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Film Analysis Example: A Complete Guide to Ace Your Task

Film Analysis Example With Key Steps to Write an A-Grade Paper

Compared to music, painting, literature, and many others, film is a relatively new form of art. The earliest surviving film is believed to be the Roundhay Garden Scene, introduced in 1888, creating an entirely new age of art. And just like any other kind of art, it drew a lot of attention and opinions from the audience. Thus, soon after its release, the first-ever film critique paper was released by The Optical Lantern and Cinematograph Journal in the early 1900s.

Not many know this, but early writing on film aimed to prove that cinematography is an actual art in the first place. One of the most famous manifestations of this proclamation was introduced in 1911 by Ricciotto Canudo, arguing that cinema is the “Sixth Art.”

A lot has changed since that time. As cinematography was expanding, somewhere in the late 1930s, audiences became more influenced by print resources providing criticism and analysis of movies. That’s how film analysis became widespread and even integrated into the academic landscape.

Today, film analysis is a common type of academic assignment facing students of different academic levels and majors. Handling this form of writing is uneasy due to a number of reasons. Most importantly, a movie analysis requires an incredibly deep analysis that goes far beyond a film’s plot.

If you are struggling with this assignment, this guide is here to help you ace it. Read on to learn what a film analysis is and how to write one step by step, and find a winning film analysis example for inspiration.

What Is a Film Analysis?

A film analysis essay requires you to watch and assess a specific movie. The analysis must consider different characteristics of a film, such as its genre, structure, contextual meaning, sound, editing, etc. The paper is typically presented in the form of a rhetorical analysis. Logic and strong argumentation with examples are the keys to success in this type of work.

Writing a Movie Analysis Essay

Writing a film analysis requires you to watch a movie and evaluate different parts of it that create a complete piece. This involves delving into such specs as lighting, camera angles, setting, costumes, and other choices.

A simple way to handle this task is to find a professional writer and ask them to write my essay. However, if you want to ace it yourself, the first step is watching a movie.

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Watching the Film

For everyone wondering how to start a film analysis essay, the answer is pretty simple — by watching a movie that you are going to analyze. Later in this guide, we will give you a complete film analysis example based on the Waltz with Bashir film. But first, let’s start with a few tips on how to watch a movie effectively before you can start writing your analysis.

When writing a film analysis, you will need to watch a film multiple times.

Here are some key tips to watch it critically:

  • Give it your undivided attention when watching for the first time;
  • When watching a movie for the second time, focus on its different aspects, such as dialogue, acting, etc.;
  • Take notes with timestamps on the most important moments that you notice;
  • Consider watching a film on mute to evaluate the visual part.

When making an analysis of such a complex documentary piece like Waltz with Bashir the movie, you should consider watching it more than three times to make more observations.

Brainstorming Ideas

After watching your film multiple times and collecting your notes, you need to define what exactly you will be writing in your paper. Before you do this, it could be a good idea to check a good film analysis example (or a few) to understand what the final piece should look like and gain some inspiration. After this, you need to consider different aspects of a movie to understand what to include in your paper.

Here are a few ideas of what you could consider:

  • Genre — Define what’s the genre of a film and what elements confirm that it belongs to that genre;
  • Cinematography — Study and evaluate the visual part of a film, such as settings, colors, camera angles, and other visual elements that create the atmosphere of a film;
  • Characters — Analyze and assess characters, their development, conflicts, motivations, etc. And define how they contribute to the narrative.

Some other things that you can consider include symbolism and themes, narrative structure, social and cultural impact, directorial style, etc.

Of course, analyzing all these aspects on your own can be a challenge. Luckily, if it gets too tough, you can always find professionals on EssayService to satisfy your request.

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Film Analysis Essay Types

There are several different ways to approach a movie analysis essay. Respectively, there are several types of this paper.

In this part of our guide, we are going to tell you about the most common types of film analysis to help you find an approach that perfectly aligns with your vision and task requirements.

film analysis essay types

Cultural/Historical Analysis

As the name suggests, this type of work focuses on analyzing a film from a historical or cultural point of view. It assesses how a movie reflects or comments on the period in which it was produced and what cultural (as well as social or political) impact it made during that time.

