Step By Step Guide to Writing an Essay on Film
By Film Threat Staff | December 29, 2021
Writing an essay about a film sounds like a fun assignment to do. As part of the assignment, you get to watch the movie and write an analytical essay about your impressions. However, you will soon find that you’re staring at an empty sheet of paper or computer screen with no idea what to write, how to start writing your essay, or the essential points that need to be covered and analyzed. As an essay writing service proves, watching the movie countless times isn’t all there is to write a film analysis essay. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with an essay service :
1. Watch the Movie
This is the obvious starting point, but surprisingly many students skip this step. It doesn’t matter if you’ve watched the movie twice before. If you’re asked to write an essay about it, you need to watch it again. Watching the film again allows you to pay more attention to specific elements to help you write an in-depth analysis about it.
Watching the movie is crucial because it helps you not specific parts of the movie that can be used as illustrations and examples in your essay. You’re also going to explore and analyze the movie theme within your structured plan. Some of the critical elements that you have to look out for while watching the movie that may be crucial for your essay are:
- Key plot moments
- Editing style
- Stylistic elements
- Scenario execution
- Musical elements
Your introduction will contain essential information about the film, such as the title, release date, director’s name, etc. This familiarizes the reader with the movie’s primary background information. In addition, researching the filmmaker may be crucial for your essay because it may help you discover valuable insights for your film analysis.
The introduction should also mention the movie’s central theme and explain why you think it was made that way.
Do not forget to include your thesis statement, which explains your focus on the movie.
3. Write a Summary
According to an essay writing service providing students help with essays , a movie summary comes after the introduction. It includes the film’s basic premise, but it doesn’t have to reveal too many details about the film. It’s a summary, after all. Write the summary like your readers have not heard about the movie before, so you can mention the most basic plots but assume you have minimal time so you won’t be going into great details.
4. Write Your Analysis
This is the central part of the essay in which you analyze the movie critically and state your impressions about the film. Ensure to support your claims with relevant materials from the movie.
There are also several creative elements in a movie that are connected to make the film a whole. You must pay attention to these elements while watching the movie and analyze them in this part of the essay.
In this, you are looking out for the dialogs, character development, completion of scenes, and logical event sequences in the film to analyze.
Ensure you try to understand the logic behind events in the film and the actor’s motives to explain the scenario better.
The responsibility of different parts of the movie, such as plan selection and scenario execution, falls on the director. So, your analysis here focuses on how the director realized the script compared to his other movies. Understanding the director’s style of directing may be crucial to coming up with a conclusion relevant to your analysis and thesis.
The casting of a film is a significant element to consider in your essay. Without a great actor, the scriptwriter and director can’t bring their ideas to life. So, watch the actor’s acting and determine if they portrayed the character effectively and if their acting aligns with the film’s main idea.
- Musical element
A movie’s musical element enhances some of the sceneries or actions in the film and sets the mood. It has a massive impact on the movie, so it’s an essential element to analyze in your essay.
- Visual elements
This includes special effects, make-up, costumes, etc., which significantly impact the film. These elements must reflect the film’s atmosphere. It is even more crucial for historical movies since it has to be specific about an era.
Ensure to analyze elements relevant to your thesis statement, so you don’t drift from your main point.
In concluding your essay, you have to summarize the primary concepts more convincingly to support your analysis. Finally, you may include a CTA for readers to watch or avoid the movie.
These are the crucial steps to take when writing an essay about a film . Knowing this beforehand prevents you from struggling to start writing after watching the movie.
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It’s really amazing instructions! I have got the great knowledge.
[…] now and then. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford to get cinema tickets to do so. Some…Writing an essay about a film sounds like a fun assignment to do. As part of the assignment, you get…Since a few decades the film and entertainment sector have undergone some drastic transformation. […]
I can’t list the number of essays that don’t follow this format in the least. But then I find most reviews of movies terrible and most people who purport themselves to be writers as people who need to spend more time drafting and editing before publishing.
Thanks for this
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How to Write a Film Analysis Essay: Examples, Outline, & Tips
A film analysis essay might be the most exciting assignment you have ever had! After all, who doesn’t love watching movies? You have your favorite movies, maybe something you watched years ago, perhaps a classic, or a documentary. Or your professor might assign a film for you to make a critical review. Regardless, you are totally up for watching a movie for a film analysis essay.
Our specialists will write a custom essay on any topic for 13.00 10.40/page
However, once you have watched the movie, facing the act of writing might knock the wind out of your sails because you might be wondering how to write a film analysis essay. In summary, writing movie analysis is not as difficult as it might seem, and Custom-writing.org experts will prove this. This guide will help you choose a topic for your movie analysis, make an outline, and write the text.️ Film analysis examples are added as a bonus! Just keep reading our advice on how to get started.
❓ What Is a Film Analysis Essay?
- 🚦 Film Analysis Types
✍️ How to Write a Film Analysis
- 📄 Essay Examples
To put it simply, film analysis implies watching a movie and then considering its characteristics : genre, structure, contextual context, etc. Film analysis is usually considered to be a form of rhetorical analysis . The key to success here is to formulate a clear and logical argument, supporting it with examples.
🚦 Film Analysis Essay Types
Since a film analysis essay resembles literature analysis, it makes sense that there are several ways to do it. Its types are not limited to the ones described here. Moreover, you are free to combine the approaches in your essay as well. Since your writing reflects your own opinion, there is no universal way to do it.
- Semiotic analysis . If you’re using this approach, you are expected to interpret the film’s symbolism. You should look for any signs that may have a hidden meaning. Often, they reveal some character’s features. To make the task more manageable, you can try to find the objects or concepts that appear on the screen multiple times. What is the context they appear in? It might lead you to the hidden meaning of the symbols.
