Film Analysis Paper

Your assignment is to write a 4-5 page analysis on one stylistic element used in the film you are analyzing (Parasite, Get Out, La La Land). Your analysis should show how particular stylistic technique is organized into a pattern that contributes to the overall effect of the film. List your stylistic element as part of your title, e.g., “Tracking Shots in The Film Title.”

You will:
1. Isolate a significant stylistic element
2. Identify a pattern in the element’s use
3. Propose a function/element of the pattern
4. Argue for your claim about the pattern’s effect

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1. Isolate a stylistic element you think is noteworthy. Several viewings of the film will be required. To generate ideas, think about all of the devices we have studied thus far in the course:

staging, setting, color, lighting; rhythmic cutting, long takes, shot scale, camera angle, camera heigh, camera level, mobile framing/camera movement, onscreen and offscreen space, depth of field, lens length, speed of motion; editing transitions, editing conventions, and editing relations; sound

2. Identify a pattern in the use of this stylistic element across the film. To be significant, the pattern has to have more than two instances. Make a list of all the instances and link this list to your segmentation. Note how the pattern you identify develops, intensifies, or gets interrupted as the film progresses, with significant ramifications for the film’s story or audience experience. Think about repetition and variation.

3. Then propose a function/an effect for the stylistic pattern you have isolated. How does the stylistic pattern guide you through the film as you watch? What work is it doing in the film moment by moment? Some possibilities:

Does it serve to emphasize or dramatize something that is not immediately obvious? Does it manipulate our thoughts and feelings? Does it create suspense or surprise? Does it support some line in the overall story development? Does it build the character? Does it create a certain world? Does it help to set mood or tone? Does it provide visual pleasure?

4. The argument of your paper should use evidence from the film and precise and causal claims about this evidence in order to convincingly show that the element you have identified is patterned and plays a role in the telling of the film’s story and/or in how we engage with it.

How to work:

1. Segment the film (break it down into scenes).
2. Write down every instance when your element occurs in correspondence with your segments. This is your pattern.
3. See if there is any development or progression among these instances. This is how your pattern is structured.
4. Think about why the element appears in these instances but not in others. How does this element guide you through this story moment by moment? This if your function.
5. See if you have discovered something new about the film by going through these steps. How does style help tell this story? Does it tell a slightly different story than you saw on the first viewing? Has it been suggesting something that only becomes clear at the end all along? This is the result of your analysis.

Remember, this paper is not about interpretation of the film’s meaning but about closely analyzing how narration uses style to structure our experience of the film moment by moment. The question you should ask while working with your stylistic element is not what this element means, but why is this element used in this scene and not in the next scene.


Cite your sources. You are not required to do any research for this paper. However, if you read reviews of the film or listen to the audio commentary and end up using some ideas from these sources, you must cite them in a footnote or endnote. If you use ideas other than your own without citing the source, you open yourself up to charges of plagiarism.


Your paper should be typed and double-spaced, with standard one-inch margins in Times New Roman 12-point black font and pages numbered.

Expectations and grading criteria:

1. Stylistic element: your paper isolates a stylistic element in the film that forms an important pattern. Your discussion concerns the film’s style and not its plot/narrative.
2. Pattern: your paper shows how this stylistic pattern is developed and develops in the film.
3. Function: your paper contains clear and compelling explanation of the function/effect of the patterned use of style while avoiding simplistic interpretations and correlations
4. Description and Writing: descriptions of style are details and precise; correct terminology is used. Your paper avoids poor grammar, and syntax, typographical errors, and excessive plot summary. Your argument is well organized, clear, causal, and persuasive. Your paper has a title (which mentions your element), an introductory paragraph, several supporting points, and a strong conclusion.

If your paper fully satisfies only one of the following criteria, you are likely to receive a D.

If your paper fully satisfies two of the following criteria, you are likely to receive a C.


If your paper fully satisfies three of the following criteria, you are likely to receive a B.


If your paper fully satisfies all four of following criteria, you are likely to receive an A.

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