Short Guide to Writing about Film

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  • Edition: 8th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 7/7/2011
  • Publisher: Longman
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This best-selling text is a succinct guide to thinking critically and writing precisely about film.   Both an introduction to film study and a practical writing guide, this brief text introduces students to major film theories as well as film terminology, enabling them to write more thoughtfully and critically. With numerous student and professional examples, this engaging and practical guide progresses from taking notes and writing first drafts to creating polished essays and comprehensive research projects. Moving from movie reviews to theoretical and critical essays, the text demonstrates how an analysis of a film can become more subtle and rigorous as part of a compositional process.

Table of Contents



I.    Writing about the Movies  

Why Write about the Movies?  

Your Audience and the Aims of Film Criticism  

    The Screening Report  

    The Movie Review 

    The Theoretical Essay  

    The Critical Essay  

Opinion and Evaluation  



2–Beginning to Think, Preparing to Watch, and Starting to Write  

Subject Matter and Meaning  

Silent Dialogue: Talking Back to the Movies  

Taking Notes  

Visual Memory and Reflection  



3–Film Terms and Topics for Film Analysis and Writing 


Film and the Other Arts 



    Point of View  

    Comparative Essays  

Mise-en-Scène and Realism  


    Elements of Mise-en-Scène  

Composition and the Image  

    The Shot      

    The Edited Image  


Sample Essay  



4–Six Approaches to Writing about Film  

Film History  

National Cinemas  



Kinds of Formalism  


Sample Essays  



5–Style and Structure in Writing  

The Right Words  

    Concrete Language  

    Denotation and Connotation  


    Repetitions and Clichés  

Effective Sentences  


    Varied Sentence Structures  

Coherent Paragraphs  

Introductory Paragraphs  

Concluding Paragraphs  

Revisions and Proofreading  

Checklist for Writing an Effective Essay  



6–Researching the Movies  

How to Begin Research 

The Materials of Research  

    Primary Sources  

    Video, DVDs, and Digital Downloads  


    Secondary Sources: Books, Indexes, Journals, and Electronic Sources  

Film Research on the Internet  

Taking Notes on Secondary Sources  

Writing the Paper  

Sample Essays  



7–Manuscript Form  

Manuscript Copy  

Last-Minute Corrections  


Acknowledging Sources

    Common Knowledge 

Documenting Sources  

    Notes for Documentation  

    Works Cited 

    Notes Supplying Additional Commentary  

Common Conventions of Usage  



    Foreign Words and Quotation Marks  

    Sexist Language  


Last Words  


Appendix: Symbols Commonly Used In Marking Papers  

Glossary of Film Terms  

Works Cited 



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