- Narrative structure analysis . This type is quite similar to a typical literature guide. It includes looking into the film’s themes, plot, and motives. The analysis aims to identify three main elements: setup, confrontation, and resolution. You should find out whether the film follows this structure and what effect it creates. It will make the narrative structure analysis essay if you write about the theme and characters’ motivations as well.
- Contextual analysis . Here, you would need to expand your perspective. Instead of focusing on inner elements, the contextual analysis looks at the time and place of the film’s creation. Therefore, you should work on studying the cultural context a lot. It can also be a good idea to mention the main socio-political issues of the time. You can even relate the film’s success to the director or producer and their career.
- Mise-en-scene analysis . This type of analysis works with the most distinctive feature of the movies, audiovisual elements. However, don’t forget that your task is not only to identify them but also to explain their importance. There are so many interconnected pieces of this puzzle: the light to create the mood, the props to show off characters’ personalities, messages hidden in the song lyrics.
Even though film analysis is similar to the literary one, you might still feel confused with where to begin. No need to worry; there are only a few additional steps you need to consider during the writing process.
Need more information? It can be found in the video below.
Starting Your Film Analysis Essay
There are several things you need to do before you start writing your film analysis paper. First and foremost, you have to watch the movie. Even if you have seen it a hundred times, you need to watch it again to make a good film analysis essay.
Note that you might be given an essay topic or have to think of it by yourself. If you are free to choose a topic for your film analysis essay, reading some critical reviews before you watch the film might be a good idea. By doing this in advance, you will already know what to look for when watching the movie.
In the process of watching, keep the following tips in mind:
- Consider your impression of the movie
- Enumerate memorable details
- Try to interpret the movie message in your way
- Search for the proof of your ideas (quotes from the film)
- Make comments on the plot, settings, and characters
- Draw parallels between the movie you are reviewing and some other movies
Making a Film Analysis Essay Outline
Once you have watched and possibly re-watched your assigned or chosen movie from an analytical point of view, you will need to create a movie analysis essay outline . The task is pretty straightforward: the outline can look just as if you were working on a literary analysis or an article analysis.
- Introduction : This includes the basics of the movie, including the title, director, and the date of release. You should also present the central theme or ideas in the movie and your thesis statement .
- Summary : This is where you take the time to present an overview of the primary concepts in the movie, including the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why)—don’t forget how!—as well as anything you wish to discuss that relates to the point of view, style, and structure.
- Analysis : This is the body of the essay and includes your critical analysis of the movie, why you did or did not like it, and any supporting material from the film to support your views. It would help if you also discussed whether the director and writer of the movie achieved the goal they set out to achieve.
- Conclusion: This is where you can state your thesis again and provide a summary of the primary concepts in a new and more convincing manner, making a case for your analysis. You can also include a call-to-action that will invite the reader to watch the movie or avoid it entirely.
You can find a great critical analysis template at Thompson Rivers University website. In case you need more guidance on how to write an analytical paper, check out our article .
Receive a plagiarism-free paper tailored to your instructions.
Writing & Editing Your Film Analysis Essay
We have already mentioned that there are differences between literary analysis and film analysis. They become especially important when one starts writing their film analysis essay.
First of all, the evidence you include to support the arguments is not the same. Instead of quoting the text, you might need to describe the audiovisual elements.
However, the practice of describing the events is similar in both types. You should always introduce a particular sequence in the present tense. If you want to use a piece of a dialogue between more than two film characters, you can use block quotes. However, since there are different ways to do it, confirm with your supervisor.
For your convenience, you might as well use the format of the script, for which you don’t have to use quotation marks:
ELSA: But she won’t remember I have powers?
KING: It’s for the best.
Finally, to show off your proficiency in the subject, look at the big picture. Instead of just presenting the main elements in your analysis, point out their significance. Describe the effect they make on the overall impression form the film. Moreover, you can dig deeper and suggest the reasons why such elements were used in a particular scene to show your expertise.
Just 13.00 10.40/page , and you can get an custom-written academic paper according to your instructions
Film Analysis Essay Topics
- Analysis of the film Inception by Christopher Nolan .
- Examine the rhetoric in the film The Red Balloon .
- Analyze the visual effects of Zhang Yimou’s movie Hero .
- Basic concepts of the film Interstellar by Christopher Nolan.
- The characteristic features of Federico Fellini’s movies.
- Analysis of the movie The Joker .
- The depiction of ethical issues in Damaged Care .
- Analyze the plot of the film Moneyball .
- Explore the persuasive techniques used in Henry V .
- Analyze the movie Killing Kennedy .
- Discuss the themes of the film Secret Window .
- Describe the role of audio and video effects in conveying the message of the documentary Life in Renaissance .
- Compare and analyze the films Midnight Cowboy and McCabe and Mrs. Miller .
- Analysis of the movie Rear Window .
- The message behind the film Split .
- Analyze the techniques used by Tim Burton in his movie Sleepy Hollow .
- The topic of children’s abuse and importance of trust in Joseph Sargent’s Sybil .
- Examine the themes and motives of the film Return to Paradise by Joseph Ruben .
- The issues of gender and traditions in the drama The Whale Rider.
- Analysis of the film Not Easily Broken by Duke Bill.
- The symbolism in R. Scott’s movie Thelma and Louise .
- The meaning of audiovisual effects in Citizen Kane .
- Analyze the main characters of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo .
- Discuss the historical accuracy of the documentary The Civil War .
- Analysis of the movie Through a Glass Darkly .
- Explore the core idea of the comedy Get Out .
- The problem of artificial intelligence and human nature in Ex Machina .
- Three principles of suspense used in the drama The Fugitive .
- Examine the ideas Michael Bay promotes in Armageddon .
- Analyze the visual techniques used in Tenet by Christopher Nolan.
- Analysis of the movie The Green Mile .
- Discrimination and exclusion in the film The Higher Learning .
- The hidden meaning of the scenes in Blade Runner .
- Compare the social messages of the films West Side Story and Romeo + Juliet .
