Final Film Analysis Paper

The Task:

Although this assignment is called Film Analysis Paper, it is primarily an academic paper outline that is designed to assist you in organizing your thoughts, writing, and analysis as it applies to TWO films of your choice that we have covered in Cinema 201.

You are required to write a 2 – 3-page informative outline that compares the two films. You are required to use at least ONE of Barthes’ “narrative codes” to analyze both films (i.e., Symbolic, Enigma, Action, etc.), as well as a minimum of TEN terms derived from the course. The terms you choose should also be used accurately, demonstrating an understanding of the terms.

Additionally, a properly-formatted bibliography of a minimum of three academic sources needs to accompany your outline (Open-sourced sites such as Wikipedia are not academic sources.) You may want to consult with the writing center on help with sources.) Writing center link here:


Note: One of the three academic sources can be one of the texts read for class. These sources need to be cited within the outline with a proper MLA citation.* For information on MLA citations use the following link:


Format: The paper outline should be written in 12-point, Times New Roman font, single spaced.

The Outline:

After choosing the two films you wish to analyze, consider which one of the narrative codes will best be suited to the analysis you wish to do.

  • Are you primarily interested in the series of “mysteries” that unfold within the film?

  • Are you more interested how certain elements of the action reveal a deeper meaning?

  • Can the film be read through the analysis of competing forces, binaries, or “antitheses”?

  • Consider carefully which of the narrative codes you will use.

    Your paper should include a full opening and closing paragraph that identifies both films, the narrative code/s you will be using, and the main reasons that you feel these two films can be analyzed together. Your closing paragraph should include your conclusions. Note: always make sure to italicize the film’s title (i.e., A Trip to the Moon).

    NOTE: You may want to write your opening and closing paragraphs after you have completed the overall outline.

    Organize your analysis into topics. Imagine that each topic is an individual paragraph for the paper, and write a couple of sentences to introduce each “paragraph” of the outline. These


Cinema 201 – Goodson

paragraphs could center on topics such as Characters, Mise-en-scène, Camera Techniques, Narrative Structure, Mood, etc. Proceed to bullet point your “paragraphs” with concepts connected to the paragraph’s topic.

For example: (course terms and citations in red)

(Topic Sentence) The mise-en-scène of George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon is visually fascinating, but is also very simple compared to how films are made today. The simplicity of his techniques are shown in a variety of ways.

  • The alien costumes are interesting – But it’s clearly just an actor.

  • The camera remains in one place during the entire film – Feels flat, like watching

    a play. Very little Depth of Field.

  • The sets seem very Two-Dimensional – Just flat drawings.

  • The director uses lots of smoke effects to make the simple tricks more exciting.

  • The lighting remains very static – No changes in light.

  • Méliès loves to make character’s “disappear” by stopping the camera. He was a

    magician by trade, who “gave the cinema the tools of fantasy, illusion, and distortion” (Mast 31).*

    (Topic) The characters in A Trip to the Moon are often hard to identify with. It seems that Méliès’ film is not about psychologically “real” characters, thus their actions tends to reveal little deeper meaning.

  • There is no use of close-ups – can’t see the characters’ faces / thoughts.

  • There is no “central” character. It’s more about the special effects.

  • The acting seems very over-the-top – not realistic acting.

  • The alien characters are interesting visually – But why do they just explode when

    hit? This is unexplained.

  • Lots of group shots – hard to focus on one character’s action.

  • But, the final action of bringing out the French flag shows that the moon

    journey a victory for the entire country.

    Note: It may help in organizing your comparison if you choose to analyze the same topics within each film.

    Things to consider in the outline: How are the two films different? How are they similar? What era of film-making are they from? From what culture did the films come from? Did they have a specific impact on cinema as a whole? What might have been the director’s intention? Was the director inspired by certain historical events (example: the depression in Germany in the 1920s that influenced Expressionism).


Cinema 201 – Goodson


140 – 150 points

Excellent organization of ideas, clear and accurate use of film terms, clearly-written opening and closing paragraphs, citations clear and paper properly formatted.

130 – 140 points

Clear organization, proper use of film terms, clearly written opening and closing paragraphs, citations unclear and/or improperly formatted.

120 – 130 points

Clear organization, proper use of film terms, reasonably clear opening and closing paragraphs, citations unclear and/or improperly formatted.

110 – 120 points

Relatively clear organization, flawed use of film terms, weak control of sentence structure in opening and closing paragraphs, citations improperly formatted.

100 – 120 points

Reasonably clear organization, flawed used of film terms, weak control of sentence structure, missing citations.

90 – 100 points

Unclear organization, fundamental writing flaws in opening and closing paragraphs (multiple errors), flawed and/or minimal use of film terms, missing citations, improperly formatted.

80 – 90 points

Unclear organization, fundamental and pervasive flaws in writing, minimal and improper use of film terms, no citations, improperly formatted.

70 – 80 points

Extremely poor organization, no use of film terms, improperly formatted, no citations. 


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