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Writing about the Movies. . . The Papers in this Course. Review Chapter One of The Short Guide to Writing about Film –our textbook Writing about movies helps us understand how we respond to the movie

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Writing about the Movies. . . The Papers in this Course

  • Review Chapter One of The Short Guide to Writing about Film –our textbook

  • Writing about movies helps us understand how we respond to the movie

  • Most important, for this course, writing about the movie helps us make connections between the movie and an other area of culture--gender


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Movies and Gender

  • In writing about gender and movies, we are investigating both the culture in which we live (America) and the movies our culture produces (Hollywood Movies)

  • Specifically, in this course we investigate the depiction of gender both in our culture and in our movies

  • We will learn about ourselves, our culture, and our movies


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Three Types of Film Writing

  • The Movie Review introduces the movie to someone who hasn’t seen it, usually with a recommendation to see it, or not.

  • The Critical Essay reveals subtle or complex themes in the movie that a casual viewer may have missed

  • The Theoretical Essay seeks to explain some of the larger issues evoked by the movie. The papers in this course are theoretical essays.


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Writing Theoretical Essays in this course: The basics

  • The audience is your instructor. He’s already seen the movie (more than once). Don’t tell him the plot, please.

  • The purpose of the essay is to explain to your instructor how the movie portrays one of the characters as a specific gender icon, the one he has chosen as the title of your paper.

  • The style of the essay is informal, but structured


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Informal, but structured . . .

  • Informal – no footnotes, no bibliography

  • Structure—the essay should follow a specific pattern

    • The thesis is in the assigned title.

    • The first paragraph should summarize what you think the thesis means (What is a “golden heart?”

    • The rest of the paper, in any order you choose, should discuss

      • The title of the movie as it relates to the theme

      • The first scene, and the first scene we see the icon

      • The era in which the movie was made—do some research!

      • THREE OR FOUR IMPORTANT SCENES THAT CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF THE ICON.


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More on Structure

  • The first paper is titled, “The Man with the Golden Heart: Clark Gable in It Happened One Night” Think about this title while viewing the movie. Take notes on the scenes in which you see Clark Gable being this “Man with the Golden Heart.”

  • Pay special attention to how the movie opens—the first scene. Is the icon in it? What is going on? Take notes!

  • When you first see the icon, note down what he/she is doing. Remember, you will be referring to these notes later, when you are writing the paper.


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More on Writing the essays

  • Keep notes on your viewing notes by scene. You will have the scenes identified for you. Refer to the scenes by their names (not the numbers) in your paper.

  • After you have seen the movie, go over your notes and select the 3 or 4 scenes that best describe the icon—keep the title and theme in mind.

  • The conclusion of the essay should be a one-paragraph summary of the main ideas in your paper. It is a lot like the first paragraph, but not identical!


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Finishing the essay

  • The essay should respond to these questions

  • How does the title of the movie relate to the icon?

  • How does the movie’s first scene relate to the icon?

  • How does the icon’s first scene establish him/her?

  • What are the three or four most important scenes?

    • These scenes show us the icon doing something that makes the icon what it is. Describe the action in the scene. Don’t merely name the scene.

    • Explain why you find these scenes to be showing us the icon by interpreting and explaining what they mean.

    • Use your imagination and intelligence; be creative.


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Nuts and Bolts: A suggested outline (only a suggestion)

  • Introduction: Title, theme, and your explanation of what the theme means.

  • First few paragraphs: How the title, the era, the first scene, and the first icon scene introduce the icon theme. (Remember that the story always has reversals, so how the character first appears is most likely not the way the icon will be at the end of the movie. The first scene is “setup”)

  • Second group of paragraphs: The “Act 2” scenes in which the icon develops. You probably need two or three from here. There should be a scene or two from “Act 3,” as well

  • The conclusion should summarize how the scenes explain the icon – a lot like the introduction, but not the same!


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