film analysis paper/ 3-4 pages paper / final paper


The materials are all below, and you can find the classification of them in the syllabus which is match your topic. you can choose the topic you like and find the related materials.
Whereas the midterm paper asked for a close reading of one sequence through one particular text, the
final paper asks you to apply all of the formal, historical, and theoretical knowledge you’ve acquired
over the course to a comparative film analysis. For your essay do the following:

Select at least two (and no more than four) of the assigned texts for the course that you would
like to incorporate in support of your argument. This means the essay PDFs, as these make
particular theoretical claims. You are welcome to cite The Film Experience if this helps support
your argument, but, as an introductory text book, this does not count as one of the two sources.
While many of the essays address a particular film, genre, or movement, you should be able to
apply some of the concepts to other examples—in fact, strong arguments often emerge when
drawing connections between distinct texts and movies.

Select two films you would like to compare in terms of character portrayal. These can be any
two films assigned for the class (with the exception of Visions of Light and The Cutting Edge), or
one film assigned for the class along with any other film that best illustrates your argument. Any
movie you find appropriate is fine, but you must address at least one film from the class. You
don’t need to address both films equally, and rather than list all similarities and/or differences,
focus on the one or two aspects (key character traits, his/her relationship to the narrative, ways
in which the character is visually/acoustically presented) that are most unique to the film and
relevant to your argument.

Present your topic and method in your thesis paragraph. This should indicate the specific points
of difference or similarity between the two films you would like to explore, along with how
your supporting texts provide certain concepts, theoretical frameworks, or conceptual tools to
help you with your comparison. For instance, you may want to compare two films of the same
genre but of distinct time periods and address these in terms of genres of order and the ways in
which masculinity and the law are connected in each case, or look a particular kind narrative
structure seen in European art cinema and in a contemporary indie film, and what this might
say about the situation of a female protagonist struggling for independence.

Your argument must demonstrate an informed understanding of the course material, and should thus
showcase your ability to apply relevant vocabulary about the film’s style, narrative structure, historical
context, etc. Avoid listing every possible difference or similarity. Rather, focus on a key aspect that
reveals an interesting pattern or distinction. In other words, it is essential that the paper develop a
precise argument that can be explored and supported in a few short pages. Precision and clarity with
both the texts and examples is paramount.
Whether you paraphrase or quote, include in-text citation, footnotes, or endnotes, you must cite
accordingly. Be sure to also include a bibliography (if not providing complete footnotes or endnotes).
You do not need to do any additional research—and, in fact, should not incorporate other sources for
your interpretation of the academic text or film. See the texts in the “Writing Guides” folder for
additional information on citing sources. See the syllabus for additional information on paper format.
A strong analysis demonstrates how particular formal elements convey meaning or position the
spectator in relation to the characters, narrative, or conflict in a way that reflects a cultural or social
perspective. A rich thesis also wrestles with some of the ambiguities or paradoxes of its representations
or messages. For instance, several queer theorists have noted how Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
is ultimately conservative when it comes to its treatment of homosexuality, as it fails to imagine queer
desire unconstrained by repression and punishment.
Use the following questions as a starting point, and then pursue the one or two responses that promise
to unveil some new or unexpected insights into how and why the film addresses such issues:
Socioeconomic Status

Does the socioeconomic status of each character play a significant role in the narrative? How

Are people from a particular class portrayed negatively (or positively) in this movie? If so, what
seems to be the point of that portrayal?

Does this film seem to set out to critique the socioeconomic status quo? In what ways does it
do so? What aspects of the status quo does it leave unquestioned?

Is nearly everything of value in this movie something that can be bought and sold (i.e., a
commodity)? Or does the film portray values that fall outside the realm of economics? Overall,
what values are being argued for in this film? How is the argument being presented?

Are the main female characters in this movie as fully realized as the male characters? What
characteristics do the female characters possess? Which do they lack? What is does this tell us
about how the filmmakers are positioning women?

Is the identity of the main female character (or characters) defined primarily by her (or their) sex
appeal? What are the implications of this portrayal?

