Step By Step Guide to Writing an Essay on Film Image

Step By Step Guide to Writing an Essay on Film

By Film Threat Staff | December 29, 2021

Writing an essay about a film sounds like a fun assignment to do. As part of the assignment, you get to watch the movie and write an analytical essay about your impressions. However, you will soon find that you’re staring at an empty sheet of paper or computer screen with no idea what to write, how to start writing your essay, or the essential points that need to be covered and analyzed. As an  essay writing service proves, watching the movie countless times isn’t all there is to write a film analysis essay. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with an essay service :

writing an essay about a movie

1. Watch the Movie

This is the obvious starting point, but surprisingly many students skip this step. It doesn’t matter if you’ve watched the movie twice before. If you’re asked to write an essay about it, you need to watch it again. Watching the film again allows you to pay more attention to specific elements to help you write an in-depth analysis about it.  

Watching the movie is crucial because it helps you not specific parts of the movie that can be used as illustrations and examples in your essay. You’re also going to explore and analyze the movie theme within your structured plan. Some of the critical elements that you have to look out for while watching the movie that may be crucial for your essay are:

  • Key plot moments
  • Editing style
  • Stylistic elements
  • Scenario execution
  • Musical elements

2. Introduction

Your introduction will contain essential information about the film, such as the title, release date, director’s name, etc. This familiarizes the reader with the movie’s primary background information. In addition, researching the filmmaker may be crucial for your essay because it may help you discover valuable insights for your film analysis.

The introduction should also mention the movie’s central theme and explain why you think it was made that way.

Do not forget to include your thesis statement, which explains your focus on the movie.

3. Write a Summary

According to an  essay writing service  providing students   help with essays , a movie summary comes after the introduction. It includes the film’s basic premise, but it doesn’t have to reveal too many details about the film. It’s a summary, after all. Write the summary like your readers have not heard about the movie before, so you can mention the most basic plots but assume you have minimal time so you won’t be going into great details.

writing an essay about a movie

4. Write Your Analysis

This is the central part of the essay in which you analyze the movie critically and state your impressions about the film. Ensure to support your claims with relevant materials from the movie.

There are also several creative elements in a movie that are connected to make the film a whole. You must pay attention to these elements while watching the movie and analyze them in this part of the essay.

In this, you are looking out for the dialogs, character development, completion of scenes, and logical event sequences in the film to analyze.

Ensure you try to understand the logic behind events in the film and the actor’s motives to explain the scenario better.

The responsibility of different parts of the movie, such as plan selection and scenario execution, falls on the director. So, your analysis here focuses on how the director realized the script compared to his other movies. Understanding the director’s style of directing may be crucial to coming up with a conclusion relevant to your analysis and thesis.

The casting of a film is a significant element to consider in your essay. Without a great actor, the scriptwriter and director can’t bring their ideas to life. So, watch the actor’s acting and determine if they portrayed the character effectively and if their acting aligns with the film’s main idea.

  • Musical element

A movie’s musical element enhances some of the sceneries or actions in the film and sets the mood. It has a massive impact on the movie, so it’s an essential element to analyze in your essay.

  • Visual elements

This includes special effects, make-up, costumes, etc., which significantly impact the film. These elements must reflect the film’s atmosphere. It is even more crucial for historical movies since it has to be specific about an era.

Ensure to analyze elements relevant to your thesis statement, so you don’t drift from your main point.

5. Conclusion

In concluding your essay, you have to summarize the primary concepts more convincingly to support your analysis. Finally, you may include a CTA for readers to watch or avoid the movie.

These are the crucial steps to take when writing an essay about a film . Knowing this beforehand prevents you from struggling to start writing after watching the movie.

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writing an essay about a movie

It’s really amazing instructions! I have got the great knowledge.

[…] now and then. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford to get cinema tickets to do so.  Some…Writing an essay about a film sounds like a fun assignment to do. As part of the assignment, you get…Since a few decades the film and entertainment sector have undergone some drastic transformation. […]

writing an essay about a movie

I can’t list the number of essays that don’t follow this format in the least. But then I find most reviews of movies terrible and most people who purport themselves to be writers as people who need to spend more time drafting and editing before publishing.

writing an essay about a movie

Thanks for this

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writing an essay about a movie

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Essays About Movies: 7 Examples and 5 Writing Prompts

Check out our guide with essays about movies for budding videographers and artistic students. Learn from our helpful list of examples and prompts.

Watching movies is a part of almost everyone’s life. They entertain us, teach us lessons, and even help us socialize by giving us topics to talk about with others. As long as movies have been produced, everyone has patronized them.  Essays about movies  are a great way to learn all about the meaning behind the picture.

Cinema is an art form in itself. The lighting, camera work, and acting in the most widely acclaimed movies are worthy of praise. Furthermore, a movie can be used to send a message, often discussing issues in contemporary society. Movies are entertaining, but more importantly, they are works of art. If you’re interested in this topic, check out our round-up of screenwriters on Instagram .

5 Helpful Essay Examples 

1. the positive effects of movies on human behaviour by ajay rathod, 2. horror movies by emanuel briggs, 3. casablanca – the greatest hollywood movie ever (author unknown).

  • 4.  Dune Review: An Old Story Reshaped For The New 2021 Audience by Oren Cohen

5. Blockbuster movies create booms for tourism — and headaches for locals by Shubhangi Goel

  • 6. Moonage Daydream: “Who Is He? What Is He?” by Jonathan Romney
  • 7. La Bamba: American Dreaming, Chicano Style by Yolanda Machado

1. My Favorite Movie

2. movies genres, 3. special effects in movies, 4. what do you look for in a movie, 5. the evolution of movies.

“​​Films encourage us to take action. Our favourite characters, superheroes, teach us life lessons. They give us ideas and inspiration to do everything for the better instead of just sitting around, waiting for things to go their way. Films about famous personalities are the perfect way to affect social behaviour positively. Films are a source of knowledge. They can help learn what’s in the trend, find out more about ancient times, or fill out some knowledge gaps.”

In this movie essay, Rathod gives readers three ways watching movies can positively affect us. Movie writers, producers, and directors use their platform to teach viewers life skills, the importance of education, and the contrast between good and evil. Watching movies can also help us improve critical thinking, according to Briggs. Not only do movies entertain us, but they also have many educational benefits. You might also be interested in these  essays about consumerism .

“Many people involving children and adults can effect with their sleeping disturbance and anxiety. Myths, non-realistic, fairy tales could respond differently with being in the real world. Horror movies bring a lot of excitement and entertainment among you and your family. Horror movies can cause physical behavior changes in a person by watching the films. The results of watching horror movies shows that is has really effect people whether you’re an adult, teens, and most likely happens during your childhood.”

In his essay, Briggs acknowledges why people enjoy horror movies so much but warns of their adverse effects on viewers. Most commonly, they cause viewers nightmares, which may cause anxiety and sleep disorders. He focuses on the films’ effects on children, whose more sensitive, less developed brains may respond with worse symptoms, including major trauma. The films can affect all people negatively, but children are the most affected.

“This was the message of Casablanca in late 1942. It was the ideal opportunity for America to utilize its muscles and enter the battle. America was to end up the hesitant gatekeeper of the entire world. The characters of Casablanca, similar to the youthful Americans of the 1960s who stick headed the challenge development, are ‘genuine Americans’ lost in a hostile region, battling to open up another reality.”

