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What is Character Study Film? A Look at 4 Examples of Character Study Films
by Eguaogie Eghosa Nov 12, 2021 Views (241)
Learning how to develop better screenplays and storyboards by understanding what makes a strong feature film.

Even if you don't want to write a script, analyzing what happens in a movie can be informative and entertaining. It means you gain a better understanding and knowledge of the film than if you only viewed it once. It also improves your filmmaking ability.

Character study films provide an in-depth look at a single character's thoughts, feelings, and journey.

What is a Character Study?
 A film is a film that focuses on a specific character. The main character's distinctive ambitions, difficulties, and path are the focus of a character study film. Instead of an outward plot, internal feelings are the driving force, and the filmmaker's major attention is on the characters' stories.

This style of film requires dynamic characters or characters who change during the film. Screenwriters give these characters distinguishing personality features to make them more distinctive. Character study films frequently represent humanity: audiences may find their desires, anxieties, and beliefs mirrored in the thoughts and behaviours of these specific individuals.

Character Study Films: A Quick Overview
Even during the silent film era, there were examples of character study films, and the genre evolved throughout the twentieth century:

1. Early examples include Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor's The Student (1925):
Which depicts a foolish college freshman attempting to court a young woman by joining the football team. The film depicts his misguided attempts and aspirations to be a football star, reflecting contemporary ideals of masculinity and fame.

2. Citizen Kane sets the bar:
As film as a medium grew, so did character studies. Citizen Kane (1941), directed by Orson Welles, was a groundbreaking film in the character study genre. Instead of witnessing the film from the perspective of affluent newspaper publisher Charles Kane, this character study uses a question about Kane's death as a vehicle for a reporter to find the truth about Kane's life.

3. Successes in Hollywood:
Hollywood character studies became more popular in the late twentieth century, thanks to a slew of new films. Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980), both directed by Martin Scorsese and starring accolade winning star, Robert De Niro, are examples.

4. Diversification:
Character studies have become more diverse in the twenty-first century, with a wider range of themes and filmmakers. Moonlight (2016) and Lady Bird (2017), directed by Barry Jenkins and Greta Gerwig, are two recent examples.

Character Study Films Have the Following 4 Characteristics:
Characters in character study films and short films may be based on archetypes, yet their personalities are unique and relatable. Characteristics of these characters are typical as follows:

1. A strong desire:
Characters in character studies frequently have a strong desire. Mickey Rourke's aged character in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler (2008) wants to cling to his golden days as a professional wrestler while also repairing the damage his career has caused to his family.

2. Near Insurmountable Challenges:
Characters will face a nearly insurmountable challenge that stands in the way of their desire. Jennifer Lopez's character in Lorene Scafaria's Hustlers (2019) strives to retain her integrity and relationships in a male-dominated workplace.

3. Change: As the film progresses,
The characters evolve and become distinct from the first time viewers encounter them. Character growth is subtle and they are not static characters. The twenty-something title character, played by Greta Gerwig, hurriedly and aimlessly walks across New York in Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha (2013) until accepting herself and transitioning into a more peaceful, mature phase of her life.

4. Specific Character traits:
Characters in character studies are complicated human beings, not just good or bad. Nicolas Cage plays a solitary alcoholic on the verge of tragedy in Mike Figgis's Leaving Las Vegas (1995), who nonetheless desires and unconsciously seeks human companionship and connection.

4 Notable Examples of Character Studies.
Character studies are popular among critics and audiences alike.

1. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) plays a Wall Street investment banker by day and a serial killer by night in the film American Psycho (2000). The film, directed by Mary Harron, is a fantastic character study of a man driven by power, and it depicts the terrible linkages that exist between avarice and murder.

2. Black Swan (2010) is a character study with a scary undercurrent directed by Darren Aronofsky. Natalie Portman was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as a dancer auditioning for the lead role in Swan Lake.

3. Phantom Thread (2017), starring Daniel Day-Lewis, is a film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a famous fashion designer who is so fixed in his ways that the idea of real love causes him to question his humanity.

4. Joker (2019) stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a party clown and comic who is shunned by society, culminating in his transformation into the famed Batman villain, the Joker.

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