Objective: The purpose of this assignment is to explore how film constructs meaning through a variety of elements (camera angles, mise-en-scene, framing, editing, etc.) in a scene.
Assignment: Write a thesis-driven essay in which you examine THIS following scene from the Soviet film Circus (Tsirk, 1936) : from the 1:19:00 mark to 1:21:10
Briefly describe the action or context of the entire scene in no more than 125 words. The majority of your paper should be an analysis of any key elements — camera angles, lighting, setting, dialogue (or inter-titles), music or other sounds, clothing, facial expressions and gestures, representations of culture, gender, race / ethnicity, ideology or class — which make your chosen scene especially significant, both in isolation and in terms of the overall movie. Anything that you write about your scene must support the central argument in your paper (which is your thesis).
Be sure to indicate in some manner which of the scenes (A or B from above) that you have chosen to analyze.
Criteria for Evaluation
Your scene analysis should be typed, 500 words (2-3 pages), double-spaced, with no changes to the margins, Calibri 11 or Times New Roman 12 font; be sure to spell- and grammar-check your paper and include a word count either at the beginning or end of your paper.
Your scene analysis must utilize the specific terminology associated with the construction and composition of a film; check http://filmanalysis.yctl.org/ for some of the key terms. On a separate sheet at the end of your paper you are required to include a glossary that briefly describes, in your own words, the concepts & terms utilized in your essay. It is like a “Works Cited” page, but it should instead be called a “Terminology Utilized” page. This page does not count towards the 500 word requirement for your essay.
Papers will be graded based on content, clarity, and the fulfillment of the parameters of the assignment. See the “Paper Grading Sheet” in the “Paper Guidelines” module on the D2L Content page for further grading criteria.
Suggestions for beginning the paper: After choosing which assigned scene you want to write on, watch the scene once for general impressions. What is the initial impact of the scene on you? How does the scene help to set the tone for the film? How does it fit into the overall scope of the film? Does the scene show us something that we have not seen in the film before? Is it a scene integral to the plot or characterization?
Next, re-watch the scene, taking notes as you watch. Pay close attention to everything that happens in the scene. Note camera angles, shots, lighting, sound, narrative, etc. All of these elements will help you to analyze the scene and interpret how film constructs meaning by both traditional and non-traditional methods. Once you have identified the various elements used, then you can begin to examine the scene as an opportunity for analysis.
Finally, figure out what the overall impact and / or message of the scene is. As you consider this, you will want to think about the events that transpire in your scene. How does the film construct meaning beyond the actions and words of the characters in the film? What film techniques do you see employed in this scene, and how do they help elucidate the characters or events in the scene? Is there anything in the scene that draws your attention to the cinematic apparatus? How do the technical aspects of the scene affect your understanding of the scene?
When you write, your thesis should point out what you think the overall meaning and / or impact of the scene is. It should be organized in a logical manner. Remember, you do not have to examine everything in your scene. You only have to discuss those portions of the scene that are the most relevant to however you are interpreting the scene.