Does this movie’s narrative seem to suggest that the relations between the sexes are “natural”
and proper, or does it seem to critique the status quo? If the latter, what is the nature of the

Does the film reflect or work against the assumptions about gender roles that prevailed in the
time when this movie was made and screened? How so?

Do the formal aspects of this movie (the cinematography, the editing, etc.) cause you to see the
female characters from the perspective of a male protagonist? In what way does this perspective
limit your understanding of the characters?

Do you find yourself sympathizing with the main female character(s) in this film? Why or why
Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin

Given what you know about the place or time portrayed in the movie, are there groups or
people not shown or barely acknowledged in the movie who were nonetheless significant and
visible there and then? Why do you think they aren’t portrayed in this movie?

Does the movie use visual cues—in lighting, camera angles, editing decisions, costume,
makeup, or actors’ gestures—to establish that a character or a group of characters is clearly an
“Other”—a strange, foreign, or menacing type of person who falls outside of the “normal”
majority? If so, what are the cues and how do they work?

Is the movie seemingly content to reinforce traditional stereotypes of minority characters? Or
does it seem to be working against them? How so?

• Does the movie portray racial, ethnic, or cross-cultural relations as complex and contradictory
social interactions? Or does the film offer, literally and figuratively, a “black-and-white”
worldview? What is the effect of the complex or simplistic portrayals of these relations?
Sexual Orientation

Does the movie present a straightforward and uncomplicated portrait of heterosexual
relationships? Or does it introduce narrative elements that portray alternative sexual identities?
In either case, what comments about sexuality is the film making?

If the movie does portray alternative sexualities, does it present people as social deviants, as
comic foils, or as otherwise “abnormal” characters? Or are these characters portrayed as fully
realized human beings?

If a movie seems primarily occupied with portraying heterosexuality as the norm to be emulated
and celebrated, does it nonetheless contain subtle narrative or visual elements that undermine
that portrait of normalcy? What are these elements, and how are they in play?

What function, if any, do performative aspects of sexuality have in the film? Are there camp
elements? Drag? Cross-dressing? Are they meant to be merely laughed at or dismissed as
deviant, or do they move the movie’s narrative in an interesting direction?

If you watch a film made by or starring a film artist who was eventually revealed to be gay,
lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, or of some other alternative sexual identity, what aspects of the
film seem to flow from this identity, and which aspects seem to contradict it?

How is/are the figure/s of disability (including the elderly) rhetorically framed? Is the disabled
character presented as an object of wonder, sentimentalized, or sensationalized as an exotic
“Other”? If the character is presented through a “realistic” lens, how is the disability normalized?
To what degree does the figure—and the formal elements of the film—arouse identification or

In what ways is the disability, as it is presented, aligned with groups or individuals typically
presented as “Others” in the dominant culture (i.e. associated with “abnormal” sexuality, with
“abject” poverty, “unhealthy” values)?

If the disabled individual or group is presented as heroic or pathetic, what might this say about
the medical and social discourses and institutions of this milieu? For instance, is the figure
depicted as a burden or as independent and capable?
Animals and the Nonhuman

Animals and other non-human figures (monsters, aliens, and androids) are often presented in
films as reflections of, or distinct from, human characters and characteristics. To what degree,
and in what ways is the animal anthropomorphized or presented as unknowable or inhuman?
What appears to be the intention of this depiction?

How do human characters interact with the animal? What might this say about particular
cultural perspectives with regard to pets, livestock, and/or wild animals?

In what ways might the animal signify particular stereotypes or conceptions of class, gender,
ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. (i.e. a “junkyard dog” = white trash, masculine, violent; a
lapdog = effete snobs, feminine, queer) and how might this contribute to how the audience is
intended to read particular characters or the narrative?

