Writing about Film W21 Due: Wed, May 26, 5 p.m.* (Moodle)
Critical Essay on a Feature Film (25% of Final Grade)
Choose one of the following contemporary narrative feature films that we have screened or will screen in class: La La Land, Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig, 2019), Les Misérables (dir. Ladj Ly, 2019), The Rider, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait d’une jeune fille en feu), and Funny Boy. (You may not write about Singin’ in the Rain.)
After watching your chosen film again closely, write a 1000-1250-word thesis-driven essay in which you identify a theme in the film and structure your essay around your own thesis which expresses your point of view about the film. In other words, what is the most important theme developed in the film? How do the filmmakers support that theme through specific examples and the narrative and stylistic techniques at work in those examples? (Remember that a theme must be formulated as a complete claim including both a subject and the filmmakers’ attitude towards the subject).
Remember that when you discuss a feature-length film, you need to remember to provide appropriate context. For example, when you cite dialogue, who is speaking and what is that character’s role in the film? Keep in mind that you also need to demonstrate sufficient coverage of the film; in other words, your discussion needs to demonstrate an awareness of elements from the beginning, the middle, and the end of the film.
Be sure to provide detailed description of concrete and specific examples and to comment on the filmmakers’ use of narrative techniques and stylistic techniques (techniques specific to film). (An effective balance is often around 2/3 narrative techniques to 1/3 stylistic techniques.)
Your answer must also be written in standard essay form as discussed in class, with an introduction including a thesis statement, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Other requirements:
1000-1250 words, typed, double-spaced, standard fonts and margins.
MLA format for Works Cited (see other side of this assignment for filmography), heading, page numbers, film titles, and paragraph form. Don’t forget that parenthetical references (time codes) are now required when writing about a film, and if you cite written sources, you must provide complete parenthetical references (name page) and entries for those sources on your Works Cited page.
The first page of your assignment should be a sentence outline of your essay. Following the examples of outlines discussed in class, you will include your theme (full sentence), your thesis statement (full sentence) and one topic sentence (full sentence) for each of your body paragraphs. (You should take the full sentences from your completed essay.) Start your complete essay on the page following your outline. (There is no need to repeat the heading on the second or following pages.)
Your essay must include specific and detailed examples from the film and some discussion of the narrative techniques and stylistic techniques at work in the film.
You are not required to consult outside sources for this assignment, but if you do use outside sources, you must attribute them correctly both in citations and a Works Cited page. Unattributed use of sources constitutes plagiarism and will result in a zero for the assignment as well as a letter to the Dean.
*Late assignments will be penalized by 3% per day, starting immediately after the time noted on the date due. No assignments will be accepted more than two weeks after the due date.
Critical Essay on a Film: Filmography
Your essay must include a Works Cited entry for your chosen film. You may copy the appropriate information from the entries given below. Please note that these films are all available for viewing through streaming services available through the Dawson College Library. When the film is available through a Netflix Canada subscription or a Crave HBO + Movies subscription, this is also noted.
La La Land. Directed by Damien Chazelle, Summit Entertainment, 2016. Audio Cine Films, https://dc153.dawsoncollege.qc.ca:2750/audiocine/watch/42C5353AB477179D?referrer=direct. [Also on Netflix Canada.]
Little Women. Directed by Greta Gerwig, Columbia Pictures, 2019. Audio Cine Films, https://dc153.dawsoncollege.qc.ca:2750/audiocine/watch/739219792B71EDB1?referrer=direct.
Les Misérables. Directed by Ladj Ly, Srab Films, 2019. Criterion-on-Demand, https://dc153.dawsoncollege.qc.ca:2744/htbin/wwform/006?T=A08799. [Also on Crave, https://www.crave.ca/en/movies/les-miserables-2019.
The Rider. Directed by Chloé Zhao, Caviar/Highwayman Films, 2017. Criterion-on-Demand, https://dc153.dawsoncollege.qc.ca:2744/htbin/wwform/006?T=MON2628.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait d’une jeune fille en feu). Directed by Céline Sciamma, Lilies Films, 2019. Criterion-on-Demand, https://dc153.dawsoncollege.qc.ca:2744/htbin/wwform/006?T=MK20100. [Also Crave [subscription to Movies + HBO required], https://www.crave.ca/en/movies/portrait-of-a-lady-on-fire.
Funny Boy. Directed by Deepa Mehta, ARRAY Releasing/Hamilton-Mehta Pictures, 2020. CBC Gem, https://gem.cbc.ca/media/funny-boy/season-1/episode-1/38e815a-0136fc41662.