- Highlighting the problem of children’s mental health in the documentary Kids in Crisis .
- Discuss the ways Paul Haggis establishes the issue of racial biases in his movie Crash .
- Analyze the problem of moral choice in the film Gone Baby Gone .
- Analysis of the historical film Hacksaw Ridge .
- Explore the main themes of the film Mean Girls by Mark Walters .
- The importance of communication in the movie Juno .
- Describe the techniques the authors use to highlight the problems of society in Queen and Slim .
- Examine the significance of visual scenes in My Family/ Mi Familia .
- Analysis of the thriller Salt by Phillip Noyce.
- Analyze the message of Greg Berlanti’s film Love, Simon .
- Interpret the symbols of the film The Wizard of Oz (1939).
- Discuss the modern issues depicted in the film The Corporation .
- Moral lessons of Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond .
- Analysis of the documentary Solitary Nation .
- Describe the audiovisual elements of the film Pride and Prejudice (2005) .
- The problem of toxic relationships in Malcolm and Marie .
📄 Film Analysis Examples
Below you’ll find two film analysis essay examples. Note that the full versions are downloadable for free!
Example #1: The Intouchables
Raising acute social problems in modern cinema is a common approach to draw the public’s attention to the specific issues and challenges of people facing crucial obstacles. As a film for review, The Intouchables by Oliver Nakache and Éric Toledano will be analyzed, and one of the themes raised in this movie is the daily struggle of the person with severe disabilities. This movie is a biographical drama with comedy elements. The Intouchables describes the routine life of a French millionaire who is confined to a wheelchair and forced to receive help from his servants. The acquaintance of the disabled person with a young and daring man from Parisian slums changes the lives of both radically. The film shows that for a person with disabilities, recognition as a full member of society is more important than sympathy and compassion, and this message expressed comically raises an essential problem of human loneliness.
Example #2: Parasite
Parasite is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller movie directed by Bong Joon-ho and is the first film with a non-English script to win Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020. With its overwhelming plot and acting, this motion picture retains a long-lasting effect and some kind of shock. The class serves as a backbone and a primary objective of social commentary within the South Korean comedy/thriller (Kench, 2020). Every single element and detail in the movie, including the student’s stone, the contrasting architecture, family names, and characters’ behavior, contribute to the central topic of the universal problem of classism and wealth disparity. The 2020 Oscar-winning movie Parasite (2019) is a phenomenal cinematic portrayal and a critical message to modern society regarding the severe outcomes of the long-established inequalities within capitalism.
Film Analysis Essay FAQ
- Watch the movie or read a detailed plot summary.
- Read others’ film reviews paying attention to details like key characters, movie scenes, background facts.
- Compose a list of ideas about what you’ve learned.
- Organize the selected ideas to create a body of the essay.
- Write an appropriate introduction and conclusion.
The benefits of analyzing a movie are numerous . You get a deeper understanding of the plot and its subtle aspects. You can also get emotional and aesthetic satisfaction. Film analysis enables one to feel like a movie connoisseur.
Here is a possible step by step scenario:
- Think about the general idea that the author probably wanted to convey.
- Consider how the idea was put across: what characters, movie scenes, and details helped in it.
- Study the broader context: the author’s other works, genre essentials, etc.
The definition might be: the process of interpreting a movie’s aspects. The movie is reviewed in terms of details creating the artistic value. A film analysis essay is a paper presenting such a review in a logically structured way.
Want more examples? Check out this bonus list of 10 film analysis samples. They will help you gain even more inspiration.
- “Miss Representation” Documentary Film Analysis
- “The Patriot”: Historical Film Analysis
- “The Morning Guy” Film Analysis
- 2012′ by Roland Emmerich Film Analysis
- “The Crucible” (1996) Film Analysis
- The Aviator’ by Martin Scorsese Film Analysis
- The “Lions for Lambs” Film Analysis
- Bill Monroe – Father of Bluegrass Music Film Analysis
- Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’ Film Analysis
- Red Tails by George Lucas Film Analysis
- Film Analysis – UNC Writing Center
- Film Writing: Sample Analysis // Purdue Writing Lab
- Yale Film Analysis – Yale University
- Film Terms And Topics For Film Analysis And Writing
- Questions for Film Analysis (Washington University)
- Resources on Film Analysis – Cinema Studies (University of Toronto)
- Does Film Analysis Take the Magic out of Movies?
- Film Analysis Research Papers – Academia.edu
- What’s In a Film Analysis Essay? Medium
- Analysis of Film – SAGE Research Methods
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Have you ever read a review and asked yourself how the critic arrived at a different interpretation for the film? You are sure that you saw the same movie, but you interpreted it differently. Most moviegoers go to the cinema for pleasure and entertainment. There’s a reason why blockbuster movies attract moviegoers – cinema is a form of escape, a way to momentarily walk away from life’s troubles.
It’s an interesting point of view. Thank you for your opinion, Sourav!
Thank you, Mike!
Glad you liked the post. Sure thing, feel free to share the link with your audience!
All the best.
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Home — Essay Samples — Entertainment — Film Analysis — The introduction of the first movie
The Introduction of The First Movie
- Categories: Film Analysis Film Editing Watching TV
About this sample
Words: 486 |
Published: Mar 28, 2019
Words: 486 | Page: 1 | 3 min read
History of The Invention of Film
- Bradford National Media and Technology Museum. (2012, September 12). The First Color Film in the World. Retrieved from https://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/blog/the-first-colour-film-in-the-world/
- Eadweard Muybridge. (n.d.). In Britannica.
- Film. (2021, March 16). In Encyclopædia Britannica.
- History of Film. (2021, April 12). In Wikipedia.
- Le Prince, Louis Aimé Augustin. (2018, March 26). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Louis-Aime-Augustin-Le-Prince
- Movie. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster.
- Sherak, T. (2013, January 18). How Movies Affect Society. In Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-movies-affect-society_b_2508424
- The Kinetoscope. (n.d.). In History.com.
