The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Film Analysis

What this handout is about.

This handout introduces film analysis and and offers strategies and resources for approaching film analysis assignments.

Writing the film analysis essay

Writing a film analysis requires you to consider the composition of the film—the individual parts and choices made that come together to create the finished piece. Film analysis goes beyond the analysis of the film as literature to include camera angles, lighting, set design, sound elements, costume choices, editing, etc. in making an argument. The first step to analyzing the film is to watch it with a plan.

Watching the film

First it’s important to watch the film carefully with a critical eye. Consider why you’ve been assigned to watch a film and write an analysis. How does this activity fit into the course? Why have you been assigned this particular film? What are you looking for in connection to the course content? Let’s practice with this clip from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). Here are some tips on how to watch the clip critically, just as you would an entire film:

  • Give the clip your undivided attention at least once. Pay close attention to details and make observations that might start leading to bigger questions.
  • Watch the clip a second time. For this viewing, you will want to focus specifically on those elements of film analysis that your class has focused on, so review your course notes. For example, from whose perspective is this clip shot? What choices help convey that perspective? What is the overall tone, theme, or effect of this clip?
  • Take notes while you watch for the second time. Notes will help you keep track of what you noticed and when, if you include timestamps in your notes. Timestamps are vital for citing scenes from a film!

For more information on watching a film, check out the Learning Center’s handout on watching film analytically . For more resources on researching film, including glossaries of film terms, see UNC Library’s research guide on film & cinema .

Brainstorming ideas

Once you’ve watched the film twice, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas based on your notes. Brainstorming is a major step that helps develop and explore ideas. As you brainstorm, you may want to cluster your ideas around central topics or themes that emerge as you review your notes. Did you ask several questions about color? Were you curious about repeated images? Perhaps these are directions you can pursue.

If you’re writing an argumentative essay, you can use the connections that you develop while brainstorming to draft a thesis statement . Consider the assignment and prompt when formulating a thesis, as well as what kind of evidence you will present to support your claims. Your evidence could be dialogue, sound edits, cinematography decisions, etc. Much of how you make these decisions will depend on the type of film analysis you are conducting, an important decision covered in the next section.

After brainstorming, you can draft an outline of your film analysis using the same strategies that you would for other writing assignments. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind as you prepare for this stage of the assignment:

  • Make sure you understand the prompt and what you are being asked to do. Remember that this is ultimately an assignment, so your thesis should answer what the prompt asks. Check with your professor if you are unsure.
  • In most cases, the director’s name is used to talk about the film as a whole, for instance, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo .” However, some writers may want to include the names of other persons who helped to create the film, including the actors, the cinematographer, and the sound editor, among others.
  • When describing a sequence in a film, use the literary present. An example could be, “In Vertigo , Hitchcock employs techniques of observation to dramatize the act of detection.”
  • Finding a screenplay/script of the movie may be helpful and save you time when compiling citations. But keep in mind that there may be differences between the screenplay and the actual product (and these differences might be a topic of discussion!).
  • Go beyond describing basic film elements by articulating the significance of these elements in support of your particular position. For example, you may have an interpretation of the striking color green in Vertigo , but you would only mention this if it was relevant to your argument. For more help on using evidence effectively, see the section on “using evidence” in our evidence handout .

Also be sure to avoid confusing the terms shot, scene, and sequence. Remember, a shot ends every time the camera cuts; a scene can be composed of several related shots; and a sequence is a set of related scenes.

Different types of film analysis

As you consider your notes, outline, and general thesis about a film, the majority of your assignment will depend on what type of film analysis you are conducting. This section explores some of the different types of film analyses you may have been assigned to write.

Semiotic analysis

Semiotic analysis is the interpretation of signs and symbols, typically involving metaphors and analogies to both inanimate objects and characters within a film. Because symbols have several meanings, writers often need to determine what a particular symbol means in the film and in a broader cultural or historical context.

For instance, a writer could explore the symbolism of the flowers in Vertigo by connecting the images of them falling apart to the vulnerability of the heroine.

Here are a few other questions to consider for this type of analysis:

  • What objects or images are repeated throughout the film?
  • How does the director associate a character with small signs, such as certain colors, clothing, food, or language use?
  • How does a symbol or object relate to other symbols and objects, that is, what is the relationship between the film’s signs?

Many films are rich with symbolism, and it can be easy to get lost in the details. Remember to bring a semiotic analysis back around to answering the question “So what?” in your thesis.

Narrative analysis

Narrative analysis is an examination of the story elements, including narrative structure, character, and plot. This type of analysis considers the entirety of the film and the story it seeks to tell.

For example, you could take the same object from the previous example—the flowers—which meant one thing in a semiotic analysis, and ask instead about their narrative role. That is, you might analyze how Hitchcock introduces the flowers at the beginning of the film in order to return to them later to draw out the completion of the heroine’s character arc.

To create this type of analysis, you could consider questions like:

  • How does the film correspond to the Three-Act Structure: Act One: Setup; Act Two: Confrontation; and Act Three: Resolution?
  • What is the plot of the film? How does this plot differ from the narrative, that is, how the story is told? For example, are events presented out of order and to what effect?
  • Does the plot revolve around one character? Does the plot revolve around multiple characters? How do these characters develop across the film?

When writing a narrative analysis, take care not to spend too time on summarizing at the expense of your argument. See our handout on summarizing for more tips on making summary serve analysis.

Cultural/historical analysis

One of the most common types of analysis is the examination of a film’s relationship to its broader cultural, historical, or theoretical contexts. Whether films intentionally comment on their context or not, they are always a product of the culture or period in which they were created. By placing the film in a particular context, this type of analysis asks how the film models, challenges, or subverts different types of relations, whether historical, social, or even theoretical.

For example, the clip from Vertigo depicts a man observing a woman without her knowing it. You could examine how this aspect of the film addresses a midcentury social concern about observation, such as the sexual policing of women, or a political one, such as Cold War-era McCarthyism.

A few of the many questions you could ask in this vein include:

  • How does the film comment on, reinforce, or even critique social and political issues at the time it was released, including questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality?
  • How might a biographical understanding of the film’s creators and their historical moment affect the way you view the film?
  • How might a specific film theory, such as Queer Theory, Structuralist Theory, or Marxist Film Theory, provide a language or set of terms for articulating the attributes of the film?

Take advantage of class resources to explore possible approaches to cultural/historical film analyses, and find out whether you will be expected to do additional research into the film’s context.

Mise-en-scène analysis

A mise-en-scène analysis attends to how the filmmakers have arranged compositional elements in a film and specifically within a scene or even a single shot. This type of analysis organizes the individual elements of a scene to explore how they come together to produce meaning. You may focus on anything that adds meaning to the formal effect produced by a given scene, including: blocking, lighting, design, color, costume, as well as how these attributes work in conjunction with decisions related to sound, cinematography, and editing. For example, in the clip from Vertigo , a mise-en-scène analysis might ask how numerous elements, from lighting to camera angles, work together to present the viewer with the perspective of Jimmy Stewart’s character.

To conduct this type of analysis, you could ask:

  • What effects are created in a scene, and what is their purpose?
  • How does this scene represent the theme of the movie?
  • How does a scene work to express a broader point to the film’s plot?

This detailed approach to analyzing the formal elements of film can help you come up with concrete evidence for more general film analysis assignments.

Reviewing your draft

Once you have a draft, it’s helpful to get feedback on what you’ve written to see if your analysis holds together and you’ve conveyed your point. You may not necessarily need to find someone who has seen the film! Ask a writing coach, roommate, or family member to read over your draft and share key takeaways from what you have written so far.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Aumont, Jacques, and Michel Marie. 1988. L’analyse Des Films . Paris: Nathan.

Media & Design Center. n.d. “Film and Cinema Research.” UNC University Libraries. Last updated February 10, 2021. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/filmresearch .

Oxford Royale Academy. n.d. “7 Ways to Watch Film.” Oxford Royale Academy. Accessed April 2021. https://www.oxford-royale.com/articles/7-ways-watch-films-critically/ .

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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film dissertation structure

Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

film dissertation structure

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings . In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

film dissertation structure

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

36 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Rami

Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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Dissertations

Listed by year of graduation

  Geneveive Newman , Online Editor, New Review of Film and Television Studies

  • Dissertation Title: “ Of Victims and Survivors: Representing Collective and Individual Rape Trauma ”
  • Chair: Adam Lowenstein
  • Readers: Neepa Majumdar, Mark Lynn Anderson, Bridget Keown (Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies), and David Pettersen (French)

 Silpa Mukherjee , Assistant Professor of Film & Media, Global South, and Cultural Studies, University of California San Diego

  • Dissertation Title: “ Cinema as Contraband: Bombay’s Cine-Crime Nexus, 1977-1991 ”
  • Chair: Neepa Majumdar
  • Readers: Mark Lynn Anderson, Adam Lowenstein, Randall Halle (German), and Ranjani Mazumdar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Jonah Jeng , Visiting Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh Film & Media Studies

  • Dissertation Title: “ The Long Take: A Spectacular Film Realism for the Anthropocene ”
  • Readers: Neepa Majumdar, Zachary Horton, and Randall Halle (German)

Jordan Parrish

  • Dissertation Title: “ A Phantom Experience: Traumatic Embodiment in Temporal Body Horror Cinema ”
  • Readers: Zachary Horton, Jennifer Waldron, and Charles Exley (East Asian Languages & Literatures)

Nikhil Titus

  • Dissertation Title: “ Curated Desires: Intersections of Low-Grade Cinema, Migration, and Gentrification in Mumbai ”
  • Readers: Robert Clift, Zachary Horton, and Randall Halle (German)
  • Dissertation: " Aluminum Lesbians: Recycling Lesbian Legacy in Classical Hollywood"
  • Chair: Mark Lynn Anderson (English)
  • Readers: Jules Gill-Peterson (English), Nancy Glazener (English), David Pettersen (French & Italian)
  • Dissertation: " Process over Product: Kinesthetic Cinema, Sporting Bodies, and Media Milieux"
  • Readers: Randall Halle (German), Adam Lowenstein (English), Neepa Majumdar (English)
  • Dissertation: White Design: Engineering the Visualization of Race and Racism in Social Media
  • Chair: Jinying Li (English) & Zachary Horton (English)
  • Readers: Mark Lynn Anderson (English), Brenton Malin (Communication), Elizabeth Reich (English)
  • Dissertation: From Women's Cinema to Women's Horror Cinema: Genre and Gender in the Twenty-First Century
  • Chair: Adam Lowenstein (English)
  • Readers: Lucy Fischer (English), Neepa Majumdar (English), David Pettersen (French & Italian)
  • Dissertation: Soviet Tableau: Cinema and History under Late Socialism (1953-1985)
  • Chair:  Nancy Condee  (Slavic)
  • Readers:   David Birnbaum  (Slavic),   Randall Halle  (German),  Neepa Majumdar  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English),  Vladimir Padunov  (Slavic),  Dan Morgan  (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)
  • Dissertation:  Cinema in Fragments: Transmediating Popular Hindi Cinema on Small Screens
  • Chair: Neepa Majumdar (English)
  • Readers: Nancy Condee (Slavic), Jinying Li (English), Aswin Punathambekar (Communication Studies, University of Michigan), Jennifer Waldron (English)
  • Dissertation:  The Interstate Logic: How Networks Change the Cinematic Representation of Time and Space
  • Chair:   Lucy Fischer  (English)
  • Readers:  Randall Halle  (German),  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English),  Neepa Majumdar  (English)
  • Dissertation:  "Quiet on Set!": Craft Discourse and Below-the-Line Labor in Hollywood, 1919-1985
  • Chair:  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English)
  • Readers:  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Neepa Majumdar  (English),   Randall Halle  (German), Dana Polan (NYU),  Dan Morgan  (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)
  • Dissertation:  The Matter of Identity: Digital Media, Television, and Embodied Difference
  • Chair:  Jane Feuer  (English)
  • Readers:  Brenton J. Malin  (Communication), Jinying Li (English),  Jennifer Waldron  (English)
  • Dissertation:  The Rehearsal for Terror: Form, Trauma, and Modern Horror
  • Chair:  Marcia Landy  (English)
  • Readers:  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English),  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Dan Morgan  (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)
  • Dissertation:  FEEL IT ALL AROUND: ART MUSIC VIDEO, ART CINEMA, AND SPECTATORSHIP IN THE STREAMING ERA
  • Chair:  Adam Lowenstein  (English)
  • Readers:  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English),  Neepa Majumdar  (English),   Randall Halle  (German),   Dan Morgan  (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)
  • Dissertation:  The Cinematic Animal: Animal Life, Technology, and the Moving Image
  • Readers:  Neepa Majumdar  (English),   Adam Lowenstein  (English), Akira Lippit (Cinema & Media Studies, University of Southern California)
  • Dissertation:  Sustaining Life During the AIDS Crisis: New Queer Cinema and the Biopic
  • Readers:  Lucy Fischer  (English),   Randall Halle  (German),   Marcia Landy  (English)
  • Dissertation: Pataphysical Networking: Virtuality, Potentiality and the Experimental Works of the Collège de 'Pataphysique, the Oulipo, and the Mouvement Panique
  • Dissertation: "Everything new is born illegal." Historicisizing Rapid Migration through New Media Projects
  • Chair: Randall Halle (German)
  • Readers: Nancy Condee (Slavic), Sabine von Dirk (German), John B. Lyon (German)
  • Dissertation:  Impasse in Multilingual Spaces: Politics of Language and Identity in Contemporary Francophone Contact Zones
  • Chair:  David Pettersen  (French & Italian)
  • Readers:  Nancy Condee  (Slavic),  Neil Doshi  (French & Italian),  Giuseppina Mecchia  (French & Italian)
  • Dissertation:  Press Play: Video Games and the Ludic Quality of Aesthetic Experiences across Media
  • Readers:   Randall Halle  (German), Jinying Li (English),  Neepa Majumdar  (English),  Dan Morgan  (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)
  • Dissertation:  Shopping the Look: Hollywood Costume Production and American Fashion Consumption, 1960-1969
  • Chair:  Neepa Majumdar  (English)
  • Readers:  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English),  Jane Feuer  (English),  Brenton J. Malin  (Communication)
  • Dissertation:  Another Habitat for the Muses: The Poetic Investigations of Mexican Film Criticism, 1896-1968
  • Readers:  Neepa Majumdar  (English),  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Joshua Lund  (University of Notre Dame)
  • Dissertation:  Frame and Finitude: The Aporetic Aesthetics of Alain Resnais's Cinematic Modernism
  • Co-Chairs:  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Daniel Morgan  (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)
  • Readers:  Neepa Majumdar  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English)

