion. Their age, and lack of “house-hold name power” impacted their characterization placing them into this character-type of sub-class of actors. However, be not fooled, they did a great job and played each role perfectly.
Each character identified acted in a realism-type of acting showing natural and well planned action rather than a stylized form where the viewer can conclude one is actually acting (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011). As you are watching the film, although in a made-up city and a fictional plot is at play, the viewer actually believes what is happening is, or has been, occurring. Although realism type of acting can be confused with stylized acting in different generations of viewers, I do not believe this to be the case in this film. Even today one might conclude this is an actual portrayal of something that happened, although long ago.
Although most categories are flexible, I believe once an actor reaches the star-type of acting, such as Peck, they no longer fluctuate between types. What I mean by this is they are not a star today and not a star tomorrow such as one who might be an impersonator in one role and a character actor in another, although they have not attained star status. While they might fluctuate between acting types they will always remain a star (in most cases, very rarely will one lose complete notoriety). (Peck has a long list of roles, to view them all follow this link: One example of this is Jim Carrey. He has constantly shifted between comedies, action, dramas, and an array of cameos. I remember seeing him in the sci-fi/horror/drama Once Bitten (Storm, 1985) as a kid, as a teen in the comedy series In Living Color (April 15th, 1990), and array of genres as an adult. While he has waned in recent years, I believe most people know him and take an interest in him when he does something or has new films.

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: from watching to seeing. San Diego, CA:
Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from
Johnson, B. (1998). Straight arrow. Maclean’s. 10/26/98, Vol. 111 Issue 43, p93. 1p. 1 Color
Photograph. Retrieved from
Pakula, A.J (Producer) & Mulligan, R. (Director). (1962). To kill a mockingbird [Motion Picture]
United States: Universal Pictures.
Villard, D., Wald, R., & Hildebrand, F. (Producers) Storm, H. (Director). (1985). Once bitten
[Motion Picture]. United States: The Samuel Goldwyn Company.
Vilkomerson, S. (2014). Well, hello, theo james. Entertainment Weekly, (1304), 47.
Retrieved from
Wayans, K.I. & Wayans, D. (Creators). (1990). In living color [Television Series].
Network: Fox.


Sound Choices in Children’s Educational Films: Thomas and Friends (September, 1984)

          Dialogue, sound effects, and music are three basic sounds found in film. Each has a specific purpose and place in film and the choice of how each sound is used in film creates knowledge, a sense of emotion, and sets the tone of the film.

          Dialogue in film is simply one or more characters speaking, either to the audience, or to other characters in the film (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011). Creating dialogue in film is not always an easy procedure (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011). Dialogue in film can tell the audience or viewer many things about the cultural institutions of the time period in which it was filmed (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011).

          Sound effects in film is defined by Wikipedia (2014) as “artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media. In motion picture and television production, a sound effect is a sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point without the use of dialogue or music” (para. 1).

          Music if film is defined by (2014) as ” Music written to accompany action in documentary and feature films. In the days of silent films a pianist or small orchestra in the cinema pit provided a musical. commentary on the action, usually by a selection of appropriate popular operatic and orchestra items. But the first piece of ‘original’ film music was written by Saint-Saëns (Op.128) for H. Lavedan’s film L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise, 1908″ (para. 1).

          In my chosen film “Thomas and Friends” (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984) the different types of sound (dialogue, sound effects, and music) are being used to further the plot, enhance the action of the film, and set the tone of the production. Dialogue furthers the plot as Thomas the train and his counterparts (other trains which are his friends) complete tasks around the Island of Sodor and usually cause mischief or run in to problems they help each other solve (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984). Each of these scenes usually involves some sort of lesson one can learn by watching them cause havoc and chaos because they did not listen or do as they were instructed. Sound effects enhance the action and motion of the film as Thomas and his friends wheesh and whoosh around Sodor completing tasks (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984). The sound effects create an important mise en scene element as the effects of the sound play an important role in creating the intensity of action of the film. Music sets the upbeat tone of the film and marks drastic changes in tone or action as the production starts off with a rythmic upbeat song detailing the structure of events around Sodor Island gearing the audience up for usually exciting adventures (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984).

