Movie: The Birds directed by Alfred Hitchcock
1. These reports require a bit of creativity. You are responsible for generating a thesis about the film you view.
2. You do not have to be comprehensive with respect to the film you choose. (In other words, there is no need to recite the whole plot.)
3. You should pick a concise section or scene from the film to discuss. A compact topic often makes for a better paper. [For example, consider our analysis of the knife scene from Sabotage (1936). It was a crucial moment in terms of plot, yes, but also in terms of film editing and composition.]
4. Look carefully at how form and content align in the scene or moment of the film. (In particular, Hitchcock is known for being adept at unifying these two modes of filmmaking.) I am 5. Be insightful and creative in your approach to the topic.
6. Please understand that if your argument is persuasiveand well-writtenyour work will receive higher marks. You may want to ask advice if you are unsure of the specific approach used in the film or by an essay in question.
Some Tips for Viewing
Seeing a movie with all of your attention is the only way to begin thinking or writing about a film.
I. Beginning to Think, Preparing to Watch.
Having preparatory questions in mind as you sit down to watch a movie will sharpen and direct your analytical abilities.
What does the title mean?
Do I know anything about the film beforehand? Read about the film or do some casual internet research about it. There are excellent online resources on movies and film history.
Does it have movie stars I know?
Does it have a reputation that precedes it?
When was the film made?
Reminder: the images you see are the product of certain influences and conditions, not just the world seen through a frame. Films are not just about a subject but the rendition of that subject for particular reasons and to create certain meanings. Films are not just about a story, a character, a place, or a way of life; they are also about what John Berger has called a way of seeing these elements in our lives. This is what the analysis of the movies is all about: examining how a subject has been formed to mean something specific through the power of art, technology, and commerce.
II. Taking Notes
Realistically, scholarly film viewing requires more than one screening, either of the film in a theater setting or on the usually more accessible computer screen or television. With one viewing, it is nearly impossible to see all the subtleties and complexities in a movie and, at the same time, to take notes on this information. Often, though, a second or third screening is not possible. In such casesdespite the difficulty in taking your eyes off the screen momentarily, it is important to take notes of some sort during a first-and-only viewing.
III. After Viewing: A Time for Reflection
Write about a sequence or moment (or series of moments) where form and content come together, were there motifs and sequences where the filmmaker (Hitchcock in this case) made particular use of editing, framing, performance, or sound to tell the story?
It is important to reflect upon your viewing experience shortly after seeing a movie. This can be done alone. Usually, however, it is more fun to discuss your experience with classmates. This will allow you to fill in gaps in your knowledge so you can begin to form an idea of what you wish to say about this movie. As an art form, the movies involve literature, the pictorial and plastic arts, music, dance, theater, and even architecture. A shared interest in one of these arts can be the basis for lively discussion.
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