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!
Good luck!  Soon you'll be the next Roger Ebert.

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


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