          The impact of sound in Thomas and Friends (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984) establishes the theme by creating an adventurous upbeat mood for the viewing audience, creating the adventurous spirit which evolves throughout the film series weaving the story, theme, and plot together for a entertaining and learning experience. 

          While the sounds do not exactly identify the main genre: children’s educational film, the sounds do identify a sub-genre of action as there are many moments of crashes, speeding trains, and activity around Sodor Island (another sub-genre could be fantasy) (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984). These events occur as Thomas and his friends (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984) teach the viewing audience lessons such as working together, listening, and hard work. These sounds vary from screeching wheels, blowing whistles, and loud noises showcasing crashes (among many others) (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984). 

          The sound effects in Thomas and Friends (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984) are realistic and expected. Usually you can infer a crash is going to occur or trains are on the move (Awdry & Awdry, September, 1984). 

          If you changed the sound, i.e. dialogue, sound effects, or music it would change the sequence of the film drastically. This film relies on realistic and expected sounds implemented on a diegetic basis (Ashford Student Portal, n.a., 2014). These mise en scene elements create a tone and mood of the film as if you are watching something that is really happening rather than the fantasy elements that are truly occurring. Something completely different could be expected if anyone of the sound elements were changed or removed. 


Awdry, W. & Awdry, C. (Story) & Baas, D. (Director, 2013-present) (1984). Thomas and friends [Motion Picture].

          United States: HiT Entertainment.

Film music. (2014). Retrieved from

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From watching to seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint

           Education, Inc. Retrieved from

n.a. (2014). Diegetic: ashford university student portal, intro to film. Retrieved from


Sound effects in film. (2014). Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Thomas and Friends (2014). Wikipedia. Retrieved from






Grown Ups (acting not so grown up): By Joseph Webb

Grown Ups: released in America June 25th, 2010.

Director: Dennis Dugan.

Production: Happy Madison Productions, Relativity media

Major Actors: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Kevin James, Chris Rock

                In the film Grown Ups (2010, June) a mix of Three point, high-key lighting, and low-key lighting is used to set the mood of this somber yet comic drama. Changing scenes from inspiration to comedy and sorrow this film captures audiences attention through lighting shits rather than one steady lighting choice. This film could be a perfect example of a film which crosses genre’s.

                 Three point lighting is used in scenes where the actors and their conversations are the focus such as when Sandler, Schneider, Spade, James and Chris Rock first arrive at the lake cabin and sit by the lake and have their first chat since gathering. The light is obviously bright behind them (back lighting) showing dimmer features to the front making the actors stand out from the rest of the props and scenery. You can see fill lighting and key lighting used to the right and left of their fronts minimizing shadows (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011). They then proceed on a walk through the woods with the children as they reminisce about the things they did as kids. 

                  As they begin their nature walk and other various scenes where the mood is upbeat and somewhat comedic the lighting changes to high-key lighting. Goodykoontz & Jacobs (2011) say high-key lighting is a common choice for these types of scenes. Also in the restaurant scene High key lighting is used to brighten the faces of the actors as they speak to one another. A specific example of this is when Adam Sandler is speaking to the cook.  

                   Low-key lighting is used when the frames and scenes are set in a more somber or mellow-dramatic tone. This example is shown in the cinematographers use of darkness around the individuals focused on in the frames and the higher contrast more well-lit props in the background (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011). Examples of this type of lighting is used during the initial basketball game, the introduction of Adam Sandler as he is talking to his children, and during the coach’s funeral to name a few. 

                    The focus also shifts from deep focus to shallow focus in scenes where the conversation of the group is the center of the scene such as in the restaurant scene. In other scenes where the conversation moves from person to person or movement to movement deep focus is used, for example when they first arrive at the cabin/lake. 

                     The benefits of this lighting shift is it keeps the audience from becoming bored. Shifts in lighting, such as the ones used here, give the audience a different look in each frame. I also noticed golden tones used in frames where a sunset or sunrise is shown. All of these add up to a more interesting film and also help with the mood shifts taking place throughout the film. We go from somber to comedic using these light shifts making the mood shifts more cinematic-ally acceptable to the viewers. This incorporation of light shifts also makes the film stand out from other films giving it its own identity. 

