Analysis of Filmmaking Techniques in The Movie Boyhood

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About this sample


Words: 1162 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 1162|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Boyhood, a movie directed by Richard Lekter that has received praise and formed headlines from critics everywhere, but at the same time many people have formed their own opinions, and have decided it is boring. Yes, people have different opinions, but why has one movie received such opposite critiques from such a wide range of people? The answer to this lies in the filmmaking of the movie. Boyhood uses elements of film such as setting, sound and transition to build an engaging mise en scene that makes a so called boring, somewhat cliche plot about suburban middle class life into an extraordinary 12 year project that successfully engages the audience. It also disputes the argument that Boyhood would not be a good movie if it wasn’t made over 12 years.

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Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's Boyhood is an innovative story of growing up, through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen in front of the audience. Boyhood is about the rough terrain of childhood and is depicted in a way that no other film has before. The film shows snapshots of childhood from family dinners and birthdays to road trips and graduations and all the points in between. The film shows the hardships of the main character’s childhood, growing up with a struggling single parent, balancing school work and abusive relationships. Mason and his sister grow up on screen moving constantly and learning how to achieve their dreams and goals. Boyhood is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and a film about growing up and parenting. As said in a NY Times article, “It’s a face that you get to know and love because, even as this child is watching the world, you’re watching him grow. From scene to scene, you see the curve of his jaw change, notice his thickening brows and witness his slender arms opening to embrace the world and its clear and darkening skies”. And as said in a Globe and Mail article along with a video essay by Kyle Kallgren arguing that Boyhood deserves all the praise its been getting, despite being, “kind of boring”.

Linklater uses elements of film such as setting, sound, and editing to engage his audience. He captures the suburban Texan experience by clearly showing the different homes the family stayed in throughout the years. The houses that Mason and his family grow up in portray Olivia’s relationship status as they change throughout the years. For example, when Olivia marries her former professor Bill, the audience is led to believe their lives are turning around, the house they live in is semi - luxurious and seems stable, however unfortunately it does not stay that way. Linklater also uses where the father, Mason Senior, setting as a way of portraying his relationship with his kids. The first time the audience sees the father interact with his kids, he takes them to a bowling alley, orders them fries, and allows them to neglect their homework. The other places he takes his kids throughout the movie reflect the laid back, fun loving guy that he is. At one point when they are attending a baseball game, his kids ask him if he has a job, this question, right in the midst of the baseball excitement, he is caught off guard and a little shocked, but his response elicits that no, he does not have a job. This certainly shows that the father hides a lot from his kids in order to but off the persona that he wants them to see. Mason Senior’s car, a GTO, is also a good representation of him. A GTO is not a typical Dad car, but exemplifies his rather reckless attitude to parenting. However, by the end of the film he has remarried and has another child on the way and has swapped his GTO for a far more conventional car, showing some character change.

Linklater also incorporates sound very well in this movie. The film switches between a diegetic and non-diegetic soundscape. Linklater avoids a mix-tape style approach and also doesn’t give in to tying the songs directly into the times of their production. The beginning of the film’s non-diegetic opening of Coldplay’s “Yellow” presents Mason Junior’s childlike wonder perfectly. The film incorporates music in very inventive ways from performance like Samantha’s taunting of her brother with “Oops! I Did It Again”, to live bands. The soundtrack of the movie also depicts the times changing and growing up. When Mason is young “Soak up the Sun” happily plays in the background and later in the movie when Mason is beginning to be a rebellious teenager, “Soulja Boy” plays while he walks home, displaying him coming into his teenage years. Not only is the soundtrack an important part of the element of film of sound, but the character’s voices change as the film goes on showing them moving into the next stages of adulthood. The nature of the dialogue is also transformed as a result of this. As said in an Eduqas article “It is also worth saying that although the dialogue does have an improvisational feel, Linklater rehearsed and rewrote the screenplay sections as he went along”.

The last element of film that will be discussed is the use of editing and transitions in the film. It can easily be argued that this is what makes the movie so great, the episodic nature of the film portrays the story of Mason growing up. The temporal shifts capture the changes in the appearance of Mason. In young Mason’s case it can be seen in how his hairstyle changes and how he shifts from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood. Another crucial part of the editing style is the use of ellipsis. As the film moves on, the audience has to fill in the gaps between these shifts. The transitions in some cases are gradual. At one moment Mason is watching his mother speaking with her professor and right after the same man coming home from a honeymoon with his mother. Just like in life, events unravel one after the other compared to dramas where things happen in effect of other events. The elliptical style captures the real life feel of the film perfectly.

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Boyhood effectively uses elements of film such as setting, sound, and editing to successfully create an engaging movie. Linklater incorporates these elements of film in order to make his film a “good” movie not only a “good” project. Many have argued that it would not have been as successful if it was not filmed over twelve years, and yes, this aspect certainly makes the film unique, however, the film has many other appealing elements that sufficiently grants the movie the praise that it has received. Boyhood also fulfills the question of film’s role in education as the movie introduces a new perspective and elicits new ideas allowing the audience to open their minds to these new concepts

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Analysis Of Filmmaking Techniques In The Movie Boyhood. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Analysis Of Filmmaking Techniques In The Movie Boyhood.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
Analysis Of Filmmaking Techniques In The Movie Boyhood. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Analysis Of Filmmaking Techniques In The Movie Boyhood [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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