film analysis

film analysis Essay Examples

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How to Write a Movie Analysis Essay

Practically everyone enjoys watching movies, has a favorite show, or a genre, or even actors or directors they respect and admire. However, being assigned a movie to analyze is a completely different matter. Then you no longer watch the movie for entertainment but from an analytical point of view. Sounds difficult? Don’t worry, with some help and useful tips provided in this article, you will be able to do it.

So you’ve been assigned a movie to analyze. Even if you have already seen it a couple of times, you need to watch it again paying close attention to every detail and taking notes you will later use for writing your paper. Here are some of the things you should focus on:

  1. Your overall impression of the movie
  2. Movie message
  3. Memorable scenes
  4. Details rarely noticed by the audience

Also, become familiar with elements of movie theory and apply them to your movie analysis. You should try to introduce two or three theoretical concepts, possibly adding your own perspective as a further concept, and then apply the theory to the characters in the movie, the movie plot, etc. Listen to what experts have to say about the movie, present different opinions and discuss them offering your own perspective. Reinforce your points of view with proof such as quotes from the movie.

When analyzing a movie, your attention goes beyond that of an ordinary person watching a movie for fun. You need to familiarize yourself with the main elements of cinematic structure and get a better understanding of the film industry.

Don’t forget to mention the historical time period depicted in the movie. Explain it in some detail and link the events from the movie to their historical background, thus making the actions of the characters more understandable and easier to relate to.

Reflect a bit on the movie genre, perhaps mentioning a few classical movies of the same kind and comparing them to the one you’re analyzing.

With these basic tips, you are almost ready to start writing a movie analysis of your own. Let us explain very briefly what movie analysis is not; namely, it is not a critical review. Reviews are generally done by the media, they give critical opinions, compare and contrast several movies, suggest means to improve the movie, comment on the technical aspects of the movie, etc. That’s very different from what you’re doing. You are writing a formal academic paper with a clear and structured organizational format, analyzing an assigned movie. To do that properly you should start by creating a movie analysis essay outline. It includes:

  • Introduction: provide basic information about the movie, including the title, director, main actors and the date of release; present a summary of the plot, main theme, and characters. Always include the five Ws (who, what, when, where and why) accompanied by the how. Introduce basic theoretical concepts you wish to discuss in connection with the movie.
  • Body of the paper: define and explain the theoretical concepts you chose to apply to the movie, cite any sources you used for defining these concepts (be sure to follow APA style closely, unless your professor specifically asks for a different format). Explain in detail how each concept was portrayed in the movie; cite specific examples and scenes which illustrate the concept. Do a full analysis of these concepts assuming that your reader has no knowledge of these theories and has not seen the movie.
  • Conclusion: restate your thesis and give a summary of the main concepts discussed in the paper. Provide closure for the paper stating your opinions and comparing them to those of movie critics or the general public. You can include a recommendation for the reader to either watch the movie or avoid it completely.

Having said that, some Universities make it a point of dividing movie analysis into two distinct types, critical essay and theoretical essay. Critical types of analysis are more concerned with formal aspects of the movie, namely sound, lighting, cinematography, the structure of the movie or how a specific historical event is portrayed in it (analyzing the movie`s content or technique used to create it). Theoretical types of analysis are more concerned with national cinema, ideology, political message, or how movie-makers make use of the universal themes in their work.

So far, we only talked about the content of your movie analysis paper. Surely content is the most critical element of how your paper will be evaluated, but beyond that, formal aspects of the paper should also be given careful consideration. Namely, its form: organization of the paper, grammar, spelling, punctuation, clarity of expression, etc. The use of APA style, both in in-text citations and on the Reference page is critical. If you are not sure how to use APA style of referencing, you can find articles online discussing it in detail.

So let’s look at an example of a movie analysis – The Truman show movie analysis essay. In this 1998 released comedy-drama, directed by Peter Weir, and starring Jim Carrey, a story is told about a man who realizes that he has been living a false life and that nothing around him is real, including his family, friends, his wife, the town he lives in, etc. This is perhaps an extreme example of how anyone might feel at a certain point in their lives, i.e. fake, not real, and manipulated by others, not in control of their own destiny. Can you relate to that at all? When preparing for your Truman show movie analysis, you could also think about reality shows in general and the way they manipulate people’s minds. Think not only about people in these shows, but also viewers at home; you can compare this movie to Thomas More’s Utopia, or even Shakespeare’s Hamlet; you could discuss the religious elements of the movie, ethics and morality – to name just some points you might be making. Think about the universality of the theme – Truman’s search for truth – isn’t that something we all try to find? Just like in Thomas More’s Utopia, Truman who lives in a small community of like-minded people tries to find a way to escape from this miniature world. And just like Hamlet, he tries to find an answer to the eternal question of “Who am I?” But, there’s always someone close by preventing him to figure it out.

You can find good examples of analytical essays of the Truman show online, and if you are interested in learning more about the movie-making theory, you can enroll some of the courses available at Universities worldwide.