                     Another light source is also identified in the film: natural light. Goodykoontz & Jacobs (2011) say “Natural light usually comes from above – the sun or moon in outdoor scenes…” (chapt. 4.4). As their are many scenes in this film shot outdoors, on the lake, etc. the cinematographer obviously has a natural light choice and makes good use of it. 

                     These lighting choices are critical to this film to keep the film from distracting from its theme. The lighting choices are actually one with the theme as the lighting sets the mood in certain frames throughout the film. I believe I have touched on this quite extensively above as the lighting sets the mood from somber to comedic, etc. Jean-Pierre Geuens (2005, Summer) says lighting is critical in the emotional response from an audience regarding film. This implies the emotions of the audience and the lighting choices are actually connected making the lighting choices critical to the theme of this film. 

                      The lighting choices made in this film were critical to the success of this somewhat cross genre film (tragi-comedy). Finding reasons to laugh during times of traumatic experiences are sometimes important, not only in film, but real life. Without this mix of lighting choices: three point, high-key, low-key, and natural, I do not think the theme or plot would have been acceptable or believable. I do not see how another choice would have been successful in making this film a hit. One example of my opinion would be: if it were cloudy when they were canoeing on the lake it would not have been suitable for the conversation of where they hide their “goodies”, etc. The sunlight provided a perfect setting.

                       Evan Lieberman and Kerry Hegarty (2010, Spring-Summer) point out in their article on “Authors of the Image…” “Much of the study of the moving image is, in fact, predicated on the basic assumption that images (in film, television, or even video games) both reflect and create a society’s set of dominant values” (pg. 31). This film (Grown Ups (2010)) is a perfect example of American life and how important friendships are and how the lighting in this film is used to create the moments that make these relationships special and create the values we hold dear in this country. 


Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From watching to seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint

                Education, Inc. Retrieved from


Geuens, J.P. (2005). The grand style. University of California Press. Film Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Summer), pp. 27-38.

                  DOI: 10.1525/fq.2005.58.4.27. Retrieved from

Lieberman, E. & Hegarty, K. (2010). Authors of the image: cinematographers gabriel figueroa and gregg toland. University of Illinois 

                Press. Journal of Film and Video, Vol. 62, no. 1-2 (Spring-Summer), pp. 31-51.  DOI: 10.5406/jfilmvideo.62.1-2.0031.                         Retrieved from


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, A Brief Summary: By Joseph Webb

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows released December 16th, 2011.

Written by: Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney.

Director: Guy Ritchie.

Producers: Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey, and Dan Lin.

Major Actors: Robert Downey, Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Jude Law (Dr. John Watson), Noomi Rapace (Gypsy fortune teller Simza), Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler), and Jared Harris as (Professor James Moriarty).

                     This story is of two friends Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson teaming up to put an end to a Professor Moriarty’s terror streak in what is seemingly meant to be a power grab over war related business’. These business’ would in effect profit from war making Professor Moriarty a lot of money.

                     This thrilling drama’s plot begins with a bombing in Strasbourg. Afterwards Robert Downey, Jr. (Sherlock Holmes) enters meeting a woman (Irene Adler played by Rachel McAdams) carrying a package when Holmes questions her as to what she is carrying and why all the while making a dinner date. The lady leads Homes to four men who begin to assault Holmes. A fight ensues. 

                      Irene Adler then carries the package to someone she calls Dr. (Dr. Hoffmanstahl) who is waiting for her at an auction, when she tries to leave the Professor ask her to stay as Sherlock Holmes interrupts them while they are discussing the contents of the package (Sherlock defeated the four men who attacked him). As the professor questions who Sherlock is Sherlock’s pipe starts a curtain on fire clearing the building. Irene and and Holmes confirm a dinner date later that evening and part with a kiss. It is revealed the package carries another bomb to which Holmes places in a sarcophagus being bidded on at the auction and detonates it inside the sarcophagus. Holmes leaves.

                     Irene Adler then goes to meet Professor Moriarty at a restaurant where she is confronted about her actions and the Professor clears the restaurant confronting her about her feelings towards Holmes. Irene is told her services are no longer required and she leaves.  

