Phenomenology as a film theory is a somewhat simplified version of the Philosophy of Phenomenology suggested by Kant. According to this philosophy, we are not able to see things as they really are (the "noumena") but only as they are interpreted by human senses and understanding (the "phenomena"). Therefore, with our individual differences in ability to sense and understand, no one will see the same thing in the same way (especially not in its "true" way). The film application works from the understanding that the filmmaker (an individual with his or her own schema) will construct a film with certain meanings and interpretations in mind. An audience member (a different individual with a completely different schema) can only see their own meanings and interpretations in the film -- therefore misreading the filmmaker's original intent. This theory attempts to understand and explain the relationship the audience has with the film.
So, when writing a phenomenological analysis of a film, one is more or less writing an analysis of oneself experiencing the film. Analyses should be based on the viewer answering the following questions about that experience:
- First, how did it feel? In other words, what did I enjoy or dislike while interacting with the film and why?
- Second, what is it like? In other words, what, in my past experiences and associations, does the film remind me of and why?
- Third, what are its effects? In other words, how (and to what degree) has the film added to or altered my schema and my perceptions?