two points look less important W r i t i n g
This paper is a thesis-driven analysis of two films in this class, focusing on one filmic element that illuminates your argument. The paper should have an introduction, a body and conclusion.?
For this paper, you are asked to:
- Identify two films, at least one of which we have watched this semester (and not a film you wrote about for your first paper), that address some problem, question, set of generic expectations or theme in common. For example, both Citizen Kane and Marie Antoinette address the acute differences between the private and public life of famous people. Or, both Get Out and Parasite are thriller films that also seem interested in making arguments about the real world in which we live. Neighboring Sounds and The Conversation both explore the role of sound in situating the self within a constellation of other bodies sharing your space. Etc.?Identifying the pairing that interests you is the first step of your preparing to write your paper. So far, however, you have only a topic and not a thesis and would be able to write only a descriptive compare-and-contrast paper. This paper is a thesis-driven paper – you are making an argument, then backing up your claims with solid evidence from the texts you’re analyzing.??
- The next step: you must focus on the decisions the filmmakers make in each of your two films in terms of their cinematic choices, focusing on one major category of cinematic choices that each uses differently: editing, sound, production design or an element of the production design, cinematography, narrative structure (screenwriting), or acting/casting.?
So, for example, we might think about how while Citizen Kane and Arrival share some larger thematic concerns about ‘unknowability,’ their very different choices in terms of production design (say, focusing on set design) or lighting or XX shows us how they ultimately are making very different points about this fundamental problem of the human condition. Now, and only now, will you be ready to propose a thesis, one that is based on thinking through the ways two films you identify as sharing some similar engagements do different work because of the cinematic choices the filmmakers make. Your thesis will specify exactly what contrasting cinematic choices the two groups of filmmakers made, and exactly what different perspectives on the two films’ shared engagements these choices create.
It should go without saying that this paper requires you to be attentive to filmic evidence in support of your argument throughout, and to be effective your paper must include a close reading of a scene or sequence from each film that fully illuminates this difference. A paper based solely or mostly on plot analysis is not demonstrating your understanding of film vocabulary and does not satisfy this prompt. Your argument must be grounded in the films and demonstrate how their elements support your claims. You can (and should) very briefly summarize the narrative of each film, but your analysis should be grounded in filmic elements rather than just narrative.
You are not required to use outside sources for this paper, and if you are taking a strictly formalist approach you might not need to. However, many questions you could be interested in might make you want to learn more about something outside of the film (historical context, history of a genre, biography of a director, etc.) Remember?to properly cite (in-text citations throughout the paper and bibliography at the end) all sources that help you learn what you need to know to present your case effectively and with authority.
NOTE: As indicated above, at least one of the two films in your pairing must be from the films we have screened for the class. There is the option to include one film from outside our class, if it is first cleared by your TA at least 2 weeks before the paper is due. The email proposal for an outside film must include a brief explanation of the pairing you are excited to explore. In addition, you will in your paper need to be especially careful to provide the information necessary for a reader unfamiliar with film to fully follow your reading.
Because you’re doing a lot of stuff in this essay, it would be a very good idea here to think about the ‘pre-production’ of your essay – an outline. If you have X things you need to accomplish, and Y amount of space to accomplish them in, then it’s crucial that each of those things you need to accomplish is given enough space. For instance, if you have three central claims you want to make/back up, you shouldn’t be using 60% of your space on one of them, leaving only 40% of your space for the other two. This will weaken your argument by making those other two points look less important.