Natalie Ryabchikova

  • Dissertation: The Flying Fish: Sergei Eisenstein Abroad, 1929-1932.
  • Chair: Mark Lynn Anderson (Film)
  • Readers: William Chase (History), Nancy Condee (Slavic), Randall Halle  (Film), Vladimir Padunov (Slavic)

Kelly Trimble

  • Dissertation:  The Celebrification of Soviet Culture: State Heroes after Stalin, 2017
  • Chair: Vladimir Padunov (Slavic)
  • Readers: David Birnbaum (Slavic), Nancy Condee (Slavic), Randall Halle (German)
  • Dissertation:  A Hidden Light: Judaism, Contemporary Israeli Film, and the Cinematic Experience
  • ​Chair:   Lucy Fischer  (English)
  • Readers:  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Neepa Majumdar  (English), Adam Shear  (Religious Studies)
  • Dissertation:  Global Russian Cinema in the Digital Age: The Films of Timur Bekmambetov
  • ​Chair:   Nancy Condee  (Slavic)
  • Readers:  Vladimir Padunov  (Slavic),  Randall Halle  (German),  Daniel Morgan  (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago)
  • Dissertation:  The Flying Fish: Sergei Eisenstein Abroad, 1929-1932
  • ​Chair:   Vladimir Padunov  (Slavic)
  • Readers:  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English),  William Chase  (History),  Nancy Condee  (Slavic),  Randall Halle  (German)

Anne Wesserling , Visiting Assistant Professor, University of North Georgia

  • Dissertation: Screening Violence: Meditations on Perception in Recent Argentine Literature and Film of the Post-Dictatorship
  • Chair: Daniel Balderston  (Hispanic Languages & Literature)
  • Readers: John Beverley  (Hispanic Languages & Literature), Gonzalo Lamana  (Hispanic Languages & Literature), Adam Lowenstein  (English)
  • Dissertation:  The British War Film, 1939-1980: Culture, History, and Genre
  • Readers:  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English),  David Pettersen  (French & Italian)
  • Dissertation:  Unseen Femininity: Women in Japanese New Wave Cinema
  • Readers:  Nancy Condee  (Slavic),  Marcia Landy  (English),  Neepa Majumdar  (English)
  • Dissertation: Visualizing the Past: Perestroika Documentary Memory of Stalin-era
  • Readers: Nancy Condee (Slavic), David J. Birnbaum  (Slavic), Jeremy Hicks  (Languages, Linguistics, Film)

Gavin M. Hicks

  • Disseration: Soccer and Social Identity in Contemporary German Film and Media  
  • Readers: John B. Lyon  (German), Sabine von Dirke (German), Clark Muenzer  (German), Gayle Rogers (English)
  • Dissertation:  Film Dance, Female Stardom, and the Production of Gender in Popular Hindi Cinema
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English), Ranjani Mazumdar (Cinema Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  • Dissertation:  Overlooking the Evidence: Gender, Genre and the Female Detective in Hollywood Film and Television
  • Readers:  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English),  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Brenton J. Malin  (Communications)

Christopher Nielsen , Educator, Institute for Health and Socioeconomic Policy/National Nurses United

  • Dissertation: Narco Realism in Contemporary Mexican and Transnational Narrative, Film, and Online Media
  • Chair: Juan Duchesen-Winter (Hispanic Languages & Literature)
  • Readers: John Beverley (Hispanic Languages & Literature), Joshua Lund (Hispanic Languages & Literature), Giuseppina Mecchia  (French & Italian)
  • Dissertation:  New Korean Cinema: Mourning to Regeneration
  • Readers: Kyung Hyun Kim (East Asian Languages and Literatures, University of California, Irvine),  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English)
  • Dissertation:  “Insubordinate” Looking: Consumerism, Power, Identity, and the Art of Popular (Music) Dance Movies
  • Readers:  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English),   Lucy Fischer  (English),  Randall Halle  (German)
  • Dissertation:  Sustaining Feminist Film Cultures: An Institutional History of Women Make Movies
  • Readers:   Mark Lynn Anderson  (English),  Neepa Majumdar  (English),  Randall Halle  (German Language),  David Pettersen  (French & Italian)

Yvonne Franke , Assistant Professor of German, Midwestern State University

  • Dissertation:  The Genres of Europeanization - Moving Towards the "New Heimatfilm"
  • Readers: Lucy Fischer (Film), John B. Lyon (German), Sabine von Dirke (German)

Olga Kilmova ,  Visiting Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh

  • Dissertation: Soviet Youth Films under Brezhnev: Watching Between the Lines
  • Chair: Nancy Condee (Slavic)
  • Readers: Vladimir Padunov  (Slavic), David J. Birnbaum  (Slavic), Lucy Fischer  (Communication), Alexander V. Prokhorov (Slavic)
  • Dissertation:  The Toy Like Nature: On the History and Theory of Animated Motion
  • Chair: Daniel Morgan
  • Readers:  Marcia Landy  (English), Mark Lynn Anderson  (English), Scott Bukatman (Film & Media Studies, Stanford University)
  • Dissertation:  Cinematic Occupation: Intelligibility, Queerness, and Palestine
  • Readers:  Mark Lynn Anderson  (English), Troy Boone  (English), Todd Reeser (French & Italian)

Yahya Laayouni , Assistant Professor of Arabic and French, Bloomsberg University of Pennsylvania

  • Dissertation: Redefining Beur Cinema: Constituting Subjectivity through Film
  • Co-Chairs: Giuseppina Mecchia  (French and Italian) & Randall Halle  (German)
  • Readers: Todd Reeser (French and Italian), Mohammed Bamyeh  (Sociology & Religious Studies), Neil Doshi  (French & Italian)
  • Dissertation:  Image to Infinity: Rethinking Description and Detail in the Cinema
  • Chair:   Marcia Landy  (English)
  • Readers: Troy Boone ,  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English),  Randall Halle  (German)
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  • Dissertation:  Screen Combat: Recreating World War II in American Film and Media
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English),  Randall Halle  (German)
  • Dissertation:  Modern Kinesis: Motion Picture Technology, Embodiment, and Re-Playability in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twenty-First Centuries
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English),  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Giuseppina Mecchia  (French & Italian)
  • Dissertation:  Research in the Form of a Spectacle: Godard and the Cinematic Essay
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English)
  • Dissertation:  Immaterial Materiality: Collecting in Live-Action Film, Animation, and Digital Games
  • Readers:  Marcia Landy  (English),  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Randall Halle  (German)
  • Dissertation:  Nation, Nostalgia, and Masculinity: Clinton/Spielberg/Hanks
  • Readers:  Marcia Landy  (English),  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Brent Malin  (Communications)
  • Dissertation:  Body Image: Fashioning the Postwar American
  • Readers:  Jane Feuer  (English), Marianne Novy (English), Carol Stabile (English, University of Oregon)

Natalia Maria Ramirez-Lopez , 

  • Dissertation: MARGINALIDAD Y VIOLENCIA JUVENIL EN MEDELLÍN Y BOGOTÁ: NARRATIVAS LITERARIAS Y FÍMICAS DE LOS AÑOS 80 Y 90 EN COLOMBIA
  • Chair: Hermann Herlinghaus  (Latin American Literature, University of Freiburg)
  • Readers: Aníbal Perez-Linán (Political Science), Bobby J. Chamberlain  (Hispanic Languages & Literature), Gerald Martin (Hispanic Languages & Literature)

Dawn Seckler , Associate Director of Development, Bridgeway Capital

  • Dissertation: Engendering Genre: The Contemporary Russian Buddy Film
  • Readers: David MacFadyen (University of California, Los Angeles), Lucy Fischer  (Film), Nancy Condee (Slavic)
  • Dissertation:  The Ethnic Turn: Studies in Political Cinema from Brazil and the United States, 1960-2002
  • Readers:  Adam Lowenstein  (English), Shalini Puri,  Neepa Majumdar  (English),  John Beverley  (Hispanic)
  • Dissertation:  Acting Social: The Cinema of Mike Nichols
  • Readers:  Mark Anderson  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English), David Shumway (English, Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Dissertation:  Ruins and Riots: Transnational Currents in Mexican Cinema
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English),  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  John Beverly  (Hispanic)
  • Dissertation:  The Word Made Cinematic: The Representation of Jesus in Cinema
  • Readers: Troy Boone ,  Adam Lowenstein  (English), Vernell Lillie (Africana Studies)
  • Dissertation:  Fathers of a Still-Born Past: Hindu Empire, Globality, and the Rhetoric of the Trikaal
  • Readers: Paul Bové  (English), Ronald Judy  (English),  Nancy Condee  (Slavic)
  • Dissertation:  Excavating the Ghetto Action Cycle (1991-1996): A Case Study for a Cycle-Based Approach to Genre Theory
  • Readers:  Jane Feuer  (English),  Neepa Majumdar  (English), Paula Massood (Cinema and Media Studies, Brooklyn College, CUNY)
  • Dissertation:  "The World Goes One Way and We Go Another": Movement, Migration, and Myths of Irish Cinema
  • Readers:  Adam Lowenstein  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English),  Nancy Condee  (Slavic Languages and Literatures)
  • Dissertation:  The Writing on the Screen: Images of Text in the German Cinema from 1920-1949
  • Readers: Paul Bové  (English),  Lucy Fischer  (English), Linda Shulte-Sasse (German, McAllister College)
  • Dissertation:  Mantras of the Metropole: Geo-Televisuality and Contemporary Indian Cinema
  • Readers: Paul Bové  (English); Eric Clarke (English);  Colin MacCabe  (English); M. Prasad (Film Theory, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad)
  • Dissertation:  Hollywood Youth Narratives and the Family Values Campaign 1980-1992
  • Readers: Troy Boone  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English), Carol Stabile (Communications)
  • Dissertation:  Reading Scars: Circumcision as Textual Trope
  • Chair: Philip Smith  (English)
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English), Mariolina Salvatori, Greg Goekjian (Portland State University)
  • Dissertation:  Dreaming in Crisis: Angels and the Allegorical Imagination in Postwar America
  • Chair:  Colin MacCabe  (English)
  • Readers: Ronald Judy  (English), Jonathan Arac ,  Nancy Condee  (Slavic)
  • Dissertation:  Laying Down the Rules: The American Sports Film Genre From 1872 to 1960
  • Readers:  Jane Feuer  (English), Moya Luckett, Carol Stabile (Communications)

Elena Prokhorova

  • Dissertation: Fragmented Mythologies: Soviet TV Series of the 1970s
  • Readers: Carol Stabile (Communications), Jane Feuer (English and Film), Martin Votruba (Slavic), Nancy Condee (Slavic)
  • Dissertation:  Nickels and Dimes: The Movies in a Rampantly American City, 1914-1923
  • Readers: Moya Luckett,  Jane Feuer , Gregory Waller (University of Kentucky)
  • Dissertation:  As Far As Anyone Knows: Fetishism and the Anti-Televisual Paradoxes of Film Noir
  • Readers: Valerie Krips, James Knapp, Henry Krips (Communications)

Alexander Prokhorov , Associate Professor, College of William and Mary

  • Dissertation: Inherited Discourse: Stalinist Tropes in Thaw Culture
  • Chair: Helena Goscilo (Slavic)
  • Readers: Lucy Fischer (Film), Mark Altshuller (Slavic), Nancy Condee (Slavic), Vladimir Padunov (Slavic)
  • Dissertation:  “Dig If You Will The Picture”: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense
  • Chair:   Marcia Landy  (English)
  • Readers: Paul Bové  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English), Amy Villarejo (Cornell), Wahneema Lubiano (Duke)
  • Dissertation:   French Film Criticism, Authorship, and National Culture in the Mirror of John Cassavetes’s Body, His Life, His Work
  • Readers:   Marcia Landy  (English), James Knapp
  • Dissertation:  In The Shadow of His Language: Language and Feminine Subjectivity in the Cinema
  • Chair:   Colin MacCabe  (English)
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English), Lynn Emanuel, Patrizia Lombardo (French and Italian)
  • Dissertation:  Being In Control: The Ending Of The Information Age
  • Chair: Paul Bové  (English)
  • Readers: Jonathan Arac ,  Marcia Landy , Carol Stabile (Communications)
  • Dissertation:  The Emergence of Date Rape: Feminism, Theory, Institutional Discourse, and Popular Culture
  • Readers: Nancy Glazener  (English),   Lucy Fischer  (English), Carol A. Stabile (Communications)
  • Dissertation:  Gender and the Politics and Practices of Representation in Contemporary British Cinema
  • Readers: James Knapp,  Marcia Landy  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English), Sabine Hake (German)
  • Dissertation:  Telling the Story of AIDS in Popular Culture
  • Chair:   Jane Feuer  (English)
  • Readers: Eric Clarke (English),  Marcia Landy  (English), Danae Clark (Communications)
  • Dissertation:  Technology, the Natural and the Other: The Case of Childbirth Representations in Contemporary Popular Culture
  • Readers:  Marcia Landy  (English), Dana Polan, Iris M. Young (Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh)
  • Dissertation:  Lesbian Rule:  Cultural Criticism and the Value of Desire
  • Readers: Paul Bové  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English), Gayatri Spivak (Columbia)
  • Dissertation:  Feminism, Postmodernism, and Science Fiction: Gender and Ways of Thinking Otherwise
  • Chair:  Philip Smith
  • Readers:  Marica Landy  (English),  Lucy Fischer  (English), Dana Polan, Tamara Horowitz (Philosophy)
  • Dissertation:  Camp and the Question of Value
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English), Eric Clarke (English), Janet Staiger (University of Texas–Austin)
  • Dissertation:  Culture in a State of Crisis:  A Historical Construction in Cinematic Ideology in India, 1919-75
  • Readers: Paul Bové  (English),  Colin MacCabe  (English), Keya Ganguly (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Dissertation:  The Ethics of Transgression: Criticism and Cultural Marginality
  • Chair: Paul Bove  (English)
  • Readers:   Lucy Fischer  (English),  Marcia Landy  (English), Dana Pollan, Danae Clarke
  • Dissertation:  Sally Bowles: Fascism, Female Spectacle, and the Politics of Looking
  • Readers:  Marcia Landy  (English), Dana Polan, Sabine Hake (German)

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Film Analysis

Crafting a Winning Thesis Statement in Film Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Dec 6, 2023

Avinash Prabhakaran

Film analysis is a captivating and insightful way to explore the world of cinema. Whether you're a film student, a cinephile, or just someone who enjoys dissecting movies, you'll find that forming a solid thesis statement is the cornerstone of a successful film analysis. 