                      These occurrences set the stage for Holmes investigation into the bombings and also reveals the conflict: Holmes vs. Professor Moriarty.

                     Dr. John Watson enters meeting Holmes in an office proclaiming how he has missed Holmes. Holmes explains to Watson how he has begun the (possibly) most important case of all time. Holmes ask what is the reason for Watson’s visit where Watson proclaims he is getting married. Holmes ask Watson what a scandal involving an Indian cotton tycoon, news of a Chinese traitor, bombings in Strasbourg and Vienna, and the death of steel magnate in America have in common? Holmes concludes they are all connected to Professor Moriarty. Watson asks for some evidence. Holmes points to a bombing averted news post where Dr. Hoffmanstahl’s death is reported about. At the end of their conversation they conclude Professor Moriarty must be stopped. 

                     Holmes and Watson begin investigating Professor Moriarty, planning, and plotting how to end this streak of terror. Thus creating the theme of the film.

                     The setting is London, England as Holmes and Watson go about trying to stop Professor Moriarty. 

                     On this journey Holmes goes to see a fortune teller Simza. Instead of Simza reading Holmes future he begins to question her about a photo with a message en scripted about a purpose. Holmes asks Simza what purpose is Renee’ (Renee is Simza’s brother) fulfilling. Simza tells Holmes his time is up. Holmes tells Simza her next client is going to kill her. He then goes into a foreshadowing of the fight that will ensue from Simza’s next guests. He takes Simza with him telling her he needs her alive. They make an escape through an apparent ballroom setting where Holmes fights off perpetrators who wish them dead (apparently sent from Professor Moriarty). After an action packed escape scene Holmes and Simza defeat the henchmen. 

                    The plot moves forward in chronological order. Writers Michele and Kieran Mulroney use a foreshadowing technique when fight or battle scenes start where Holmes envisions the moves he will make before he makes them. In the ensuing frames the foreshadows are acted out giving Holmes the appearance of some sort of psychic ability to know exactly what to do during fights or battles. Holmes sometimes refers to this ability as a curse. 

                     Holmes and Watson are then at the Wedding of Watson, hungover and bruised from gambling and fighting the previous night. Watson is married. At the conclusion of the wedding a messenger is sent to Holmes informing Holmes the Professor wants to meet him. Holmes putts away as his chariot backfires leaving the scene.

                      Holmes goes to meet Moriarty. Moriarty tells Holmes he regards his talents very highly as they discuss a piece of literature. Moriarty tells Holmes that his request to not involve Dr. Watson in these matters is “no”. Irene Adler’s murder is revealed to Holmes through Professor Moriarty. Moriarty tells Holmes if he seeks to destroy him he will likewise do the same to Holmes. Holmes leaves.

                      Watson and his new bride appear on a train set where they are preparing to board to partake of their honeymoon. They enter a first class train car where they prepare to leave and drink a fine wine. There is a knock at the door and someone has sent them a bottle of wine. The lights go out and a fight ensues between the some henchmen and Dr. Watson. Dr. Watson’s bride takes a gun and holds them at bay while Watson throws the henchman out the window. Holmes shows up dressed like a lady. These men are identified by Holmes as sent by Moriarty and says there must be a half dozen more. Holmes throws Watson’s bride from the train and claims it was to save her. Holmes and Watson struggle. 

                     The train scene sets the stage for the intensity of the battle and how it is climaxing with Moriarty starting to attack Holmes personally. I believe this to be the highest point of the film when Moriarty attacks Holmes closest friend and bride right after their wedding as they are beginning their honeymoon. While action continues this marks the severity of the situation and how Holmes and Watson must end this. 

                       Holmes, Watson, and Simza next appear in an opera house searching for a threat (killer or bomb). The three begin to spy on Moriarty when Holmes says he has made a mistake and they leave.

                       They next appear at a dinner banquet where the next bomb explodes, going into the banquet hall after the explosion they head upstairs and begin to look through the rubble. Holmes and Watson then begin to investigate the occurrences. Apparently the explosion was a diversion to conceal an expert marksman’s assassination of one of the banquet guests. An apparent move made by Moriarty to once again control the war products he produces and take over the market for these products. Watson says only a handful of men in all of Europe could have made the shot. 

