film analysis research paper Kramer vs Kramer

Multiple quotes from the film supporting your argument are required. The dialogue is the most important portion of the film (silent film people see me). Dialogue is first, camera work is present only to reinforce the ideas being presented in dialogue. You should analyze the dialogue first, look at it rhetorically, what makes the quote or dialogue particularly effective and the persona of the writer? Then, how does the camera work reinforce the ideas being presented through the dialogue. Those two sections of your paper should reinforce each other and both should support your first section where you craft your argument.

You must have at least one quote from two academic articles in your paper. (One of the philosophy articles I share is allowed as a substitute for one academic journal.) Once your required sources are used, you are free to use more sources, websites, articles, books, interviews, etc., just be certain to cite them all.

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Never include stage directions in quotes. Remember what I showed you for dialogue and paragraphs in the powerpoint for dialogue.

Remember to use the word film rather than movie. It is a more academic term, and you are approaching the story from an analytical, critical, and, therefore, academic perspective.

Other terms that could be useful: challenge, reinforce, or uphold; transgress or transgression; boundaries; gender spheres; traditional or contemporary; universal or specific; stereotypes and archetypes.

Always use academic vocabulary, especially for the scene analysis. If I don’t know that you are talking about an aspect of visual film analysis because you refuse to use academic vocabulary, then I don’t know that you are considering that film technique. (Don’t expect me just to know because it is me.)

Directors do not use criticism!!! If you say they do, regardless of whether it is in the grammar, punctuation, clarity specific section being graded or not, I will take 3 points for saying it. Directors/Authors make statements. Audiences use criticism to determine the director’s/author’s meaning. Additionally, it is not “the” and any criticism. Do not write, “The audience uses the Marxist criticism.” Omit “the” and the statement will not be awkward. (That sentence is juvenile, as well, so don’t put it. I use it here for demonstration purposes.) I will count it as both juvenile AND awkward anywhere in the paper; that is two points.

Remember that everything you write should be in support of your thesis. (You are only choosing a single thesis. Your paper should have a single focus.) Remind your reader of that thesis/idea/concept throughout your paper. Keep reminding your reader what your thesis is and why and/or how this or that point is supporting your thesis. Do not talk to your audience though. Do not simply repeat your thesis. Your topic sentences should be making the connections for you.

If you lost points on your thesis in your mini-essay for any reason, you need to fix that statement so that you are on the correct track in your paper. (Be sure to go back and watch my help video on academic theses. If you ask me, that will be my first question to you. I will help you after you utilize your resources.)

For the scene analysis:

Be certain to touch on ALL parts of film analysis. Once you establish/describe the initial shot of your scene, begin to focus on changes throughout the scene and the most important elements that are present, but don’t forget that you are trying to prove your thesis with this analysis. Always, always remember to be saying what something means and why/how the director is using it. If it is important enough to be mentioning the shift in shots, then tie it to your purpose/thesis. You will use pause on your films a lot, like we did in class, to complete this section.


If I were writing this paper, I would provide context to whatever I needed to in the opening paragraph or paragraphs,

—introduce the film, director, and release date, the film’s plot, main characters and actors, the time period the film was produced, anything that was relevant to my reader in order to understand my argument. I would end this section with my thesis.

In my next section, I would set up my criticism, using academic article quotes, if necessary. I would blend this section into applying the criticism to the film. I would explain how I know that the message is what I think it is in a logical way, throwing lots of logos out here, quotes from academic articles (articles are printed in journals, so be aware of diction), anything that would be clearly logical for my argument to be considered accurate. (This Section: How I know the director’s message is what the director is trying to teach the audience.)

I would follow and support in the next section with exploring dialogue. I would use my rhetorical strategies to help me dig deeper in to the text of the film. I would most likely focus on diction, but not forget pathos or logos. (Any ethos from the director will most likely be used in your first section but as it could come up here if you were using biographical criticism and, therefore, requires outside research.) I would discuss any symbolism related to the text/dialogue of the film here, but always relate back to the thesis.

My last section would be putting my exclamation mark on my idea by talking about how mise en scene, and all film techniques, reinforce the idea that I have been building. In my scene analysis, on a single scene that symbolically pushes my thesis, I would walk through the scene describing how the director visually reinforced the message of the film. I would continually push that idea and make connections, not just at the beginning or ending of the section, but throughout the section. I have an example that a student said I could use as an example to show students. You must come in to tutorials to see and no photography will be allowed, but you will get an idea of what it looks like. (For virtual students, I would not be opposed to reading a portion of the section for you to get an idea of this, but no recordings.)

After proving with the analysis of my argument and peers (academic journals), dialogue, and now a visual, I would begin my conclusion where I would summarize and remind my reader of what I have explained and provided and how it built to my conclusion, and finally, I would end with my thematic statement. In tutorials, I would be happy to work this into outline format for you.


Some random ideas:

Universal tropes in literature:


“the gaze”



Loss of innocence

“the other” and diction that goes with it

Acceptance vs. rebellion


Symbolism and diction is the thing that helps us realize these tropes.


Good luck!

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