Purpose: A rhetorical analysis examines and explains how an author attempts to influence an audience. As you plan and draft your analysis, think of a specific publication that your analysis could be featured in—but in any event, have in mind a particular way of reaching your audience as you write. There is no point in analyzing the obvious; pick something that makes an interesting argument that viewers might be resistant to. No two students can choose the same film.
Your analysis should not simply paraphrase or summarize the film. Assume you are writing for an audience that has already seen the film.
Your purpose is to provide a way of understanding how the film persuades its audience. No matter what you choose, you will have to have your choice approved along with your proposal for this essay.
Step 1. Choose a film.
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I have a list provided below but you may choose something else if you want. You will submit your top four choices ranked in a proposal where you will briefly describe your working thesis and how you might approach analyzing the film.
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- Violence in Films | Analysis.
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I will then either approve your proposal or provide you with recommendations to improve it. Step 3. Then write an analysis that will help your readers understand how the film works to persuade its audience. Like it or not, those songs are earworms. Think about the scary music that plays in every horror movie or the high-energy music that plays in every car chase. Point of view is essentially the viewpoint through which a story is told.
Take, for example, the Planet of the Apes movies. If told from the point of view of the astronauts, the movie becomes a horror movie, with humans no longer in control, being forced to live as slaves.
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If told from the point of view of the apes, it becomes the story of the uprising of a few trouble-making humans who are trying to overtake society as they know it. Completely different movies, right? Shot simply refers to a series of frames that establishes the scene, emotion, and story in a movie. A movie might also use close-up shots.
Violence in Films | Analysis
Lighting might not be one of the first things you think about when you think film analysis, but it plays an important part in the overall composition of shots and the movie itself. A comedy, for instance, would be more likely to be brightly lit, while a horror movie may include dark, dreary, and generally scary lighting. Low-key lighting is also very common in specific types of movies, such as film noir.
Check out the scene below from the film Out of the Past. Notice the dark coloring and shadows on the actors. Also notice how your eye is drawn to the brightest, lightest point in the shot, the beautiful face of Kathy Moffatt played by Jane Greer. Aerial shots can be used to show a large, expansive scene like the western with the cowboy riding into the sunset. High camera angles allow the viewer to see the character from a vantage point that is higher than eye level.
This type of shot is often used to illustrate superiority or power of one character over another. The person looking down has the power. Low camera angles, on the other hand, allow the viewer to see the characters from a vantage point lower than eye level. The character looking up at another character is the less dominant character.
This is an amazing example of a low shot. Ralphie is powerless at that moment as he looks up at Santa, and Santa shoves Ralphie down the slide.
Instead, it refers to all of the other sounds you hear in the film. These might be background sounds, such as sounds of a room or the noise of a city. The sounds might also be amplified to create an effect. Ever watch a horror movie where you could suddenly hear every footstep, every creaking floorboard, and even the faintest sound of a wolf howling in the background? Those sounds are there for a reason.