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12 October 2016
The film review will be on the film, Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 film, “City Lights”, that we will view tonight. Your essay is due
on Saturday ( 29 October 2016), and must be typed and proofread/spell-checked. The paper must be turned in before or at
the start that class. Late papers are penalized one letter grade for every class days (week late. If one week late, it is one
letter grade lost. If two weeks late, it will be a two letter grades loss. Obviously, it is to your advantage to turn in papers
on time. Also note that our midterm exam is scheduled for the following week, 9 November.
Your essay for this assignment is a scholarly film review, thus it is a little different and longer than a typical newspaper published
film review. A review essay will be about 500-750 words long and between 2 to maybe 3 ½ pages maximum double spaced with
reasonable margins. Ours may be a bit longer since this is a scholarly-based review and we have academic requirements such as
citing sources, providing appropriate examples to support our arguments, pulling in related discussions or evidence from printed
sources, etc. Hence, your review might range somewhere between two and five pages on average.
While the review can take many forms and cover a wide variety of concepts, the structure is remarkably the same from one to the
next. When writing your review, consider the following structure:
1) You need to do an Introduction where you introduce your film review and likely spell out the basic credits such as title, year,
genre, the director, maybe screenwriter, might reference music or soundtrack and you mention main actors. Don't forget that the
Intro is where the "thesis statement" goes (where you state the objective or "point" of your essay). Then a very brief summary of
the plot is normally given in a second paragraph and within this you often address the place and time, background info on the
story and maybe a reference to the genre if not done above.
2) Then you typically will look at 3-5 dimensions or criteria upon which you are evaluating the film. Often, you devote a
paragraph to each.
3) Your analysis may involve one, but normally 3-5 of the following, or possible (an)other variable(s) not listed here:
are characters believable? developed appropriately/effectively?
are actors cast appropriately? do they perform effectively
what is the theme of film?
is the setting/locale, time period appropriate and effective? is set, décor, landscape/geography effective?
is the cinematography effective? does the film make use of color, texture, lighting, movement etc. to enhance theme,
mood, setting, etc.?
is editing effective?
is the sound track effective?
is music appropriate/functional? or inappropriate/obtrusive?
are camera angles used effectively? Used for a particular effect?
Are there special effects and if so, are they essential to plot? Necessary, sacrifice plot, skillfully handled?
does film use symbols or symbolism? If so, what purposes are serve? Used effectively? How does it contribute to film
is there a moral or message?
are there attributes that can be attributed to contributions by the director? how does film compare to director’s other
who is the audience and did film achieve its objective or appeal to intended audience?
Whatever arguments you make, don’t forget to include examples. You cannot make critical arguments without providing
specific evidence. Otherwise, how does the reader know what you are saying?
4) One option (not mandatory) is to study the PROS versus CONS overall, reflect on and discuss these.
5) However you have written it, you finally draw conclusions. What is your opinion of the film? Review the
arguments/evidence you have laid out above and then draw conclusions.
6) Quality of writing also is important as well as degree of research carried out, and as I said above: effort to bring outside sources
and even opinions into your discussion ,and effort made to attribute credit to outside sources used. Use complete bibliographic
style for references. This includes proper style for online sources and location.