Over the last few weeks we have watched films from the classical Hollywood tradition, as well as several world cinema movements that formed (at least in part) as a reaction against the dominant Hollywood style of filmmaking: Italian Neo-realism, the French New Wave, and Third Cinema. In addition, you have been reading about film genres, sound in cinema, and style as a formal system in Film Art. For your final paper, please consider, and choose one of the following topics:
- The Realistic Tendency — From the earliest days of cinema, filmmakers have wrestled with how film relates to reality (literal, psychological, or socio-economic). Dziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera, Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, Roberto Rossellini’s Open City, and Black Girl by Ousmane Sembene have employed various strategies to create a “realistic” cinematic experience. Choose three films from this course that sought to engage or challenge the spectator’s understanding of reality: what are the directors trying to achieve? How are the projects different or similar? What specific technical and narrative techniques does each director use to represent reality, and how do the effects contribute to his goal? How do the filmmakers create similar or different experiences for their audiences?
- Genre Study – In this course, we have discussed the role of Hollywood genre in shaping audience expectations of a film, focusing both the film and the audience. Kiss Me Deadly exemplified “film noir”, The Women exemplified the “Women’s picture”, and The Gang’s All Here exemplified the musical. For this paper, you must compare and contrast one of these films to a modern (post-1980) example of the genre. For instance, you could compare Kiss Me Deadly to LA Confidential or Body Heat, The Gang’s All Here to Les Miserables or Chicago, or The Women to Bridesmaids or What to Expect when You’re Expecting. Focus your comparison on a series of questions, including but not limited to the following. What were the narrative and cultural intentions of the respective filmmakers – IE, what kinds of stories did they want to tell? How did they design their films and use their genre to achieve their goals? How did they innovate or alter the older generic tradition? Additionally, compare and contrast the specific technical and narrative techniques employed by each film to create meaning, using accurate technical terminology.
- Gender and Film – Many of the films we have seen in class interrogate, directly or indirectly, what it means to be a man or a woman in society. No Regrets for Our Youth, Kiss Me Deadly, The Women, Breathless and Black Girl are just a few of the most salient examples. Choose any two films we have studied and chart how society’s attitudes towards gender roles vary over time and by place. How have the creators of these films used narrative and technical innovations to highlight the issues they considered important? Finally, choose one modern film or television show, such as Trainwreck or Transparent, to explore how attitudes continue to evolve today.
Your paper must be 7-10 pages, typed, double-spaced. Be clear and concise. Support your thesis with specific examples of narrative and stylistic techniques and their effects. In addition to any internet sources, you must cite at least three non-internet works (besides your textbook) in support of your argument. These works can be films we saw in class, films or media you have seen outside of class, articles we covered in class, contemporary newspaper reviews of a film, et cetera. Proofread your work — grammatical and spelling errors will count against your grade.
- Week 13 () – Thesis statement due.
Please submit via email a one to three sentence thesis statement for your paper. Tell me which question you’ll be answering, and what (hypo)thesis you’ll be supporting. If you decide to change questions later, that is ok. No late submissions will be accepted. Failure to submit this on time will result in a five point deduction from your final paper grade.
- Week 14 () – (Optional) Draft or outline for review due.
As an option, you can submit via email a rough draft or outline of your paper for feedback. You’ll receive my feedback by.
- Week 15 () – Final paper due. No late submissions will be accepted, NOT EVEN BY A SINGLE MINUTE. If it’s late, it is a zero.
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