A thesis statement serves as the roadmap for your analysis, guiding your reader through your interpretation of the film's elements and themes. 

In this blog post, we'll outline the steps to help you craft an effective thesis statement for your film analysis.

Understand the Film's Context

Before diving into your analysis, it's crucial to understand the film's context. This includes the director's background, the film's era, its genre, and any cultural or historical factors that may have influenced its production. Gathering this context will help you form a more informed thesis statement.

Watch the Film Multiple Times

You must thoroughly watch the film multiple times to craft a thoughtful thesis statement. Each viewing will reveal new details and nuances that you may have missed initially. Take notes during your viewings to record your observations and ideas.

Identify Key Themes and Elements

During your viewings, pay close attention to the film's themes, characters, plot, cinematography, sound, and other elements. Think about what the director is trying to convey and how they use these elements. Make a list of the most prominent themes and elements you observe.

Formulate a Research Question

Based on your observations and analysis, formulate a research question you want to answer in your essay. This question should be open-ended and should invite critical thinking. For example, "How does the use of color symbolism in 'The Shawshank Redemption' reflect the theme of hope?

Brainstorm and Organize Ideas

Now, brainstorm your ideas related to the research question. Think about the evidence you've gathered and how it supports your interpretation of the film. Organize these ideas into a logical structure that will guide your analysis.

Craft a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement should be concise, clear, and arguable. It should encapsulate the main argument of your analysis and give the reader a clear sense of what to expect in your essay. Here are some tips for crafting a solid thesis statement:

Make it specific:  Avoid vague or overly broad statements. Be precise in what you're arguing.

Make it debatable:  Your thesis should invite discussion and disagreement. Avoid stating the obvious.

Make it relevant:  Ensure that your thesis directly addresses the research question and the film's themes or elements.

Example Thesis Statement:

"In Christopher Nolan's 'Inception,' the use of dreams as a narrative device serves to blur the line between reality and perception, challenging conventional notions of truth and subjectivity."

Examples to Support the Thesis:

Dreams as a Narrative Device

Throughout 'Inception,' the characters enter various dream levels, each with its own set of rules and physics. Nolan uses this complex narrative structure to keep the audience engaged and constantly questioning what is real.

The manipulation of time within dreams adds another layer of complexity to the narrative. Time moves differently at each dream level, leading to intricate storytelling that challenges traditional linear storytelling.

Blurring Reality and Perception

The film consistently blurs the boundaries between dreams and reality, making it difficult for the characters and the audience to distinguish between them. This intentional ambiguity creates a sense of unease and intrigue.

The use of the spinning top as a totem to determine reality in the film's closing scene encapsulates the theme of perception versus reality. The spinning top symbolizes the characters' struggle to discern the truth.

Challenging Conventional Notions of Truth and Subjectivity

'Inception' invites viewers to question their understanding of reality and truth. The film challenges the idea of an objective reality by presenting multiple layers of dreams and subjective experiences.

The film's enigmatic ending, which leaves the spinning top's fate unresolved, forces viewers to confront their subjectivity and interpretation of the story's conclusion.

By examining these specific examples, it becomes evident how using dreams as a narrative device in 'Inception' blurs the line between reality and perception, ultimately challenging conventional notions of truth and subjectivity as proposed in the thesis statement. 

This exemplifies the importance of using concrete evidence from the film to validate your interpretation as outlined in your thesis statement.

Forming a thesis statement in film analysis is vital in creating a compelling and well-structured essay. 

By understanding the film's context, closely examining its elements, and crafting a clear and arguable thesis statement, you'll be well on your way to conducting a thorough and insightful analysis that will engage your readers and deepen your understanding of cinema. Happy analyzing!

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Film Dissertation

Module overview.

The dissertation is an extended piece of work of 8,000 words in length which is the result of an in-depth study of an area of film studies. The subject matter could be a movement, a director, a studio or production company, a national cinema, genre or theoretical issue. It should not replicate assessed work in the other final year module.

Linked modules

FILM1001 or FILM2006 or FILM1027 or FILM1020

Aims and Objectives

Learning outcomes, knowledge and understanding.

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • a chosen area of investigation which reflects and embodies your own particular expertise and enthusiasm
  • how rigorous intellectual inquiry within a relatively narrow field of study can nevertheless inform and enhance a wider engagement with one or more constituent disciplines
  • relevant theoretical approaches applicable to your chosen area of study

Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • organize your ideas in a systematic and fully developed fashion
  • craft a structured and fully developed exposition of those same conclusions
  • analyse, evaluate and synthesise primary and secondary sources
  • arrive at a series of informed and nuanced conclusions as a consequence of sustained inquiry and reflection
  • make relevant connections between different critical methodologies and use, where appropriate, interdisciplinary modes of approaching the subject
  • demonstrate originality of thought and approach, moving beyond a simple synthesis of secondary materials
  • engage with critical debate through sustained argument over an extended piece of work

Transferable and Generic Skills

  • engage in interpretation and critical commentary in order to develop at length a chosen line of argument.
  • employ general research skills such as information retrieval and library searches
  • employ the appropriate use of web-based research and display general competence in using electronic research methods and data
  • where appropriate, develop relevant empirical research techniques

The dissertation is an extended piece of work, usually divided into chapters and amounting to 8000 words in length. The topic and content are determined by you. The module provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate how much you have learnt and acquired in years one and two of your degree programme. It will enable you to develop in depth an area of study of your own choice, however, the topic will be chosen in consultation with a member of the Film Studies teaching staff.

The dissertation must conform to the guidelines with respect to format, house style and referencing as laid down in the programme handbook. The final draft must have a clear structure and the standard of written English must demonstrate your familiarity with the basic principles of grammar, punctuation and sentence construction. The ability to communicate in a clear, coherent, and attractive fashion will enhance the overall quality of the dissertation.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods.

Teaching methods include

  • one-to-one supervision with your tutor
  • a series of workshops and seminars on a range of topics related to the preparation for and writing of the dissertation

Learning activities include

  • engaging in genuinely independent learning through gathering, assimilating, synthesising, and interpreting information pertinent to your chosen topic of inquiry
Study time
Type Hours
Completion of assessment task 293
Lecture 4
Tutorial 3
Total study time 300

S Stein (1999). Learning, Teaching and Researching on the Internet . Longman.

R Preece (1994). Starting Research: An Introduction to Academic Research and Dissertation Writing . Cassell.

R. Berry (2000). The Research Project: How to Write It . Routledge.

T. Bowell and G Kemp (2001). Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide . Routledge.

This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.

Breakdown
Method Percentage contribution
Dissertation 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

  • Course modules
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  • A missing link between continental shelves and the deep sea: Have we underestimated the importance of land-detached canyons?
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  • Acoustic monitoring of forest exploitation to establish community perspectives of sustainable hunting
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  • How do antimicrobial peptides alter T cell cytokine production?
  • How do calcifying marine organisms grow? Determining the role of non-classical precipitation processes in biogenic marine calcite formation
  • How do neutrophils alter T cell metabolism?
  • How well can we predict future changes in biodiversity using machine learning?
  • Hydrant dynamics for acoustic leak detection in water pipes
  • If ‘Black Lives Matter’, do ‘Asian Lives Matter’ too? Impact trajectories of organisation activism on wellbeing of ethnic minority communities
  • Illuminating luciferin bioluminescence in dinoflagellates
  • Imaging quantum materials with an XFEL
  • Impact of neuromodulating drugs on gut microbiome homeostasis
  • Impact of pharmaceuticals in the marine environment in a changing world
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  • Information theoretic methods for sensor management
  • Installation effect on the noise of small high speed fans
  • Integrated earth observation mapping change land sea
  • Interconnections of past greenhouse climates
  • Investigating IgG cell depletion mechanisms
  • Is ocean mixing upside down? How mixing processes drive upwelling in a deep-ocean basin
  • Landing gear aerodynamics and aeroacoustics
  • Lightweight gas storage: real-world strategies for the hydrogen economy
  • Long-term change in the benthos – creating robust data from varying camera systems
  • Machine learning for multi-robot perception
  • Marine ecosystem responses to past climate change and its oceanographic impacts
  • Mechanical effects in the surf zone - in situ electrochemical sensing
  • Microfluidic cell isolation systems for sepsis
  • Migrant entrepreneurship, gender and generation: context and family dynamics in small town Britain
  • Miniaturisation in fishes: evolutionary and ecological perspectives
  • Modelling high-power fibre laser and amplifier stability
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  • Modelling the evolution of adaptive responses to climate change across spatial landscapes
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  • Novel methods of detecting carbon cycling pathways in lakes and their impact on ecosystem change
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  • Ocean methane sensing using novel surface plasmon resonance technology
  • Ocean physics and ecology: can robots disentangle the mix?
  • Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal: Assessing the utility of coastal enhanced weathering
  • Offshore renewable energy (ORE) foundations on rock seabeds: advancing design through analogue testing and modelling
  • Optical fibre sensing for acoustic leak detection in buried pipelines
  • Optimal energy transfer in nonlinear systems
  • Optimizing machine learning for embedded systems
  • Oxidation of fossil organic matter as a source of atmospheric CO2
  • Partnership dissolution and re-formation in later life among individuals from minority ethnic communities in the UK
  • Personalized multimodal human-robot interactions
  • Preventing disease by enhancing the cleaning power of domestic water taps using sound
  • Quantifying riparian vegetation dynamics and flow interactions for Nature Based Solutions using novel environmental sensing techniques
  • Quantifying the response and sensitivity of tropical forest carbon sinks to various drivers
  • Quantifying variability in phytoplankton electron requirements for carbon fixation
  • Resilient and sustainable steel-framed building structures
  • Resolving Antarctic meltwater events in Southern Ocean marine sediments and exploring their significance using climate models
  • Robust acoustic leak detection in water pipes using contact sound guides
  • Silicon synapses for artificial intelligence hardware
  • Smart photon delivery via reconfigurable optical fibres
  • The Gulf Stream control of the North Atlantic carbon sink
  • The Mayflower Studentship: a prestigious fully funded PhD studentship in bioscience
  • The calming effect of group living in social fishes
  • The duration of ridge flank hydrothermal exchange and its role in global biogeochemical cycles
  • The evolution of symmetry in echinoderms
  • The impact of early life stress on neuronal enhancer function
  • The oceanic fingerprints on changing monsoons over South and Southeast Asia
  • The role of iron in nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis in changing polar oceans
  • The role of singlet oxygen signaling in plant responses to heat and drought stress
  • Time variability on turbulent mixing of heat around melting ice in the West Antarctic
  • Triggers and Feedbacks of Climate Tipping Points
  • Uncovering the drivers of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease progression using patient derived organoids
  • Understanding recent land-use change in Snowdonia to plan a sustainable future for uplands: integrating palaeoecology and conservation practice
  • Understanding the role of cell motility in resource acquisition by marine phytoplankton
  • Understanding the structure and engagement of personal networks that support older people with complex care needs in marginalised communities and their ability to adapt to increasingly ‘digitalised’ health and social care
  • Unpicking the Anthropocene in the Hawaiian Archipelago
  • Unraveling oceanic multi-element cycles using single cell ionomics
  • Unravelling southwest Indian Ocean biological productivity and physics: a machine learning approach
  • Using acoustics to monitor how small cracks develop into bursts in pipelines
  • Using machine learning to improve predictions of ocean carbon storage by marine life
  • Vulnerability of low-lying coastal transportation networks to natural hazards
  • Wideband fibre optical parametric amplifiers for Space Division Multiplexing technology
  • Will it stick? Exploring the role of turbulence and biological glues on ocean carbon storage
  • X-ray imaging and property characterisation of porous materials
  • Postgraduate Taught Diversity Scholarship (Environmental and Life Sciences)
  • Southampton Business School Postgraduate UK Scholarship
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  • Archers Road
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  • Centre for Inclusive and Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CISEI)
  • Centre for International Film Research (CIFR)
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  • Departments

Film and Media Studies Program

Dissertations, completed dissertations.

Student Name Dissertation Title Degree Program Year

Nicholas Forster

“The Period Between Was My Life”:

Self-Adaptation and the Many Lives of Bill Gunn”

with African American Studies 2019

Regina Karl

“Manipulations: The Hand as Symbol and Symptom in the Arts and Literature after 1900”

with German

2019

Viktoria Paranuk

“Soviet Cinema Comes in from the Cold: Realism, the Thaw, and the Aesthetic of Sincerity.”