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Bazin, André. “The Evolution of the Language of Cinema.” In Film Theory and Criticism, Seventh Edition,
edited by Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen, 41–53. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Martin, Angela. “‘Gilda Didn’t Do Any of Those Things You’ve Been Losing Sleep Over!’: The Central Women of the 40s
Films Noirs.” In Women in Film Noir, edited by E. Ann Kaplan, 202–28. London: British Film Institute, 1998.
Nichols, Bill. “Race and Ethnicity in Film.” Chap. 9 in Engaging Cinema: An Introduction to Film Studies,
325–58. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.
Nichols, Bill. “Introduction: Some Basic Issues and Concepts.” In Engaging Cinema: An Introduction to Film
Studies, 3–25. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.
Zavattini,cesare. “A Thesis on Neo-Realism.,,
springtimein ltaly:A Readeron Neo-Realism,
by Davidoverby,6T-79. Hamden,cr: Archon
A T hesis ott N eo-Realism
4. A Thesis on Neo-Realism
by CesareZavattini
This essayis actually made up of three articles by Zavattini:
“Alt’wrc idee sul cinema”, Reuista del cinema italiano,
December. 1952:”Tesi sul neorealismo”, Emilia,2l November, I 953: ” l I neorealismo secondo me” , first delivered at the
Congressof Farma on Neo-Realism, December3,4,5, 1953,
and later printed in Riuista del cinema italiano, 3, March
I 954.
Zavattini has several basic ideas about neo-realism and the
c’inema (“which I will repeat until everyonelistens”). These
tum up again and again in his articles and in the various
interviews with him, often with very little modification in
either phrasing or illustrative examples. Thus the three articles named have been edited together here to avoid the repetition which would have resulted in printing all three. No
violence has been done to any o[ his ideas.This essayas it
now stands encompasses his ccntral ideas; his examples
impart the fiavour of the man himself.
There is no doubt that our first, and most superficial, reaction to
daily exisrenceis boredorn. Reality seemsdeprived of all interest as
Iong as we cannot succeed in surtnounting and overcoming our
rnoral and intellectual sloch. nt is, therefore,not surprising [hat the
cinema has aiways felt the “natural” and practically inevitable necessity of inserting a story into reality in order to make it thrilling and
spectacular.’It is evident [hat in this manner one could spontaneously escape frorn reality; it is as if nothing could be done to prevent the interferenceof the imagination.
The rnost important characteristicof neo-realisrn,i.e. its essential
innovarion, is, for me, the discovery that this need to usea story was
just an unconscious means of masking human defeat in the faceof
reality; imagination, in its own manner o[ [unctioning, rnerelysuperirnposesdeath schernesonto living events and situations.
Yer, in fact, we are norv aware that reality is extremely rich. We
simply had to.learn how to look at ir. The taik ilf the artist – the neo-
Sprtngtime in Italy
realist artist at least – does not consist in bringing the audience to
tearsand indignation by means o[ transference,but.,on the cont.rary,
i t c ons is t sin br in g i n g th e m to re fl e c t(a n d th en, i f you w i l l , ro sti r up
emotions and ihdignation) upon what they are doing and upon whar
others are doing; that is, to think about reality precisely as it is.
From a profound and unconscious lack of confidence in confronting reality, frorn an illusory and ambiguclus cvasion, we have gone
o n t o an unlim ite d c o n fi d e n c ei n th i n g s , e vents,and i n men.
. Naturally, this taking of sidesrequires us to dig deeply, to give reality the power and faculty of communicat.ion, the radiance, which,
u p unt . il t he t im e o f n e o -re a l i s m ,w e d i d n ‘ t b el i evei r coul d possess.
It has often been writ.ten that the war was the keystonefor neo-realism. This overwhelming event upset men’s souls; film directorsn
each in his own way, tried to transposet,hisoverwhelming emotion
onto the screen.As we saw absolutely no reason for participating in
it, the war seemedparticularly monstrous for us Italiaqrs.We had far
more reasons for not becoming involved. This rebellion, however,
w as not lim it ed to th a t p a rti c u l a r w a r; i t w ent much further. {t-w as
the absolute – I would even say thc eternal – revelation that war
always violates those fundamental human needs and values which
are so dear to us. This revelation was, in my opinion, the starting
p oint of a v as t h u ma n u p ri s i n g .
You rnight reply that this revelation was not the distinction o[
