Paper 4

Paper #4: Film Analysis


Part I: Claim, Due Friday 11/16

For this final paper, I want you to make a claim about our film as a biography or autobiography.

Your claim should focus on the film as a genre of biography or autobiography. Your claim should not attempt to offer an interpretation of the entire film, or to provide a commentary on the film’s themes and content, except as the interpretation and content relate to our theme. Your claim and argument should do one of three things:

(1) Offer an opinion about how the film functions as a biography or autobiography. (Some questions to consider: How do we know it’s a biography? How does it tell the story of its biographical/ autobiographical subject? What is the relationship between the film’s authors — director, screenplay writer, actor, etc. — and its subject?)

(2) Compare and contrast one aspect of the film as biography or autobiography to another biographical or autobiographical "text" (including the A&E Biography) that we’ve studied this semester. You must focus on something specific: an aspect of style or form, a thematic concern, the role of memory, the position of the narrator, the treatment of events, the handling of time, the balance of fact and fiction, etc.

(3) Compare and contrast this genre of biography or autobiography to another genre that we’ve looked at this semester. (For example, how is what a film does like or unlike what a novel does? How is it like or unlike what a "profile" does?)

Part II: Introduction, Due Monday 11/26

After you have articulated your claim, you can begin to write your introduction. Unlike our last paper, which dealt with a tangible problem, this paper will deal with a conceptual problem. Remember that your claim is the response to a question. Your introduction should explain to your reader what question your claim answers, and why the reader should care about this answer. What does your claim/ answer help your reader understand about the film? About the film as a biography or autobiography? In other words, you should employ the elements of a problem statement to write this introduction.

Part III: Paper, Due Wednesday 11/28

Finally, you will support your claim/ answer in a paper/ argument of 3-5 pages. In your paper/ argument, you should use evidence from the film itself. Consider quoting individual characters, providing specific scenes, discussing particular camera techniques, and referring to details of costuming, set, or musical score. To do this you will need to review the relevant dialogue (scenes, etc.) very carefully, remembering to cite this material as necessary. If our film is based on a real, rather than a fictional figure, then additional research into the historical background of our film is highly recommended, but not absolutely required.

Note: Please bring two copies of your paper to class on Wednesday 11/28. One of these copies must be accompanied by a completed Argument Outline worksheet.