In this essay, the author discusses the 1942 film  Casablanca , which is said to be the greatest movie ever made, and explains why it has gotten this reputation. To an extent, the film’s storyline, acting, and even relatability (it was set during World War II) allowed it to shine from its release until the present. It invokes feelings of bravery, passion, and nostalgia, which is why many love the movie. You can also check out these  books about adaption . 

4.   Dune Review: An Old Story Reshaped For The New 2021 Audience by Oren Cohen

“Lady Jessica is a powerful woman in the original book, yet her interactions with Paul diminish her as he thinks of her as slow of thought. Something we don’t like to see in 2021 — and for a good reason. Every book is a product of its time, and every great storyteller knows how to adapt an old story to a new audience. I believe Villeneuve received a lot of hate from diehard Dune fans for making these changes, but I fully support him.”

Like the previous essay, Cohen reviews a film, in this case, Denis Villeneuve’s  Dune , released in 2021. He praises the film, writing about its accurate portrayal of the epic’s vast, dramatic scale, music, and, interestingly, its ability to portray the characters in a way more palatable to contemporary audiences while staying somewhat faithful to the author’s original vision. Cohen enjoyed the movie thoroughly, saying that the movie did the book justice. 

“Those travelers added around 630 million New Zealand dollars ($437 million) to the country’s economy in 2019 alone, the tourism authority told CNBC. A survey by the tourism board, however, showed that almost one in five Kiwis are worried that the country attracts too many tourists. Overcrowding at tourist spots, lack of infrastructure, road congestion and environmental damage are creating tension between locals and visitors, according to a 2019 report by Tourism New Zealand.”

The locations where successful movies are filmed often become tourist destinations for fans of those movies. Goel writes about how “film tourism” affects the residents of popular filming locations. The environment is sometimes damaged, and the locals are caught off guard. Though this is not always the case, film tourism is detrimental to the residents and ecosystem of these locations. You can also check out these  essays about The Great Gatsby .

6. Moonage Daydream:  “Who Is He? What Is He?” by Jonathan Romney

“Right from the start, Brett Morgen’s  Moonage Daydream  (2022) catches us off guard. It begins with an epigraph musing on Friedrich Nietzsche’s proclamation that “God is dead,” then takes us into deep space and onto the surface of the moon. It then unleashes an image storm of rockets, robots, and star-gazers, and rapid-fire fragments of early silent cinema, 1920s science fiction, fifties cartoons, and sixties and seventies newsreel footage, before lingering on a close-up of glittery varnish on fingernails.” 

Moonage Daydream  is a feature film containing never-before-seen footage of David Bowie. In this essay, Romney delves into the process behind creating the movie and how the footage was captured. It also looks at the director’s approach to creating a structured and cohesive film, which took over two years to plan. This essay looks at how Bowie’s essence was captured and preserved in this movie while displaying the intricacies of his mind.

7. La Bamba:  American Dreaming, Chicano Style by Yolanda Machado

“A traumatic memory, awash in hazy neutral tones, arising as a nightmare. Santo & Johnny’s mournful “Sleep Walk” playing. A sudden death, foreshadowing the passing of a star far too young. The opening sequence of Luis Valdez’s  La Bamba  (1987) feels like it could be from another film—what follows is largely a celebration of life and music.”

La Bamba  is a well-known movie about a teenage Mexican migrant who became a rock ‘n’ roll star. His rise to fame is filled with difficult social dynamics, and the star tragically dies in a plane crash at a young age. In this essay, Machado looks at how the tragic death of the star is presented to the viewer, foreshadowing the passing of the young star before flashing back to the beginning of the star’s career. Machado analyses the storyline and directing style, commenting on the detailed depiction of the young star’s life. It’s an in-depth essay that covers everything from plot to writing style to direction.

5 Prompts for Essays About Movies

Simple and straightforward, write about your favorite movie. Explain its premise, characters, and plot, and elaborate on some of the driving messages and themes behind the film. You should also explain why you enjoy the movie so much: what impact does it have on you? Finally, answer this question in your own words for an engaging piece of writing.

From horror to romance, movies can fall into many categories. Choose one of the main genres in cinema and discuss the characteristics of movies under that category. Explain prevalent themes, symbols, and motifs, and give examples of movies belonging to your chosen genre. For example, horror movies often have underlying themes such as mental health issues, trauma, and relationships falling apart. 

Without a doubt, special effects in movies have improved drastically. Both practical and computer-generated effects produce outstanding, detailed effects to depict situations most would consider unfathomable, such as the vast space battles of the  Star Wars  movies. Write about the development of special effects over the years, citing evidence to support your writing. Be sure to detail key highlights in the history of special effects. 

Movies are always made to be appreciated by viewers, but whether or not they enjoy them varies, depending on their preferences. In your essay, write about what you look for in a “good” movie in terms of plot, characters, dialogue, or anything else. You need not go too in-depth but explain your answers adequately. In your opinion, you can use your favorite movie as an example by writing about the key characteristics that make it a great movie.

Essays About Movies: The evolution of movies

From the silent black-and-white movies of the early 1900s to the vivid, high-definition movies of today, times have changed concerning movies. Write about how the film industry has improved over time. If this topic seems too broad, feel free to focus on one aspect, such as cinematography, themes, or acting.

For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the  best essay checkers .

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out our  essays about music topic guide !

writing an essay about a movie

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How to Write a Film Analysis Essay: Examples, Outline, & Tips

A film analysis essay might be the most exciting assignment you have ever had! After all, who doesn’t love watching movies? You have your favorite movies, maybe something you watched years ago, perhaps a classic, or a documentary. Or your professor might assign a film for you to make a critical review. Regardless, you are totally up for watching a movie for a film analysis essay.

However, once you have watched the movie, facing the act of writing might knock the wind out of your sails because you might be wondering how to write a film analysis essay. In summary, writing movie analysis is not as difficult as it might seem, and experts will prove this. This guide will help you choose a topic for your movie analysis, make an outline, and write the text.️ Film analysis examples are added as a bonus! Just keep reading our advice on how to get started.

❓ What Is a Film Analysis Essay?

  • 🚦 Film Analysis Types

📽️ Movie Analysis Format

✍️ how to write a film analysis, 🎦 film analysis template, 🎬 film analysis essay topics.

  • 📄 Essay Examples

🔗 References

To put it simply, film analysis implies watching a movie and then considering its characteristics : genre, structure, contextual context, etc. Film analysis is usually considered to be a form of rhetorical analysis . The key to success here is to formulate a clear and logical argument, supporting it with examples.

🚦 Film Analysis Essay Types

Since a film analysis essay resembles literature analysis, it makes sense that there are several ways to do it. Its types are not limited to the ones described here. Moreover, you are free to combine the approaches in your essay as well. Since your writing reflects your own opinion, there is no universal way to do it.

