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SHORT ESSAY ASSIGNMENT
Create an argument about one or two films by analyzing the film style used in two different scenes. Choose two scenes that we have not analyzed in detail in class from all the films listed on the syllabus. Using the concepts, techniques, and patterns studied in class, demonstrate how each scene’s style functions within the context of the film.
Your analysis must have a thesis statement that concisely states why each scene’s style is especially important to the overall film. For example, you may interpret the scene’s conveyance of meaning, or its role in a formal pattern, or the way that it cues perceptual or emotional responses and/or expectations. In any case, you will be arguing that the scene is doing something beyond merely providing narrative information or provoking an effect in isolation from the rest of the film.
You are free to incorporate scholarly sources outside of the textbook, but it is not necessary for this assignment (If you choose to use them, use scholarly sources or newspaper reviews only: i.e. do not cite Wikipedia, IMDB, film blogs, etc.).
Your paper must be around 800-1000 words, in MLA format (or Chicago) (12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1” margins) and include an original title. You must have a Works Cited page (not part of the word count) for any sources cited, including the films themselves.
Guidelines and Examples:
Thesis Statement Example #1:
“The expressionistic mise-en-scène in Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s (Francis Coppola, 1992) dinner scene contributes to the film’s self-reflexive style, and starkly contrasts the naturalistic mise-en-scène in The Godfather’s (Francis Coppola, 1972) cooking scene, which evokes the smells and tastes of everyday life. In Dracula, the audience is meant to be consciously aware they are watching something like an art film, with ironic commentary on the history of the horror
genre. On the other hand, The Godfather’s realism habituates the viewer to familiar surroundings, which makes the impact of sudden violence much more startling.”
Thesis Statement Example #2:
“The opening two scenes of Citizen Kane juxtapose expressionism (through use of dissolves, canted angles, and low-key lighting) with documentary realism (through use of grainy images, stock footage, and voice-of-god narration). The stark contrast signifies different perspectives on reality, and comments upon the difficulty of capturing a single coherent view of the protagonist Charles Foster Kane.”
Don’t just describe what’s happening (the plot, dialogue, or what the characters are doing). Analyze how the scene’s effect is constructed through filmic elements, and then argue how this effect supports your thesis. Keep your analysis as objective as possible and refrain from subjective, evaluative, or ‘reviewer-like’ statements, such as “Coppola is a master of lighting” or “The boring performances and sappy music made this scene unbearable.”
(This assignment comprises 20% of your final grade)
Thesis Statement (clear & concise, original, w. original title)
Analysis (logical, specificity of detail, use of film terminology)
Style (fluid prose, coherent sentences, persuasive rhetoric)
Mechanics (spelling, punctuation, MLA formatting, Works Cited)
= /100 points
films to chose from:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula(1992)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Blade Runner: The Final Cut(2007)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
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