​with Slavic 2019

Masha Shpolberg

“Labor in Late Socialism: the Cinema of Polish Workers’ Unrest 1968-1981”

with Comparative Literature 2019
Luca Peretti “Neocapitalist Realism: ENI’s Industrial Films in the Anticolonial Era” with Italian 2018
Alexandra Catrickes “Cinematic Melodrama as Historical Mode: Art, Geography, and Hyper-realism in Italian Melodrama Films” with Italian 2018
Ila Tyagi ”Extending the Eye: The American Oil Industry in Moving Images” with American Studies 2018
Kirsty Dootson “Industrial Color: Chromatic Technologies in Britain (1856-1971)” with History of Art 2018
Mallory Ahern “Flickers, Loops, Dots, Stacks, and Tracings: Cinematic Devices and the Technical Images, 1960-1975” with History of Art 2018
Moira Weigel “Facing Animals in the Age of Celluloid” with Comparative Literature 2017
Mihaela Mihailova “Negotiating Reality: Animated Realism in the Digital Age” with Slavic 2017
Daniel Fairfax “The Theoretical Legacy of Cahiers du cinéma (1968–1973)” with Comparative Literature 2017
Janett Buell “Body, Space, Memory: Mapping Notions of Human Experience in German & American Media Theory” with German 2017
Raisa Sidenova “From Pravda to Vérité: Soviet Documentary on Film and Television, 1953–1982” with Slavic 2017
Zelda Roland “Hollywood Stockyards: People and Places in the Backgrounds of Classical Hollywood” with History of Art 2016
Joshua Sperling “Realism, Modernism and Commitment in the Work of John Berger 1952–76” with Comparative Literature 2016
Jordan Brower “A Literary History of the Studio System, 1911–1950” with English 2016
Anne Berke “ ‘You Just Type’: Women Television Writers in 1950s America” with American Studies 2016
Rea Amit “The Japanese Postwar Golden Age of Cinema: Industry, Reception, Aesthetics, and Demographics” with East Asian 2016
Patrick Reagan “The Contested Community: European Auteur Cinema at the Beginning of the 21st Century”

with German

2016
Takuya Tsunoda “Land of the Dawn: Iwanami Productions and Postwar Japanese Cinema” with East Asian 2015
Claudia Calhoun “ ‘The Story You Are About to Hear Is True’: Dragnet, Transmedia Storytelling, and the Postwar Police Procedural” with American Studies 2015
Joshua Glick “Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977” with American Studies 2014
Grant Wiedenfeld “Elastic Esthetics: Media and Metaphysics in Mallarmé, Griffith, and Flaubert” with Comparative Literature 2014
Ryan Cook “Through the Looking Glass: Flirtations and Nonsense in 1960s Japanese Film Culture” with East Asian 2013
Michael Cramer “The Pedagogical Art Film in European Cinema” with Comparative Literature 2013
Naoki Yamamoto “Realities That Matter: The Development of Realist Film Theory and Practice in Japan, 1985–1945” with East Asian 2012
Jeremi Szaniawski “The Image and the Interstice: Alexander Sokurov’s Poetics of Paradox” with Slavic 2012
Michael J. Anderson The Early Howard Hawks” with History of Art 2012
Nora Gortcheva “Modern Spaces and Cinema: Movie Theaters and City Films in Wilhelmine and Weimar Berlin” with German 2011
Seung-hoon Jeong “Cinematic Interfaces: Retheorizing Apparatus, Image, Subjectivity” with Comparative Literature 2011
Richard Suchenski “Utopian Romanticism and the Poetics of Scale: Modernist Explorations of the Cinematic Long Form” with History of Art 2011
Miriam Posner “Depth Perception: Narrative and the Body in Medical Filmmaking” with American Studies 2011
Victor Fan “Football Meets Opium: Political Violence, Sovereignty, and Cinema Archeaeology between ‘England’ and ‘China’ ” with Comparative Literature 2010
Jennifer Stob “ ‘With and Against Cinema’: The Situationist International and the Cinematic Image”  with History of Art 2010
Alice Lovejoy “A Military Avant-Garde: Art Cinema in the Czechoslovak Army, 1951–1971” with Comparative Literature 2009
Anne Kern “Games and the Sacred in European Literature and Film 1900-1940” with Comparative Literature 2007
Jennifer Smyth American Cavalcade: Hollywood as Historian in the 1930s” with American Studies 2004

Dissertations in Progress

Student Name Dissertation Title Degree Program
     
Ila Tyagi “Seeing the Invisible: The American Oil Industry in Moving Images’ with American Studies
Jamicia Lackey “The Cinematic Registers of Postcolonial Diaspora” with African-American Studies
Cecile Lagesse “France and Chinese Cinema (1980–2010)” with East Asian
 Andrew Vielkind “In Media Res: Experimental Cinema and Technoscience During the Cold War Period” with History of Art
     
Andrey Tolstoy “Going off the Grid in Film and Literature” with Comparative Literature
Luca Peretti “Moving images in a country in motion: Eni’s Cinema at the Crossroads of Modernity and Tradition” with Italian
Malory Ahern “Flickers, Loops, Dots, Stacks, and Tracings: Cinematic Devices and the Technical Image, 1960–1975” with History of Art
Sean Strader “ ‘L’irréel avec l’évidence du réalisme’: Mythology and Technology in the Cinema of Jean Cocteau” with French
     
Kirsty Sinclair-Dootson Industrial Colour: Chromatic Technologies in Britain, 1856–1971 with History of Art
Maria Catrickes Cinematic Melodrama as Historial Mode with Italian

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50 Film Analysis

Film analysis, what this handout is about.

This handout provides a brief definition of film analysis compared to literary analysis, provides an introduction to common types of film analysis, and offers strategies and resources for approaching assignments.

What is film analysis, and how does it differ from literary analysis?

Film analysis is the process in which film is analyzed in terms of semiotics, narrative structure, cultural context, and mise-en-scene, among other approaches. If these terms are new to you, don’t worry—they’ll be explained in the next section.

Analyzing film, like  analyzing literature (fiction texts, etc.) , is a form of rhetorical analysis—critically analyzing and evaluating discourse, including words, phrases, and images. Having a clear argument and supporting evidence is every bit as critical to film analysis as to other forms of academic writing.

Unlike literature, film incorporates audiovisual elements and therefore introduces a new dimension to analysis. Ultimately, however, analysis of film is not too different. Think of all the things that make up a scene in a film: the actors, the lighting, the angles, the colors. All of these things may be absent in literature, but they are deliberate choices on the part of the director, producer, or screenwriter—as are the words chosen by the author of a work of literature. Furthermore, literature and film incorporate similar elements. They both have plots, characters, dialogue, settings, symbolism, and, just as the elements of literature can be analyzed for their intent and effect, these elements can be analyzed the same way in film.

Different types of film analysis

Listed here are common approaches to film analysis, but this is by no means an exhaustive list, and you may have discussed other approaches in class. As with any other assignment, make sure you understand your professor’s expectations. This guide is best used to understand prompts or, in the case of more open-ended assignments, consider the different ways to analyze film.

Keep in mind that any of the elements of film can be analyzed, oftentimes in tandem. A single film analysis essay may simultaneously include all of the following approaches and more. As Jacques Aumont and Michel Marie propose in Analysis of Film, there is no correct, universal way to write film analysis.

Semiotic analysis

Semiotic analysis is the analysis of meaning behind signs and symbols, typically involving metaphors, analogies, and symbolism.

This doesn’t necessarily need to be something dramatic; think about how you extrapolate information from the smallest signs in your day to day life. For instance, what characteristics can tell you about someone’s personality? Something as simple as someone’s appearance can reveal information about them. Mismatched shoes and bedhead might be a sign of carelessness (or something crazy happened that morning!), while an immaculate dress shirt and tie would suggest that the person is prim and proper. Continuing in that vein:

  • What might you be able to infer about characters from small hints?
  • How are these hints (signs) used to construct characters? How do they relate to the relative role of those characters, or the relationships between multiple characters?

Symbols denote concepts (liberty, peace, etc.) and feelings (hate, love, etc.) that they often have nothing to do with. They are used liberally in both literature and film, and finding them uses a similar process. Ask yourself:

  • In Frozen Elsa’s gloves appear in multiple scenes.
  • Her gloves are first given to her by her father to restrain her magic. She continues to wear them throughout the coronation scene, before finally, in the Let It Go sequence, she throws them away.

Again, the method of semiotic analysis in film is similar to that of literature. Think about the deeper meaning behind objects or actions.

  • Elsa’s gloves represent fear of her magic and, by extension, herself. Though she attempts to contain her magic by hiding her hands within gloves and denying part of her identity, she eventually abandons the gloves in a quest for self-acceptance.

Narrative structure analysis

Narrative structure analysis is the analysis of the story elements, including plot structure, character motivations, and theme. Like the dramatic structure of literature (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution), film has what is known as the Three-Act Structure: “Act One: Setup, Act Two: Confrontation, and Act Three: Resolution.” Narrative structure analysis breaks the story of the film into these three elements and might consider questions like:

  • How does the story follow or deviate from typical structures?
  • What is the effect of following or deviating from this structure?
  • What is the theme of the film, and how is that theme constructed?

Consider again the example of Frozen. You can use symbolism and narrative structure in conjunction by placing the symbolic objects/events in the context of the narrative structure. For instance, the first appearance of the gloves is in Act One, while their abandoning takes place in Act Two; thus, the story progresses in such a way that demonstrates Elsa’s personal growth. By the time of Act Three, the Resolution, her aversion to touch (a product of fearing her own magic) is gone, reflecting a theme of self-acceptance.

Contextual analysis

Contextual analysis is analysis of the film as part of a broader context. Think about the culture, time, and place of the film’s creation. What might the film say about the culture that created it? What were/are the social and political concerns of the time period? Or, like researching the author of a novel, you might consider the director, producer, and other people vital to the making of the film. What is the place of this film in the director’s career? Does it align with his usual style of directing, or does it move in a new direction? Other examples of contextual approaches might be analyzing the film in terms of a civil rights or feminist movement.

For example, Frozen is often linked to the LGBTQ social movement. You might agree or disagree with this interpretation, and, using evidence from the film, support your argument.

Some other questions to consider:

  • How does the meaning of the film change when seen outside of its culture?
  • What characteristics distinguishes the film as being of its particular culture?

Mise-en-scene analysis

Mise-en-scene analysis is analysis of the arrangement of compositional elements in film—essentially, the analysis of audiovisual elements that most distinctly separate film analysis from literary analysis. Remember that the important part of a mise-en-scene analysis is not just identifying the elements of a scene, but explaining the significance behind them.

  • What effects are created in a scene, and what is their purpose?
  • How does the film attempt to achieve its goal by the way it looks, and does it succeed?

Audiovisual elements that can be analyzed include (but are not limited to): props and costumes, setting, lighting, camera angles, frames, special effects, choreography, music, color values, depth, placement of characters, etc. Mise-en-scene is typically the most foreign part of writing film analysis because the other components discussed are common to literary analysis, while mise-en-scene deals with elements unique to film. Using specific film terminology bolsters credibility, but you should also consider your audience. If your essay is meant to be accessible to non-specialist readers, explain what terms mean. The Resources section of this handout has links to sites that describe mise-en-scene elements in detail.

Rewatching the film and creating screen captures (still images) of certain scenes can help with detailed analysis of colors, positioning of actors, placement of objects, etc. Listening to the soundtrack can also be helpful, especially when placed in the context of particular scenes.

Some example questions:

  • How is the lighting used to construct mood? Does the mood shift at any point during the film, and how is that shift in mood created?
  • What does the setting say about certain characters? How are props used to reveal aspects of their personality?
  • What songs were used, and why were they chosen? Are there any messages in the lyrics that pertain to the theme?

Writing the film analysis essay

Writing film analysis is similar to writing literary analysis or any argumentative essay in other disciplines: Consider the assignment and prompts, formulate a thesis (see the  Brainstorming Handout  and  Thesis Statement Handout  for help crafting a nuanced argument), compile evidence to prove your thesis, and lay out your argument in the essay. Your evidence may be different from what you are used to. Whereas in the English essay you use textual evidence and quotes, in a film analysis essay, you might also include audiovisual elements to bolster your argument.

When describing a sequence in a film, use the present tense, like you would write in the literary present when describing events of a novel, i.e. not “Elsa took off her gloves,” but “Elsa takes off her gloves.” When quoting dialogue from a film, if between multiple characters, use block quotes: Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented one inch from the left margin. However, conventions are flexible, so ask your professor if you are unsure. It may also help to follow the formatting of the script, if you can find it. For example:

ELSA: But she won’t remember I have powers? KING: It’s for the best.

You do not need to use quotation marks for blocked-off dialogue, but for shorter quotations in the main text, quotation marks should be double quotes (“…”).

Here are some tips for approaching film analysis:

  • Make sure you understand the prompt and what you are being asked to do. Focus your argument by choosing a specific issue to assess.
  • Review your materials. Rewatch the film for nuances that you may have missed in the first viewing. With your thesis in mind, take notes as you watch. Finding a screenplay of the movie may be helpful, but keep in mind that there may be differences between the screenplay and the actual product (and these differences might be a topic of discussion!).
  • Develop a thesis and an outline, organizing your evidence so that it supports your argument. Remember that this is ultimately an assignment—make sure that your thesis answers what the prompt asks, and check with your professor if you are unsure.
  • Move beyond only describing the audiovisual elements of the film by considering the significance of your evidence. Demonstrate understanding of not just what film elements are, but why and to what effect they are being used. For more help on using your evidence effectively, see ‘Using Evidence In An Argument’ in the  Evidence Handout .

New York Film Academy Glossary Movie Outline Glossary Movie Script Database Citation Practices: Film and Television

Works Consulted

We consulted these works while writing the original version of this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find the latest publications on this topic. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the  UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

Aumont, Jacques, and Michel Marie. L’analyse Des Films. Paris: Nathan, 1988. Print. Pruter, Robin Franson. “Writing About Film.” Writing About Film. DePaul University, 08 Mar. 2004. Web. 01 May 2016.

Film Analysis Copyright © 2020 by Liza Long; Amy Minervini; and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Film Writing: Sample Analysis

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Introductory Note

The analysis below discusses the opening moments of the science fiction movie  Ex Machina  in order to make an argument about the film's underlying purpose. The text of the analysis is formatted normally. Editor's commentary, which will occasionally interrupt the piece to discuss the author's rhetorical strategies, is written in brackets in an italic font with a bold "Ed.:" identifier. See the examples below:

The text of the analysis looks like this.

[ Ed.:  The editor's commentary looks like this. ]

Frustrated Communication in Ex Machina ’s Opening Sequence

Alex Garland’s 2015 science fiction film Ex Machina follows a young programmer’s attempts to determine whether or not an android possesses a consciousness complicated enough to pass as human. The film is celebrated for its thought-provoking depiction of the anxiety over whether a nonhuman entity could mimic or exceed human abilities, but analyzing the early sections of the film, before artificial intelligence is even introduced, reveals a compelling examination of humans’ inability to articulate their thoughts and feelings. In its opening sequence, Ex Machina establishes that it’s not only about the difficulty of creating a machine that can effectively talk to humans, but about human beings who struggle to find ways to communicate with each other in an increasingly digital world.

[ Ed.:  The piece's opening introduces the film with a plot summary that doesn't give away too much and a brief summary of the critical conversation that has centered around the film. Then, however, it deviates from this conversation by suggesting that Ex Machina has things to say about humanity before non-human characters even appear. Off to a great start. ]

The film’s first establishing shots set the action in a busy modern office. A woman sits at a computer, absorbed in her screen. The camera looks at her through a glass wall, one of many in the shot. The reflections of passersby reflected in the glass and the workspace’s dim blue light make it difficult to determine how many rooms are depicted. The camera cuts to a few different young men typing on their phones, their bodies partially concealed both by people walking between them and the camera and by the stylized modern furniture that surrounds them. The fourth shot peeks over a computer monitor at a blonde man working with headphones in. A slight zoom toward his face suggests that this is an important character, and the cut to a point-of-view shot looking at his computer screen confirms this. We later learn that this is Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer whose perspective the film follows.

