COM FT250: Understanding Film, Fall 2020
Paper 1 – Close reading of mise-en-scène or cinematography
Length: minimum 2 full pages, maximum 3 full pages
Format: Times New Roman, 12 pt, double-spaced, 1” margins
Due: 9/24, by 11:59 pm Eastern (uploaded to Blackboard)
See the syllabus for notes on requesting an extension.
Directions: Use close reading and course vocabulary to critically analyze and interpret one
compositional element, either mise-en-scène or cinematography. Your paper must develop an
interpretive argument about one of the following:
1. Mise-en-scène in The Rider
2. Cinematography in Marie Antoinette
An A-range paper will:
have a clearly-stated, original thesis (argument) about the film that is interpretive, not
evaluative (so, not “this is good/bad/realistic/well done”)
o present your own argument; you should not need to use any outside sources
provide clear evidence and specific details from the mise-en-scène or cinematography to
support your thesis, correctly using appropriate terminology from class (most likely, you should
focus on just 1 scene that best support your thesis)
o you’ll need to rewatch the scenes you write on, if not the entire film
clearly analyze the details you bring in to show how they support your thesis
have a logical organization and lead the reader through your argument
have clear writing with few errors (watch out for typos, run-on sentences, sentence fragments,
unclear phrasing, etc.)
use the correct format and be of the correct length
Submit the Paper Via Blackboard: After completing your paper, save it as a .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf
format. Do not save it in the native Pages format, which the majority of computers cannot open it.
Log in to the Blackboard site for your discussion section and click on the Paper Upload tab on the left
navigation bar. Click on the view/complete link for this assignment. Click the Browse button and locate
your file. After you have uploaded your file, click the Submit button to complete the upload. (The Save
button will not submit your paper.)
Uploads can malfunction and hang indefinitely, so be sure that you reach the confirmation screen; if you
do not reach the confirmation screen, it is likely that your paper did not upload.
COM FT250: Understanding Film, Fall 2020
Tips for Success on Paper 1: Start with your observations and notes from screening. Look for patterns,
structures, contrasts, emphasis, and progression in the way in which mise-en-scène or cinematography
is used in the film. Then consider how the film’s use of that compositional element contributes to one of
the film’s meanings.
A compelling paper includes a strong, original argument, detailed evidence to support it, analysis that
shows how the evidence supports the argument, and a clear organization (paper structure, including an
introduction, thesis, and conclusion) to communicate all that to your reader. See the syllabus for general
paper grading criteria.
Do not simply list out your observations but use them as evidence to build an interpretive argument
about the film. Also, do not argue that the compositional element is successful, makes the film more
realistic, or allows the audience to better identify with the characters—those are all evaluative claims,
and this paper requires you to make an interpretative argument.
To complete the paper with a satisfactory level of accuracy and detail, you will need to either re-watch
the entire film (especially if our screening was your first viewing) or, at the very least, re-watch the
scene(s) that you are writing on.
Do not do additional reading or research for this assignment. You can certainly use the texts we have
read so far in the course, but if you do, cite them correctly in text and in a works cited or bibliography. If
you are not experienced with citation, check out the Purdue OWL website for information on how to
properly cite sources in MLA or Chicago style. You can also see your TA, the COM Writing Center, or me.
Papers that are too short, too long, include plagiarism, or are formatted deceptively to make the paper
seem much longer or shorter will likely get grades somewhere in the D or F ranges. Plagiarized papers
will also go through the academic reporting process.
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