- The Lumière Brothers. (n.d.). In Britannica.
- Winston, B. (2019). Lies, Damn Lies, and Documentary: Documentary Film and the Documentary Mode in the Twenty-First Century. In International Journal of Communication, 13, 4475-4493.
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Resources – how to write a film analysis, introduction to the topic.
While most people watch films for entertainment, those who study film focus on the elements of a film that combine to create the ultimate product. Behind the scenes production editing that occurs before, during, and after filming contribute to the images that people see on screen. A formal analysis of a film asks you to break a film down into its different components and discuss how those pieces work together to create an overall experience. Here is a checklist to help you write a film analysis.
Sections of a Film Analysis with Tips
The introduction to the paper.
Begin by briefly summarizing the film. You should not rehash the entire plot, but instead give the most critical information about the film to the reader. Then, introduce the formal elements that you will be discussing. Finally, your thesis should connect the elements you will discuss to their importance to the film as a whole.
The Body Paragraphs
The body paragraphs of a film analysis are similar to those found in other analytical essays. Each paragraph should discuss a different small component of the film and how the component serves the entire film. In these paragraphs, you should give concrete examples to support your claims. These examples can include scenes or quotes from the film itself, but you can also include different editing techniques or other behind the scenes work. Connect your examples to the overall film and try to answer the question, “Why does this element ultimately matter for the viewing audience?”
Briefly summarize what you have talked about in the essay. Be careful not to make generalizations about the film that are not supported by the effects of the specific elements you discussed. In this section, you can discuss the overall importance of the film its historical context or address any lingering questions the film leaves.
Tips for Film Analysis
- Understand the vocabulary of filmmaking. Knowing how to talk about elements such as lighting, special effects, framing, focus, and screenwriting are critical to writing a film analysis.
- Try to watch the film more than one, if possible. After you decide which element(s) to write about, watch the film again, keeping those ideas in mind.
- A film analysis is not the same of a film review. Avoid making pedestrian judgments about the film’s entertainment factor. If you wish to criticize the film, do so by referencing formal elements.
- Unless the assignment asks you, do not try to cover every single element the film uses. Try to narrow your focus as much as you can to one or two salient elements.
- If you are referring to the actions of a person in the film, refer to the scene using the character’s name. If you are referring the acting itself, use the actor’s real name.
Exercise: Which Sentence Belongs in a Film Analysis?
Sentences and instructions.
When writing a film analysis, many students have to fight the urge to incorporate the components of a film review into their essays. In each of the following exercises, one sentence could be a part of a film analysis, while the other is better suited for a review.
See if you can tell the difference:
1. (a.) In Winter’s Bone , Jennifer Lawrence gives the performance of the decade. (b.) For her role in Winter’s Bone , Jennifer Lawrence had to learn a West Virginia accent in order to portray an authentic character.
2. (a.) The editors of Hocus Pocus use special effects to create magic on screen. (b.) The editors of Hocus Pocus used a green screen to give the appearance that the witches were flying over the city.
3. (a.) The lack of shadows in V for Vendetta gives the viewer the impression that the editors forgot to add in some special effects. (b.) The lack of shadows in V for Vendetta gives the viewer the impression that the scenes are occurring in a futuristic world.
Developed by Ann Bruton, with the help of Alexander Waldman
Adapted F rom:
Dartmouth Writing Program’s “Writing About Film”
Duke University’s Thompson Writing Program “Writing About Film”
Click here to return to the “Writing Place Resources” main page.
Film Analysis: Example, Topics, & Essay Writing Guide 
It’s hardly possible to find one who is not keen on watching films. It is one of the most common ways of spending free time. When it comes to writing a film analysis essay, you would probably be confused.
Don’t worry! We gathered everything you need to make it without a hitch. What’s more, you will find free essay samples as a bonus.
📽️ What Is a Film Analysis?
✍️ film analysis terms, 📜 film analysis types.
- 📼 Film Genres: List
✨ How to Write a Film Analysis
- 🗒 ️ Film Analysis Template and Example
F ilm analysis expresses the afterview synoptic. The result is a transparent and informative thesis and its arguments .
Don’t forget you should maintain an appropriate academic style. This article explains how to manage it well, using the proper terminology, structure, techniques, etc.
As an introduction to film analysis, explore a list of general film analysis terms. They come as an inseparable part of your film analysis essay.
Find them below.
The auteur is the French equivalent of the English word author. The auteur’s definition is straightforward. As a rule, the film’s director is the author. Why so? Director is a core role that manages all processes: from organizing a filmmaking crew and cast to every aspect of the film.
Diegesis in films is all about the fictional world elements. Everything the director creates and transfers on the screen is diegesis. Time framework, setting, range of events, etc., are examples of those elements.
Flashback and Flashforward
Flashback and flashforward imply relating to a chronological flow of a narrative. Flashback is a scene that takes it back in time from the present point of the film.
A flashforward differs from the flashback only by the time-shifting direction: it takes the audience to the plot pieces later in the film.
The term looks confusing, but it is easy as pie. A pre-defined set of a film’s scene is a mise-en-scène . Everything in the camera’s focus: exposure, actors, and other elements form a mise-en-scène.
The Plot of a Story
The plot of a story is a sequence of events and their interactions that make up a story shown in a film.
Scene vs. Sequence
To put it simply, the scene and the sequence differ by the number of shots. The scene is short and consists of a few shots. The sequence is a more significant film part as it implies several scenes. As you may have guessed, the entire movie consists of several sequences.
The variety of possible film genres and their complexity assume more than one way to analyze them. There are several film analysis types, depending on the reviewing angle.
This approach is similar to literary analysis. It means examining the film plot, narrative structure, motives, and characters. The research is built on answering the three simple questions: who, what, and where?
