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After you have finished the descriptive part of the assignment, use your shot-by-shot breakdown to write a 4-5 page essay that discusses how the stylistic elements of the segment (mise-en-scène, editing, point of view, use of space, etc.) are used to engage the viewer’s attention and to shape his or her understanding of the immediate dramatic action and the film’s larger narrative. In particular, your essay should:
Briefly set out the segment in narrative terms: describe the scene in terms of setting, character, and action; situate the scene within the film (at which point in the narrative does it occur? what is its function for developing, complicating, or resolving narrative conflicts?)
Describe the internal organization of the segment: opening and closing shots, shot patterns, shots that stand out for their singularity, formal motifs, etc.
Integrate your observations into an argument, reflecting on the relationship between formal and stylistic elements of the segment and its narrative (or thematic) meanings; if applicable, link the internal structure of the segment to the larger structure of the film as a whole.
In short, you should analyze how aspects of film form and style express the narrative events, ideas, and themes presented both in this segment and in the film as a whole. Your paper should present a coherent, well-constructed argument supported by concrete examples.
Your essay should be returned via Courseweb by April 17.
Please note that the DVD times listed below are approximate, and may vary depending on the disc you are using.
The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, US 1963)
Option 1: sub-segment beginning with Melanie’s arrival at the dock, and ending with the cut after Mitch smiles while looking at her through the binoculars
Time: 20:04 to 24:32
Option 2: sub-segment beginning with close-up of Melanie leaving a card “To Cathy,” and ending with the cut shortly after a man inquires, “What happened, Mitch?”
Time: 22:30 to 26:11
** Choose only one of these options if you pick this film, but be sure to connect your analysis to what happens in the other sub-segment **
The Third Man (Carol Reed, UK 1949): segment beginning with Martins apparently alone in the street, and ending with the dissolve after he throws water on the statue
Time: 1:05:13 to 1:07:36
Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, France 1959): (sub)segment beginning with Hulot reading the newspaper hanging over the grocer’s table, and ending with the cut before Hulot talks to the street-sweeper
Time: 9:25 to 13:54
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Germany, 1974): segment beginning with Emmi introducing Ali to her children, and ending with a fade after they leave
Time: 43:20 to 46:03