MOVIE COMPARISON AND REVIEW

Your paper should be at least 750 words long. You should use Calibri 11 or Times New Roman 12 font, double-spaced, with regular, non-adjusted margins. Do not include your student ID number on your paper.
You must include a word count (“858 words”) and a “cinematic terms used” page – which do not count towards the 750-word requirement – at the end of your paper. The “terms used” page should define the cinematic terms you worked with in your paper in your own words.
Only .doc, .docx, or .pdf file formats will be accepted. FILES SUBMITTED IN .odt or .pages FORMATS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED FOR CREDIT.

Assignment Guidelines:

Step 1: Choose a theme, such as gender issues, generational conflict, identity, freedom, war, heroism, love vs duty, etc.

Step 2: Compare and contrast how the theme is interpreted, critiqued, and/or re-envisioned in two films. One of the films must be a film we have watched in the course; the second film may be a film of your choice (either from the course or an outside film), but should be a film that is widely-available and well-known to US audiences.

Restrictions: You may NOT write about Twilight of a Woman’s Soul or Strike. You may choose any of the required course films besides those two.

If you are unsure of your choice of films or your chosen topic, you may feel free to email Prof. Jens to get feedback or meet to discuss ideas before you begin your paper.

In your paper, you should focus on how the films use cinematic and narrative techniques to emphasize themes, develop characters and their relationships, or critique the society in which the films were created. Overall, your goal is to develop an argument about how the films construct the theme via the cinematic elements and why the films interpret the theme as they do (i.e., do they have the same or different messages about the given theme?).

Grading:

This paper will be graded using the same rubric as the Scene Analysis and Cultural Analysis Papers. Focus on having a strong thesis statement, a well-organized paper with clear topic sentences for each paragraph, and a conclusion that sums up your paper. Review the feedback on your first two papers and spell/grammar-check your paper before you submit it. Given this paper is the last assignment for the course, there will be no opportunity to revise, so be sure to turn in a quality draft.

Suggests for writing a comparative paper:

1) Although your theme is the general topic of the paper, you will need to develop an angle of comparison/contrast to justify linking the two films together. The best way to unite the two films is through themes and then explore how the films use cinematic elements differently / similarly to create or explore the theme. For example, one could examine such cinematic techniques as editing – comparing how the films’ cuts draw parallels between particular characters – or lighting and color – comparing how the films light their heroes or villains and any color symbolism in the film – or in terms of setting – examining how the films use public and private space. These are examples, you may use any of the cinematic elements we have discussed in the course in your analysis of the films and the theme.

2) Effective comparison/contrast essays highlight how similarities and differences reveal something important about each film, the theme, the society, and/or the director. As you develop your essay, consider how each film “unlocks” the other. Ask yourself why it is important to examine these films together. 

3) Rather than offering a list of your observations regarding the films’ similarities and differences, your essay should pose an argument about the significance of the connection. Do not focus on the “what”, but instead develop the “how” and “why”. Your thesis should not simply state that “films X and Y treat theme/character Z similarly and differently.” Think instead how the various cinematic elements shed light on the theme and what the films are trying to say about the theme.

4) While you can organize your comparison/contrast essay in several ways, you should avoid discussing one film in full, then turning to the other. This format often fails to produce an effective comparison. Instead, you may wish to structure the first part of the body around similarities between the films, moving from one film to the other, and the second part around differences between the films, discussing each film in turn. You can also focus each paragraph on one similarity or difference, discussing examples from both films.

Do not talk about one film for 400-500 words, then given very little space to the second film; this format often leads to an inadequate comparison / contrast. You do not need to constantly go back and forth between the two films though (as in “Film A does this, while film B does that. Then film A does this, while film B does that”). One suggestion is to use good topic statements to connect / contrast the theme or cinematic elements in the two films (rather than plot points), then talk about the two films in greater depth separately within the paragraph. For example:

Paragraph Topic Statement: “In both films, the use of costume indicates the character’s acceptance of the revolution.” 
Body of the Paragraph: 2-3 sentences on use of costume in film A 2-3 sentences on use of costume in film B
Paragraph Concluding Statement / Transition to the next paragraph
A reminder, though, that the cinematic elements do not need to be the main point of comparison/contrast; feel free to use themes as well. The vocabulary of the cinematic elements is there to help you analyze the comparison/contrast.

5) Although the comparison/contrast essay examines a large-scale question, close scene analysis could serve as your main source of evidence. In supporting your argument, you will need to pay attention to how the films interpret the theme through narrative and/or cinematic techniques. Focus on specific shots or scenes and the cinematic elements at work in those shots or scenes rather than trying to discuss every scene in the movies. You may assume some familiarity on the part of your reader with the films you choose; that means you do not need to re-tell the plot, but should give enough details to situate the reader and allow yourself to focus on how the shots or scenes are constructed. You may wish to give time marks for the scenes you discuss.

6) You may incorporate screen shots in your paper, but you are not required to. If you choose to incorporate screen shots, you must discuss the image within the body of your essay rather than using screen shots as decorations or filler; basically, the shots should be relevant to your argument. Identify and discuss the visual details that illustrate your comparison of the films. When using screen shots, caption each image (for example, “Figure 1: The chandelier crashing onto the two Maries”) and reference the figure number in your text (for example, “(see Figure 1)”). 

7) Remember that you are writing to an audience that has already viewed the films. Therefore, your essay should not offer plot summaries, especially of the course films. Instead, any reference to the films—dialogue quotations, scene descriptions, and explanations of plot movement—should support your analysis. You may – but are not required to – include time marks as reference points for any scenes you cite in the essay. You do not need to provide bibliographical citations for the films.

8) When writing about film, use the present tense (for example, “the camera tracks through the train station” or “Otilia and Gabita sit in silence while the wedding goes on in the background”

 

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