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So your professor has assigned a paper about Tommy Wiseau's masterpiece The Room.  You haven't seen this work of art yet, but you're nervous about getting started.  Sure, it sounds like writing a paper about a book or poem, but you have a lingering doubt that it will actually be quite different.  Well, dear reader, you are right about that.  While writing about film still involves reading
the film as a text, you can ask many different questions about it and approach writing about it in a much different way than you would a novel.


Getting Started—Picking up on Themes

There are as many ways to analyze a film as there are to analyze a book.  The choices that a director uses to create a film are all important and have implications beyond the surface level.  Try thinking about your assigned film with the following questions in mind:

·       What perspectives are presented in the film?  From whose point of view do you experience most of the narrative?  Are there moments in the film where you see through a specific character's eyes?  Why do you think the director chose to film it from that person's perspective?

·       How is music used in this film?

·       How are techniques like lighting, sound, and dialogue used?  These elements that we rarely think about convey an important message about the subject of the film.

·       You can also track images and motifs in a film like you would in a novel.  For instance, what role do spoons play in The Room?  Or how are human relationships portrayed?

How to Get Started Writing

When writing about a film, I often find that watching the movie again with my research question in mind is extremely helpful.  Unlike rereading a  book, a movie takes only about two hours to watch again, and seeing the film again in the context of your question can be a really effective way to brainstorm.  If you watch a DVD version, make notes about specific scenes and note the time so that you can reference the film again later if you wish.  Remember that you still want to have a clear thesis statement and supporting evidence!

Also:  the following website has a great glossary of film terms so that you can feel more comfortable writing about film techniques!
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/student/humanities/film.shtml#glossary
Good luck!  Soon you'll be the next Roger Ebert.
4/8/2011

Thanks for taking this opportunity to discuss this, I feel fervently about this and I like learning about this subject.

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