Analyzing Essay Questions

As Jacques Aumont and Michel Marie propose in Analysis of Film, there is no correct, universal way to write film analysis.Semiotic analysis is the analysis of meaning behind signs and symbols, typically involving metaphors, analogies, and symbolism.

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Ultimately, however, analysis of film is not too different.

Think of all the things that make up a scene in a film: the actors, the lighting, the angles, the colors.

They both have plots, characters, dialogue, settings, symbolism, and, just as the elements of literature can be analyzed for their intent and effect, these elements can be analyzed the same way in film.

Listed here are common approaches to film analysis, but this is by no means an exhaustive list, and you may have discussed other approaches in class.

If these terms are new to you, don’t worry—they’ll be explained in the next section.

Analyzing film, like analyzing literature (fiction texts, etc.), is a form of rhetorical analysis—critically analyzing and evaluating discourse, including words, phrases, and images.

Like the dramatic structure of literature (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution), film has what is known as the Three-Act Structure: “Act One: Setup, Act Two: Confrontation, and Act Three: Resolution.” Narrative structure analysis breaks the story of the film into these three elements and might consider questions like: Consider again the example of Frozen.

You can use symbolism and narrative structure in conjunction by placing the symbolic objects/events in the context of the narrative structure.

Keep in mind that any of the elements of film can be analyzed, oftentimes in tandem.

A single film analysis essay may simultaneously include all of the following approaches and more.

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