For each of the two papers, you will be responsible for watching a film, writing a 3 to 5 page essay in which you respond to prompts (see below), and then providing a list of “My Criteria for Quality in Film.”
These assignments are reaction papers, not plot summaries or research papers. Write what you have to say about the film, not what others have said, but know how the film was made The papers will be graded based on:
These papers are about your observations, insights and evaluations not only what you can learn by reading up on the film or the filmmaker. Do not just repeat what you find online. Think carefully before you write, be creative and apply what you have been learning in this course.
First Paper Assignment: Film One (F1)
Part 1: View a feature film made between 1940 – 1970 you have not seen before (or will see later in this class) by a great director. Many directors were active both before and after 1970 so make sure you see a pre-1970 FEATURE fiction film.
Suggestion: American directors such as Frank Capra, George Cukor, John Ford, George Stevens, Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, or William Wyler. Foreign directors such as Ingmar Bergman (Swedish), Luis Buñuel (Spanish), Claude Chabrol (French), Federico Fellini (Italian), Akira Kurosawa (Japanese), Lina Wertmuller (German) or the British team known as “The Archers” made up of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. For other possibilities, try: http://www.filmsite.org/directors.html Comment on the specific film you saw in terms of its genre and the quality of the film itself. Pay attention to the camerawork (cinematography) the editing (montage) and the sound (including music). What did you like and what did you dislike? Why do you like the things you like, and why do you dislike the things you dislike? Finally, is the film successful in creating a work of fiction using the craft of filmmaking and considering when it was made? (Note: This is not the same question as whether or not you liked it. It is entirely possible to like a film that you are aware is not very good.)
Part 2: Draw some general conclusions about the work of the director and one of the main actors or actresses. For example let us say you watched the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. Did you like David Lean as a filmmaker? Explain your answer. Did you like Peter O’Toole in the role of Larwrence? Why, or why not?
End with your overall impression of the film, including how you see it as an example of the its genre and time period.
PARTS ONE AND TWO SHOULD BE PRESENTED AS A SINGLE ESSAY!
Part 3: On a separate page, insert the heading “My Criteria for Quality in Film.” Under that heading, propose four general statements indicative of your personal taste in movies. These statements should be numbered (1) through (4), and they should be written as complete sentences or a short paragraph. For example, if you commented in your essay that you liked the acting because it was realistic and you liked the script because it had a happy ending, you could propose these two statements as criteria for quality: “(1) Excellent movies feature realistic acting. (2) A movie is more likely to be good if it ends happily.” Think about and then explain what words such as good, excellent, and effective actually mean. Be sure to save your “My Criteria” page to your hard drive—you will be resubmitting an expanded version of it with for the second paper later in this course.
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