The rest of the sequence cuts between shots from Caleb’s P.O.V. and reaction shots of his face, as he receives and processes the news that he has won first prize in a staff competition. Shocked, Caleb dives for his cellphone and texts several people the news. Several people immediately respond with congratulatory messages, and after a moment the woman from the opening shot runs in to give him a hug. At this point, the other people in the room look up, smile, and start clapping, while Caleb smiles disbelievingly—perhaps even anxiously—and the camera subtly zooms in a bit closer. Throughout the entire sequence, there is no sound other than ambient electronic music that gets slightly louder and more textured as the sequence progresses. A jump cut to an aerial view of a glacial landscape ends the sequence and indicates that Caleb is very quickly transported into a very unfamiliar setting, implying that he will have difficulty adjusting to this sudden change in circumstances.

[ Ed.:  These paragraphs are mostly descriptive. They give readers the information they will need to understand the argument the piece is about to offer. While passages like this can risk becoming boring if they dwell on unimportant details, the author wisely limits herself to two paragraphs and maintains a driving pace through her prose style choices (like an almost exclusive reliance on active verbs). ]

Without any audible dialogue or traditional expository setup of the main characters, this opening sequence sets viewers up to make sense of Ex Machina ’s visual style and its exploration of the ways that technology can both enhance and limit human communication. The choice to make the dialogue inaudible suggests that in-person conversations have no significance. Human-to-human conversations are most productive in this sequence when they are mediated by technology. Caleb’s first response when he hears his good news is to text his friends rather than tell the people sitting around him, and he makes no move to take his headphones out when the in-person celebration finally breaks out. Everyone in the building is on their phones, looking at screens, or has headphones in, and the camera is looking at screens through Caleb’s viewpoint for at least half of the sequence.  

Rather than simply muting the specific conversations that Caleb has with his coworkers, the ambient soundtrack replaces all the noise that a crowded building in the middle of a workday would ordinarily have. This silence sets the uneasy tone that characterizes the rest of the film, which is as much a horror-thriller as a piece of science fiction. Viewers get the sense that all the sounds that humans make as they walk around and talk to each other are being intentionally filtered out by some presence, replaced with a quiet electronic beat that marks the pacing of the sequence, slowly building to a faster tempo. Perhaps the sound of people is irrelevant: only the visual data matters here. Silence is frequently used in the rest of the film as a source of tension, with viewers acutely aware that it could be broken at any moment. Part of the horror of the research bunker, which will soon become the film’s primary setting, is its silence, particularly during sequences of Caleb sneaking into restricted areas and being startled by a sudden noise.

The visual style of this opening sequence reinforces the eeriness of the muted humans and electronic soundtrack. Prominent use of shallow focus to depict a workspace that is constructed out of glass doors and walls makes it difficult to discern how large the space really is. The viewer is thus spatially disoriented in each new setting. This layering of glass and mirrors, doubling some images and obscuring others, is used later in the film when Caleb meets the artificial being Ava (Alicia Vikander), who is not allowed to leave her glass-walled living quarters in the research bunker. The similarity of these spaces visually reinforces the film’s late revelation that Caleb has been manipulated by Nathan Bates (Oscar Isaac), the troubled genius who creates Ava.

[ Ed.:  In these paragraphs, the author cites the information about the scene she's provided to make her argument. Because she's already teased the argument in the introduction and provided an account of her evidence, it doesn't strike us as unreasonable or far-fetched here. Instead, it appears that we've naturally arrived at the same incisive, fascinating points that she has. ]

A few other shots in the opening sequence more explicitly hint that Caleb is already under Nathan’s control before he ever arrives at the bunker. Shortly after the P.O.V shot of Caleb reading the email notification that he won the prize, we cut to a few other P.O.V. shots, this time from the perspective of cameras in Caleb’s phone and desktop computer. These cameras are not just looking at Caleb, but appear to be scanning him, as the screen flashes in different color lenses and small points appear around Caleb’s mouth, eyes, and nostrils, tracking the smallest expressions that cross his face. These small details indicate that Caleb is more a part of this digital space than he realizes, and also foreshadow the later revelation that Nathan is actively using data collected by computers and webcams to manipulate Caleb and others. The shots from the cameras’ perspectives also make use of a subtle fisheye lens, suggesting both the wide scope of Nathan’s surveillance capacities and the slightly distorted worldview that motivates this unethical activity.

[ Ed.: This paragraph uses additional details to reinforce the piece's main argument. While this move may not be as essential as the one in the preceding paragraphs, it does help create the impression that the author is noticing deliberate patterns in the film's cinematography, rather than picking out isolated coincidences to make her points. ]

Taken together, the details of Ex Machina ’s stylized opening sequence lay the groundwork for the film’s long exploration of the relationship between human communication and technology. The sequence, and the film, ultimately suggests that we need to develop and use new technologies thoughtfully, or else the thing that makes us most human—our ability to connect through language—might be destroyed by our innovations. All of the aural and visual cues in the opening sequence establish a world in which humans are utterly reliant on technology and yet totally unaware of the nefarious uses to which a brilliant but unethical person could put it.

Author's Note:  Thanks to my literature students whose in-class contributions sharpened my thinking on this scene .

[ Ed.: The piece concludes by tying the main themes of the opening sequence to those of the entire film. In doing this, the conclusion makes an argument for the essay's own relevance: we need to pay attention to the essay's points so that we can achieve a rich understanding of the movie. The piece's final sentence makes a chilling final impression by alluding to the danger that might loom if we do not understand the movie. This is the only the place in the piece where the author explicitly references how badly we might be hurt by ignorance, and it's all the more powerful for this solitary quality. A pithy, charming note follows, acknowledging that the author's work was informed by others' input (as most good writing is). Beautifully done. ]

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  • Dissertation

How to Write a Dissertation | A Guide to Structure & Content

A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, submitted as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter).

The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes:

  • An introduction to your topic
  • A literature review that surveys relevant sources
  • An explanation of your methodology
  • An overview of the results of your research
  • A discussion of the results and their implications
  • A conclusion that shows what your research has contributed

Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an argument by analysing primary and secondary sources . Instead of the standard structure outlined here, you might organise your chapters around different themes or case studies.

Other important elements of the dissertation include the title page , abstract , and reference list . If in doubt about how your dissertation should be structured, always check your department’s guidelines and consult with your supervisor.

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Table of contents

Acknowledgements, table of contents, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review / theoretical framework, methodology, reference list.

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation’s title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Many programs have strict requirements for formatting the dissertation title page .

The title page is often used as cover when printing and binding your dissertation .

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The acknowledgements section is usually optional, and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you.

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150-300 words long. You should write it at the very end, when you’ve completed the rest of the dissertation. In the abstract, make sure to:

  • State the main topic and aims of your research
  • Describe the methods you used
  • Summarise the main results
  • State your conclusions

Although the abstract is very short, it’s the first part (and sometimes the only part) of your dissertation that people will read, so it’s important that you get it right. If you’re struggling to write a strong abstract, read our guide on how to write an abstract .

In the table of contents, list all of your chapters and subheadings and their page numbers. The dissertation contents page gives the reader an overview of your structure and helps easily navigate the document.

All parts of your dissertation should be included in the table of contents, including the appendices. You can generate a table of contents automatically in Word.

If you have used a lot of tables and figures in your dissertation, you should itemise them in a numbered list . You can automatically generate this list using the Insert Caption feature in Word.

If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

If you have used a lot of highly specialised terms that will not be familiar to your reader, it might be a good idea to include a glossary . List the terms alphabetically and explain each term with a brief description or definition.

In the introduction, you set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance, and tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving necessary background information to contextualise your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your objectives and research questions , and indicate how you will answer them
  • Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant to your research. By the end, the reader should understand the what , why and how of your research. Not sure how? Read our guide on how to write a dissertation introduction .

Before you start on your research, you should have conducted a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic. This means:

  • Collecting sources (e.g. books and journal articles) and selecting the most relevant ones
  • Critically evaluating and analysing each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g. themes, patterns, conflicts, gaps) to make an overall point

In the dissertation literature review chapter or section, you shouldn’t just summarise existing studies, but develop a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear basis or justification for your own research. For example, it might aim to show how your research:

  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Takes a new theoretical or methodological approach to the topic
  • Proposes a solution to an unresolved problem
  • Advances a theoretical debate
  • Builds on and strengthens existing knowledge with new data

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework , in which you define and analyse the key theories, concepts and models that frame your research. In this section you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables.

The methodology chapter or section describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to assess its validity. You should generally include:

  • The overall approach and type of research (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
  • Your methods of collecting data (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Your methods of analysing data (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
  • Tools and materials you used (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment)
  • A discussion of any obstacles you faced in conducting the research and how you overcame them
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Your aim in the methodology is to accurately report what you did, as well as convincing the reader that this was the best approach to answering your research questions or objectives.

Next, you report the results of your research . You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses, or topics. Only report results that are relevant to your objectives and research questions. In some disciplines, the results section is strictly separated from the discussion, while in others the two are combined.

For example, for qualitative methods like in-depth interviews, the presentation of the data will often be woven together with discussion and analysis, while in quantitative and experimental research, the results should be presented separately before you discuss their meaning. If you’re unsure, consult with your supervisor and look at sample dissertations to find out the best structure for your research.

In the results section it can often be helpful to include tables, graphs and charts. Think carefully about how best to present your data, and don’t include tables or figures that just repeat what you have written  –  they should provide extra information or usefully visualise the results in a way that adds value to your text.

Full versions of your data (such as interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix .

The discussion  is where you explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research questions. Here you should interpret the results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data and discuss any limitations that might have influenced the results.

The discussion should reference other scholarly work to show how your results fit with existing knowledge. You can also make recommendations for future research or practical action.

The dissertation conclusion should concisely answer the main research question, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of your central argument. Wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you did and how you did it. The conclusion often also includes recommendations for research or practice.

In this section, it’s important to show how your findings contribute to knowledge in the field and why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known?

You must include full details of all sources that you have cited in a reference list (sometimes also called a works cited list or bibliography). It’s important to follow a consistent reference style . Each style has strict and specific requirements for how to format your sources in the reference list.

The most common styles used in UK universities are Harvard referencing and Vancouver referencing . Your department will often specify which referencing style you should use – for example, psychology students tend to use APA style , humanities students often use MHRA , and law students always use OSCOLA . M ake sure to check the requirements, and ask your supervisor if you’re unsure.

To save time creating the reference list and make sure your citations are correctly and consistently formatted, you can use our free APA Citation Generator .

Your dissertation itself should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents you have used that do not fit into the main body of your dissertation (such as interview transcripts, survey questions or tables with full figures) can be added as appendices .

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Film Studies Dissertation (P4123)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

The dissertation module allows you to work on a sustained Film Studies project of your choosing that builds on appropriate critical, theoretical or historical approaches encountered in your study of the subject.

It functions both as a summary experience, enabling you to draw together and reflect on skills and knowledge acquired earlier in the course, and as a self-directed project that allows you to focus on material you have chosen and planned.

Introductory lectures, tutorials, research workshops and peer review will guide you through the process of choosing the subject, devising research questions, and preparing and refining the proposal and dissertation.

Contact hours and workload

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.

This module is offered on the following courses:

  • American Studies and Film Studies (with a study abroad year) BA
  • Art History and Film Studies BA
  • Drama and Film Studies (with a study abroad year) BA
  • Drama and Film Studies BA
  • English and Film Studies BA
  • Film Studies BA

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  • Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates

Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates

Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on November 21, 2023.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process . It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to your field.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review, research methods, avenues for future research, etc.)

In the final product, you can also provide a chapter outline for your readers. This is a short paragraph at the end of your introduction to inform readers about the organizational structure of your thesis or dissertation. This chapter outline is also known as a reading guide or summary outline.

Table of contents

How to outline your thesis or dissertation, dissertation and thesis outline templates, chapter outline example, sample sentences for your chapter outline, sample verbs for variation in your chapter outline, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis and dissertation outlines.

While there are some inter-institutional differences, many outlines proceed in a fairly similar fashion.

  • Working Title
  • “Elevator pitch” of your work (often written last).
  • Introduce your area of study, sharing details about your research question, problem statement , and hypotheses . Situate your research within an existing paradigm or conceptual or theoretical framework .
  • Subdivide as you see fit into main topics and sub-topics.
  • Describe your research methods (e.g., your scope , population , and data collection ).
  • Present your research findings and share about your data analysis methods.
  • Answer the research question in a concise way.
  • Interpret your findings, discuss potential limitations of your own research and speculate about future implications or related opportunities.

For a more detailed overview of chapters and other elements, be sure to check out our article on the structure of a dissertation or download our template .

To help you get started, we’ve created a full thesis or dissertation template in Word or Google Docs format. It’s easy adapt it to your own requirements.

 Download Word template    Download Google Docs template

Chapter outline example American English

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of overusing the same words or sentence constructions, which can make your work monotonous and repetitive for your readers. Consider utilizing some of the alternative constructions presented below.

Example 1: Passive construction

The passive voice is a common choice for outlines and overviews because the context makes it clear who is carrying out the action (e.g., you are conducting the research ). However, overuse of the passive voice can make your text vague and imprecise.

Example 2: IS-AV construction

You can also present your information using the “IS-AV” (inanimate subject with an active verb ) construction.

A chapter is an inanimate object, so it is not capable of taking an action itself (e.g., presenting or discussing). However, the meaning of the sentence is still easily understandable, so the IS-AV construction can be a good way to add variety to your text.

Example 3: The “I” construction

Another option is to use the “I” construction, which is often recommended by style manuals (e.g., APA Style and Chicago style ). However, depending on your field of study, this construction is not always considered professional or academic. Ask your supervisor if you’re not sure.

Example 4: Mix-and-match

To truly make the most of these options, consider mixing and matching the passive voice , IS-AV construction , and “I” construction .This can help the flow of your argument and improve the readability of your text.

As you draft the chapter outline, you may also find yourself frequently repeating the same words, such as “discuss,” “present,” “prove,” or “show.” Consider branching out to add richness and nuance to your writing. Here are some examples of synonyms you can use.

