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Basic Description:For this assignment, you will be required compare and contrast formal/social analyses of two films that have been screened for our class (that is, are on our syllabus and in our official class screenings).

A few notes about the essay:

--One of the films may be the film you wrote about in your first paper.

-- Please do not write a paper about BOTH Rear Windowand Citizen Kane, since the films are both works of the classical Hollywood system. You might write about one or the other as one of the two films you are analyzing.

--You are welcome to consult outside sources for material, but if you do so you should be absolutely certain that you cite them in your paper as sources using an established citation format (MLA, Chicago, APA). If citing secondary works, please cite at least one text we have read in class, so we can be sure you have checked those as well.

Tips for Writing:

  • Unlike the first paper, your unit of analysis is an entire film, not just a single scene or sequence. An analysis of a film, however, is built out of readings of individual scenes or elements. In this spirit YOU WILL LIKELY WANT TO FOCUS ON 2-3 SCENES FROM EACH FILMas evidence of your point.
  • While our sequence analysis focused on formal techniques and their relation to the larger film, here you will want to expand your formal reading to include the social/political/historical dimensions that we have been discussing in the second half of the class. Thus, in addition to a consideration of sound, cinematography, editing, narrative structure, etc. you will also want to consider issues around race, gender, nationality, historical context, political environment, etc.
  • As a compare contrast, your argument will derive from finding similarities and differences between the two films. For a formal social comparative analysis, a thesis might pursue one of the following structures:

NOTE: As a resource for general advice on writing papers on films, see Nichols’s Engaging CinemaChapter 12, especially, in this case, 441-42 on the search for a topic.

Similar formal strategies, divergent social contexts

“While both FILM Aand FILM Butilize classical continuity editing and place their characters in gritty natural settings, FILM Autilizes these techniques to uphold traditional moral values about x while FILM Bexplores the manner in which they unravel in the face of conflict.”

Divergent formal strategies, similar formal context

While both FILM Cand FILM Dexplore the role of masculinity in the context of harsh natural environments, FILM Csuse of handheld cinematography, tracking shots and natural lighting do x while Film Dsreliance on montage techniques offer a more fractured view overall.

Some divergence, some similarity (the mixed model)

Film Eand Film Fboth utilize low key lighting and other Film Noir techniques to explore the evacuation of political commitments within bourgeois capitalism, for Film Ethis implies x whereas for Film Fthis upholds y.

Please keep in mind the paper-writing techniques we have discussed in relation to the first essay and in your sections: developing a clear argument/thesis, dynamic arguments, key sentences (especially topic and concluding sentences), and writing about the film in a way that avoids simply describing (avoiding extended plot summary of two or more sentences in a row) or reviewing it as a good or bad film.

NOTE: In your argument and sequence analyses, you do not need to mention every technique. You’ll notice from the sample essays in Nichols and the Film Analysisbook that the sequence analyses emphasize one or two or three techniques the argument foregrounds. You should analyze only those techniques that help your argument (rather than an encyclopedic catalogue of all techniques in a sequence).

Sample formal techniques for the Argument:

These are techniques and themes around which you might develop your argument (they are not arguments in themselves)

The familiar main areas of technique and their contribution to filmic narrative

-- the evolution of editing/importance of editing to narrative
-- the role of sound in filmic narrative
-- how camera work (distance, movement, for example) contribute to the narrative
-- the role played by mise-en-scene (lighting, sets, costumes, actors) in the overall filmic system
--the construction of film narrative (plot/story, cause/effect, Classical Hollywood narrative, etc.).

Sample social contexts you might consider (there are many more)

-- how gender is constructed in the narrative and how it functions in the films more generally (consider, for instance, costume or lighting effects).
-- how social forces (bigger than the will of any one character) are depicted in the films
-- how do race and/or ethnicity function in films and how are they coded/constructed technically
-- the role of genre in the viewers’ experience of a film
-- how the films construct and utilize space in their narratives? You might consider private and public space.
-- how work or play is represented (technically) in the films and how it stands in for class
-- in what ways does generational conflict play an important role in the films and how is it constructed technically.


Some topics you may consider:

1. Political perspective and social attitude 2. The individual and society as represented in the film 3. Emotional impact 4. Structure of the narrative 5. The social function of a film7. Omissions, absences, and questions of emphasis

My TA's requirements:

- You must engage with a minimum of 2 readings from the syllabus (you may not use EC). - Though not required, you may cite outside sources, but they must be academic analyses (blogs and reviews are not allowed).

For the movie, you can choose:

Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock, 1954, USA ; Screening: Ali, Fear Eats the Soul , Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974, Germany 94 mins ; Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee, 1989, USA ; In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar Wai, 2000, Hong Kong ;

And for movies, I would like to choose Rear Window and another one I have no idea, so it depends on you. I can send you the clips of them but I can't post the mp4 here. And if you have some ideas, you can just text me.

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