Everything about understanding the hidden meaning of the symbols is a semiotic analysis of the film. Those symbols usually appear more than once in a movie. Also, particular directors tend to repeat specific symbols. This type of analysis requires very close attention to detail.
We have already found what mise-en-scène is: a setting with the lighting, soundtrack, background, etc. When we focus on those audio and visual elements and their meaning, we talk about the mise-en-scène analysis. Audiovisual elements may seem insignificant at first glance, but they carry tremendous importance and power to support the plot.
📼 Film Genres List
Having grasped the basic film analysis terms and types, we move on to the starting point of film analysis. We talk about defining a film genre.
You do not have to be a cinema theorist or a crazy film fan to identify one from another. Anyways, let’s list the common film genres and describe them briefly. Please, check the table below:
There is also a deeper categorization. Each genre in the list has several, sometimes overlapping sub-genres.
We are closer to the central part: we’ve approached the writing guide.
Are you still struggling with how to write a film analysis essay? The solid solution is, to begin with conducting a step-by-step plan. Move on, and we will tell you how to do it!
Like every other paper, hence literary analysis, writing film analysis involves several ultimate steps. There is nothing groundbreaking here. All the steps are familiar. They are:
- Thesis statement
Let’s touch upon each step and note what is worth considering (after watching the movie itself).
Film Analysis Outline
The first and foremost step is writing a film analysis essay outline. You need to make a short draft with the core measures to analyze the film. Mind the instructions in case you have them. Organize the ideas in a list and proceed to the next step.
Film Analysis Thesis Statement
Pay special attention to writing a film analysis thesis statement. You first need to squeeze out the central narrative threads and ideas. The thesis statement should focus on what you will prove in your essay by transforming those ideas into new meanings.
Concentrate on the combination of film expectations, the auteur’s point of view, and your own critical opinion. In the end, formulate a concise thesis statement and move on to the introduction preparation.
Film Analysis Introduction
Your film analysis introduction should be informative and catchy. Give the general information about the film. It may contain the movie title, director, release year, and cast.
After building an introduction background:
- Dive deeper.
- Explore the director’s filmography or build possible links between the film and the current trends or social agenda.
- Include as many valuable insights as you can to spark a thought in the reader’s mind.
Remember that the introduction should validate and complement your thesis statement.
Having the outline and the formulated thesis statement, you should, in a way, break down a film into its creative elements and analyze each of them. At once individually, and then as a whole picture.
What are those creative elements?
- Directing. Since we have mentioned the role of the director time and again, let’s start with it. Trace their distinctive directing manner to find new patterns and compare them to previous works.
- Scenario. In most films, often except for art-house cinema, the script plays one of the critical roles in its power. A well-written scenario helps develop the narrative and each character. It reduces the risk of silly inconsistencies or mistakes. After watching, try to access the level of scripting consistency and clarity.
- Acting. Even though we’ve just defined the role of the scenario, acting sometimes plays louder than words. Try to answer the question: how accurately does the actors’ performance reveals and conveys the author’s main idea and your thesis statement.
- Music and visual effects. Setting the overall mood is what is impossible without soundtracks and visual effects. Provide an example of how each part, special effects, sounds, make-up, or costumes, help, or vice-a-versa, interfere in expressing the author’s message.
While analyzing, don’t forget to build logic between each element. Make a smooth and solid review.
We’ve approached the icing on the cake — your film analysis conclusion. Once again, make sure your analysis confirms the thesis statement and show it in your resolution.
Remember that movies are complex pieces of art. Don’t be too shallow in your essay. Try to see a bigger picture and put it in words.
Now that we’ve outlined the plan let’s figure out how it works on a real example.
🗒️ Film Analysis Template and Example
We prepared a short-outlined essay sample. Explore the table to understand what your analysis may look like. Here is the “Solaris” film analysis essay example.
You may take this or other essay samples from StudyCorgi as a template for your future writing. It will save your time and make the process transparent. Don’t hesitate to use them!
You’ve just found out the primary terms, tips, and a film analysis guide.
Now, as we have shed light on the film analysis techniques and showcased the real examples, the task seems not as tricky as at first sight. Save this article or share it with a friend to avoid losing!
What Is the Purpose of Film Analysis?
Film analysis aims to extract value from watching a movie, except for leisure. Films do not just tell a story. They bring a message, provoke feelings, and teach precious lessons. Directors sometimes encode priceless meanings applicable to many generations.
How to Analyze a Movie Effectively?
To analyze a movie effectively, you should acquire the appropriate terminology. Then, understand the existing types of film analysis and their difference. After that, outline your future film analysis paper and look through the extant examples.
What Is Formal Analysis in Film?
The formal analysis comprises the investigation of professional elements of film production like camera motion, lighting, color editing, special effects, and other inner working processes. The average viewer does not pay much attention to them, but we should not diminish their importance.
What Are the 4 Elements of Film Analysis?
One of the many interpretations of this question is the following: the first component is a film plot, the second one is the existing arguments about the film, the third one is a film background, and the fourth is their evaluation.
- Film Analysis — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Film Term Glossary — Brooklyn College
- Film Analysis and Methods — Penn Arts & Science Cinema & Media Studies
- Movie Genres – 120+ Examples of Different Movie Genres – NFI
- A Guide to Writing a Film Studies Paper: Carleton University
- How to Write an Analytical Essay — MDC
- Film Analysis Research Papers – Academia.edu
- Shot, Scene, and Sequence — Columbia Film Language Glossary
- Diegesis — Oxford Reference
- Film Analysis Essay Sample — Purdue Online Writing Lab
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Perspectives on Film: Introduction
The concept of film studies is about understanding why a film makes us feel in a particular way and evaluating why we have a specific opinion towards a movie instead of focusing on the feeling and opinion themselves. In order to do this, there's a need to focus on the form of the film rather than the story. The film's form refers to how the story, which is the content of the film, is expressed. It represents the set of conventions based on established related patterns used to evaluate, perceive, and define a work of art.
