Writing About Movies (Fourth Edition)
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The most succinct, practical, and affordable introduction to thinking and writing about film.
Writing About Movies offers students two books in one: a handy guide to the process of academic writing and a brief but thorough introduction to the basics of film form, film theory, and film analysis. Written by the director of the Warren College Writing Program at University of California, San Diego, and the authors of the leading introductory film studies text, Writing About Movies is the only writing guide a student of film will need.
1994), and Richard Abel’s Americanizing the Movies and “Movie-Mad” Audiences, 1910–1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006). Here are some ways that you can make your fi lm analyses— regardless of their primary topic or approach—more historically aware: As you study a particular fi lm (or fi lm artist, style, or movement), learn as much as you can about its historical context: the year in which it was made/released; the country of origin; why, if relevant, that year was important to
freewriting, since it is meant for the writer’s eyes only, is very informal—with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors intact): OK, so i just saw apocalypse now and, wow, i’m supposed to write a paper on it but i have no idea what i’m going to say. the ﬁlm hit me in a place where language doesn’t live but still i gotta come up with something. where to start? maybe i should begin at the beginning, because from the ﬁrst scene coppola grabs you and pulls you in, not just into vietnam but also
freedom might seem appealing, in fact you will fi nd that the lack of a declarative thesis statement requires more work: you need to tighten your internal structure and your transitions from paragraph to paragraph so that the essay is clear and the reader can easily follow your line of inquiry. But let’s suppose, for the sake of illustration, you want to use the thesis question “What forces conspired to make Avatar the highest-grossing fi lm of all time?” You might start by discussing the history
get you in the habit of using fi lm terms. If you’re viewing the movie on a player of some sort, make note of the timing of each shot that you want to discuss—for instance, 09:43— so that you can easily fi nd it again if you need to. If you’re watching in a theater, note the approximate timing (e.g., “approx. 10:00”). Review and organize your notes according to any patterns or categories that may appear. Do this while the viewing is still fresh in your mind. Many students come up with ideas for
writing about movies. But it isn’t the only approach you’ll want to consider. In this chapter, we will briefly describe the various analytical approaches— starting with formal analysis—that serious students of fi lm are asked to employ in their writing. Formal Analysis Careful analysis of a fi lm’s form is an essential skill for any student of cinema. Nearly every essay about movies will employ formal analysis, even ones that are written primarily from another perspective. So what is formal