Early International Film Paper II
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Early International Film Paper Two
The term paper for this class will provide an opportunity to explore in detail one aspect of non- US cinema from the beginning to World War II. The paper is to be a combination of original essay and research as explained below. It should be 5-7 typed pages long, plus a Works Cited page. Pages must have 1 inch margins, be double spaced and in 12 point Times New Roman.
Due Dates
December 11th Paper due (online submission)
Select one film which ties into the genre, movement, time period or other topic from the course that you wish to discuss. Your paper will then consist of two parts. In the first section of the paper (worth 50% of the marks) you will demonstrate research on the topic. This may include connections to the world outside of cinema, stylistic trends, social implications etc. The second half of your paper (worth 50% of the marks) will demonstrate how the film you have selected represents, or otherwise, the research from the first half.
Your film may not be one that we have watched fully for the class, but can be one which we have seen clips from.
Steps to producing your paper.
1) Research the topic you wish to cover
2) Decide on a film that represents the topic
3) Shot Breakdown
4) Decide on the theme and other elements to explore
5) Using shot breakdown, select elements to analyse in your paper that support this.
6) Create thesis statement
7) Outline paper
8) Create paper
You should first do as much research on your subject as possible, developing a real familiarity with it. The Moorpark library has many resources to assist you with this project; look for books and articles in the online databases.
For the most recent films and topics, you will need to look at the online databases available on the Moorpark Library website. Look at ProQuest and Project Muse. You can access these through the college website.
You must have a Works Cited page at the end of your paper, and you must cite the class textbook and at least two other (non-web) articles or books. An article which comes from a journal, and which you source online, counts as a non-web source.
A shot breakdown is a systematic deconstruction of a scene. Proceed through the scene, shot by shot, making note of the significant elements of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound. You are, at this stage, simply describing them, rather than analyzing them.
Papers are to be submitted in Times New Roman 12 point, double spaced, 1 inch margins. Any papers not submitted in this format will be reformatted for page length. Papers which do not match the page length will have points deducted. Remember that three to four pages means that the paper fills three pages (titles not included). A paper which is two and a half pages long is not a three-page paper. Papers which exceed the page count by more than one page will also have points deducted. Papers must be in MS Word, Rich Text, or Open Office formats. If you use a word processer which is not Word or Open Office, use the Save As function. Papers submitted in .pages format will not be accepted and will be treated as late submissions unless corrected before the due date.
Use the rubric to help you judge the requirements of the paper, including grammar, spelling, and structure.
Examples of well written papers, on a variety of topics, can be found in the academic section of the SBCC film review website – https://sbccfilmreviews.org/
There are a series of notes of paper formatting in the Writing About Film pdf file on the course website. Make sure you follow them. Deviation from them will reduce your grade.
Writing a paper involves three stages. All three are necessary to writing a paper that is original, clear, and cogently argued. This guideline will be helpful in analyzing your selected scene.
1. Preparation
Select a topic: If you stray significantly from the paper topic provided for the class, you must get my approval for your topic. In selecting the films and topics for your paper, realize that you will produce a much better paper if you write about films that you are interested in.
Watch the film or films you have selected several times, taking notes: If you find it difficult to unravel the film’s meaning, you might pay particular attention to the opening and closing sequences. Often beginnings and endings provide clues to the themes in a film. Think about camera movement and framing, editing, mise-en-scene, sound, point-of-view shots, narrative structure, etc. How do they contribute to our understanding of the characters or narrative development? How is the scene you have selected related to the overall theme?
Take stock of your ideas: Go over your notes, making a list of the ideas that seem particularly useful. Do any sequences stand out with regard to the topic you are writing on? Are there two
or more sequences that are markedly similar to one another that you might compare? Think about interesting juxtapositions and metaphors or striking stylistic elements (do you notice a pattern of unusual point-of-view shots, montages, or camera angles?) How do these elements relate to the themes you plan to discuss? For example, I’m writing a paper on character relationships in Tsai Ming Liang’s work. I’ve noticed a pattern of color shifts that highlight the emotionless states of his characters, contrasted with a city that seems to have come to life. I work through the films, noting color changes in the film and the changing emotions depicted. Then I interpret the patterns that I find.
Formulate an argument: Your argument should allow you to tie together your observations and your research. It should be suited to the length of the paper; don’t make statements that you can’t support in the amount of space you have to write the paper or with the information you have at hand. Your argument should be based on your research and your analysis of the scene you have selected, not an evaluation of it. Do not write a film review (don’t say whether the film is good or bad).
Write an outline: Even if you don’t stick to it, it is helpful to have a plan before you start to write. The outline should include your thesis statement and the points you will make to support your thesis. Each point should be supported by examples from the film or films you are discussing. It probably won’t be possible for you to include all of your observations about the film in your paper. Select the examples that best support your argument.