Two primary senses are explored in movies: hearing and sight. There are countless elements that can stimulate either of these senses, and filmmakers combine and exploit these elements to create different film styles, which usually fall into three possible forms.
Forms of Film
There are three categories that a film can fall into when it comes to forms. They are:
1. Narrative form: This is the most common form of filmmaking and refers to the films that tell a story. These sorts of movies are also called fictional films. However, the term fictional doesn't mean they are bared on fictitious events. Instead, it means the filmmaker has complete freedom and discretion when it comes to storylines and how the historical facts can be altered. These films are usually structured based on a system of cause and effects, no matter how random it may appear at first.
2. Documentary form: This is an expository type of filmmaking where historical events and real facts are exposed and analyzed. This is not to say the films in documentary forms present the complete truth at all times. There are times when the filmmaker's creativity leads to manipulation of the truth, sometimes unwittingly. Most documentary films rely heavily on interviews, and expert witnesses accompanied the Voice of God feature.
3. Experimental form: This form of filmmaking is as rare as it is unpopular. Also called avant-garde, films in these forms usually have a chaotic, incoherent, and disorderly, with ideas combined in an arbitrary manner with no regard for structure, theme, or characters. For any viewer seeing them, the general feeling is usually confusion and annoyance, which explains why they are not viable commercially and rarely aired on TV or screened in theatre.
Importance of form
Expectations: The form of a film can create expectations as regards the patterns that exist between different elements of the film and how they relate. On the basis of form alone, we develop curiosity regarding what will happen next and form ideas about what has happened in the past, leading to engagement with the movie. The curiosity can later be gratified or left ungratified as suspense.
Convention: Expectations are not only based on the elements that exist in the particular film we see alone, but rooted in general experiences derived from life, movies, and artworks in general. While most films reinforce conventions, there are those that break them to create new conventions too.
Meaning: Form also lends a film its meaning. As humans, we are naturally bound to look for meaning in everything we see. This meaning can be in two forms: Implicit meaning, which is the deeper meaning that a work of art has, and the explicit meaning, which can be likened to the basic description of the film. These meanings can always be traced to the film's form.
This refers to the different film techniques employed by a filmmaker to give a specific value or make a particular change in a film. It covers all aspects of filmmaking from the sound, cinematography, dialogue, mise-en-scene, attitude, and editing. When it comes to style, there are certain standards that exist. However, most directors have a distinctive style similar to the unique writing style of an author. With so many technical possibilities that could be explored in filmmaking, there are wide disparities in techniques used over time. Historical circumstances play a significant role in determining the techniques used in making a movie and the style that results from such techniques. For instance, the inability to synchronize dialogue until the late 1920s when sound became possible, led to the creation of the silent film style such as the ones done by Charlie Chaplin. Also, the black and white film style was popular before the 1930s due to the fact that color tints were not available.
Types of film style
Film noir: This is a film style adopted by the Hollywood crime dramas of the 1940s and 1950s. Its origin was traced to the German expressionist cinematography, and it was characterized by the black and white low-key visual style. Films in this category include The Setup, The Big Heat, Night and City, The Big Combo, etc.
Italian Neorealism: This represented a post-second world war film movement in which the story revolved around the working class and poor people. This style was characterized by themes revolving around Italy's difficult moral and economic conditions at that time. It used mostly nonprofessional actors and was filmed on location.
Art film: This film style comprises the independent film created for a niche market instead of general film audiences. They are serious films created for an aesthetic and experimental reason rather than commercial profit.
Even the most basic of these techniques have helped make movies more interesting and filmmaking easier. Editing was one of the first film techniques to be used and since then has made it possible to have multiple shots which can be combined into one seamless piece of film. one of the first films where editing was used was Come Along Do in 1898.
Author: Frank Taylor
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What this handout is about.
This handout introduces film analysis and and offers strategies and resources for approaching film analysis assignments.
Writing the film analysis essay
Writing a film analysis requires you to consider the composition of the film—the individual parts and choices made that come together to create the finished piece. Film analysis goes beyond the analysis of the film as literature to include camera angles, lighting, set design, sound elements, costume choices, editing, etc. in making an argument. The first step to analyzing the film is to watch it with a plan.
Watching the film
First it’s important to watch the film carefully with a critical eye. Consider why you’ve been assigned to watch a film and write an analysis. How does this activity fit into the course? Why have you been assigned this particular film? What are you looking for in connection to the course content? Let’s practice with this clip from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). Here are some tips on how to watch the clip critically, just as you would an entire film:
- Give the clip your undivided attention at least once. Pay close attention to details and make observations that might start leading to bigger questions.
- Watch the clip a second time. For this viewing, you will want to focus specifically on those elements of film analysis that your class has focused on, so review your course notes. For example, from whose perspective is this clip shot? What choices help convey that perspective? What is the overall tone, theme, or effect of this clip?
- Take notes while you watch for the second time. Notes will help you keep track of what you noticed and when, if you include timestamps in your notes. Timestamps are vital for citing scenes from a film!
For more information on watching a film, check out the Learning Center’s handout on watching film analytically . For more resources on researching film, including glossaries of film terms, see UNC Library’s research guide on film & cinema .
Once you’ve watched the film twice, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas based on your notes. Brainstorming is a major step that helps develop and explore ideas. As you brainstorm, you may want to cluster your ideas around central topics or themes that emerge as you review your notes. Did you ask several questions about color? Were you curious about repeated images? Perhaps these are directions you can pursue.
If you’re writing an argumentative essay, you can use the connections that you develop while brainstorming to draft a thesis statement . Consider the assignment and prompt when formulating a thesis, as well as what kind of evidence you will present to support your claims. Your evidence could be dialogue, sound edits, cinematography decisions, etc. Much of how you make these decisions will depend on the type of film analysis you are conducting, an important decision covered in the next section.
