SCENE ANALYSIS Instructions
(First Draft Due: July 20, Final Draft Due: July 24)
This is a chance to work on your own, applying what you have learned about global film comedy and film techniques to a scene that you select. Choose a scene that you would like to study more closely and give it a name. It may be from one of the six feature films we’ve watched together or a film clip from one of the three unit modules.
Begin by explaining the reasons for your choice. Why did you select this scene to analyze?
If you’re familiar with the film, provide some context. Briefly describe the movie’s plot. Who are the main characters, what are they seeking in the story, and what conflicts do they encounter? Then explain how your chosen scene fits into the story. How does it help to develop character, move the plot along?
Before writing, analyse the scene as it unfolds. Pay attention to the editing (how the scene is cut into individual shots, how these shots are linked, how pacing is controlled). Notice how the action develops, how the actors perform their roles, what the camera does, how the scene is lit. Listen to the sound track for shifts in dialogue, music, sound effects, and any voice-over narration. Since you’ll be watching this scene several times, it will help to take careful notes.
Now describe what you noticed. You can do this shot by shot or more broadly, in terms of the scene’s general progression. Your description should include the following: 1) a brief description of the scene (setting, characters, action), 2) framing (how close ups, medium shots, or long shot are used), 3) camera angle (low angle, high angle, eye level), 4) camera movement (tilt, crane, tracking, none), 5) lighting (high key, low key, normal), 6) sound (describe any dialogue, music, voice over, or sound effects), and 7) any special transitions (dissolve, wipe, other optical effects besides straight cuts).
Finally, answer the following questions (in a paragraph or two for each) about your chosen scene:
1) CHARACTER. What does this scene tell you about the major character or characters? Refer as specifically as you can to the actors' movements, gestures, words, and dress as revealed by the camera.
2) SETTING. How is the time and location of the story represented in the scene? What does the setting contribute to our understanding of the characters and their situation?
3) COMEDY: How would you describe the kind of humor in this scene? What makes it funny, zany, droll, or absurd? Does it belong to a recognizable subgenre like parody, satire, slapstick, farce, or dark comedy? How do the lighting, sound, and camera work help to create the mood? Why do you think the scene works or fails as comedy?
4) THEME: What larger purposes do you think the humor serves? Is there a target? Who or what are we expected to laugh at? To what extent is the comedy tied to history or culture? How much depends on an understanding of the language, local customs, or events of the time? To what extent does it seem universal?
The Scene Analysis module includes a sample that may help you organize your assignment. You may also wish to refer back to the presentation on Film Terms and the reading on “The Art of Cinema” in Unit 1.
If you submit a draft of your analysis to me by July 20, I’ll return it with my comments and suggestions for revising it. You must submit this draft electronically, as a Microsoft Word attachment (with a .doc or .docx file extension), so that I may insert my comments and suggestions directly into your document. The final draft is due on July 24. Be sure to give it a proper heading (name, date, instructor, course) and a title (centered). It should be between 3 and 5 double-spaced pages (750-1250 words).
1. Be sure that you have covered all required items. Have you explained your personal connection to the scene: why you chose it for this analysis? Did you summarize the scene and give specifics examples of framing, camera work, lighting, sound, and special transitions? Did you fully answer the questions about character, setting, comedy, and theme?
2. Does your essay have a proper heading (your name, course, instructor, date)? Have you given the scene a name?
4. Have you proofread your writing to avoid typos and misspellings as well as errors in sentence structure (avoid fragments, run-ons, and comma splices), grammar, and punctuation (especially commas and apostrophes)? Remember to italicize or underline titles of feature films.
Your work will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
1. Focus: How well did you cover all items and stay on topic?
2. Development: How well did you develop your personal response, technical analysis, general observations, and evaluation?
3. Accuracy: How well did you understand the scene, use cinematic terms, and support observations with specific examples?
4. Expression: How well did you use standard written English to express your thoughts?
WARNING: Plagiarism will not be tolerated. You will receive a 0 for submitting a plagiarized paper, and you risk failing the course. College and departmental policy requires that I report any cases of plagiarism. A second offense in any class at WCC will affect your permanent academic record. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please check the college Website or contact me.