Semiotic Analysis

This type of analysis focuses on deeper, hidden meanings of the symbols in a film. Typically, movies contain a variety of different symbols. Moreover, some directors tend to use certain symbols repeatedly as their signature thing. Finding and analyzing these symbols requires exceptional attention to detail, but it can be a great way to approach the task.

Mise-en-Scene Analysis

In French, “mise-en-scene” means “setting the stage.” This type of film analysis essay analyzes all distinctive features of a movie, including the set design, lighting, audiovisual elements, etc. Your goal, in this case, is to define the main distinctive features and explain how they complement a movie — for example, lighting creates a certain mood, music evokes a certain emotion, etc.

Narrative Analysis

This type of analysis focuses on the narrative. It evaluates a movie’s plot, themes, and motives. If you choose it, you need to identify the three primary elements of narration — setup, confrontation, and resolution and assess how well a film discloses them. Also, this type of paper can include character analysis.

How to Write a Film Analysis Step-by-Step

If you were assigned to write a film analysis and are struggling with this task, the first step to solving this problem is creating a step-by-step plan of action. In this part of our guide, we are going to give you a plan that you can rely on in this situation.

As you should already know, the academic writing process consists of multiple stages. The same is true for writing an analysis essay. Here are the steps for tackling this task:

how to write a film analysis
  1. Making a detailed outline;
  2. Coming up with a thesis statement;
  3. Writing an introduction;
  4. Writing body paragraphs;
  5. Writing a logical conclusion.

Now, let’s look at each of these steps in detail to help you get started.

Step 1: Writing a Film Analysis Outline

Writing an outline is the first step after actually watching a movie you are going to analyze.

Before writing an outline, be sure to study the instructions provided by your professor. Pay attention to the assignment requirements, such as word count, and keep them in mind while making an outline.

Once you are clear on the instructions, start making an outline. Use the notes you already have and organize them into logical paragraphs. Note down the core things that you want to include in your paper in your outline. Get as detailed as possible.

Step 2: Formulating a Film Analysis Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a crucial element of your paper. It must be clear, straight to the point, and logical in order to capture the reader’s attention.

In a thesis, you need to outline the core idea of your analysis and prompt the reader on what you are going to discuss in your paper. To write it, focus on three core points:

  • Film expectations;
  • Author’s point of view;
  • Your own opinion about a film.

Based on these points, formulate a concise statement that reveals the central idea of your analysis.

Step 3: Writing a Film Analysis Introduction

An introductory paragraph performs several roles — it grabs the reader’s attention and informs them about a film.

How to write a film analysis introduction? Typically, you want to start an intro with a hook. It can be a quote, rhetorical question, shocking fact, or any other trick that will get your readers interested.

Next, after a hook, you should provide general background info, such as a movie title, director, release date, cast, and so on.

After providing a general background, dive deeper. Explore the specific features of a film and provide valuable insights to spark readers’ interest. Then, state your thesis.

Step 4: Writing Body Paragraphs

The body is the biggest part of your paper, where you are going to break down a movie into its different features and elements, analyzing each of them. Typically, first, you’ll want to analyze every creative element separately and then make a comprehensive analysis of all of them.

What film features should you focus on? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all film analysis example or structure that you must follow. Every movie consists of a variety of creative elements that you can use for your analysis. And you will need to pick the features that you find the most significant.

Namely, you can consider writing about:

  • Directing manner — Analyze what tools and patterns the director used and how they are different (or similar) to their other works;
  • Scenario — Analyze the script and how it complements the overall atmosphere of a movie. Also, assess the script clarity, novelty, narrative, etc.
  • Characters and acting — Evaluate how characters are presented in a film, how they change, and how good the acting is.
  • Sound and visual — Analyze music, visual effects, settings, costumes, and other features of a movie.

While assessing all these features in your paper, don’t forget to add logical transitions between them. And if you are still hesitating about whether you can handle the task, hire a professional writer to ace it with no effort. 

Step 5: Writing a Killer Conclusion

Once the rest of your paper is ready, it’s time to give it a sense of closure with a good conclusion. A conclusion should not make any new statements or provide additional information. Instead, it should finalize everything you’ve discussed in your essay and logically link back to your thesis statement. And there should be a logical transition to the conclusion from your body paragraphs.