Italy alone. tr would tend to agree.Nonetheless,those venyqualinies
which rnany take to be the faults of our people, but which are
a c t ually our es s e n ti a vl i rtu e s- e x tre m ei n d i v i dual i sm, a l ack of ovenweening social pride, and so on – urge us towards a full and passionate reaction against the suprerne evil of war. {t was not “historical
man” who acted – that abstractcharacter in novels which follows a
couJseof action that is unrelated to a specific time and deals with
datesof past, presentand future wars indiscriminately – on the contrary, it was the real, deep thinking, hidden man who acted. You
might object by pointing out t.hat “historical man” and the man
without a label exist side by side. Thar is true enough, excepr rhar
rhey co-exist uselully only when, by the principle of clear channels of
communication, they find a comrnon level and merge; that is to say
thar the former, with his awareness,and the latter, with his profoundly original drive to live, must be in neal conr.acr.T-he need ro
Thesis on Neo-Realism
live, when ir is rich and huppy, can transcendits limits more easily
when, as in this case,it inspires and enlightens an entire fallen people who seerningly could no longer make the smallest contribution
to humani ry.
tr dare to think that.other peoples, even after the war, have shown
that they cont.inuedto consider man as a historical subject,ashistorical rnaterial, with deterrnined, almost inevitable, actions. T’his is
why they, unlike the Italians, did not give the cinema its freedorn.F’or
them, everyt.hing ccntinued; for us, everything began; F’or them the
war had been just another war; for us, it had been the last war. What
wetre the discoveries and the consequencesof this rush of post-war
pioneers, which wei-e new, not because they had never before been
known, but becausethey had never been felt in such a collective and
tenacious manner? The results were the endlesspossibility of study’
ing rnan t.hat we see opening before us, a non-abstract and concrete
study of rnan, as concrete as the rnen who provoked and underwent
the war. We needed to know and u.oseehow theseterrible eventscould
have occurred. The cinerna was the Erlostdirect and imrnediate way of
rnaking this sort of study. nt was pneferableto other art forrns which
did not possessa langr-lagewhich would readily expressour reactions
against the lies of those old, generalizedideasin which we found our,selvesclothed at the outbreak of the war, and which had preventedus
from atternpting the smallest rebellion.
– This powerful desire of the cinema to see and to analyse, this
i hunger for reality, for truth, is a kind of concretehornage to other peoiple, that is, to all who exist. This, among ot.herthings, is what distinguishes neo-realisrn from the American cinema. [n effect, the
.A.mericanposition is diametrically opposed to our own:whereas we
are a[tracted by the tnuth, by the reality which touchesus and which
we want to know and understanddirectly and thoroughly, the Arnericans continue to sat.isfythernselveswith a sweetenedversion of truth
produced through transpositions.
T-hat is why the Americans are undergoing a crisis; they have no
idea what subjectsto use.This is not possible in ltaly, for here, there
can never be a lack of truth. E,veryhour of the day, evenyplace, every
person, can be portrayed if they are shown in a manner which reveals
and ernphasizes the collective elements which continually shape
Springtrme in llaly
This is why one cannot speak of a crisis of subjects(facts),but only
of the possibility, as the casernay be, of a crisis of contenr (the interpretation of facts).
T’his essential difference was vcry clearly expressedby an American
producer who told rne:
TAesls on Neo-R.ealism
I t is t he abs o l u tetru th . Bu t i t i s s ri l l n o t e nough. nt i s not enough to
have the plane pas$by three times; it rnust pass by twenty gimes.We
work, therefore, to extricate ourselvesfrom abstractions.
In a novel, the protagonists were heroes;ihe shoesof the hero were
special shoes.We, on the other hand, are trying to find out what our
chanactershave in common; in my shoes,in his, in those of the rich,
in those of the poor, we find the sarneelements: the sirne labour of
Let us move on to style. F{ow can we expressthis reali[y (truth) in
the cinema? First, I would like to repeat.what trhave often said: The
contents always engender their ow{r expression, their own technique. Imagination, therefore,is all

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Film Analysis Paper


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