Introduction to Film – Film Analysis Paper
As part of this course, you are to write a 5-6 page (excluding Works Cited page; I do not require a title page) analysis of a single film. The paper should demonstrate the critical skills and terminology you have learned in this course. Your paper will be evaluated based on the quality of your argumentation, logic, MLA style, mechanics, organization, clarity, and level of analysis.
An analysis is an argument; therefore, your paper’s thesis will make an arguable claim as to the film’s possible meaning. Remember, you are looking for the film’s implicit meaning, that which lies below the surface, not the obvious. With that said, take time to think through your interpretation of the film, and then formulate your ideas about the film’s message into an explicit, focused, and arguable thesis statement.
In order to defend your thesis, you will supply examples and illustrations from the film, explaining how those examples support your claims. Choose a formal element as your essay’s focus: narration, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, or sound. Do not attempt to cover all of the film’s formal elements in your paper. Depending on the filmic element you choose, you may need to concentrate on three or more characteristics as opposed to all the element’s characteristics. For example, you may focus on cinematography and limit your analysis to camera angles, lighting, and framing, explaining how these contribute to the film’s meaning—your thesis.
This is a sophomore-level college course’s final assignment. Therefore, students should avoid impressionistic commentary. That is to say, final papers do not include any personal references. Use of first person is forbidden in these papers. I am interested in your analysis, NOT your opinions, impressions, and personal biases. In addition, as this assignment is an analysis, use of second person is also forbidden.
Your Essay’s Structure
•Title – Your essay’s title should reflect your theme. Your essay’s title should NOT be the film’s title only. In other words, your analytical paper’s title will not be “Michael Clayton.” A more acceptable title, for example, might be “The Janitor’s Cluttered Life: Space and Movement in Michael Clayton.”
•Introduction – Like any essay, your film analysis should have an introduction. Your thesis should be in your introduction. Construct a thesis that offers your interpretation of the film’s implicit meaning and briefly assert how the film’s formal component contributes to and shapes that meaning.
•Body – Each body paragraph should have a focused topic sentence that supports your thesis statement. Provide examples from the film and explain how those examples support your topic sentence, your claim. Do not fall into plot summary. I do not want a chronological retelling of the film. A PLOT SUMMARY IS NOT AN ANALYSIS. To avoid this pitfall, try a categorical, thematic organization. Get to your analysis and interpretation of the film, referring to plot elements only to illustrate your examples.
•Conclusion – Your final paragraph should bring your analysis to a close. Do not introduce any new ideas in this final paragraph.
•Works Cited – Each primary and secondary source should have a complete, correctly-formatted bibliographic reference in your Works Cited list, which follows the last page of your paper. Your works cited page does NOT count toward your 5-page minimum.
Your Final Paper is due on Monday, December 7. The essay should be typed and follow MLA conventions.
WRITING YOUR PAPER
•Your paper should have 5 secondary sources.
•Of these, only 2 sources can be taken from the Internet (something published for and on the Internet).
•Wikipedia and imdb.com do NOT count as published sources.
•Three sources must be from published essays and books (an e-book, electronic journal, or a journal accessed through a database in the SSCC library counts as a published source)
•You may use Barsam and Monahan’s Looking at Movies or Tim Corrigan’s A Short Guide to Writing about Film, but if you quote from either book more than once, it still counts as one source.
•A film does NOT count as a secondary source (as it is a primary source), though audio commentary or special features (behind-the-scenes docs, interviews, etc.) do count.
•You MUST include the full bibliographic reference of your primary source—the film you choose to analyze–in your works cited list, as well as those of all your secondary sources.