Address Describe Imply Refute
Argue Determine Indicate Report
Claim Emphasize Mention Reveal
Clarify Examine Point out Speculate
Compare Explain Posit Summarize
Concern Formulate Present Target
Counter Focus on Propose Treat
Define Give Provide insight into Underpin
Demonstrate Highlight Recommend Use

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When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

The title page of your thesis or dissertation goes first, before all other content or lists that you may choose to include.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

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Resources – how to write a film analysis, introduction to the topic.

While most people watch films for entertainment, those who study film focus on the elements of a film that combine to create the ultimate product. Behind the scenes production editing that occurs before, during, and after filming contribute to the images that people see on screen. A formal analysis of a film asks you to break a film down into its different components and discuss how those pieces work together to create an overall experience. Here is a checklist to help you write a film analysis.

Sections of a Film Analysis with Tips

The introduction to the paper.

Begin by  briefly  summarizing the film. You should not rehash the entire plot, but instead give the most critical information about the film to the reader. Then, introduce the formal elements that you will be discussing. Finally, your thesis should connect the elements you will discuss to their importance to the film as a whole.

The Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs of a film analysis are similar to those found in other analytical essays.  Each paragraph should discuss a different small component of the film and how the component serves the entire film. In these paragraphs, you should give concrete examples to support your claims. These examples can include scenes or quotes from the film itself, but you can also include different editing techniques or other behind the scenes work. Connect your examples to the overall film and try to answer the question, “Why does this element ultimately matter for the viewing audience?”

The Conclusion

Briefly summarize what you have talked about in the essay. Be careful not to make generalizations about the film that are not supported by the effects of the specific elements you discussed. In this section, you can discuss the overall importance of the film its historical context or address any lingering questions the film leaves.

Tips for Film Analysis

  • Understand the vocabulary of filmmaking. Knowing how to talk about elements such as lighting, special effects, framing, focus, and screenwriting are critical to writing a film analysis.
  • Try to watch the film more than one, if possible. After you decide which element(s) to write about, watch the film again, keeping those ideas in mind.
  • A film analysis is not the same of a film review. Avoid making pedestrian judgments about the film’s entertainment factor. If you wish to criticize the film, do so by referencing formal elements.
  • Unless the assignment asks you, do not try to cover every single element the film uses. Try to narrow your focus as much as you can to one or two salient elements.
  • If you are referring to the actions of a person in the film, refer to the scene using the character’s name. If you are referring the acting itself, use the actor’s real name.

Exercise: Which Sentence Belongs in a Film Analysis?

Sentences and instructions.

When writing a film analysis, many students have to fight the urge to incorporate the components of a film review into their essays. In each of the following exercises, one sentence could be a part of a film analysis, while the other is better suited for a review.

See if you can tell the difference:

1.      (a.) In  Winter’s Bone , Jennifer Lawrence gives the performance of the decade. (b.) For her role in  Winter’s Bone , Jennifer Lawrence had to learn a West Virginia accent in order to portray an authentic character.

2.   (a.) The editors of  Hocus Pocus  use special effects to create magic on screen. (b.) The editors of  Hocus Pocus  used a green screen to give the appearance that the witches were flying over the city.

 3.    (a.) The lack of shadows in  V for Vendetta  gives the viewer the impression that the editors forgot to add in some special effects. (b.) The lack of shadows in  V for Vendetta  gives the viewer the impression that the scenes are occurring in a futuristic world.

Developed by Ann Bruton, with the help of Alexander Waldman

Adapted F rom:

Dartmouth Writing Program’s “Writing About Film” 

Duke University’s Thompson Writing Program “Writing About Film”  

Click here to return to the “Writing Place Resources” main page.

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

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Focusing on the transnational and the peripheral elements of film, we develop and expand the entire realm of film scholarship. Working on areas from Deleuze to Korean cinema, from digital cinema to Eastern Europe, from transnational auteurs to documentary and activist films, and many areas in between, we promise a vibrant and engaging research environment for students and scholars.

For more information please visit the Department of Film Studies home page.

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Sample Dissertations

Sample Dissertations | University Dissertations | Dissertation Examples

How to Write a Film Studies Essay

Films are designed to be heard and seen, to appeal to our aural and visual senses. Just like any art form, films are also designed to be understood and felt, to appeal to our minds and emotions. The best measure of a film’s credibility is determined through assessing the elements that comprise the whole process. This is achieved through a film study, this post discusses how to write a film studies essay.

Film study essays require more work than movie reviews. This is because they entail that you engage on a level further than storytelling. The essays offer a critical analysis of a complete film. Analyzing a film gives rise to a variety of topics, including the role of propaganda with respect to political and social issues, the influence of cinema on your culture, as well as the emergence of auteur paradigm. The topics are fascinating and they enhance the insight and inspiration of film students. This is a crucial ingredient in the course of writing film studies essays.

The initial step when writing a film studies essay involves narrowing the scope of interest to a specific area. This stage calls for extensive investigation from a wide variety of sources to enhance insight into the area of study. An individual should provide key details and thematic issues under the scope of the study. This enables you to maintain the focus of the film analysis of a scene or sequence that may have escaped the audience’s attention during past viewings. This section also focuses on presenting crucial details on the formalism, genre, historical implications, national background, auteur, and the ideology behind the film. In the course of writing the film analysis, you should pay attention to length, source, and style requirements.

When writing about a specific film, it is always assumed that the targeted audience is familiar with the film under analysis. Such an analysis is always introduced by presenting the major topics of interest while avoiding getting into lengthy details. Special focus should feature while investigating the style and structure of a particular film. This section focuses on the screen events and ignores other outside factors like the historical context, the life history of the director and others. A good film essay should provide the most fascinating and crucial features of the style and structure of the film. Details like sound, lighting, and cinematography contributing to the meaning of the film should also feature.

A good film study essay should also consider the common sequences of form and content. This includes editing, lighting, cinematography, narrative, characterization, thematic concerns and others. This enables the target audience to ascertain how a film diverges or conforms from a genre category. A film study essay writer should consider a film’s historical moment as genre varies with time. At this point, it is important to emphasize the common structures, techniques, and themes associated with the genre of the film. If the genre conforms to expectations, it is necessary to make that acknowledgement.

Analyzing the historical features of a film is an important requirement in writing a film study essay. This approach investigates and positions the unique historical flash of the film’s content, as well as its production or release. You should inquire whether the historical moments /events are depicted in a particular film. Having a historical background enhances the understanding of the narrative or techniques employed in the film. An objective argument should be provided as it will help clarify the film’s place in history. The argument should show how the film relates to the evolutions resulted by technological advancements in the film industry. A film study essay writer should compare the subject matter of specific films to their unique historical moments. A documentation of the reception of a film by a certain audience will come in handy.

Some film studies have theoretical content in their analysis. This form in general requires the writer to have a good comprehension of film history, film technicalities, or film theory. Generally, the essay presents some of the complex and larger structures of the cinema, as well as how the audience understands them. The analysis should center on the national arena,auteur, and the ideology of the film.

An analysis of the national cinema assesses a film through considering each country’s unique mode of studying the cultural implications resulted by these effects. This also helps the audience create the distinction between local and foreign films. It is crucial to determine whether the meaning of the film is changed when a film is observed outside of its culture. After identifying the dominating culture in the film, a cultural research should be carried out to enable a deeper understanding of the themes.

A film’s auteur reflects a director’s individual creative vision and it makes him appear as the film’s author. This is always achieved by a filmmaker who exercises creative management  over his works and possesses a strong personal style. Auteur theory is one of the most persistent  theoretical forms. This analysis focuses on how directors and other dominant figures like actors and producers employ pervasive themes and styles in their volume of work. Though a director rarely has total control over a film, it is important to establish the degree of influence. This will help to ascertain how the historical circumstances of a film’s production promote or discourage the unity of the director’s work. This section should also show the most distinguishing indicators of the director’s control over the film.

The political and social implications of a film are captured in its ideological analysis. Every film has an objective to pass a particular message to the society. An ample film study essay should have a clear underlying message that the film is trying to pass to the society. An analysis of culture, gender, characterization and other tenets help reveal the main message(s) in the film. Ideology can also be broken down into Hollywood Hegemony (observes how classical film designs distort and dominate people’s perception), class analysis( investigates how economic and social arrangements are represented in and surrounding a film influence and reflect the distribution of social command), feminist analysis ( investigates the level of women representation in front and behind the camera both positively and negatively), race studies( determines how various races have been positively or negatively embodied behind and in front of the camera, post colonial analysis ( from an international perception, how the subjugation and subsequent reemergence of native culture is revealed and represented in a particular film.

Before writing a film studies essay, one should offer a brief overview of the narration. However, care should be taken to avoid coming up with a synopsis of the film’s story as it is more of an analysis. The author should reveal plot complications or the film’s ending only if they relay directly to the analysis. If possible, a writer should write the film analysis with the movie at hand. A sufficient understanding of the films sould be reflected by the writer before embarking on writing the analysis. If the analysis is about a part of the movie shot from the point of view of one of the actors, one should write about the subjective camera task. A proper utilization of a film making terms will strengthen the command of the film studies essay.

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4 thoughts on “How to Write a Film Studies Essay”

Good points. Good for me. Can I write a film analysis thesis using phenomenology and hermeneutics but not film theory? Thanks.

Hi, you can write using either but there is more reference material relating to phenomenology.

You have done a great job writing this essay to keep us informed. Please add more

Thanks Lacey – We are always adding new content. Be sure to keep an eye out.

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How to Write a Film Analysis Essay: Examples, Outline, & Tips

A film analysis essay might be the most exciting assignment you have ever had! After all, who doesn’t love watching movies? You have your favorite movies, maybe something you watched years ago, perhaps a classic, or a documentary. Or your professor might assign a film for you to make a critical review. Regardless, you are totally up for watching a movie for a film analysis essay.

However, once you have watched the movie, facing the act of writing might knock the wind out of your sails because you might be wondering how to write a film analysis essay. In summary, writing movie analysis is not as difficult as it might seem, and Custom-writing.org experts will prove this. This guide will help you choose a topic for your movie analysis, make an outline, and write the text.️ Film analysis examples are added as a bonus! Just keep reading our advice on how to get started.

❓ What Is a Film Analysis Essay?

  • 🚦 Film Analysis Types

📽️ Movie Analysis Format

✍️ how to write a film analysis, 🎦 film analysis template, 🎬 film analysis essay topics.

  • 📄 Essay Examples

🔗 References

To put it simply, film analysis implies watching a movie and then considering its characteristics : genre, structure, contextual context, etc. Film analysis is usually considered to be a form of rhetorical analysis . The key to success here is to formulate a clear and logical argument, supporting it with examples.

🚦 Film Analysis Essay Types

Since a film analysis essay resembles literature analysis, it makes sense that there are several ways to do it. Its types are not limited to the ones described here. Moreover, you are free to combine the approaches in your essay as well. Since your writing reflects your own opinion, there is no universal way to do it.

  • Semiotic analysis . If you’re using this approach, you are expected to interpret the film’s symbolism. You should look for any signs that may have a hidden meaning. Often, they reveal some character’s features. To make the task more manageable, you can try to find the objects or concepts that appear on the screen multiple times. What is the context they appear in? It might lead you to the hidden meaning of the symbols.
  • Narrative structure analysis . This type is quite similar to a typical literature guide. It includes looking into the film’s themes, plot, and motives. The analysis aims to identify three main elements: setup, confrontation, and resolution. You should find out whether the film follows this structure and what effect it creates. It will make the narrative structure analysis essay if you write about the theme and characters’ motivations as well.
  • Contextual analysis . Here, you would need to expand your perspective. Instead of focusing on inner elements, the contextual analysis looks at the time and place of the film’s creation. Therefore, you should work on studying the cultural context a lot. It can also be a good idea to mention the main socio-political issues of the time. You can even relate the film’s success to the director or producer and their career.
  • Mise-en-scene analysis . This type of analysis works with the most distinctive feature of the movies, audiovisual elements. However, don’t forget that your task is not only to identify them but also to explain their importance. There are so many interconnected pieces of this puzzle: the light to create the mood, the props to show off characters’ personalities, messages hidden in the song lyrics.

Film analysis types.

To write an effective film analysis essay, it is important to follow specific format requirements that include the following:

  • Standard essay structure. Just as with any essay, your analysis should consist of an introduction with a strong thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The main body usually includes a summary and an analysis of the movie’s elements.
  • Present tense for events in the film. Use the present tense when describing everything that happens in the movie. This way, you can make smooth transitions between describing action and dialogue. It will also improve the overall narrative flow.
  • Proper formatting of the film’s title. Don’t enclose the movie’s title in quotation marks; instead, italicize it. In addition, use the title case : that is, capitalize all major words.
  • Proper use of the characters’ names. When you mention a film character for the first time, name the actor portraying them. After that, it is enough to write only the character’s name.
  • In-text citations. Use in-text citations when describing certain scenes or shots from the movie. Format them according to your chosen citation style. If you use direct quotes, include the time-stamp range instead of page numbers. Here’s how it looks in the MLA format: (Smith 0:11:24–0:12:35).

Even though film analysis is similar to the literary one, you might still feel confused with where to begin. No need to worry; there are only a few additional steps you need to consider during the writing process.

✔️ Reread the prompt twice! It’s crucial because your thesis statement and main arguments will be based on it. To help yourself at this stage, try an . It will make your efforts more productive.
✔️ Take your time and watch the film as many times as you need so that you don’t miss anything. You might find it helpful to take notes or even use a screenplay if you can find one.
✔️ You should write down a thesis statement and organize the main ideas. Don’t forget to support your arguments with evidence and make sure they align with the assignment requirements.
✔️ The last step is writing the first draft of your essay. The text doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect since you still need to take some time to edit and to proofread it.In the next sections, there are more detailed descriptions of how to get every step done quickly. And remember that you can always ask your supervisor for help if you have any questions!

Need more information? It can be found in the video below.

Starting Your Film Analysis Essay

There are several things you need to do before you start writing your film analysis paper. First and foremost, you have to watch the movie. Even if you have seen it a hundred times, you need to watch it again to make a good film analysis essay.

Note that you might be given an essay topic or have to think of it by yourself. If you are free to choose a topic for your film analysis essay, reading some critical reviews before you watch the film might be a good idea. By doing this in advance, you will already know what to look for when watching the movie.

