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FILM 113- Film Study: World Cinema - Professor Costanzo: "Scene Analysis" Term Paper Assignment

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Scene Analysis - Term Paper

First Draft Due: July 23. Final Draft Due: July 27. 

Choose a scene that you would like to study more closely and give it a name. It may be from one of the eight feature films we’ve watched together or a film clip from one of the four unit modules. You must get Professor Costanzo's permission to choose any other movie. Begin by explaining the reasons for your choice. Why did you select this scene to analyze? If you’re familiar with the film, provide some context. Briefly describe the movie’s plot. Who are the main characters, what are they seeking in the story, and what conflicts do they encounter? Then explain how your chosen scene fits into the story. How does it help to develop character and/or move the plot along?

Before writing, analyze the scene as it unfolds. Pay attention to the editing (how the scene is cut into individual shots, how these shots are linked, how pacing is controlled). Notice how the action develops, how the actors perform their roles, what the camera does, how the scene is lit. Listen to the sound track for shifts in dialogue, music, sound effects, and any voice-over narration. Since you’ll be watching this scene several times, it will help to take careful notes. Now describe what you noticed. You can do this shot by shot or more broadly, in terms of the scene’s general progression. Your description should include the following:

  1. a brief description of the scene (setting, characters, action),
  2. framing (how close ups, medium shots, or long shot are used),
  3. camera angle (low angle, high angle, eye level),
  4. camera movement (tilt, crane, tracking, none),  
  5. lighting (high key, low key, normal),
  6. sound (describe any dialogue, music, voice over, or sound effects), and
  7. any special transitions (dissolve, wipe, other optical effects besides straight cuts). 

Finally, answer the following questions (in a paragraph or two for each) about your chosen scene:

  1. CHARACTER. What does this scene tell you about the major character or characters? Refer as specifically as you can to the actors' movements, gestures, words, and dress as revealed by the camera.
  2. SETTING. How is the time period and location of the story represented in the scene? What does the setting contribute to our understanding of the characters and their situation?
  3. COMEDY: How would you describe the kind of humor in this scene? What makes it funny, zany, droll, or absurd? Does it belong to a recognizable subgenre like parody, satire, slapstick, farce, or dark comedy? How do the lighting, sound, and camera work help to create the mood? Why do you think the scene works or fails as comedy?
  4. THEME: What larger purposes do you think the humor serves? Is there a target? Who or what are we expected to laugh at? To what extent is the comedy tied to history or culture? How much depends on an understanding of the language, local customs, or events of the time? To what extent does it seem universal?

Please also refer to your syllabus for further details about grading and assessment. 

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