- Make a list of important
scenes in your film (you have your scene log as reminder).
- Choose one that you
think would be best to analyze for the purposes of our project.
- What is the key scene in
the film given the purpose of our
- Some criteria for choice:
- A scene that is significant for the way it deals with history
(recreation of fact, invention of fiction, compression of events,
indicative of agenda, etc.)
- One that is significant for the director's technique, one that
reviewers and critics focus on, one memorable to general viewers, and
- What to write about? Our focus is on the way history is
represented in film. Your essay should surely and clearly relate to
that main subject.
- Some more specific questions to get you thinking:
- How does this scene relate to the overall theme or purpose of the
film in regard to the depiction of history?
- What is the specific purpose/goal of this individual scene?
- What techniques/means do the director and actors use to
accomplish that purpose?
- What kind of audience response does the director/writer want?
- How well does the scene work, both intrinsically and in the
overall movement of the film?
- How does the scene relate to other scenes in your film and
perhaps to scenes in other films?
- Why is this scene a good one to focus on for students of the
relationship between film and history?
- You may and should incorporate material from your sources, using
proper MLA format, but your fresh, creative eye and mind on the
material is really what you want to apply.
- You are an "analyzer" here. Show how a text "works," moves,
functions -- and why. Look "down" into a specific scene. Look "into" a
specific piece of the film. What's going on there and why?
- Again, remember, you are an "analyzer" not a "recorder" or
"summarizer" or "paraphraser."
- Consider your scene as a whole that has a beginning and an end,
as a unit that can in a sense be lifted for discussion purposes from
the entire film like one could study an organ of the body.
- Consider that the scene has a specific purpose to carry out in
the larger film, has a specific function in achieving the purpose of
the film, like an organ would have in the functioning of the body: what
is the purpose of the scene? what role does it play in the film as a
- Consider that the purpose or function of the scene may have as
much to do with creating a feeling or an emotion in the audience as it
does with communicating fact or meaning.
- Assume that the scene is deliberately and consciously crafted to
achieve that purpose, that function.
- Assume that the film-makers had options about how to craft the
scene and that they weighed choices in order to achieve the best
- Consider "the shot." Where is the camera placed? Does it move?
What does it show? How about lighting? sound?
- Assume that conscious decisions were made to achieve the final
- Now, do a "close reading" of your scene. To continue the body
metaphor, "anatomize" the scene (or "autopsy" it)!
- What is the inner dynamic you see? Show the inner workings. Show
how the parts of the scene contribute to the whole. Show how fact is
communicated, how feeling is aroused. What techniques do you see? What
is the structure of the scene? How does the scene move from beginning
- Watch out for pitfalls in this
assignment: Make sure you are
focusing on technique and not just on meaning or plot. And avoid the
common tendency just to simply begin at the beginning of the scene and
write to the end (first this happens, then this, then this, the scene
ends). It's best to state what you see as the purpose of the scene up
front, then to organize the body of the
essay in some way around what you see as the important techniques
rather than simply following a mechanical chronology of the scene.
- The essay should normally be approx 1000-1500 words.
- The scene analysis can be incorporated into the later, longer
paper if you desire.
- Title your essay with a bit of flair (not just "My Scene Essay").
Be descriptive. Catch attention.
- Make sure that you clearly identify the scene on which you focus
(you might use or paraphrase the title you give it in the scene log),
and give the time mark the first time you mention it, as well as other
times when you need a "footnote" type reference.
- For the scene analysis and issue essay we will want to think
about what adjustments we need to make in both structure and form when
we write essays for the web as opposed to writing on paper:
- "Chunk": this will not apply so much to short papers like the
scene analysis; but reading long texts on the web is enormously
improved if you have a clear outline and are able to break your essay
into subsections with titles; so, especially for the issue essay you
will do, think of writing in "chunks"
- Length of paragraphs; scrolling while reading is still awk for
most of us; try not to go longer than about 250 words
- Number paragraphs [place the number within brackets at the
margin at the beginning of the paragraph -- indent after the bracketed
number]: unless paragraphs are numbered or some other system is used,
it is very hard to direct a reader to a specific spot in an online
essay; thus, number your paragraphs so that you and others can cite
parts of your work (like footnotes in a print text)