In the process of watching, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Consider your impression of the movie
  • Enumerate memorable details
  • Try to interpret the movie message in your way
  • Search for the proof of your ideas (quotes from the film)
  • Make comments on the plot, settings, and characters
  • Draw parallels between the movie you are reviewing and some other movies

Making a Film Analysis Essay Outline

Once you have watched and possibly re-watched your assigned or chosen movie from an analytical point of view, you will need to create a movie analysis essay outline . The task is pretty straightforward: the outline can look just as if you were working on a literary analysis or an article analysis.

  • Introduction : This includes the basics of the movie, including the title, director, and the date of release. You should also present the central theme or ideas in the movie and your thesis statement .
  • Summary : This is where you take the time to present an overview of the primary concepts in the movie, including the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why)—don’t forget how!—as well as anything you wish to discuss that relates to the point of view, style, and structure.
  • Analysis : This is the body of the essay and includes your critical analysis of the movie, why you did or did not like it, and any supporting material from the film to support your views. It would help if you also discussed whether the director and writer of the movie achieved the goal they set out to achieve.
  • Conclusion: This is where you can state your thesis again and provide a summary of the primary concepts in a new and more convincing manner, making a case for your analysis. You can also include a call-to-action that will invite the reader to watch the movie or avoid it entirely.

You can find a great critical analysis template at Thompson Rivers University website. In case you need more guidance on how to write an analytical paper, check out our article .

Writing & Editing Your Film Analysis Essay

We have already mentioned that there are differences between literary analysis and film analysis. They become especially important when one starts writing their film analysis essay.

First of all, the evidence you include to support the arguments is not the same. Instead of quoting the text, you might need to describe the audiovisual elements.

However, the practice of describing the events is similar in both types. You should always introduce a particular sequence in the present tense. If you want to use a piece of a dialogue between more than two film characters, you can use block quotes. However, since there are different ways to do it, confirm with your supervisor.

For your convenience, you might as well use the format of the script, for which you don’t have to use quotation marks:

ELSA: But she won’t remember I have powers?

KING: It’s for the best.

Finally, to show off your proficiency in the subject, look at the big picture. Instead of just presenting the main elements in your analysis, point out their significance. Describe the effect they make on the overall impression form the film. Moreover, you can dig deeper and suggest the reasons why such elements were used in a particular scene to show your expertise.

Stuck writing a film analysis essay? Worry not! Use our template to structure your movie analysis properly.

Introduction

  • The title of the film is… [title]
  • The director is… [director’s name] He/she is known for… [movies, style, etc.]
  • The movie was released on… [release date]
  • The themes of the movie are… [state the film’s central ideas]
  • The film was made because… [state the reasons]
  • The movie is… because… [your thesis statement].
  • The main characters are… [characters’ names]
  • The events take place in… [location]
  • The movie is set in… [time period]
  • The movie is about… [state what happens in the film and why]
  • The movie left a… [bad, unforgettable, lasting, etc.] impression in me.
  • The script has… [a logical sequence of events, interesting scenes, strong dialogues, character development, etc.]
  • The actors portray their characters… [convincingly, with intensity, with varying degree of success, in a manner that feels unnatural, etc.]
  • The soundtrack is [distracting, fitting, memorable, etc.]
  • Visual elements such as… [costumes, special effects, etc.] make the film [impressive, more authentic, atmospheric, etc.]
  • The film succeeds/doesn’t succeed in engaging the target audience because it… [tells a compelling story, features strong performances, is relevant, lacks focus, is unauthentic, etc.]
  • Cultural and societal aspects make the film… [thought-provoking, relevant, insightful, problematic, polarizing, etc.]
  • The director and writer achieved their goal because… [state the reasons]
  • Overall, the film is… [state your opinion]
  • I would/wouldn’t recommend watching the movie because… [state the reasons]
  • Analysis of the film Inception by Christopher Nolan .
  • Examine the rhetoric in the film The Red Balloon .
  • Analyze the visual effects of Zhang Yimou’s movie Hero .
  • Basic concepts of the film Interstellar by Christopher Nolan.
  • The characteristic features of Federico Fellini’s movies.  
  • Analysis of the movie The Joker .
  • The depiction of ethical issues in Damaged Care .  
  • Analyze the plot of the film Moneyball .
  • Explore the persuasive techniques used in Henry V .
  • Analyze the movie Killing Kennedy .
  • Discuss the themes of the film Secret Window .
  • Describe the role of audio and video effects in conveying the message of the documentary Life in Renaissance .  
  • Compare and analyze the films Midnight Cowboy and McCabe and Mrs. Miller .  
  • Analysis of the movie Rear Window . 
  • The message behind the film Split .
  • Analyze the techniques used by Tim Burton in his movie Sleepy Hollow .
  • The topic of children’s abuse and importance of trust in Joseph Sargent’s Sybil .
  • Examine the themes and motives of the film Return to Paradise by Joseph Ruben.
  • The issues of gender and traditions in the drama The Whale Rider.   
  • Analysis of the film Not Easily Broken by Duke Bill. 
  • The symbolism in R. Scott’s movie Thelma and Louise .
  • The meaning of audiovisual effects in Citizen Kane .  
  • Analyze the main characters of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo .  
  • Discuss the historical accuracy of the documentary The Civil War .  
  • Analysis of the movie Through a Glass Darkly . 
  • Explore the core idea of the comedy Get Out .
  • The problem of artificial intelligence and human nature in Ex Machina .  
  • Three principles of suspense used in the drama The Fugitive .
  • Examine the ideas Michael Bay promotes in Armageddon .
  • Analyze the visual techniques used in Tenet by Christopher Nolan.
  • Analysis of the movie The Green Mile .
  • Discrimination and exclusion in the film The Higher Learning .  
  • The hidden meaning of the scenes in Blade Runner .
  • Compare the social messages of the films West Side Story and Romeo + Juliet .
  • Highlighting the problem of children’s mental health in the documentary Kids in Crisis .
  • Discuss the ways Paul Haggis establishes the issue of racial biases in his movie Crash .
  • Analyze the problem of moral choice in the film Gone Baby Gone .
  • Analysis of the historical film Hacksaw Ridge .
  • Explore the main themes of the film Mean Girls by Mark Walters .
  • The importance of communication in the movie Juno .
  • Describe the techniques the authors use to highlight the problems of society in Queen and Slim .  
  • Examine the significance of visual scenes in My Family/ Mi Familia .  
  • Analysis of the thriller Salt by Phillip Noyce. 
  • Analyze the message of Greg Berlanti’s film Love, Simon .
  • Interpret the symbols of the film The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • Discuss the modern issues depicted in the film The Corporation .
  • Moral lessons of Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond . 
  • Analysis of the documentary Solitary Nation . 
  • Describe the audiovisual elements of the film Pride and Prejudice (2005) .
  • The problem of toxic relationships in Malcolm and Marie .

📄 Film Analysis Examples

Below you’ll find two film analysis essay examples. Note that the full versions are downloadable for free!

Film Analysis Example #1: The Intouchables

Raising acute social problems in modern cinema is a common approach to draw the public’s attention to the specific issues and challenges of people facing crucial obstacles. As a film for review, The Intouchables by Oliver Nakache and Éric Toledano will be analyzed, and one of the themes raised in this movie is the daily struggle of the person with severe disabilities. This movie is a biographical drama with comedy elements. The Intouchables describes the routine life of a French millionaire who is confined to a wheelchair and forced to receive help from his servants. The acquaintance of the disabled person with a young and daring man from Parisian slums changes the lives of both radically. The film shows that for a person with disabilities, recognition as a full member of society is more important than sympathy and compassion, and this message expressed comically raises an essential problem of human loneliness.

Movie Analysis Example #2: Parasite

Parasite is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller movie directed by Bong Joon-ho and is the first film with a non-English script to win Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020. With its overwhelming plot and acting, this motion picture retains a long-lasting effect and some kind of shock. The class serves as a backbone and a primary objective of social commentary within the South Korean comedy/thriller (Kench, 2020). Every single element and detail in the movie, including the student’s stone, the contrasting architecture, family names, and characters’ behavior, contribute to the central topic of the universal problem of classism and wealth disparity. The 2020 Oscar-winning movie Parasite (2019) is a phenomenal cinematic portrayal and a critical message to modern society regarding the severe outcomes of the long-established inequalities within capitalism.

Want more examples? Check out this bonus list of 10 film analysis samples. They will help you gain even more inspiration.

  • “Miss Representation” Documentary Film Analysis
  • “The Patriot”: Historical Film Analysis
  • “The Morning Guy” Film Analysis
  • 2012′ by Roland Emmerich Film Analysis
  • “The Crucible” (1996) Film Analysis
  • The Aviator’ by Martin Scorsese Film Analysis
  • The “Lions for Lambs” Film Analysis
  • Bill Monroe – Father of Bluegrass Music Film Analysis
  • Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’ Film Analysis
  • Red Tails by George Lucas Film Analysis

Film Analysis Essay FAQ

  • Watch the movie or read a detailed plot summary.
  • Read others’ film reviews paying attention to details like key characters, movie scenes, background facts.
  • Compose a list of ideas about what you’ve learned.
  • Organize the selected ideas to create a body of the essay.
  • Write an appropriate introduction and conclusion.

The benefits of analyzing a movie are numerous . You get a deeper understanding of the plot and its subtle aspects. You can also get emotional and aesthetic satisfaction. Film analysis enables one to feel like a movie connoisseur.

Here is a possible step by step scenario:

  • Think about the general idea that the author probably wanted to convey.
  • Consider how the idea was put across: what characters, movie scenes, and details helped in it.
  • Study the broader context: the author’s other works, genre essentials, etc.

The definition might be: the process of interpreting a movie’s aspects. The movie is reviewed in terms of details creating the artistic value. A film analysis essay is a paper presenting such a review in a logically structured way.

  • Film Analysis – UNC Writing Center
  • Film Writing: Sample Analysis // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Yale Film Analysis – Yale University
  • Film Terms And Topics For Film Analysis And Writing
  • Questions for Film Analysis (Washington University)
  • Resources on Film Analysis – Cinema Studies (University of Toronto)
  • Does Film Analysis Take the Magic out of Movies?
  • Film Analysis Research Papers – Academia.edu
  • What’s In a Film Analysis Essay? Medium
  • Analysis of Film – SAGE Research Methods
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Have you ever read a review and asked yourself how the critic arrived at a different interpretation for the film? You are sure that you saw the same movie, but you interpreted it differently. Most moviegoers go to the cinema for pleasure and entertainment. There’s a reason why blockbuster movies attract moviegoers – cinema is a form of escape, a way to momentarily walk away from life’s troubles.

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Dissertations on Film Studies

Film Studies is a field of study that consists of analysing and discussing film, as well as exploring the world of film production. Film Studies allows you to develop a greater understanding of film production and how film relates to culture and history.

View All Dissertation Examples

Film Studies

Latest Film Studies Dissertations

Including full dissertations, proposals, individual dissertation chapters, and study guides for students working on their undergraduate or masters dissertation.

Reconstructing Hong Kong: The Influence of Location and Cinematic Space in the Films of Wong Kar-wai

Dissertation Examples

This dissertation will be investigating the relationship between the artist and their city through the medium of cinema, specifically through Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai and his visual representation of Hong Kong....

Last modified: 20th Jan 2022

Evolution of Science Fiction in Films Since the 1970s

Dissertation Introductions

In this dissertation, investigations will be completed into various science fiction films from the 1970s and how their portrayal of technology compares to recent films in the 2010s....

Last modified: 24th Nov 2021

Dissertation on Intertextual Messages of Horror Movies

This dissertation examines the tradition of horror, outlining the different intertextual messages that horror films convey, through several remarkable examples....

Last modified: 11th Nov 2021

To What Extent is Almodóvar’s Representation of Post-Franco Spain Accurate?

The aim of this dissertation is to examine the cinematography of Pedro Almodóvar, to outline which aspects of his films represent Post-Franco Spain accurately....

Impact of Recession on Movie Industry

This dissertation analyses the current status of the movie industry and shows the likely economic impact in times of recession on the worldwide market....

Last modified: 9th Nov 2021

Analysis of Linguistic Theory in Transpotting (1996)

This dissertation argues that the language of John Hodge's screenplay Trainspotting, though it appears to contain sub-cultural social contexts, cannot be categorised within the framework of linguistic theory as representing a youth subculture....

Last modified: 5th Nov 2021

Causes of Film Cult Status: Donnie Darko

In this dissertation, which takes the form of a case study, the 2001 Richard Kelly film Donnie Darko will be analysed in terms of how it has achieved the perceived status of being branded a cult film....

Comparison of Totalitarian Politics Effect on French and German Cinema, 1930-1945

The dissertation aims to analyse the effects of totalitarian politics on the cinematic tradition of two of Europe’s most cultured nations, Germany and France....

Last modified: 4th Nov 2021

Effects of Trailers in Film Marketing Campaigns

Films trailers are the topic for this dissertation which focuses on the principle features of film trailers, and analyses case studies to highlight the use of classic American film techniques....

Last modified: 29th Oct 2021

Trends in India's Film Industry

How can Indian Corporate film production house gain dominance in Indian film market and increase its presence in International market?...

Last modified: 27th Oct 2021

Risk Factors in Film Production

This report will outline the methods, technologies, protocols and best practices to bring down the risk factor posed to film productions....

Last modified: 5th Oct 2021

Brand Placement in the Indian Film Industry

This research paper looks at the rationality of brand placement, the possible congruity that can be built in the story, as indicators of success of effective brand placement in films....

Last modified: 27th Sep 2021

Influence of Tim Burton's Filmmaking Style on Horror/Fantasy Films

This dissertation addresses the question of whether director Tim Burton’s unique, and gothic filmmaking style has influenced the production of horror/fantasy films, within the Hollywood production system....

Last modified: 6th Sep 2021

Wes Anderson Films: Style Over Substance?

An examination of some of Wes Anderson’s many cinematic influences and his attempt to combine them to create his uniquely personal visual style. ...

Last modified: 26th Aug 2021

Lord of The Rings Alternate Universe: Its Construction, Significance and Impact

The critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings alternate universe and how it was constructed, its significance and the impact it had on society....

Last modified: 24th Aug 2021

Film Studies Dissertation Topics

Dissertation Topics

If you prefer your film more ‘out of the box’ and are not a fan of mainstream cinema, then maybe selecting a dissertation topic relating to a niche film may be best for you! Take a look at some of these topic suggestions....