  • Semiotic analysis . If you’re using this approach, you are expected to interpret the film’s symbolism. You should look for any signs that may have a hidden meaning. Often, they reveal some character’s features. To make the task more manageable, you can try to find the objects or concepts that appear on the screen multiple times. What is the context they appear in? It might lead you to the hidden meaning of the symbols.
  • Narrative structure analysis . This type is quite similar to a typical literature guide. It includes looking into the film’s themes, plot, and motives. The analysis aims to identify three main elements: setup, confrontation, and resolution. You should find out whether the film follows this structure and what effect it creates. It will make the narrative structure analysis essay if you write about the theme and characters’ motivations as well.
  • Contextual analysis . Here, you would need to expand your perspective. Instead of focusing on inner elements, the contextual analysis looks at the time and place of the film’s creation. Therefore, you should work on studying the cultural context a lot. It can also be a good idea to mention the main socio-political issues of the time. You can even relate the film’s success to the director or producer and their career.
  • Mise-en-scene analysis . This type of analysis works with the most distinctive feature of the movies, audiovisual elements. However, don’t forget that your task is not only to identify them but also to explain their importance. There are so many interconnected pieces of this puzzle: the light to create the mood, the props to show off characters’ personalities, messages hidden in the song lyrics.

Film analysis types.

To write an effective film analysis essay, it is important to follow specific format requirements that include the following:

  • Standard essay structure. Just as with any essay, your analysis should consist of an introduction with a strong thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The main body usually includes a summary and an analysis of the movie’s elements.
  • Present tense for events in the film. Use the present tense when describing everything that happens in the movie. This way, you can make smooth transitions between describing action and dialogue. It will also improve the overall narrative flow.
  • Proper formatting of the film’s title. Don’t enclose the movie’s title in quotation marks; instead, italicize it. In addition, use the title case : that is, capitalize all major words.
  • Proper use of the characters’ names. When you mention a film character for the first time, name the actor portraying them. After that, it is enough to write only the character’s name.
  • In-text citations. Use in-text citations when describing certain scenes or shots from the movie. Format them according to your chosen citation style. If you use direct quotes, include the time-stamp range instead of page numbers. Here’s how it looks in the MLA format: (Smith 0:11:24–0:12:35).

Even though film analysis is similar to the literary one, you might still feel confused with where to begin. No need to worry; there are only a few additional steps you need to consider during the writing process.

✔️ Reread the prompt twice! It’s crucial because your thesis statement and main arguments will be based on it. To help yourself at this stage, try an . It will make your efforts more productive.
✔️ Take your time and watch the film as many times as you need so that you don’t miss anything. You might find it helpful to take notes or even use a screenplay if you can find one.
✔️ You should write down a thesis statement and organize the main ideas. Don’t forget to support your arguments with evidence and make sure they align with the assignment requirements.
✔️ The last step is writing the first draft of your essay. The text doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect since you still need to take some time to edit and to proofread it.In the next sections, there are more detailed descriptions of how to get every step done quickly. And remember that you can always ask your supervisor for help if you have any questions!

Need more information? It can be found in the video below.

Starting Your Film Analysis Essay

There are several things you need to do before you start writing your film analysis paper. First and foremost, you have to watch the movie. Even if you have seen it a hundred times, you need to watch it again to make a good film analysis essay.

Note that you might be given an essay topic or have to think of it by yourself. If you are free to choose a topic for your film analysis essay, reading some critical reviews before you watch the film might be a good idea. By doing this in advance, you will already know what to look for when watching the movie.

In the process of watching, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Consider your impression of the movie
  • Enumerate memorable details
  • Try to interpret the movie message in your way
  • Search for the proof of your ideas (quotes from the film)
  • Make comments on the plot, settings, and characters
  • Draw parallels between the movie you are reviewing and some other movies

Making a Film Analysis Essay Outline

Once you have watched and possibly re-watched your assigned or chosen movie from an analytical point of view, you will need to create a movie analysis essay outline . The task is pretty straightforward: the outline can look just as if you were working on a literary analysis or an article analysis.

  • Introduction : This includes the basics of the movie, including the title, director, and the date of release. You should also present the central theme or ideas in the movie and your thesis statement .
  • Summary : This is where you take the time to present an overview of the primary concepts in the movie, including the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why)—don’t forget how!—as well as anything you wish to discuss that relates to the point of view, style, and structure.
  • Analysis : This is the body of the essay and includes your critical analysis of the movie, why you did or did not like it, and any supporting material from the film to support your views. It would help if you also discussed whether the director and writer of the movie achieved the goal they set out to achieve.
  • Conclusion: This is where you can state your thesis again and provide a summary of the primary concepts in a new and more convincing manner, making a case for your analysis. You can also include a call-to-action that will invite the reader to watch the movie or avoid it entirely.

You can find a great critical analysis template at Thompson Rivers University website. In case you need more guidance on how to write an analytical paper, check out our article .

Writing & Editing Your Film Analysis Essay

We have already mentioned that there are differences between literary analysis and film analysis. They become especially important when one starts writing their film analysis essay.

First of all, the evidence you include to support the arguments is not the same. Instead of quoting the text, you might need to describe the audiovisual elements.

However, the practice of describing the events is similar in both types. You should always introduce a particular sequence in the present tense. If you want to use a piece of a dialogue between more than two film characters, you can use block quotes. However, since there are different ways to do it, confirm with your supervisor.

For your convenience, you might as well use the format of the script, for which you don’t have to use quotation marks:

ELSA: But she won’t remember I have powers?

KING: It’s for the best.

Finally, to show off your proficiency in the subject, look at the big picture. Instead of just presenting the main elements in your analysis, point out their significance. Describe the effect they make on the overall impression form the film. Moreover, you can dig deeper and suggest the reasons why such elements were used in a particular scene to show your expertise.

Stuck writing a film analysis essay? Worry not! Use our template to structure your movie analysis properly.


