Brief formal analysis of a feature-length film

The essay has to be 2 pages, but I also need the outline to be filed out. Please choose a film that is NOT listed belowFilms already seen in classJaws, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, No Country for Old Men, Psycho, Kundun,The Silence of the Lambs, The Godfather, The Thin Blue Line, Bicycle Thieves, The 400 Blows, Unforgiven , The Graduate, Rashomon, Spirited Away, Smoke Signals, Whale Rider
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FILM APPRECIATION (MCJ 9)
CRITICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY
Learning Outcomes
• to identify significant aspects or techniques of the formal elements of film as used in a
cinematic work
• to determine a film’s theme, or its central message
• to evaluate the cultural or artistic significance of a feature-length film
Overview
This project is worth a total of 120 points maximum:
Outline: 20 points (max)
Essay: 100 points (max)
For this essay, you will write a brief formal analysis of a feature-length film that you believe I
should have included in this class. Once you choose the film you will analyze, watch the film at
least one more time.
The essay must be roughly 500 words, double-spaced, with standard margins and 12-point font
(~2 pages, double-spaced). Your essay will examine why you believe the film is significant and
how the director uses three (3) different aspects or techniques from the formal elements of film
to tell the film’s story. The formal elements of film are:
• Narrative form
• Mise-en-scène
• Cinematography
• Editing
• Sound
Examples from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane would be:
1. canted angles (a technique from cinematography)
2. episodic flashbacks (a technique of narrative form)
3. lightning mix (a technique of editing)
All three of the techniques you identify may come from the same formal element or from
multiple.
Identify what you believe the theme (central message) of the film is. Discuss how the techniques
you’ve identified work to advance the theme (if they do, in your opinion). Finally, contextualize
the film’s significance. Why would this film be included in an academic study of film?
For Jaws, a possible theme might be “we must overcome our differences and all work together
to confront the challenges that we face as a community or society.”
Structure
Paragraph 1: Brief introduction, identifying the film and the techniques you will analyze.
Paragraph 2: Provide a brief plot synopsis.
Paragraphs 3-4: Cover the three techniques you believe are noteworthy, clearly identifying the
formal element under which each is classified. Underline the technique (e.g., canted angles,
episodic flashbacks, lightning mix) when you introduce it. Do not underline the whole
paragraph. Explain these techniques’ significance.
Paragraph 5: The theme of the film, underlined. Explain its significance. Include your analysis of
how well you think the techniques above work to advance the theme.
Paragraph 6: Contextualize the significance of this film and make the case for its inclusion in this
class.
Paragraph 7 (as necessary): Conclusion, if not included in Paragraph 6.
These essays are short, so get to the point quickly. THIS IS NOT A PLOT SUMMARY. Essays that
are purely plot summaries (outside Paragraph 2) will earn a grade of 0. Be sure to cite 2-3
specific examples of the elements you’re discussing and elaborate on them. Don’t just speak in
broad terms. Film titles must be written in italics (e.g., No Country for Old Men).
Essay Expectations:
• Paper provides specific examples to illustrate ideas and points.
• Ideas are original, developed, and demonstrate thoughtful, informed reflection on the
film.
• Though from a personal perspective, this is an academic essay.
• Paper is tightly written and concise, with attention to organization, flow, and transitions
between paragraphs. Paper uses correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It is free
of typographical errors.
An Outline of the essay worth 2 points will be submitted for feedback. A template with
directions is provided on Canvas. Upload a PDF of your outline as a separate assignment via the
appropriate Canvas link. Outlines not completed or uploaded properly by the due date will
receive a grade of 0.
If you cite any references in this essay, you must include it in a properly formatted Works Cited
section. This is not a necessary component of the assignment.
OUTLINE for Critical Analysis Essay
MCJ 9 Film Appreciation
Points: 20
NAME: _______________________________________
The outline for your essay should include the following elements. Consult the Canvas
assignment for this Outline for specific instructions to turn it in.
Use this outline template. It follows the basic structure for the Essay. Consult the Essay
assignment prompt for more information. You must type your answers in blue.
1. Film you believe should be included
Type your answer in blue.
2. Brief plot synopsis (you will expand this to one full paragraph in your essay)
Type your answer in blue. (Just 1-2 sentences for this outline)
3. Example of cinematic technique #1
a. Identify a specific technique used in the film and describe its use on at least one
occasion in the film.
b. Under which formal element is this technique classified?
Type your answer in blue. Example from Citizen Kane: lightning mix (editing), Kane and
his first wife, Emily, at breakfast over several years
4. Example of cinematic technique #2
a. Identify a specific technique used in the film and describe its use on at least one
occasion in the film.
b. Under which formal element is this technique classified?
Type your answer in blue. Example from Citizen Kane: lightning mix (editing), Kane and
his first wife, Emily, at breakfast over several years
5. Example of cinematic technique #3
a. Identify a specific technique used in the film and describe its use on at least one
occasion in the film.
b. Under which formal element is this technique classified?
Type your answer in blue. Example from Citizen Kane: lightning mix (editing), Kane and
his first wife, Emily, at breakfast over several years
6. Theme of the film—what is the filmmaker trying to say in this film? What is the film’s
central message? Avoid vague or general notions (e.g., greed, poverty, violence). One
word answers are not sufficient.
a. Identify the theme.
Type your answer in blue.
b. Analysis: How might the techniques above relate back to this theme? (To
consider in answering: How do they function narratively? Their emotional
impact? How do they drive the story forward?)
Type your answer in blue.
7. Briefly describe the film’s significance (you will expand this to one full paragraph in your
essay)
Type your answer in blue.
8. Conclusion—tie all of this together to solidify your case. Don’t just repeat your previous
points
Type your answer in blue.

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