Can you talk about such things as conflict, rising action, and climax in the movie?

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Final Research Paper Assignment
Choose and analyze in detail one film based on the criteria we have discussed in this class. Your “research” is to study the film comprehensively, and present your analysis in written form. You may use outside sources of information (including internet research), but they must be cited, and the outside sources must not replace your own viewing and study and thoughts of the film you choose.

You may choose one of my suggestions (see list below), or any other film to analyze, with the following conditions (Each film may be analyzed by only one student for this class):
May be a domestic or foreign production
May be any genre (including animation and documentary), and from any era (including silent)
Must be a full-length film (approximately 90 minutes or longer)
No television movies or series, unless produced by streaming services for general release as movies (i.e., Netflix, Amazon, etc.)
Must not be any film which we are watching in class OR which is discussed in extensive detail in the textbook (see me for specifics), BUT may be a similar film or one involving the same people (actors, directors, etc.)
May be a film in current release, if available for repeated viewing
I have no objection to you choosing a film which is your favorite or with which you are already familiar—but this doesn’t relieve you of the obligation to study it objectively and effectively
Recommendations by Peter:
The African Queen
The Apartment
Boyz n the Hood
Breaker Morant
The Bridge on the River Kwai
City of God
Dr. Strangelove
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Dictator
High Noon
In the Heat of the Night
Hotel Rwanda
It’s a Wonderful Life
Judas and the Black Messiah
The Last Picture Show
Like Water for Chocolate
Malcolm X
Mary Poppins
On the Waterfront
Pan’s Labyrinth
The Philadelphia Story
Rear Window
Schindler’s List
The Sound of Music
Taxi Driver
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Yankee Doodle Dandy
*You must submit your choice of film to the instructor in advance. There is no “due date” for approval of your choice, but the earlier the better—only one paper per title will be allowed, so if your film has already been chosen, you’ll have to pick another. You may change your film choice at any time by notifying and getting approval from the instructor.
Your paper should present a clear and detailed formal analysis of the film in terms of at least 2 but no more than 3 of the 6 major criteria in the book “Looking At Movies”: Narrative, Mise-en-Scene, Cinematography, Acting, Editing, Sound. Depending on the focus of your paper, you may analyze the entire film OR selected scenes. (For example, if discussing Editing, you may discuss the editing of a specific sequence in the film, rather than the editing of the entire film.)
You will be graded on the quality and specificity of your work, and your explanation of WHY you think this film is a good (or not good!) example of the criteria you discuss. When you expess an opinion or feeling, you need to back it up with HOW the filmmaker’s choices lead you or helped you feel that way.
The purpose of the paper is to allow you to use a movie of your choice in order to demonstrate your understanding of the principles of formal analysis that we have discussed in this course. So, two things are important:
Your choice of movie. It should be one which gives you good material to explore the 2 or 3 elements you choose to discuss.
Your choice of which 2 or 3 elements to discuss. Your options are:
Narrative: how the story is told in terms of the structure of the story. What events are included in the movie? What kind of order are the in? Can you talk about such things as conflict, rising action, and climax in the movie? If you discuss Narrative, you should probably be able to talk about the entire story told in the movie, from beginning to end, and whether you think the story structure works well.
Acting: how effective are the acting performances? Do you believe the characters as the actors perform them? Is your movie a star-driven movie (meaning, does it have major movie stars playing the kind of characters you’d expect them to play?), or is it more of a character- actor kind of movie (a film which may not have major movie stars, but the actors give performances that involve you in the story and characters)? Is it a movie that was important to an actor’s career in some way—including trying something different? Did anyone win any major awards for their performance? If you discuss Acting, it’s best to only pick one or two actors, and talk about their acting in detail. (If two, you can compare them; you might even be able to explain if one seems like a better actor than the other.) The most important thing is whether you believe the characters so much that you forget the actors are just pretending.
Cinematography: can you describe how the photography of the film helped to tell the story and/or create meaning and feeling. This includes things like camera movement, camera distance (and how the movie may move between different kinds of shots), camera angles, lighting, color or black & white, and any special visual effects. For cinematography, it’s usually best to just pick one scene from the movie and discuss what the cameraman does to make the audience see and feel things. You might discuss a scene in a shot-by-shot analysis (for example, the scene begins with a long shot to let us know where we are, then cuts to a close-up of the eyes of a character, then cuts to what he sees, then up over the scene—and so on).
Mise-en-Scene: which means, the design of the movie—the sets, costumes, makeup, and so on—everything that goes together to create the look of the world in the movie. Again, you might just pick one scene and talk about what you see in the design. Do the sets and costumes reflect anything about the story and the characters? What do you learn about them? Do you notice the use of certain colors, or objects? If your movie takes place in an imaginary or fantastical world, rather than a real one, does the design help you understand that world? And do you believe it?
Editing: how are all the shots cut together to tell the story? Once again, you might just pick one scene to look at. Is the editing obvious—for example, do the various shots feel like they’re put together to create tension or excitement (fast editing)? Is the length of the shots longer, so that things calm down? Does it change at any point? Does the editor use any editing techniques other than cuts—such as dissolves, fades, wipes, and so on?
Sound: how is sound used, either in the whole movie or in a single scene, to create meaning and feeling? Are there interesting sound effects? How about music kind audience?
Because the paper isn’t very long—5 to 7 pages (12 pt, any standard typeface)—it’s best to be as clear as you can about what you’re going to discuss, and then use enough good, clear, specific examples to explain your ideas.
When you go to study the film, it’s a good idea to watch the movie (or a scene) with a notepad nearby, so you can write down ideas that occur to you. If you’re just analyzing one scene, you’ll probably need to watch it several times in order to write about it. Finally, you can always look in the book for ideas about what to discuss in any topic; especially look at the “screening checklist” at the end of each chapter, for some questions to consider.
As for organizing the paper, here’s a general outline you might use:
Page 1: identify the movie you’re going to discuss, with perhaps a couple sentences about why you chose it (you like it, it’s your favorite, it was successful, whatever you want to say). Identify the topics you’re going to talk about. Also, I think it’s helpful to write a quick paragraph telling me the basic story of the movie (“it’s the story of….”), just as a way of summarizing the movie as a whole before breaking it into parts.
Pages 2-5/6/7: This is where you discuss each element you’ve chosen. If you choose 2 elements, that gives you about 3 pages each. If you choose 3 elements, that gives you about 2 pages each—which isn’t very much, so you have to be very sure to keep your analysis focused and clear. Also: if you decide to include pictures or screen shots from the movie, in order to illustrate your points (example: if you had a photo of a scene to show the lighting or a camera angle), these do not count as part of the 5-7 pages of the paper.

Length: 5-7 pages, typed, double-spaced, standard one-inch margins, 12-point font. Graphics & screen-captures may be included for informational (but not decorative, except on the cover page) purposes, as long as they are clear and relevant (example: a small photo of a scene to illustrate lighting or camera angle). Photos/screen-captures will not count as part of the 5-7 page length.

Include cover page with the title of the film, and your name. Also (very important):
include a bibliography—there is no minimum number of sources, but all sources MUST be cited, including internet research (with URL of websites), and any information gathered from supplemental material on DVDs (which I also consider a valid research source). Cover page and bibliography do not count as part of the 5-7 pages.

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