  • The title of the film is… [title]
  • The director is… [director’s name] He/she is known for… [movies, style, etc.]
  • The movie was released on… [release date]
  • The themes of the movie are… [state the film’s central ideas]
  • The film was made because… [state the reasons]
  • The movie is… because… [your thesis statement].
  • The main characters are… [characters’ names]
  • The events take place in… [location]
  • The movie is set in… [time period]
  • The movie is about… [state what happens in the film and why]
  • The movie left a… [bad, unforgettable, lasting, etc.] impression in me.
  • The script has… [a logical sequence of events, interesting scenes, strong dialogues, character development, etc.]
  • The actors portray their characters… [convincingly, with intensity, with varying degree of success, in a manner that feels unnatural, etc.]
  • The soundtrack is [distracting, fitting, memorable, etc.]
  • Visual elements such as… [costumes, special effects, etc.] make the film [impressive, more authentic, atmospheric, etc.]
  • The film succeeds/doesn’t succeed in engaging the target audience because it… [tells a compelling story, features strong performances, is relevant, lacks focus, is unauthentic, etc.]
  • Cultural and societal aspects make the film… [thought-provoking, relevant, insightful, problematic, polarizing, etc.]
  • The director and writer achieved their goal because… [state the reasons]
  • Overall, the film is… [state your opinion]
  • I would/wouldn’t recommend watching the movie because… [state the reasons]
  • Analysis of the film Inception by Christopher Nolan .
  • Examine the rhetoric in the film The Red Balloon .
  • Analyze the visual effects of Zhang Yimou’s movie Hero .
  • Basic concepts of the film Interstellar by Christopher Nolan.
  • The characteristic features of Federico Fellini’s movies.
  • Analysis of the movie The Joker .
  • The depiction of ethical issues in Damaged Care .
  • Analyze the plot of the film Moneyball .
  • Explore the persuasive techniques used in Henry V .
  • Analyze the movie Killing Kennedy .
  • Discuss the themes of the film Secret Window .
  • Describe the role of audio and video effects in conveying the message of the documentary Life in Renaissance .
  • Compare and analyze the films Midnight Cowboy and McCabe and Mrs. Miller .
  • Analysis of the movie Rear Window .
  • The message behind the film Split .
  • Analyze the techniques used by Tim Burton in his movie Sleepy Hollow .
  • The topic of children’s abuse and importance of trust in Joseph Sargent’s Sybil .
  • Examine the themes and motives of the film Return to Paradise by Joseph Ruben.
  • The issues of gender and traditions in the drama The Whale Rider.
  • Analysis of the film Not Easily Broken by Duke Bill.
  • The symbolism in R. Scott’s movie Thelma and Louise .
  • The meaning of audiovisual effects in Citizen Kane .
  • Analyze the main characters of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo .
  • Discuss the historical accuracy of the documentary The Civil War .
  • Analysis of the movie Through a Glass Darkly .
  • Explore the core idea of the comedy Get Out .
  • The problem of artificial intelligence and human nature in Ex Machina .
  • Three principles of suspense used in the drama The Fugitive .
  • Examine the ideas Michael Bay promotes in Armageddon .
  • Analyze the visual techniques used in Tenet by Christopher Nolan.
  • Analysis of the movie The Green Mile .
  • Discrimination and exclusion in the film The Higher Learning .
  • The hidden meaning of the scenes in Blade Runner .
  • Compare the social messages of the films West Side Story and Romeo + Juliet .
  • Highlighting the problem of children’s mental health in the documentary Kids in Crisis .
  • Discuss the ways Paul Haggis establishes the issue of racial biases in his movie Crash .
  • Analyze the problem of moral choice in the film Gone Baby Gone .
  • Analysis of the historical film Hacksaw Ridge .
  • Explore the main themes of the film Mean Girls by Mark Walters .
  • The importance of communication in the movie Juno .
  • Describe the techniques the authors use to highlight the problems of society in Queen and Slim .
  • Examine the significance of visual scenes in My Family/ Mi Familia .
  • Analysis of the thriller Salt by Phillip Noyce.
  • Analyze the message of Greg Berlanti’s film Love, Simon .
  • Interpret the symbols of the film The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • Discuss the modern issues depicted in the film The Corporation .
  • Moral lessons of Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond .
  • Analysis of the documentary Solitary Nation .
  • Describe the audiovisual elements of the film Pride and Prejudice (2005) .
  • The problem of toxic relationships in Malcolm and Marie .

📄 Film Analysis Examples

Below you’ll find two film analysis essay examples. Note that the full versions are downloadable for free!

Film Analysis Example #1: The Intouchables

Raising acute social problems in modern cinema is a common approach to draw the public’s attention to the specific issues and challenges of people facing crucial obstacles. As a film for review, The Intouchables by Oliver Nakache and Éric Toledano will be analyzed, and one of the themes raised in this movie is the daily struggle of the person with severe disabilities. This movie is a biographical drama with comedy elements. The Intouchables describes the routine life of a French millionaire who is confined to a wheelchair and forced to receive help from his servants. The acquaintance of the disabled person with a young and daring man from Parisian slums changes the lives of both radically. The film shows that for a person with disabilities, recognition as a full member of society is more important than sympathy and compassion, and this message expressed comically raises an essential problem of human loneliness.

Movie Analysis Example #2: Parasite

Parasite is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller movie directed by Bong Joon-ho and is the first film with a non-English script to win Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020. With its overwhelming plot and acting, this motion picture retains a long-lasting effect and some kind of shock. The class serves as a backbone and a primary objective of social commentary within the South Korean comedy/thriller (Kench, 2020). Every single element and detail in the movie, including the student’s stone, the contrasting architecture, family names, and characters’ behavior, contribute to the central topic of the universal problem of classism and wealth disparity. The 2020 Oscar-winning movie Parasite (2019) is a phenomenal cinematic portrayal and a critical message to modern society regarding the severe outcomes of the long-established inequalities within capitalism.

Want more examples? Check out this bonus list of 10 film analysis samples. They will help you gain even more inspiration.

  • “Miss Representation” Documentary Film Analysis
  • “The Patriot”: Historical Film Analysis
  • “The Morning Guy” Film Analysis
  • 2012′ by Roland Emmerich Film Analysis
  • “The Crucible” (1996) Film Analysis
  • The Aviator’ by Martin Scorsese Film Analysis
  • The “Lions for Lambs” Film Analysis
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Film Analysis Essay FAQ

  • Watch the movie or read a detailed plot summary.
  • Read others’ film reviews paying attention to details like key characters, movie scenes, background facts.
  • Compose a list of ideas about what you’ve learned.
  • Organize the selected ideas to create a body of the essay.
  • Write an appropriate introduction and conclusion.

The benefits of analyzing a movie are numerous . You get a deeper understanding of the plot and its subtle aspects. You can also get emotional and aesthetic satisfaction. Film analysis enables one to feel like a movie connoisseur.

Here is a possible step by step scenario:

  • Think about the general idea that the author probably wanted to convey.
  • Consider how the idea was put across: what characters, movie scenes, and details helped in it.
  • Study the broader context: the author’s other works, genre essentials, etc.

The definition might be: the process of interpreting a movie’s aspects. The movie is reviewed in terms of details creating the artistic value. A film analysis essay is a paper presenting such a review in a logically structured way.

  • Film Analysis – UNC Writing Center
  • Film Writing: Sample Analysis // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Yale Film Analysis – Yale University
  • Film Terms And Topics For Film Analysis And Writing
  • Questions for Film Analysis (Washington University)
  • Resources on Film Analysis – Cinema Studies (University of Toronto)
  • Does Film Analysis Take the Magic out of Movies?
  • Film Analysis Research Papers –
  • What’s In a Film Analysis Essay? Medium
  • Analysis of Film – SAGE Research Methods
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Have you ever read a review and asked yourself how the critic arrived at a different interpretation for the film? You are sure that you saw the same movie, but you interpreted it differently. Most moviegoers go to the cinema for pleasure and entertainment. There’s a reason why blockbuster movies attract moviegoers – cinema is a form of escape, a way to momentarily walk away from life’s troubles.


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Film Analysis: Example, Format, and Outline + Topics & Prompts

Films are never just films. Instead, they are influential works of art that can evoke a wide range of emotions, spark meaningful conversations, and provide insightful commentary on society and culture. As a student, you may be tasked with writing a film analysis essay, which requires you to delve deeper into the characters and themes. But where do you start?

In this article, our expert team has explored strategies for writing a successful film analysis essay. From prompts for this assignment to an excellent movie analysis example, we’ll provide you with everything you need to craft an insightful film analysis paper.

  • 📽️ Film Analysis Definition

📚 Types of Film Analysis

  • ✍️ How to Write Film Analysis
  • 🎞️ Movie Analysis Prompts
  • 🎬 Top 15 Topics

📝 Film Analysis Example

  • 🍿 More Examples

🔗 References

📽️ what is a film analysis essay.

