Those of you who missed class Friday and/or Monday missed a couple of complete class periods of discussion about how to approach the final essay. I’ve included the basics below, but you need to be sure to read chapter four of your Writing about Film text closely to gain a better understanding of the many possible critical approaches you might apply to your selected film.
Due Wednesday, December 4
2500 words (about 7.5 pages)
Research required, including MLA works cited and in-text citations
For this essay, you will select a single film and apply a critical approach to analyze it. While you will focus on one primary approach, other approaches may overlap – for instance, if you examine Blade Runner in the context of its place in the scifi or cyberpunk genre, you will likely want to do some formal analysis that explains how films of the genre work as well as some historical analysis of where the genre was at the time the film was made and, possibly, where it has gone since.
Chapter seven of Writing about Film will be an invaluable resource in finding the best available research materials to back up your arguments.
As ever, email me if you have any questions.
I’m posting the Essay 2 description here for you so you won’t need to run back to the syllabus for elucidation.
For your second essay, you will conduct a study of the formal qualities and critical issue associated with a particular film genre. Your study should elucidate the genre you are studying, explain the formal qualities that identify a film as part of the genre, and discuss two films which exemplify the genre. Your films must come from two different national cinema traditions. (Note: classic and contemporary “Hollywood” films count as American cinema.). You must use both primary sources and secondary critiques in this essay.
As I have mentioned in class, there are a number of ways you can approach this essay. Remember, though, that, first and foremost, it is a study of a genre, so – as I noted Friday – you will likely spend about 2/3 of the essay discussing the genre. What are its themes? Is it responding to particular social issues? What techniques do films in this genre typically use? About 1/3 of your essay will likely be devoted to using the two films you have selected to illustrating the points you have made about the genre.
You have a lot of freedom here in terms of structure and approach, so don’t feel hemmed in by this description (one of the reasons I have left this more open-ended than the last). By all means, though, if you are worried about your approach, drop me an email and we can discuss it.
Essay 1 – Critical Analysis:
Due: October 21
Length: 1500 words
Analyze and interpret a scene or sequence from a film made before 1950, using the formal concepts (editing, cinematography, mise-en-scène, sound, etc.) discussed in class, as well as the readings assigned. How does the scene work, and why is it important to the film as a whole?
The goal in this essay is to use what you find in the details of the scene to make a greater statement about the meaning of the film.
You must choose a film that was not shown in class, but so long as the film was made before 1950, your selection is not otherwise limited. I expect you to use selections from Film Art and Film Theory and Criticism (particularly those you have read for class) to back up your claims. You must also include a works cited page with an entry for each essay/text you use as well as appropriate in-text citations.
A half-letter grade of extra credit will be added for papers focusing primarily on a film from before 1930.
If you’re not sure where to look for pre-1950s films, here are some links to get you started:
Time Magazine’s 100 Best Films (about 1/3 are pre-1950)
Most Popular Feature Films Released 1940-1949
Most Popular Feature Films Released 1930-1939
Most Popular Feature Films Released 1920-1929
Most Popular Feature Films Released 1910-1919
If your memory of MLA format is hazy, come to my office hours or try this site:
Purdue Online Writing Lab: MLA Formatting and Style Guide