For your first paper, you will examine how a single formal film element works in a particular scene in one of the films we’ve seen in the first half of the course.
That is, you will discuss how Acting, Mise-en-scène, Cinematography, Editing OR Sound Design works in ONE scene from The Great Train Robbery, The Pale Face, Go West, Adaptation, Giant, The Shining, Citizen Kane, Psycho, OR Apocalypse Now.
The paper should be 3-4 pages in length (12pt Times or Times New Roman font), double-spaced, composed of 3-5 paragraphs. It is due Sunday, October 27, at 11: 59pm.
WARNING: Some of the scenes, and some formal film elements, are off-limits. I’m talking about those scenes and/or formal film elements that are examined in depth by the textbook authors, or by me in my blog entries. For instance, you CANNOT examine how cinematography works in ANY SCENES in Citizen Kane, since I did a whole blog entry on how cinematography functions in that film.
To make it even more explicit, you CANNOT write about:
Acting in Giant
Mise-en-scene in The Shining
Cinematography in Citizen Kane
Editing in Psycho
Sound in Apocalypse Now
Once you have chosen your scene, and the formal film element you will focus upon, you should watch the scene multiple times and take good notes. The “Taking Notes” abbreviations in your textbook (p. 47) may be helpful in this regard.
No research is necessary for this paper. You won’t really be making a critical argument, so you don’t need a thesis statement – beyond stating in the clearest possible way, near the beginning of your paper, what formal film element you are focusing on, and the scene you are analyzing. It would be even better if you were able to make clear HOW and WHY the formal film element is significant in the scene you have chosen.
Most people know pretty naturally what a scene is. Here is the definition used by our textbook authors:
SCENE. A complete narrative unit within a film, with its own beginning, middle and end. Often scenes are unified, and distinguished from one another, by time and setting.
When you mention your scene in your paper, you don’t have to say much. DO NOT spend a paragraph or more summarizing the plot and characters of the film you are examining. Assume I know all about them. Same with the details of the scene: assume I know the scene well and don’t need to have it described to me. Just focus on the formal film element in the scene.
You may want to include stills from your scene to illustrate what you’re saying about the scene. If you choose to do so, please include the still or stills in an appendix at the end of your paper, with each inserted still numbered “Figure 1,” “Figure 2,” etc. When you refer to the still in your paper, just write, in parentheses: (See Fig. 1).
As a guide, you can use the textbook authors’ description of The Scene Analysis Paper (pp. 39-43). However, your assignment is a little different, since I’m directing you to focus exclusively on one formal film element in that scene. (The sample scene analysis paper in the textbook would be a good model for this assignment IF the formal film element was cinematography, since that’s mostly what the author of the essay focuses on).
Please contact me with any questions.
University of Maryland