After brainstorming, you can draft an outline of your film analysis using the same strategies that you would for other writing assignments. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind as you prepare for this stage of the assignment:
- Make sure you understand the prompt and what you are being asked to do. Remember that this is ultimately an assignment, so your thesis should answer what the prompt asks. Check with your professor if you are unsure.
- In most cases, the director’s name is used to talk about the film as a whole, for instance, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo .” However, some writers may want to include the names of other persons who helped to create the film, including the actors, the cinematographer, and the sound editor, among others.
- When describing a sequence in a film, use the literary present. An example could be, “In Vertigo , Hitchcock employs techniques of observation to dramatize the act of detection.”
- Finding a screenplay/script of the movie may be helpful and save you time when compiling citations. But keep in mind that there may be differences between the screenplay and the actual product (and these differences might be a topic of discussion!).
- Go beyond describing basic film elements by articulating the significance of these elements in support of your particular position. For example, you may have an interpretation of the striking color green in Vertigo , but you would only mention this if it was relevant to your argument. For more help on using evidence effectively, see the section on “using evidence” in our evidence handout .
Also be sure to avoid confusing the terms shot, scene, and sequence. Remember, a shot ends every time the camera cuts; a scene can be composed of several related shots; and a sequence is a set of related scenes.
Different types of film analysis
As you consider your notes, outline, and general thesis about a film, the majority of your assignment will depend on what type of film analysis you are conducting. This section explores some of the different types of film analyses you may have been assigned to write.
Semiotic analysis is the interpretation of signs and symbols, typically involving metaphors and analogies to both inanimate objects and characters within a film. Because symbols have several meanings, writers often need to determine what a particular symbol means in the film and in a broader cultural or historical context.
For instance, a writer could explore the symbolism of the flowers in Vertigo by connecting the images of them falling apart to the vulnerability of the heroine.
Here are a few other questions to consider for this type of analysis:
- What objects or images are repeated throughout the film?
- How does the director associate a character with small signs, such as certain colors, clothing, food, or language use?
- How does a symbol or object relate to other symbols and objects, that is, what is the relationship between the film’s signs?
Many films are rich with symbolism, and it can be easy to get lost in the details. Remember to bring a semiotic analysis back around to answering the question “So what?” in your thesis.
Narrative analysis is an examination of the story elements, including narrative structure, character, and plot. This type of analysis considers the entirety of the film and the story it seeks to tell.
For example, you could take the same object from the previous example—the flowers—which meant one thing in a semiotic analysis, and ask instead about their narrative role. That is, you might analyze how Hitchcock introduces the flowers at the beginning of the film in order to return to them later to draw out the completion of the heroine’s character arc.
To create this type of analysis, you could consider questions like:
- How does the film correspond to the Three-Act Structure: Act One: Setup; Act Two: Confrontation; and Act Three: Resolution?
- What is the plot of the film? How does this plot differ from the narrative, that is, how the story is told? For example, are events presented out of order and to what effect?
- Does the plot revolve around one character? Does the plot revolve around multiple characters? How do these characters develop across the film?
When writing a narrative analysis, take care not to spend too time on summarizing at the expense of your argument. See our handout on summarizing for more tips on making summary serve analysis.
One of the most common types of analysis is the examination of a film’s relationship to its broader cultural, historical, or theoretical contexts. Whether films intentionally comment on their context or not, they are always a product of the culture or period in which they were created. By placing the film in a particular context, this type of analysis asks how the film models, challenges, or subverts different types of relations, whether historical, social, or even theoretical.
For example, the clip from Vertigo depicts a man observing a woman without her knowing it. You could examine how this aspect of the film addresses a midcentury social concern about observation, such as the sexual policing of women, or a political one, such as Cold War-era McCarthyism.
A few of the many questions you could ask in this vein include:
- How does the film comment on, reinforce, or even critique social and political issues at the time it was released, including questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality?
- How might a biographical understanding of the film’s creators and their historical moment affect the way you view the film?
- How might a specific film theory, such as Queer Theory, Structuralist Theory, or Marxist Film Theory, provide a language or set of terms for articulating the attributes of the film?
Take advantage of class resources to explore possible approaches to cultural/historical film analyses, and find out whether you will be expected to do additional research into the film’s context.
A mise-en-scène analysis attends to how the filmmakers have arranged compositional elements in a film and specifically within a scene or even a single shot. This type of analysis organizes the individual elements of a scene to explore how they come together to produce meaning. You may focus on anything that adds meaning to the formal effect produced by a given scene, including: blocking, lighting, design, color, costume, as well as how these attributes work in conjunction with decisions related to sound, cinematography, and editing. For example, in the clip from Vertigo , a mise-en-scène analysis might ask how numerous elements, from lighting to camera angles, work together to present the viewer with the perspective of Jimmy Stewart’s character.
To conduct this type of analysis, you could ask:
- What effects are created in a scene, and what is their purpose?
- How does this scene represent the theme of the movie?
- How does a scene work to express a broader point to the film’s plot?
This detailed approach to analyzing the formal elements of film can help you come up with concrete evidence for more general film analysis assignments.
Reviewing your draft
Once you have a draft, it’s helpful to get feedback on what you’ve written to see if your analysis holds together and you’ve conveyed your point. You may not necessarily need to find someone who has seen the film! Ask a writing coach, roommate, or family member to read over your draft and share key takeaways from what you have written so far.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Aumont, Jacques, and Michel Marie. 1988. L’analyse Des Films . Paris: Nathan.
Media & Design Center. n.d. “Film and Cinema Research.” UNC University Libraries. Last updated February 10, 2021. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/filmresearch .
Oxford Royale Academy. n.d. “7 Ways to Watch Film.” Oxford Royale Academy. Accessed April 2021. https://www.oxford-royale.com/articles/7-ways-watch-films-critically/ .
University of Pennsylvania. “How to ‘Read’ a Film.” English Department. https://web.english.upenn.edu/~mulready/Handouts/How%20to%20Read%20a%20Film.pdf .