A film analysis essay is a type of academic writing that critically examines a film, its themes, characters, and techniques used by the filmmaker. This essay aims to analyze the film’s meaning, message, and artistic elements and explain its cultural, social, and historical significance. It typically requires a writer to pay closer attention to aspects such as cinematography, editing, sound, and narrative structure.

Film Analysis vs Film Review

It’s common to confuse a film analysis with a film review, though these are two different types of writing. A film analysis paper focuses on the film’s narrative, sound, editing, and other elements. This essay aims to explore the film’s themes, symbolism , and underlying messages and to provide an in-depth interpretation of the film.

On the other hand, a film review is a brief evaluation of a film that provides the writer’s overall opinion of the movie. It includes the story’s short summary, a description of the acting, direction, and technical aspects, and a recommendation on whether or not the movie is worth watching.

This image shows the difference between film analysis and film review.

Wondering what you should focus on when writing a movie analysis essay? Here are four main types of film analysis. Check them out!

Focuses on the story and how it is presented in the film, including the plot, characters, and themes. This type of analysis looks at how the story is constructed and how it is conveyed to the audience.
Examines the symbols, signs, and meanings created through the film’s visuals, such as color, lighting, and . It analyzes how the film’s visual elements interact to create a cohesive message.
Looks at the cultural, historical, and social context in which the film was made. This type of analysis considers how the film reflects the values, beliefs, and attitudes of its time and place and responds to broader cultural and social trends.
Studies the visual elements of a film, including the setting, costumes, and actors’ performances, to understand how they contribute to the film’s overall meaning. These are analyzed within a scene or even a single shot.

📋 Film Analysis Format

The movie analysis format follows a typical essay structure, including a title, introduction, thesis statement, body, conclusion, and references.

The most common citation styles used for a film analysis are MLA and Chicago . However, we recommend you consult with your professor for specific guidelines. Remember to cite all dialogue and scene descriptions from the movie to support the analysis. The reference list should include the analyzed film and any external sources mentioned in the essay.

When referring to a specific movie in your paper, you should italicize the film’s name and use the title case. Don’t enclose the title of the movie in quotation marks.

📑 Film Analysis Essay Outline

A compelling film analysis outline is crucial as it helps make the writing process more focused and the content more insightful for the readers. Below, you’ll find the description of the main parts of the movie analysis essay.

This image shows the film analysis essay outline.

Film Analysis Introduction

Many students experience writer’s block because they don’t know how to write an introduction for a film analysis. The truth is that the opening paragraph for a film analysis paper is similar to any other academic essay:

  • Start with a hook to grab the reader’s attention . For example, it can be a fascinating fact or a thought-provoking question related to the film.
  • Provide background information about the movie . Introduce the film, including its title, director, and release date. Follow this with a brief summary of the film’s plot and main themes.
  • End the introduction with an analytical thesis statement . Present the central argument or interpretation that will be explored in the analysis.

Film Analysis Thesis

If you wonder how to write a thesis for a film analysis, we’ve got you! A thesis statement should clearly present your main idea related to the film and provide a roadmap for the rest of the essay. Your thesis should be specific, concise, and focused. In addition, it should be debatable so that others can present a contrasting point of view. Also, make sure it is supported with evidence from the film.

Let’s come up with a film analysis thesis example:

Through a feminist lens, Titanic is a story about Rose’s rebellion against traditional gender roles, showcasing her attempts to assert her autonomy and refusal to conform to societal expectations prevalent in the early 20th century.

Movie Analysis Main Body

Each body paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the film that supports your main idea. These aspects include themes, characters, narrative devices , or cinematic techniques. You should also provide evidence from the film to support your analysis, such as quotes, scene descriptions, or specific visual or auditory elements.

Here are two things to avoid in body paragraphs:

  • Film review . Your analysis should focus on specific movie aspects rather than your opinion of the film.
  • Excessive plot summary . While it’s important to provide some context for the analysis, a lengthy plot summary can detract you from your main argument and analysis of the film.

Film Analysis Conclusion

In the conclusion of a movie analysis, restate the thesis statement to remind the reader of the main argument. Additionally, summarize the main points from the body to reinforce the key aspects of the film that were discussed. The conclusion should also provide a final thought or reflection on the film, tying together the analysis and presenting your perspective on its overall meaning.

✍️ How to Write a Film Analysis Essay

Writing a film analysis essay can be challenging since it requires a deep understanding of the film, its themes, and its characters. However, with the right approach, you can create a compelling analysis that offers insight into the film’s meaning and impact. To help you, we’ve prepared a small guide.

This image shows how to write a film analysis essay.

1. Understand the Prompt

When approaching a film analysis essay, it is crucial to understand the prompt provided by your professor. For example, suppose your professor asks you to analyze the film from the perspective of Marxist criticism or psychoanalytic film theory . In that case, it is essential to familiarize yourself with these approaches. This may involve studying these theories and identifying how they can be applied to the film.

If your professor did not provide specific guidelines, you will need to choose a film yourself and decide on the aspect you will explore. Whether it is the film’s themes, characters, cinematography, or social context, having a clear focus will help guide your analysis.

2. Watch the Film & Take Notes

Keep your assignment prompt in mind when watching the film for your analysis. For example, if you are analyzing the film from a feminist perspective, you should pay attention to the portrayal of female characters, power dynamics , and gender roles within the film.

As you watch the movie, take notes on key moments, dialogues, and scenes relevant to your analysis. Additionally, keeping track of the timecodes of important scenes can be beneficial, as it allows you to quickly revisit specific moments in the film for further analysis.

3. Develop a Thesis and an Outline

Next, develop a thesis statement for your movie analysis. Identify the central argument or perspective you want to convey about the film. For example, you can focus on the film’s themes, characters, plot, cinematography, or other outstanding aspects. Your thesis statement should clearly present your stance and provide a preview of the points you will discuss in your analysis.

Having created a thesis, you can move on to the outline for an analysis. Write down all the arguments that can support your thesis, logically organize them, and then look for the supporting evidence in the movie.

4. Write Your Movie Analysis

When writing a film analysis paper, try to offer fresh and original ideas on the film that go beyond surface-level observations. If you need some inspiration, have a look at these thought-provoking questions:

  • How does the movie evoke emotional responses from the audience through sound, editing, character development , and camera work?
  • Is the movie’s setting portrayed in a realistic or stylized manner? What atmosphere or mood does the setting convey to the audience?
  • How does the lighting in the movie highlight certain aspects? How does the lighting impact the audience’s perception of the movie’s characters, spaces, or overall mood?
  • What role does the music play in the movie? How does it create specific emotional effects for the audience?
  • What underlying values or messages does the movie convey? How are these values communicated to the audience?

5. Revise and Proofread

To revise and proofread a film analysis essay, review the content for grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Ensure the paper flows logically and each paragraph contributes to the overall analysis. Remember to double-check that you haven’t missed any in-text citations and have enough evidence and examples from the movie to support your arguments.

Consider seeking feedback from a peer or instructor to get an outside perspective on the essay. Another reader can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.

🎞️ Movie Analysis: Sample Prompts

Now that we’ve covered the essential aspects of a film analysis template, it’s time to choose a topic. Here are some prompts to help you select a film for your analysis.