                        Holmes, Watson, and Simza are then seen at a sidewalk diner eating discussing the events and their next move. They decide they must go to Germany but because of the recent happening this will be impossible unless they cross another way. Simza leads them through the wilderness to some horses they will use to cross. They begin a horseback ride down a wilderness trail to Germany. 

                         They arrive at the border and discuss how they will maneuver in. They identify a telegraph office and explain they must infiltrate it meeting back in the spot they are in an one hour. The team head in and Watson begins to send a telegraph to someone while Holmes identifies a map and looks at its points. Holmes is discovered by the apparent marksman and is told to discard his weapon. The man who discovers Holmes tells him he needs a better weapon such as the one he has. Holmes is knocked out through the use of some sort of fume on a rag and taken away. He once again faces Moriarty who ask him who the telegraph was sent to. Holmes reveals he knows Moriarty’s intentions to corner the market in regards to war supplies. Holmes is hooked through the shoulder by a meet hook and lifted out of his chair. Moriarty begins to sing while Holmes hangs. Watson begins to be shot at by the expert marksman hiding behind a support beam. Moriarty then begins to pull on Holmes as he hangs from the meat hook off of the floor. Moriarty repeats his question to Holmes: “To whom did you send the telegram”? Holmes replies “To my brother”. Moriarty begins to ask another question when a blast occurs sending Holmes out of the building apparently caused by Watson. Holmes tells Watson it is good to see him. 

                     Watson carries Holmes out and asks him what he was thinking. Holmes says he had Moriarty “right where he wanted him”. Moriarty’s men reach him and Moriarty tells them to not waste time with him but, rather, find Holmes. Simza appears and asks if they have seen her brother. They reply no. Holmes says he was fine till Watson collapsed a building on him as gun fire erupts around them. They begin running with Simza pointing to a road proclaiming it is the way out. They are being trailed by armed guards who are firing guns at them. The guards then arm a missile and ready to fire it at the trio who are trying to escape (Holmes, Watson, and Simza). The explosion sends them flying forward. When they come to the guards are over them and a fight ensues. A train appears and the three jump on a car and make their escape. On the car Holmes stops breathing. While Watson starts CPR and hitting him in the chest Simza and Watson believe Holmes is apparently dead. Watson stabs him with a needle full of a drug that awakes Holmes. Holmes and Watson both agree they should go home.

                         Pending a peace summit, Holmes, Watson, Simza, and Holmes brother, Michael, discuss the possibility of war at during the summit. Michael does not believe it. The conversation moves forward as to what Moriarty’s next move will be. Simza’s brother Renee is of great importance to the group. Finding him will answer their questions and possibly save his life. 

                          The next scene shows the peace summit beginning with Moriarty checking in. Holmes’ brother Michael tells Holmes and Watson who the next possible targets could be. They begin dancing while waiting for the action to occur. Holmes and Watson begin to dance together as Holmes points out a soldier who may be of some interest. Holmes deduces there must be some surgeries taking place changing the appearance of Moriarty’s henchmen. Holmes leaves handing the doorman some kind of note. Moriarty appears and apparently receives the note. Moriarty then meets Homes on the balcony and states the game if chess they previously played can now restart.  

                           This is the beginning of the end. Some may call this the denouement.

                           As Holmes and Moriarty play the game Watson and Simza uncover the assassins appearances have been changed and they are trying to determine which one is the assassin they are looking for. Simza finally identifies her brother and asks to talk to him at which time he pulls out a gun and it goes off into the ceiling. The police carry Renee’ off while Simza and Watson hug. Watson. Watson and Simza catch up to Renee’ who is laying on the floor bleeding apparently shot while Watson concludes Renee’ has been shot by a poisoned dart. Protagonist Holmes and antagonist Moriarty continue to converse on the balcony about Moriarty’s plans and why he believes they are justified. Holmes explains why he has come to the conclusions he has bringing Moriarty into a status known as check in the chess game they are playing. They continue discussing the events leading up to this meeting and continue to play the game. Holmes shows Moriarty he has stolen his secret diary and also check mated Moriarty. Moriarty tells Holmes he will kill Watson and his wife as his supposed “curse” of foreshadowing begins and he begins to “visualize” the fight. Moriarty says Holmes is not the only one with the gift of foreshadowing and begins his own foreshadow of the fight. The fight ensues and Holmes goes over the balcony taking Moriarty with him. They fall as Watson comes through the door to the balcony. They fall in slow motion as Watson peers over the edge.

