Cinematic language and your reading analysis
Cinematic language and your reading analysis
Your cover page (which is not part of your page count) should have the title of your paper, your name, the course, the school and the date.
Your title should reflect the thesis of your paper. It should not simply be the title of the movie you are writing about.
Please do not use any cover art. Save the creativity for the content of your paper.
Mirror, Mirror, On Her Wall
April 30, 2014
• This is not a research paper. I want to know what you think. That said, if you do use outside sources, you must cite those sources.
• Movie titles should be italicized. For example: Fight Club
• The first time you mention the movie title, it should be followed by the year of the film’s release in parentheses. For example: Fight Club (1999)
• 4-5 typed content pages; double spaced; no more than one inch margins on all sides; no larger than 12 pt. font; Times New Roman.
• Number your pages in the upper right corner.
For your final paper you will choose a character from a feature film and in an essay of 4-5 pages you are to write about the cinematic means used by the director to convey the character’s change which occurs through the course of the narrative. In other words, your paper will note the visual and sound elements which at pivotal moments in the film convey that something has changed about the character. You should consider the inciting incident, the various plot points, and the film’s final moments in your paper.
Your aim is to identify and discuss the Cinematic Language at work in how the character is portrayed, and provide your reading (analysis) of how cinematic language is used to convey the character’s “story” or arc or throughline in the overall film.
Your paper should be four to five (4-5) typed pages long. Double-spaced. No more than one inch margins on all sides. No larger than 12 pt font. Times New Roman. Cover page is not part of the page count.
A good example for the assignment would be Martin Scorsese’s treatment of the character Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) in Goodfellas (1990). As we discussed in class, there are many ways to describe the cinematic introduction of this character. The use of color, lighting, framing, slow motion, freeze-frame, first-person narration and music all come together to support that this is not only a key scene to the overall narrative, but that it sets up much about this character’s journey. By breaking the chronological order of the film’s timeline to place this event first, Scorsese also tells us much about how this will be a key event that will alter the lives of not only Henry Hill, but the other characters involved in the scene.
A discussion of the character’s growth and throughline would then go on to include Henry’s boyhood dream to be part of the gangster world he sees across the street from his home—he watches through the window as shown through point of view shots. The inciting incident shows young Henry being congratulated by the crew for keeping his mouth shut after being arrested. The manner in which Scorsese’s fluid camera movement and lush mise-en-scene help to seduce both Henry and the viewer into this world might be analyzed. Later as the conflict deepens one might discuss how the pacing of the film increases through the editing and music, and how the camera work becomes more frenetic—a visual and aural shift that reflect Henry’s paranoia that he may get whacked at any moment. And finally, one would describe how Scorsese reveals Henry living a very different life at the end.
• Choose a film that uses interesting visual and sound techniques. Simply choosing a film because you like the story may leave you with too little to write about.
• No. You cannot use the examples I gave above for your own paper. You cannot use one of the movies analyzed in detail in class or the textbook. You cannot use the topic from any sample paper I may provide. See me if you are unsure. A list of films you cannot use is posted on Blackboard.
• Your paper should demonstrate how well you understand the material and topics discussed in class. I expect you to show that you can use the course vocabulary to support your observations.
• Be descriptive. Stating “the director uses many lighting techniques to create a mood” does not tell me what kind of lighting or what kind of mood.
• If you are writing about Motif and the film uses repeated images of clocks, for instance, do not just say that the director used 25 shots of a clock throughout the movie—explain how and why the shots are significant, both cinematically and thematically.
• Remember, I am not looking for three and a half pages telling me what happens in the movie, and then one page of analysis. Do not spend more than two paragraphs providing a synopsis!
For your final paper you are to choose one feature film to write about.
The following films cannot be used for your final paper:
Ace in the Hole
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Saving Private Ryan
Shadow of a Doubt
Silver Linings Playbook
The Age of Innocence
The Silence of the Lambs
The Sixth Sense
The Usual Suspects