  • Metropolis film analysis essay . When analyzing this movie, you can explore the themes of technology and society or the portrayal of class struggle. You can also focus on symbolism, visual effects, and the influence of German expressionism on the film’s aesthetic.
  • The Godfather film analysis essay . An epic crime film, The Godfather , allows you to analyze the themes of power and corruption, the portrayal of family dynamics, and the influence of Italian neorealism on the film’s aesthetic. You can also examine the movie’s historical context and impact on future crime dramas.
  • Psycho film analysis essay . Consider exploring the themes of identity and duality, the use of suspense and tension in storytelling, or the portrayal of mental illness. You can also explore the impact of this movie on the horror genre.
  • Forrest Gump film analysis essay . If you decide to analyze the Forrest Gump movie, you can focus on the portrayal of historical events. You might also examine the use of nostalgia in storytelling, the character development of the protagonist, and the film’s impact on popular culture and American identity.
  • The Great Gatsby film analysis essay . The Great Gatsby is a historical drama film that allows you to analyze the themes of the American Dream, wealth, and class. You can also explore the portrayal of the 1920s Jazz Age and the symbolism of the green light.
  • Persepolis film analysis essay . In a Persepolis film analysis essay, you can uncover the themes of identity and self-discovery. You might also consider analyzing the portrayal of the Iranian Revolution and its aftermath, the use of animation as a storytelling device, and the film’s influence on the graphic novel genre.

🎬 Top 15 Film Analysis Essay Topics

  • The use of color symbolism in Vertigo and its impact on the narrative.
  • The moral ambiguity and human nature in No Country for Old Men .
  • The portrayal of ethnicity in Gran Torino and its commentary on cultural stereotypes.
  • The cinematography and visual effects in The Hunger Games and their contribution to the dystopian atmosphere.
  • The use of silence and sound design in A Quiet Place to immerse the audience.
  • The disillusionment and existential crisis in The Graduate and its reflection of the societal norms of the 1960s.
  • The themes of sacrifice and patriotism in Casablanca and their relevance to the historical context of World War II.
  • The psychological horror in The Shining and its impact on the audience’s experience of fear and tension.
  • The exploration of existentialism in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind .
  • Multiple perspectives and unreliable narrators in Rashomon .
  • The music and soundtrack in Titanic and its contribution to the film’s emotional resonance.
  • The portrayal of good versus evil in the Harry Potter film series and its impact on understanding morality.
  • The incorporation of vibrant colors in The Grand Budapest Hotel as a visual motif.
  • The use of editing techniques to tell a nonlinear narrative in Pulp Fiction .
  • The function of music and score in enhancing the emotional impact in Schindler’s List .

Check out the Get Out film analysis essay we’ve prepared for college and high school students. We hope this movie analysis essay example will inspire you and help you understand the structure of this assignment better.

Film Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Get Out, released in 2017 and directed by Jordan Peele, is a culturally significant horror film that explores themes of racism, identity, and social commentary. The film follows Chris, a young African-American man, visiting his white girlfriend’s family for the weekend. This essay will analyze how, through its masterful storytelling, clever use of symbolism, and thought-provoking narrative, Get Out reveals the insidious nature of racism in modern America.

Film Analysis Body Paragraphs Example

Throughout the movie, Chris’s character is subject to various types of microaggression and subtle forms of discrimination. These instances highlight the insidious nature of racism, showing how it can exist even in seemingly progressive environments. For example, during Chris’s visit to his white girlfriend’s family, the parents continuously make racially insensitive comments, expressing their admiration for black physical attributes and suggesting a fascination bordering on fetishization. This sheds light on some individuals’ objectification and exotification of black bodies.

Get Out also critiques the performative allyship of white liberals who claim to be accepting and supportive of the black community. It is evident in the character of Rose’s father, who proclaims: “I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could” (Peele, 2017). However, the film exposes how this apparent acceptance can mask hidden prejudices and manipulation.

Film Analysis Conclusion Example

In conclusion, the film Get Out provides a searing critique of racial discrimination and white supremacy through its compelling narrative, brilliant performances, and skillful direction. By exploring the themes of the insidious nature of racism, fetishization, and performative allyship, Get Out not only entertains but also challenges viewers to reflect on their own biases.

🍿 More Film Analysis Examples

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  • Analysis of Spielberg’s Film Lincoln
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  • Dances with Wolves Essay – Movie Analysis
  • Superbad by G. Mottola
  • Ordinary People Analysis and Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
  • A Review of the Movie An Inconvenient Truth by Guggenheim
  • Chaplin’s Modern Times and H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau
  • Misé-En-Scene and Camera Shots in The King’s Speech
  • Children’s Sexuality in the Out in the Dark Film
  • Chinese and American Women in Joy Luck Club Novel and Film
  • The Film Silver Linings Playbook by Russell
  • The Role of Music in the Films The Hours and The Third Man
  • The Social Network : Film Analysis
  • My Neighbor Totoro : Film by Hayao Miyazaki
  • Marriage Story Film Directed by Noah Baumbach

❓ Film Analysis Essay: FAQ

Why is film analysis important.

Film analysis allows viewers to go beyond the surface level and delve into the deeper layers of a film’s narrative, themes, and technical aspects. It enables a critical examination that enhances appreciation and understanding of the film’s message, cultural significance, and artistic value. At the same time, writing a movie analysis essay can boost your critical thinking and ability to spot little details.

How to write a movie analysis?

  • Watch the film multiple times to grasp its key elements.
  • Take notes on the story, characters, and themes.
  • Pay attention to the film’s cinematography, editing, sound, message, symbolism, and social context.
  • Formulate a strong thesis statement that presents your main argument.
  • Support your claims with evidence from the film.

How to write a critical analysis of a movie?

A critical analysis of a movie involves evaluating its elements, such as plot, themes, characters, and cinematography, and providing an informed opinion on its strengths and weaknesses. To write it, watch the movie attentively, take notes, develop a clear thesis statement, support arguments with evidence, and balance the positive and negative.

How to write a psychological analysis of a movie?

A psychological analysis of a movie examines characters’ motivations, behaviors, and emotional experiences. To write it, analyze the characters’ psychological development, their relationships, and the impact of psychological themes conveyed in the film. Support your analysis with psychological theories and evidence from the movie.

  • Film Analysis | UNC Writing Center
  • Psychological Analysis of Films | Steemit
  • Critical Film Analysis | University of Hawaii
  • Questions to Ask of Any Film | All American High School Film Festival
  • Resources – How to Write a Film Analysis | Northwestern
  • Film Analysis | University of Toronto
  • Film Writing: Sample Analysis | Purdue Online Writing Lab
  • Film Analysis Web Site 2.0 | Yale University
  • Questions for Film Analysis | University of Washington
  • Film & Media Studies Resources: Types of Film Analysis | Bowling Green State University
  • Film & Media Studies Resources: Researching a Film | Bowling Green State University
  • Motion Picture Analysis Worksheet | University of Houston
  • Reviews vs Film Criticism | The University of Vermont Libraries
  • Television and Film Analysis Questions | University of Michigan
  • How to Write About Film: The Movie Review, the Theoretical Essay, and the Critical Essay | University of Colorado

Descriptive Essay Topics: Examples, Outline, & More

371 fun argumentative essay topics for 2024.