                         The bodies of Holmes and Moriarty are never found. Watson claims the end of the “most dangerous criminal” and the foremost “champion of the law” proclaiming Holmes the most wisest he has ever known as well as the best. Watson is typing this story on a typewriter as his new bride says she misses Holmes and states he would have wanted to join them on their honeymoon. Watson receives a parcel containing Holmes’ pipe. Watson goes to find the delivery boy while Holmes appears typing a question mark after the “The End” of Watson’s story. The credits then begin to roll showing this has not yet ended.

                          This film is categorized as detective genre. Mary Beth Haralovich (1979) classifies detective genre as any film where a private investigator seeks to solve a problem. Haralovich (1979) states “Genre study has traditionally sought to establish a paradigm of characteristics of plot, character, and setting by which genres can be identified” (pg. 53). Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) fits this description as writers Michele and Kieran Mulroney (2011) establish a definite pattern of investigation (plot), characters seeking to understand a problem (character development), and setting (London to Germany). 

                          Due to the chronological order of this portrayal the audience feels as if they are watching these events as they unfold and are a part of the action. This aesthetic choice contributes to making the audience an element of the story itself: viewer. It is almost as if we are watching these events first hand and not later or after the fact giving it a type of first person effect on the audience.

                           The choice of the author’s story telling method – third person omniscient- is revealed through the author’s choice of moving from character to character as the plot unfolds. The omniscient point of view builds each character individually and then masterfully brings them together creating the story line. Each character’s actions develop the plot. So, one could conclude the character development (or build-up) is the plot in this film as each character reveals the next form of action or suspense to the audience. The tool of foreshadowing is used (especially in Holmes) as Holmes envisions each battle or fight and the exact moves he will make during those fights creating an intensity and giving the audience knowledge the actors in the film do not have: what will occur. This use of dramatic irony occurs throughout the film giving the audience a sense of being more informed than the characters. Dramatic irony, character development, and foreshadowing are some of the main elements used to involve the audience as elements of the story/film. The choice of the author’s story telling method make these elements crucial to the film’s success. Dramatic irony is defined by D.W. Lucas (1959) in “Classical Review” as having two applicable distinctions: the first being when a character in the drama does not have the understanding of the audience about a situation occurring and the second being when a characters language has an interpretative meaning. Both have the importance of the audience knowing more or having more information than those on the stage (Lucas, 1959). Dramatic irony is revealed in The Game of Shadows (2011) when the audience knows the outcomes of the fights Holmes takes part in due to the foreshadowing used by the writers as well as other situations due to foreshadowing. 

                             If the author had chosen a different story telling method, such as first person narrative, the audience would have seen a different film. If Holmes told the entire story, rather than shifting from character to character, we might have had different expectations of the outcome. Holmes supposed death would not have been able to occur and his re-appearance would not have been as surprising as he would have had to tell us what was happening, rather than him just appearing. If Watson or Simza told the story it would not have been as interesting to discover the plot along with the characters judging for ourselves what was happening. The general affect on the audience would not have been as intense. Each element: from point of view, to dramatic elements, to character choice fits perfectly in this rendition of an old story brought back to life.    


D.W. Lucas (1950, December). Of irony, especially in drama by a. c. sedgwick. Cambridge University Press. The Classical Review,                                 Vol. 64, No. 3/4, pp. 102-103. Retrieved from
Haralovich, M.B. (1979, spring). Sherlock holmes: genre and industrial practice. University of Illinois. Journal of the University Film                                  Association,  Vol. 31, No. 2, Economic and Industry History of the American Film, pp. 53-57. Retrieved from                                   
Silver, J.,Wigram, L., Downey, S., and Lin, D. (Producers), & Ritchie, G. (Director). (2011). Sherlock holmes: a game of shadows                                    [Motion Picture]. Warner Bros. Pictures.

Summary and analysis written by Joseph Webb