Last modified: 16th Aug 2021

Film Studies Dissertation Titles

Dissertation Titles

Film Studies Dissertation Titles. We have provided the selection of example film studies dissertation titles below to help and inspire you....

Quentin Tarantino Auteur Theory

Auteur theory was started by a group of influential French film critics in the 1950s and explores the idea of individual creative vision and cinema control....

Last modified: 23rd Jun 2021

Flouting Maxims and Hedging: Analysis of Deepwater Horizon

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Background of the problem Everyone can produce the utterances wherever and whenever they are, such as in school home, song or movies, etc. Many people like watching movie. Mo...

Last modified: 16th Dec 2019

The Enduring Appeal of the Horror Genre

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Importance of Narrative in CGI Films

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Developing Humanoid Robot Animations in Motion Capture

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Strategies and Definitions of 3D Animation

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Analysing Film Adaptations of Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Home > FACULTIES > Film Studies > FILM-ETD

Film Studies Department

Film Studies Theses and Dissertations

This collection contains theses and dissertations from the Department of Film Studies, collected from the Scholarship@Western Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

The Rise of Marvel and DC's Transmedia Superheroes: Comic Book Adaptations, Fanboy Auteurs, and Guiding Fan Reception , Alex Brundige

Contemporary French Queer Cinema: Explicit Sex and the Politics of Normalization , Joanna K. Smith

Rob Zombie, the Brand: Crafting the Convergence-Era Horror Auteur , Ryan Stam

Transnational Monsters: Navigating Identity and Intertextuality in the Films of Guillermo del Toro , Sean M. Volk

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom: Modernist Moods of "West Side Story" , Andrew M. Falcao

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

Music, Cinema and the Representation of Africa , Natasha Callender

Clash of the Industry Titans: Marvel, DC and the Battle for Market Dominance , Caitlin Foster

The New French Extremity: Bruno Dumont and Gaspar Noé, France's Contemporary Zeitgeist , Timothy J. Nicodemo

'Subbed-Titles': Hollywood, the Art House Market and the Best Foreign Language Film Category at the Oscars , Kyle W. J. Tabbernor

Theses/Dissertations from 2012 2012

Fighting, Screaming, and Laughing for an Audience: Stars, Genres, and the Question of Constructing a Popular Anglophone Canadian Cinema in the Twenty First Century , Sean C. Fitzpatrick

New York Beat: Collaborative Video and Filmmaking in The Lower East Side and the South Bronx from 1977-1984 , Andrew G. Hicks

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Home > Dissertations and Theses > Film and Media Studies (MA) Theses

Film and Media Studies (MA) Theses

Below is a selection of dissertations from the Film and Media Studies program in Dodge College of Film and Media Arts that have been voluntarily included in Chapman University Digital Commons. Additional dissertations from years prior to 2019 are available through the Leatherby Libraries' print collection or in Proquest's Dissertations and Theses database.

Theses from 2024 2024

Intolerable Masculinity: Screening Men's Shame and Embracing Curious Futures , Cole Clark

Embracing the Wound of Contingency: Transcribing Reality in Supernatural Horror and Found Footage , Mason Dax Dickerson

Bluey And Adult Fandom: The Importance Of Play In Culture , Olivia C. Gerzabek

Independent Visions of Marginal America: Reimagining a Nation Through Outsiders, Searching, and Non-Arrival , Z Evan Long

From Film Sets to Front Lines and Back Again: Reinventing Star Image in Post-World War II Hollywood , Livia Belen Lozoya

Animating Gender: Conflicting Narrative and Character Design in Gravity Falls , Laine Marshall

Real to Reel: The "Third Gender" Narratives and Queer Identity in Rituparno Ghosh's Bengali Films , Manjima Tarafdar

Cinema's Poetic Function: Creating an Amorous Distance , William Yonts

Theses from 2023 2023

Desire for Transformation: The Actualization of Self-identity Through Change In the Films Raw and Titane , Owen Bradford

The Rape-Revenge Genre in the Digital Age of Heightened Visibility: The Rise of Female Storytellers and Fourth-Wave Feminism , Marynell Dethero

The Audrey Hepburn Image: Stardom, Gendered Authorship, and Creative Agency , Livi Edmonson

How Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election Eclipsed Frank Underwood’s Election in ‘House of Cards’ , Charna Flam

Balancing Multiple Worlds: The Multiverse and the Fractured Asian American Experience in Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) , Austin Kang

The Disintegration of Marriage in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Happy Hour (2015) , Afra Nariman

What Are You Crying For?: Renegotiating White Masculine Hegemony through Melodramatic Excess in the 1990s Films of Tom Hanks , Bryce Thompson

“Let’s Do The Time Warp, Again!” The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Hysterical Theatre , Frances Wendorf

Theses from 2021 2021

(De/Re)Constructing ChicanX/a/o Cinema: Liminality, Cultural Hyphenation, and Psychic Borderlands in Real Women Have Curves and Mosquita y Mari , Diana Alanis

Obsessed With the Image: Vulgar Auteurism and Post-Cinematic Affect in the Late Films of Tony Scott , Ethan Cartwright

The Ben-Hur Franchise and the Rise of Blockbuster Hollywood , Michael Chian

Cinematic Palimpsests: Polysemy and In(ter)dependency in the Spectator Experience , Lyric Luedke

Beyond the Image: Marilyn Monroe, Shelley Winters, and The Method , Emily K. Oliver

Layer Cake: Post-Cinematic Aesthetics and the “Social Justice Impulse” in Kaneza Schaal's Jack & , Amber M. Power

Re-animating Post-Digital Cinema: [Animated] Fluidity and Hybrid Aesthetics in Tomm Moore’s Celtic Trilogy , Thomas James Schwaiger

Curation of the Video Art Exhibition in the Museum , Kamla Thurtle

Pennies from Heaven: Death and the Afterlife in World War II Fantasy Films , Elise Williamson

Theses from 2020 2020

Unreal Reality: Post-socialist China's Massive Infrastructural Agenda in Jia Zhangke's "Three Gorges Films" , Weiting Liu

Smell as Self-identity: Capitalist Ideology and Olfactory Imagination in Das Parfum’s Multimedia Storytelling , Xinrong Liu

Revitalizing Hollywood Stardom: Classical Star Power and Enduring Marketability at Warner Bros. in the Beginning of New Hollywood , Tham Singpatanakul

Bong Joon-Ho’s Transnational Challenge To Eurocentrism , Lisa - Marie Spaethen

Theses from 2019 2019

Stardom, Spectacle, Show, and Salability: United Artists and the Founding of the Hollywood Blockbuster Model , Jessica Johnson

Iranian Cinema in Transition: Relative Truth and Morality in Asghar Farhadi’s Films , Mazyar Mahdavifar

AI Film Aesthetics: A Construction of a New Media Identity for AI Films , Priya Parikh

A Cauldron of Chaos and Cultivation: Rediscovering Disney Animation of the 1980s , Thomas Price

Inflicted Viewing: Examining Moral Masochism, Empathy, and the Frustration of Trauma Cinema , Kira Smith

Representative Biodiversity: The Ecosystem of Cartoon Network , Carl Suby

Bending Family Friendly into Fear: Nostalgia, Minstrelsy and Horror in Bendy and the Ink Machine , Isabelle Williams

Theses from 2014 2014

The Criterion of Quality: A Paratextual Analysis of the Criterion Collection in the Age of Digital Distribution , Jonathan Charles Hyatt

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This Documentary About Brian Eno Is Never the Same Twice

Thanks to a software program, the length, structure and contents of the movie are reconfigured each time it’s shown. It’s the only way the musician would agree to the project.

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On a movie theater stage with seats in the foreground, Gary Hustwit stands in front of a movie screen with the word “Eno” in huge white type.

By Rob Tannenbaum

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COMMENTS

  1. Film Analysis

    Writing a film analysis requires you to consider the composition of the film—the individual parts and choices made that come together to create the finished piece. Film analysis goes beyond the analysis of the film as literature to include camera angles, lighting, set design, sound elements, costume choices, editing, etc. in making an argument.

  2. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

  3. Dissertations

    Dissertation Title: " Curated Desires: Intersections of Low-Grade Cinema, Migration, and Gentrification in Mumbai ". Chair: Neepa Majumdar. Readers: Robert Clift, Zachary Horton, and Randall Halle (German) 2022. Jordan Bernsmeier, Visiting Lecturer (NTS), University of Pittsburgh.

  4. Crafting a Winning Thesis Statement in Film Analysis: A Step-by-Step

    Nolan uses this complex narrative structure to keep the audience engaged and constantly questioning what is real. ... Forming a thesis statement in film analysis is vital in creating a compelling and well-structured essay. By understanding the film's context, closely examining its elements, and crafting a clear and arguable thesis statement ...

  5. Film Dissertation

    Module overview. The dissertation is an extended piece of work of 8,000 words in length which is the result of an in-depth study of an area of film studies. The subject matter could be a movement, a director, a studio or production company, a national cinema, genre or theoretical issue. It should not replicate assessed work in the other final ...

  6. PDF Academic Writing Guide: How to Write a Film Analysis

    Academic Writing Guide: How to Write a Film Analysis. • Watch a film with your full attention for the first time. • We are all able to recount plot after watching a movie once; it is more difficult to explain how images and sounds presented make up such a narrative. • So, watch the film again (and again and again)!

  7. Dissertations

    2015. Claudia Calhoun. " 'The Story You Are About to Hear Is True': Dragnet, Transmedia Storytelling, and the Postwar Police Procedural". with American Studies. 2015. Joshua Glick. "Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977". with American Studies.

  8. Film Analysis

    Writing film analysis is similar to writing literary analysis or any argumentative essay in other disciplines: Consider the assignment and prompts, formulate a thesis (see the Brainstorming Handout and Thesis Statement Handout for help crafting a nuanced argument), compile evidence to prove your thesis, and lay out your argument in the essay.

  9. Film Writing: Sample Analysis

    The film's first establishing shots set the action in a busy modern office. A woman sits at a computer, absorbed in her screen. The camera looks at her through a glass wall, one of many in the shot. The reflections of passersby reflected in the glass and the workspace's dim blue light make it difficult to determine how many rooms are depicted.

  10. Dissertation MA Film Studies module : University of Sussex

    The dissertation allows you to pursue an independent, detailed investigation of a specific area of film studies to which you are personally committed, and to devise a research programme that will enable you to engage with appropriate scholarly methodologies and to frame and pursue pertinent research questions.

  11. How to Write a Dissertation

    The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter). The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes: An introduction to your topic. A literature review that surveys relevant sources.

  12. Film Studies Dissertation module : University of Sussex

    Film Studies Dissertation (P4123) 30 credits, Level 6. Spring teaching. The dissertation module allows you to work on a sustained Film Studies project of your choosing that builds on appropriate critical, theoretical or historical approaches encountered in your study of the subject. It functions both as a summary experience, enabling you to ...

  13. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Example 1: Passive construction. The passive voice is a common choice for outlines and overviews because the context makes it clear who is carrying out the action (e.g., you are conducting the research ). However, overuse of the passive voice can make your text vague and imprecise. Example: Passive construction.

  14. Resources

    Begin by briefly summarizing the film. You should not rehash the entire plot, but instead give the most critical information about the film to the reader. Then, introduce the formal elements that you will be discussing. Finally, your thesis should connect the elements you will discuss to their importance to the film as a whole.

  15. Dissertations and Career Paths

    Ph.D. 2022. Kaitlin Clifton Forcier Dissertation: "The Infinite Image: Digital Media's Boundless Aesthetic". Katherine Guerra Dissertation: "Framing the Void: Trauma, Historical Erasure and the Excesses of Horror". Lisa Jacobson Dissertation: "Spy Craft: Seriality, The Americans, and Digital Ambivalence".

  16. Film Studies Theses

    When the place speaks : an analysis of the use of venues and locations in the international film festival circuit . Li, Peize (2023-11-30) - Thesis. This thesis examines how film festival venues participate in shaping broader film cultures. It proposes an approach to studying film festivals that is founded on looking at their physical spaces ...

  17. How to Write a Film Studies Essay

    The initial step when writing a film studies essay involves narrowing the scope of interest to a specific area. This stage calls for extensive investigation from a wide variety of sources to enhance insight into the area of study. An individual should provide key details and thematic issues under the scope of the study.

  18. PDF MAKING FILM INDEPENDENTLY: CREATING A SHORT FILM

    By making this film, from development all the way to post production, I learned valuable lessons from the mistakes I made and the multiple tasks I took on at once. Because of the many hats I wore for this film, and the tiny crew that helped make the film, certain important aspects of the process didn't get the attention they deserved. The

  19. How to Write a Film Analysis Essay: Examples, Outline, & Tips

    Standard essay structure. Just as with any essay, your analysis should consist of an introduction with a strong thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The main body usually includes a summary and an analysis of the movie's elements. Present tense for events in the film.

  20. Film Studies Dissertations

    Dissertations on Film Studies. Film Studies is a field of study that consists of analysing and discussing film, as well as exploring the world of film production. Film Studies allows you to develop a greater understanding of film production and how film relates to culture and history. View All Dissertation Examples.

  21. Film Studies Theses and Dissertations

    Theses/Dissertations from 2013. PDF. Music, Cinema and the Representation of Africa, Natasha Callender. PDF. Clash of the Industry Titans: Marvel, DC and the Battle for Market Dominance, Caitlin Foster. PDF. The New French Extremity: Bruno Dumont and Gaspar Noé, France's Contemporary Zeitgeist, Timothy J. Nicodemo. PDF.

  22. Film and Media Studies (MA) Theses

    Below is a selection of dissertations from the Film and Media Studies program in Dodge College of Film and Media Arts that have been voluntarily included in Chapman University Digital Commons. Additional dissertations from years prior to 2019 are available through the Leatherby Libraries' print collection or in Proquest's Dissertations and ...

  23. This Documentary About Brian Eno Is Never the Same Twice

    Thanks to a software program, the length, structure and contents of the movie are reconfigured each time it's shown. It's the only way the musician would agree to the project. By Rob ...

  24. Trump rally shooter killed by Secret Service sniper, officials say

    Sources said the gunman was armed with a rifle and was standing on an elevated structure outside of the cordoned-off rally area, about 200 yards from Trump's stage. Trump rally shooter killed by ...