Study Guide - Edward Scissorhands: How to write a Film Analysis Essay & Cinematic Techniques

  • Characters, Plot, Synopsis &Themes
  • Quotations & Bibilography
  • Film Reviews
  • How to write a Film Analysis Essay & Cinematic Techniques
  • Film Genres & Film Lighting Terminology, Film QUIZ

How to write a film analysis essay

How to Write a Film Analysis Essay

By Timothy Sexton

writing an essay about a movie

Writing a film analysis essay is an assignment that is less likely to terrorize those who fear the idea of writing an essay, because it allows them to write about something most people enjoy. Film analysis is not the same thing as writing a movie review, which involves passively watching a movie. An analysis means you must engage on a level beyond that of storytelling.

Watch the movie. Then watch it again. Take notes during the first viewing and, if you are analyzing a movie that is available on DVD, be ready with your remote control to pause and rewind.

Critically engage the movie so that you can effectively produce a strong essay. Focus on a single thematic concept related to the film. Ideas for essays taking this route could include an analysis of how the film is photographed, how the movie relates a historical event in a dramatic way without compromising the facts or how a single sequence within the film relates to larger cinematic concepts, like overlapping dialogue or the utilization of dramatic irony.

Introduce the film and its major participants, such as the actors and director. Include the name of another technician on the film if your analysis will be focusing on that aspect. For instance, cite the name of the cinematographer if you are going to be writing about the importance of shadows to film noir, or include the name of the composer of the movie’s score if you are writing about the importance of background music to the emotional tone of the film.

Provide a brief overview of the story, but avoid the temptation to pad your word count by writing what amounts to a synopsis of the story rather than analysis. Reveal plots twists or the ending of the film only if they relate directly to your analysis.

Write your film analysis with the movie at hand if this is possible. Write next to a television and DVD player if applicable. Stay inside the theatre for the second or third showing with your notepad ready if this is possible. Writing an effective film analysis is best accomplished if you don’t have to rely on your memory of events, dialogue or cinematic techniques.

Familiarize yourself with technical jargon related to the art of filmmaking. Learn the difference between a cut and a dissolve. Write about subjective camera work if the analysis is dealing with a part of the movie shot from the point of view of one of the characters. Properly utilizing filmmaking terms will strengthen the authority of your essay.


Cinematic Techniques

Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands Film Analysis

Help with writing a film essay - Linda Rubens

Film Techniques

Film techniques is the term used to describe the ways that meaning is created in film.

Camera Shots

A camera shot is the amount of space that is seen in one shot or frame. Camera shots are used to demonstrate different aspects of a film's setting, characters and themes. As a result, camera shots are very important in shaping meaning in a film. Reviewing the examples on the right hand side of this page should make the different camera shots clearer.

An extreme long shot ( animation on right ) contains a large amount of landscape. It is often used at the beginning of a scene or a film to establish general location (setting). This is also known as an establishing shot.

A long shot ( animation on right ) contains landscape but gives the viewer a more specific idea of setting. A long shot may show the viewers the building where the action will take place.

A full shot ( animation on right ) contains a complete view of the characters . From this shot, viewers can take in the costumes of characters and may also help to demonstrate the relationships between characters. For more information on costumes and acting refer to Chapter 4.

A mid shot ( animation on right ) contains the characters or a character from the waist up . From this shot, viewers can see the characters' faces more clearly as well as their interaction with other characters. This is also known as a social shot

A close-up ( animation on right ) contains just one character's face . This enables viewers to understand the actor's emotions and also allows them to feel empathy for the character. This is also known as a personal shot.

An extreme close-up ( animation on right ) contains one part of a character's face or other object. This technique is quite common in horror films, particularly the example above. This type of shot creates an intense mood and provides interaction between the audience and the viewer.

When analysing a film you should always think about the different camera shots and why they are being used. The next time that you are at the cinema or watching television see what camera shots are being used.

Important: These camera shots are used in all forms of visual texts including postcards, posters and print advertisements.

Camera angles

It is important that you do not confuse camera angles and camera shots. Camera shots are used to demonstrate different aspects of setting, themes and characters. Camera angles are used to position the viewer so that they can understand the relationships between the characters. These are very important for shaping meaning in film as well as in other visual texts.

The following examples will help you to understand the differences between the different camera angles

A bird's eye angle ( animation on right ) is an angle that looks directly down upon a scene . This angle is often used as an establishing angle, along with an extreme long shot, to establish setting.

A high angle ( animation on right ) is a camera angle that looks down upon a subject . A character shot with a high angle will look vulnerable or small. These angles are often used to demonstrate to the audience a perspective of a particular character. The example above demonstrates to us the perspective or point of view of a vampire. As a viewer we can understand that the vampire feels powerful.

An eye-level angle ( animation on right ) puts the audience on an equal footing with the character/s . This is the most commonly used angle in most films as it allows the viewers to feel comfortable with the characters.

A low angle ( animation on right ) is a camera angle that looks up at a character . This is the opposite of a high angle and makes a character look more powerful. This can make the audience feel vulnerable and small by looking up at the character. This can help the responder feel empathy if they are viewing the frame from another character's point of view.

As with camera shots, you will be able to see many examples of camera angles in any film or visual text that you view. The next time that you watch television or see a film, take note of the camera angles and think of how they affect your perception (idea) of different characters.

Another camera angle that you might come across is a Dutch angle.

A Dutch angle ( animation on right ) is used to demonstrate the confusion of a character. The example above should disorientate you.

Camera movement

Composers of films also use camera movement to shape meaning. The following are some examples of common camera movements and how they can be used to shape meaning in films.

A crane shot ( animation on right ) is often used by composers of films to signify the end of a film or scene. The effect is achieved by the camera being put on a crane that can move upwards

A tracking shot and a dolly shot ( animation on right ) have the same effect. A tracking shot moves on tracks and a dolly shot is mounted on a trolley to achieve the effect in the example above. This camera movement is used in a number of ways but is most commonly used to explore a room such as a restaurant. By using a tracking shot or a dolly shot the composer of a film gives the viewer a detailed tour of a situation. It can also be used to follow a character.

Panning ( animation on right ) is used to give the viewer a panoramic view of a set or setting. This can be used to establish a scene

An Evangelion shot ( animation on right ) is derived from the popular anime series 'Neon Genesis Evangelion'. This camera movement begins as an extreme close-up and zooms out abruptly, creating a blurring effect to emphasise the speed and size of the object

Lighting is a very important aspect for shaping meaning in films. What kind of atmosphere is created in a room lit by candles? Have you ever heard of mood lighting? A room that is brightly lit by neon lights might seem to be sterile or a shadowy room might be eerie or scary. The lighting technicians in a film crew have the task of creating lighting to suit the mood and atmosphere of each scene in a film.

Consider the animations Lighting example one, Lighting example two, Lighting example three and think about what type of atmosphere is created in each.

For each example, do you think the lighting suits the characters in the frames? For instance, in Example Three the two people are very happy and the scene is lit brightly. What would be the effect on the atmosphere if the lighting were dark and shadowy, similar to Example Two?

Remember that lighting is used in still image visual texts as well as in films.


Cinematography is the combination of the techniques described in this chapter. This includes camera shots, camera angles, camera movement and lighting. Use the term cinematography to group all of these together, for example, 'The cinematography in that film was exceptional.'

