Anthology films, hyperlink cinema, mise-en-scene: Filmy jargon, explained

The more your film vocabulary expands, the easier it will be to grasp what filmmakers are trying to do and how critics are analysing their efforts.
SuperDeluxe poster
SuperDeluxe poster
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You may be an avid follower of cinema, but at times, you may feel lost and inadequate when confronted with cinema jargon. For instance, a poster advertising a film as an 'anthology film' or a review where an actor is being praised for her 'method acting' or the film's breathtaking 'cliffhanger' ending.

Here's a look at some terms that you may encounter while exploring and reading about cinema. The more your film vocabulary expands, the easier it will be for you to grasp what filmmakers are trying to do with their narratives and how critics are analysing their efforts.

Ad lib: When an actor or performer improvises a dialogue on the spot, he/she is ad libbing. Many times, actors and performers add extra lines, actions or dialogue in the scene spontaneously, off-script without any prior preparation. This can be a spur of the moment decision, or also a deliberate attempt by the actor to better the scene. For instance, Jack Nicholson’s shouting “Here’s Johnny!” in The Shining was unscripted, and an ad lib that made it into the film.

Method acting: It is a technique in which an actor emotionally immerses himself or herself completely in the character, and performs with a great degree of realism. For example, Keerthy Suresh was praised for her method acting in Mahanati. In this biopic, the actor played the role of yesteryear star Savitri. She gave such a realistic and emotional performance that the audience felt like they were seeing Savitri again. Keerthy won the National Award for Best Actor in the female category for her performance. 
Neo-realism: This refers to making a film in as realistic a manner as possible, by shooting in real locations instead of sets or studios, mostly with a non-professional cast. Neo-realistic films are aimed at showcasing the social and political issues that exist in society. It's also called Italian neo-realism, as this style of filmmaking originated in Italy in the 1940s.  The Telugu film Kallu, which was released in 1988, was hailed as a neo-realistic film. The movie addressed social issues from the perspective of the blind. It was directed by MV Raghu, set in natural locations and had people outside the film industry work as actors with no make-up. M Manikandan's Kaaka Muttai can also be considered a neo-realistic film although some of the cast members were already working as actors.
Mise-en-scene: This French term means 'setting the stage'. In film, this term refers to everything and anything that needs to be in front of the camera, before the scene begins, be it the lighting, the actors in their respective positions, or the elements in the set. Simply put, it defines what a frame should look like and what it takes to reach that point. According to British filmmaker Arom Atkinson, a proper mise-en-scene can make the difference between an amateur and a professional film.

Cliffhanger: This term is used to describe a kind of ending where the audience is taken to a thrilling point and the film concludes without revealing what happens next. The viewers are left in a dilemma and filled with suspense and tension. Such endings usually lead to a lot of discussions among fans. For example, the spinning top ending in Christopher Nolan's Inception. Other films like Malayalam film Eeda, where the fate of a star-crossed couple is left to the viewers' imagination or the recent Kannada film Arishadvarga, where a mysterious character enters the picture at the last moment, will also qualify. 
Anthology film: These are films where short stories, which qualify to be separate films, are joined by a common theme. Dulquer Salmaan's Solo was one such attempt. On Over-the-Top platforms, anthology films are quite popular. Lust Stories, Ghost Stories, and more recently Addham, Putham Pudhu Kaalai and the upcoming series on the notion of 'honour', Paava Kadhaigal, are all examples. These films have different characters and stories but have a unifying theme. For example, Addham was on the idea of morality and Putham Pudhu Kaalai had stories set in the lockdown.
Hyperlink film: These are films where multiple narratives are shown in parallel and sometimes, there will be one character connecting all the narratives. Each of the plot lines will be given equal importance and run separately in their own merit. However, the overall plot will connect these threads with several twists and turns. The critically acclaimed Tamil film Super Deluxe, which had actors such as Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh Faasil, Samantha, Ramya Krishnan and others, is one such example. 

Watch Super Deluxe trailer here : 

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