Crafting a conclusion is the final stage of the writing process. So, now that you have a step-by-step plan of action, let’s see how to write a solid movie analysis essay based on a real example.

Top 15 Film Analysis Essay Topics

The choice of a topic is nearly 50% of success in film essay writing. So before we give you an actual film analysis example, let us give you some good topic ideas that can inspire you to write your own paper:

  1. The potential hazards of artificial intelligence discussed in Ex Machina.
  2. How the traumatic disorder of the protagonist is treated in Waltz with Bashir.
  3. The power of dialog in The Silence of the Lambs.
  4. Analysis of the moral dilemma in Gone Baby Gone.
  5. The themes of war in Waltz with Bashir the movie.
  6. How the directing manner was changing in Harry Potter movies.
  7. Characters’ analysis in Marvel’s The Avengers film.
  8. Analysis of the significance of visual elements in A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.
  9. Analysis and interpretation of hidden symbolism in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  10. What is the primary message in the film Juno?
  11. Themes and symbols in the Interstellar movie.
  12. Explore the problem of toxic relationships in Sleeping With the Enemy.
  13. Analysis of Tim Burton’s directing patterns in Sleepy Hollow.
  14. Valuable lessons provided in the Pride and Prejudice film (2005).
  15. The themes of fathers and sons’ relationships in The Pursuit of Happiness.

Film Analysis Example

Now that you know the steps to writing a movie analysis, let us give you some inspiration for your paper. Below is a film analysis example based on Waltz with Bashir the movie.

The purpose of documentary movies is to document real life, whereas the purpose of animated movies is to create life. Somehow, the film Waltz with Bashir managed to combine these two genres to deliver a powerful message. The film is a 2008 animated war docudrama by Ari Folman that unfolds the events of the 1982 Lebanon War. What tools did Folman use to convey his message? And did he manage to resonate with the audience?

The film maintains a simple story. The protagonist is the filmmaker who sets off on a journey to regain his lost memories of the experience of being a soldier during the war. The character collects interviews from different participants of past events, and gradually, these interviews connect the dots and build up the complete story.

One of the brightest features of Waltz with Bashir is its animation and directing techniques. The main trick is the use of hyperreal rotoscope animation techniques similar to those we’ve seen made by Richard Linklater. Live-action footage has been transformed into a bizarre dreamscape that’s somewhere between two and three dimensions.

Aside from a powerful plot and animation, Waltz with Bashir delivers its extratextual, rhetorical-heavy atmosphere with the help of its soundtrack. The movie leverages an instrumental score by Max Richter, recognizable pop songs, covers, and original ballads. The film employs audio elements to pull the reader right into the action of the scenes.

Together, a simple yet powerful plot, unique directing techniques, and hard-hitting music helped the film deliver all the terror of the war to the audience. At the same time, according to Waltz with Bashir film reviews, the director managed to emphasize the important topics of morality — “One man’s personal experience with the 1982 invasion of Lebanon becomes a stimulating and provocative meditation on responsibility and morality…”

FAQ

How to write a film analysis essay like a pro?

A good film analysis essay offers readers a 360-degree view of a film. It should go deeper than just your opinion on a movie. Instead, it should help readers look at it from different angles.

Ideally, your essay should answer several core questions:

  • What is the key goal of the movie? Was it achieved?
  • Does it speak effectively to its target audience?
  • What primary conflicts are there?
  • What important topics does it raise?

What is the main purpose of writing a film analysis?

Movies do much more than just tell a story. They raise different important topics, teach audiences valuable lessons, provoke certain feelings, and bring an important message. To achieve all these goals, a big team of people makes certain choices related to the script, settings, directing manners, and other features of a film.

A film analysis essay strives to critique and analyze a movie from various angles. It aims to extract other value from a film, except for entertainment and leisure.

To Sum Up

A film analysis essay is a common type of assignment in schools and colleges. Despite its commonness, this task turns out to be a real challenge for many students.

There are many challenges that you might face while working on this task. First and foremost, it requires a very in-depth analysis and critical assessment of different creative features of a film, which is hard to do on your own.

Luckily, after reading this guide, you know exactly how to write a film analysis like a pro. Use the steps, tips, and tricks from this article to write your own A-grade film analysis. And don’t hesitate to use our movie analysis example for inspiration. Good luck!

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