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How to Write an Essay on a Film: A Step-by-Step Guide to Analytical Writing
Have you ever wondered what lies beyond the magic of the movies? How do you tailor your film experience into a thought-provoking piece of writing that outlines the core aspects of the genre? Whether you’re an eager student getting started with analytical writing or a film enthusiast itching to pen your thoughts, understanding how to write a good essay on a movie is key. Writing an essay on a film isn’t all about listing characters in a movie scene but providing a deep analysis of the representation of issues and how they relate to the real-world. In this regard, being able to articulate your thoughts can be a game-changer as you get to build a reputation as a writer while at the same time gaining a deeper understanding of how film producers and writers mold their characters. Whether you’re getting started or a seasoned film analysis writer, this article will help you understand some tips that can help take your writing experience to another level. So, sit back and read along!
Tips to Write an Essay on a Film Correctly
Movies have an unparalleled ability to take us into the realms of imagination. As a student or a passionate moviegoer, you might find yourself inspired to write an essay on a film that had an impact on you. Whether it’s a thought-provoking analysis essay on a film or a personal reflection on a movie scene, it’s important that you display utmost creativity in your work. Here are tips to help you write correctly:
- Immerse yourself in the film . To pen an insightful analysis essay on a film, immerse yourself in the movie you intend to explore. Watch the film attentively, allowing the scenes and dialogues to resonate with you deeply. Lastly, take notes as you watch to ensure you have all the captivating moments on paper.
- Choose an area of focus . A successful film essay needs a clear and specific focus. Decide whether you want to analyze the movie as a whole, zoom in on a particular scene, or evaluate the effectiveness of the movie script. The choice of focus is very important as it gives your film analysis essay a sense of direction and purpose, presenting a better opportunity for success.
- Write a captivating introduction . The introduction of your film analysis essay should be like an opening shot that captivates the reader’s attention from the very beginning. Start with a compelling hook that intrigues the audience, introduce the film’s title and director, and provide a brief overview of what your essay will explore. Don’t forget to include your thesis statement to ensure the readers can understand your arguments.
- Embrace analytics evaluation . A film analysis essay isn’t complete without critical evaluation. Express your thoughts and opinions on the movie’s strengths and weaknesses. Be fair and objective in your assessment, backing your evaluations with solid reasoning and evidence from the film. Your unique perspective will make your essay stand out.
- Showcase your writing skills . Remember that a well-written essay is a joy to read. Showcase your writing skills by crafting clear, concise, and eloquent sentences. Use appropriate vocabulary to convey your ideas effectively. Proofread your essay carefully to eliminate any grammatical errors or typos that might distract your readers from the essence of your analysis.
- Seek feedback . Before finalizing your essay, seek feedback from peers, friends, or teachers. Constructive criticism can help you polish your work and identify areas for improvement. At this point, it might be helpful to contact custom essay writing service CustomWritings and have an expert from the company look at your essay and suggest any edits where necessary. This will help you align the essay to your target audience while at the same time honing your writing skills to meet the industry standards.
Benefits of Writing an Essay on a Movie
As students and film enthusiasts, we often find ourselves drawn to the magic of the screen. However, beyond the entertainment lies a hidden treasure waiting to be unlocked—writing an essay on a film. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis essay on a film or a personal reflection on a memorable movie scene, the process of putting our thoughts into words offers surprising benefits that go beyond mere writing exercises:
- Writing enhances critical thinking : Crafting film reviews and analysis essays requires delving into the nuances of storytelling, character development, cinematography, and more. This process stimulates critical thinking skills, encouraging writers to analyze, interpret, and evaluate the various elements that make a movie memorable. As we unravel the layers of a film, we enhance our ability to think critically and express our insights coherently.
- Opportunities for deeper film appreciation : Watching a film is an immersive experience, but writing about it takes our appreciation to new heights. When you write an essay about a film you have seen, you begin to notice the minor details you’ve often ignored when casually viewing. From the symbolism hidden in a movie scene to the underlying messages in a movie script, our writing journey unveils the craftsmanship of filmmakers and deepens our appreciation for their art.
- It provides an avenue to express emotional appreciation : Movies have a unique power to evoke emotions, and writing about them allows us to articulate the impact they have on our hearts and minds. When we write an essay on a film we have seen, we can delve into our emotional connections with the characters, the plot, or a particular scene that resonated with us. Sharing our feelings through writing can be cathartic and adds a personal touch to our analysis.
- Enhances personal writing skills : Writing essays on films nurtures our writing abilities, allowing us to experiment with language, style, and structure. We learn to convey complex ideas concisely, develop coherent arguments, and use appropriate vocabulary to articulate our thoughts effectively. These skills are not only valuable for academic pursuits but also serve us well in various aspects of life.
- It empowers artistic expression : Writing an essay on a film unleashes our creativity and empowers us to share our unique interpretations of cinematic masterpieces. We can experiment with creative writing techniques, such as vivid imagery or descriptive language, to paint a vivid picture of our cinematic experience. Through our words, we become storytellers, encapsulating the essence of the films that have left an indelible mark on us.
- Enhances academic growth : For students, writing film analysis essays is a gateway to academic growth. These essays encourage interdisciplinary exploration, connecting literature, history, sociology, and psychology to the world of cinema. Through such connections, students gain a holistic understanding of various subjects, enriching their academic journey.
Navigate Through the World of Writing
Writing an essay on a film can be a great skill to have. It helps you navigate the world of cinema while at the same time improving your analytical writing abilities. It gives you the opportunity to identify the essential elements in a story and convey your interpretations effectively. However, navigating through the domain of writing can be challenging if you’re just getting started. This article has outlined some of the tips to effective writing, presenting you with an opportunity to up your game when it comes to writing. So, brace yourself and explore the limitless opportunities that come with writing analytical film essays.
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