Scene Analysis
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Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to expand your understanding of how film constructs meaning using both traditional narrative as well as iconic representations presented through images and sounds.  

Assignment: Write a thesis-driven essay in which you examine ONE scene from a film scheduled to be viewed in class. 

Ways to Proceed: First, pick a scene for analysis.  It should be one that is important in terms of plot development as well as one that uses filmic apparatuses to artfully construct meaning in the film.

Once you pick a scene, watch it once for an overall impression of the scene.  Pay close attention to everything that happens in the scene.  What is the initial impact of the scene on you?  Are you left happy by the scene?  Sad?  Anxious?  Confused?  How does the scene help to set the tone for the film?  How does it fit into the overall scope of the film?  Is this a revelatory scene?  Does it show us something that we have not seen before?  Is it a scene integral to narrative development?  

Next, watch the scene again, but this time, take notes as you watch.  Note camera angles, shots, lighting, sound, narrative.  All of these will help you to analyze the scene.  You must learn to interpret how film constructs meaning by both traditional and non-traditional methods.  Once you learn to look for how film constructs meaning, 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 ponder this, you will want to consider the events that transpire in your scene.  Is there dialogue?  Is there action?  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?  What are the shot angles?  Are there close ups?  Establishing shots?  Crane Shots?  Are there abrupt cuts?  Slow fades?  Steadicam?  Extended shots without cuts?  Use of montage?  Does the scene violate the 180 degree rule?  Does use of sound help to construct meaning?  Is there music?  What is the music?  How does it help construct meaning?  Is there information entering the film from outside the diagetic world created by the camera?  Is there anything in the scene that draws your attention to the filmic apparatus?  How does all of this 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.  You can consider both traditional narrative strategies as well as those which are more commonly associated with film.  However, you should not jump all over the place.  Move from common to uncommon, known to unknown, familiar to experimental; however, don't jump back and forth between forms.  If you're talking about how sound constructs meaning, don't abruptly go to how shots are cut in the film, only to return later to sound in the scene.  If you're looking at cuts, look at cuts.  Don't move from the visual to something else (e.g., dialogue, soundtrack, etc.) and then come back to the visual later.  Stay focused on the task at hand before moving on.  Remember this: you don't have to examine everything in a scene.  You only have to discuss those portions of the scene that are the most relevant to however you are interpreting the scene.   

Criteria for Evaluation: Your scene analysis should be typed, double-spaced, one inch margins (top, bottom, left, right), twelve point font (Courier, Arial, Garamond, etc.).  Your paper should be between 5-7 pages.  I expect your essay to display proper use of MLA formatting.  Your scene analysis must utilize between 6-10 filmic concepts / terms  associated with the specific jargon / terminology associated with the construction / narration / compilation of the film medium. You are required to include a glossary at the end of your essay that 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 will count in your final page count for your essay.  

 

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