2. Writing
Don’t use anything other than 12-point Times New Roman. Use one-inch margins.
Your writing must be your own and it must be original: Plagiarism will result in disciplinary action by the Dean of Students. You must indicate your sources, including readings, lectures, and discussions from this or other classes (see below for the form your citations should take). If your paper relies on extensive knowledge of a subject that you have gained outside of this class, you must discuss it with me. If you want to write on the same topic as you are writing on for another class, you must speak to me and the other professor about it. If you would like to revise a paper you have already written, you must speak to me about it. You are encouraged to discuss your ideas with other students, but your work must be your own.
Citations: You are expected to do research for your paper, so follow MLA style for all your citations. Extensive quotes, of three lines or more, should be indented and single-spaced. You should include your source whether you use direct quotes or summarize an argument. This includes information from the course reader, lectures, and discussions. Citations should include the author’s last name in parentheses followed by the page number. If you provide the author’s name in the text, you need only include the page number. At the end of the paper, you will need to include a list of works cited.
“Since film noir is as much a style as it is a genre, the manner in which the wild passion of the fugitives is portrayed is more significant than the plot points which keep them on the run” (Silver and Brookover 262).
Janey Place and Lowell Peterson describe the requirement of depth of field in film noir:
It was essential in many close or medium shots that focus be carried into the background so that all objects and characters in the frame be in sharp focus, giving equal weight to each. The world of the film is this made a closed universe, with each character seen as just another facet of an unheeding environment that will exist unchanged long after his death; and the interaction between man and the forces represented by noir environment is always clearly visible (67).
Works Cited
Edelman, Lee. “Plasticity, paternity, perversity: Freud’s ‘Falcon,’ Huston’s ‘Freud.’” American Imago v51.n1 (Spring 1994): pp. 69(36).
Silver, Alan and Linda Brookover. “What is This Thing Called Noir?” Alain Silver and James Ursini, eds. Film Noir Reader, 6th edition. New York: Limelight Editions, 2001: 243-260
Naremore, James. More Than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
Avoid common errors: Two of the most common errors that students make when writing about film are 1) focusing exclusively on characters and narrative to the point of neglecting the manner in which meaning is conveyed filmicly (i.e. through editing, camera movement, sound, mise-en- scene, etc.) and 2) describing the film rather than formulating an argument about it. It isn’t enough simply to identify the point-of-view shots in a film. You need to think about how they function, that is, what effect they have, what meaning they may have.
Support your argument with examples from the film: Examples might include close readings of specific sequences or analyses of the manner in which certain elements recur throughout a
film. For instance, an essay on the representation of women in Gilda might include a close analysis of the opening sequence as well as describing how point-of-view shots function throughout the film.
Correctly identify characters and film titles: The first time you refer to a film, include the director and year in which the film was released, e.g. Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur,
1947). Subsequent references to the film need only give the title, which should always be underlined. The first time you refer to a character, you may include the actor’s name in parentheses, e.g. Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum). But after that, use only the character’s
name. (Jeff Bailey searches for Kathie Moffat. Robert Mitchum does not look for Janet
Greer.) It’s terribly distracting, not to mention confusing, to read a paper in which characters are
misidentified. If you can’t remember a character’s name or aren’t sure of the spelling, look it up. The Internet Movie Database (https://us.imdb.com) includes this information.
3. Editing
Be sure to read your paper carefully! It’s a good idea to ask a tutor or someone else to read the paper for you. Double-check the following:
Content: Have you made any assertions that are not supported with examples from the film? Have you made any sweeping generalizations that are beyond the scope of your paper? Eliminate evaluative statements (e.g. “Fritz Lang is a great director.” “Double Indemnity is an excellent film.”)
Organization: Have you presented your evidence in the best possible way? Does your introduction clearly state the argument? Do your paragraphs flow from one to the next, or are they disjointed and unrelated? Does each paragraph contribute to your paper’s thesis? The topic of each paragraph should be clearly stated in the first sentence or two and should be supported with specific examples from the film. Any information that does not directly relate to your paper’s argument should be confined to footnotes or endnotes, or eliminated altogether.
Style: Have you used inappropriate slang or colloquialisms? Are your verb tenses
consistent? (Actions in a film should be described in the present tense, historical events in the past tense: Marion Crane is the only guest at the Bates motel. Many motels lost business when the interstate highways were built.) Have you chosen the best possible words to describe scenes in the films and to express your points? Are you certain of the meanings of the words you are using? Do you over-use particular words and phrases?
Spelling and Grammar: You will be marked down for errors in spelling and grammar. Most word processing programs will check your spelling and grammar for you. If you are uncertain about English grammar, arrange to meet with a writing tutor in the LRC.

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