Movie: Back to the Future
Stage 1: Analysis
For this stage, you will be analyzing a movie selected from the AFI’s 10 Top 10 (Links to an external site.) list. The film you choose can be one that you have previously analyzed in this course. While you are allowed to choose a film that does not come from the AFI lists, you are strongly encouraged to email your professor to receive approval before doing so.
The analysis portion of your paper should be 1500 to 1800 words in length. You should analyze the film through the lens of one of the broad theories you have learned about in class (auteur theory, genre theory, formalist theory). Your analysis must address four main areas (contextual information, story/plot, aesthetic choices, and social/personal impact) and how these areas work together to develop the theme of the movie. As you construct your analysis, assume that your reader is not familiar with this film. Use your analysis to explain to your reader why they should watch this film.
In addition to the film you are analyzing, you must use three scholarly sources to support your arguments. Refer to the ENG225 Research Guide in the Ashford University Library for guidance and to locate your sources. Cite your sources (including the feature-length film) within the text of your paper and on the reference page. Cite your sources according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center (Links to an external site.).
Your analysis must address the following components (noted in bold below):
- Contextual Information – In this area, you will provide some of the basic identifying information of the film. This includes:
- Director, cinematographer, major actors/actresses. Be sure to describe their roles in the overall design process.
- Year of release
- Type of film (blockbuster, indie, documentary, etc.)
- Story/Plot – In this area, you should offer a brief summary of the film, and then show how it was deployed in the narrative structure of the film. Explain the difference between the film’s story and its plot. This area can be addressed as a separate paragraph, or can be threaded throughout your analysis of the film.
- Aesthetic Choices – In this area, you will assess the efficacy of specific techniques and design elements employed in the film as they apply to the overarching narrative and theme of the film. These elements include:
- Mise en scène (e.g., lighting, sound, composition of frame, costuming, etc.)
- Editing (e.g., cuts and transitions, shots used, angles, etc.)
- Technology (i.e., analyze the impact of any notable technological effects: film stock, targeted release venue, special effects, etc.)
- Social/Personal Impact – In this area, you will critically address the following questions:
- What impact did this film have on society (i.e., politically or culturally, positive or negative)? The impact can be as major as inspiring political or social changes or as minor as inspiring the production of toys or lunchboxes.
- How did society affect this film (i.e., what currents in society led to the creation of the film)?
- If you are unable to find any information about the social impact of the film, explain the personal impact it has had on you.
Note: Not every bullet point under the four listed components will necessarily apply to your movie. However, you will still need to discuss each of the four main components thoroughly, which means that you may need to explain a concept even if it can’t be directly applied to your movie.
Your paper should be organized around a thesis statement that clarifies what you will attempt to accomplish in your paper, and how you will proceed. Additionally, you must conclude with a restatement of the thesis and a conclusion paragraph. Review the Final Film Critique sample, which provides an example of a well-developed analysis as well as insight on composition.
Stage 2: Reflection
After completing your movie analysis, you will reflect on the analysis process and how you have learned to more thoroughly analyze film as well as how rigorous study of film enhances your development as a student and thinker. In this 300- to 600-word reflection consider how your ability to analyze movies has changed or grown. Append your reflection to the analysis portion of your paper and submit as one document. Your reflection should be personal and exploratory in nature.
Address the following questions in your reflection:
- What can be gained through analyzing film?
- How has this changed the way you view movies?
- How are you able to use film theory and criticism to find and interpret meaning in movies?
- In what ways has this course changed your understanding of how movies are related to society?
- What skills have you developed during this course, and how might those skills be applied to your major, profession, and/or life?