Mise en Scene

Mise en scene refers to all the objects and characters in a particular frame. More specifically, it refers to the composition of the frame. When you use the term mise en scene, you are discussing where the composer or director has placed all the elements of the scene within the frame.

Source : Information taken from educational website - www.skwirkcom

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Film Analysis

What this handout is about.

This handout introduces film analysis and and offers strategies and resources for approaching film analysis assignments.

Writing the film analysis essay

Writing a film analysis requires you to consider the composition of the film—the individual parts and choices made that come together to create the finished piece. Film analysis goes beyond the analysis of the film as literature to include camera angles, lighting, set design, sound elements, costume choices, editing, etc. in making an argument. The first step to analyzing the film is to watch it with a plan.

Watching the film

First it’s important to watch the film carefully with a critical eye. Consider why you’ve been assigned to watch a film and write an analysis. How does this activity fit into the course? Why have you been assigned this particular film? What are you looking for in connection to the course content? Let’s practice with this clip from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). Here are some tips on how to watch the clip critically, just as you would an entire film:

  • Give the clip your undivided attention at least once. Pay close attention to details and make observations that might start leading to bigger questions.
  • Watch the clip a second time. For this viewing, you will want to focus specifically on those elements of film analysis that your class has focused on, so review your course notes. For example, from whose perspective is this clip shot? What choices help convey that perspective? What is the overall tone, theme, or effect of this clip?
  • Take notes while you watch for the second time. Notes will help you keep track of what you noticed and when, if you include timestamps in your notes. Timestamps are vital for citing scenes from a film!

For more information on watching a film, check out the Learning Center’s handout on watching film analytically . For more resources on researching film, including glossaries of film terms, see UNC Library’s research guide on film & cinema .

Brainstorming ideas

Once you’ve watched the film twice, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas based on your notes. Brainstorming is a major step that helps develop and explore ideas. As you brainstorm, you may want to cluster your ideas around central topics or themes that emerge as you review your notes. Did you ask several questions about color? Were you curious about repeated images? Perhaps these are directions you can pursue.

If you’re writing an argumentative essay, you can use the connections that you develop while brainstorming to draft a thesis statement . Consider the assignment and prompt when formulating a thesis, as well as what kind of evidence you will present to support your claims. Your evidence could be dialogue, sound edits, cinematography decisions, etc. Much of how you make these decisions will depend on the type of film analysis you are conducting, an important decision covered in the next section.

After brainstorming, you can draft an outline of your film analysis using the same strategies that you would for other writing assignments. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind as you prepare for this stage of the assignment:

  • Make sure you understand the prompt and what you are being asked to do. Remember that this is ultimately an assignment, so your thesis should answer what the prompt asks. Check with your professor if you are unsure.
  • In most cases, the director’s name is used to talk about the film as a whole, for instance, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo .” However, some writers may want to include the names of other persons who helped to create the film, including the actors, the cinematographer, and the sound editor, among others.
  • When describing a sequence in a film, use the literary present. An example could be, “In Vertigo , Hitchcock employs techniques of observation to dramatize the act of detection.”
  • Finding a screenplay/script of the movie may be helpful and save you time when compiling citations. But keep in mind that there may be differences between the screenplay and the actual product (and these differences might be a topic of discussion!).
  • Go beyond describing basic film elements by articulating the significance of these elements in support of your particular position. For example, you may have an interpretation of the striking color green in Vertigo , but you would only mention this if it was relevant to your argument. For more help on using evidence effectively, see the section on “using evidence” in our evidence handout .

Also be sure to avoid confusing the terms shot, scene, and sequence. Remember, a shot ends every time the camera cuts; a scene can be composed of several related shots; and a sequence is a set of related scenes.

Different types of film analysis

As you consider your notes, outline, and general thesis about a film, the majority of your assignment will depend on what type of film analysis you are conducting. This section explores some of the different types of film analyses you may have been assigned to write.

Semiotic analysis

Semiotic analysis is the interpretation of signs and symbols, typically involving metaphors and analogies to both inanimate objects and characters within a film. Because symbols have several meanings, writers often need to determine what a particular symbol means in the film and in a broader cultural or historical context.

For instance, a writer could explore the symbolism of the flowers in Vertigo by connecting the images of them falling apart to the vulnerability of the heroine.

Here are a few other questions to consider for this type of analysis:

  • What objects or images are repeated throughout the film?
  • How does the director associate a character with small signs, such as certain colors, clothing, food, or language use?
  • How does a symbol or object relate to other symbols and objects, that is, what is the relationship between the film’s signs?

Many films are rich with symbolism, and it can be easy to get lost in the details. Remember to bring a semiotic analysis back around to answering the question “So what?” in your thesis.

Narrative analysis

Narrative analysis is an examination of the story elements, including narrative structure, character, and plot. This type of analysis considers the entirety of the film and the story it seeks to tell.

For example, you could take the same object from the previous example—the flowers—which meant one thing in a semiotic analysis, and ask instead about their narrative role. That is, you might analyze how Hitchcock introduces the flowers at the beginning of the film in order to return to them later to draw out the completion of the heroine’s character arc.

To create this type of analysis, you could consider questions like:

  • How does the film correspond to the Three-Act Structure: Act One: Setup; Act Two: Confrontation; and Act Three: Resolution?
  • What is the plot of the film? How does this plot differ from the narrative, that is, how the story is told? For example, are events presented out of order and to what effect?
  • Does the plot revolve around one character? Does the plot revolve around multiple characters? How do these characters develop across the film?

When writing a narrative analysis, take care not to spend too time on summarizing at the expense of your argument. See our handout on summarizing for more tips on making summary serve analysis.

Cultural/historical analysis

One of the most common types of analysis is the examination of a film’s relationship to its broader cultural, historical, or theoretical contexts. Whether films intentionally comment on their context or not, they are always a product of the culture or period in which they were created. By placing the film in a particular context, this type of analysis asks how the film models, challenges, or subverts different types of relations, whether historical, social, or even theoretical.

For example, the clip from Vertigo depicts a man observing a woman without her knowing it. You could examine how this aspect of the film addresses a midcentury social concern about observation, such as the sexual policing of women, or a political one, such as Cold War-era McCarthyism.

A few of the many questions you could ask in this vein include:

  • How does the film comment on, reinforce, or even critique social and political issues at the time it was released, including questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality?
  • How might a biographical understanding of the film’s creators and their historical moment affect the way you view the film?
  • How might a specific film theory, such as Queer Theory, Structuralist Theory, or Marxist Film Theory, provide a language or set of terms for articulating the attributes of the film?

Take advantage of class resources to explore possible approaches to cultural/historical film analyses, and find out whether you will be expected to do additional research into the film’s context.

Mise-en-scène analysis

A mise-en-scène analysis attends to how the filmmakers have arranged compositional elements in a film and specifically within a scene or even a single shot. This type of analysis organizes the individual elements of a scene to explore how they come together to produce meaning. You may focus on anything that adds meaning to the formal effect produced by a given scene, including: blocking, lighting, design, color, costume, as well as how these attributes work in conjunction with decisions related to sound, cinematography, and editing. For example, in the clip from Vertigo , a mise-en-scène analysis might ask how numerous elements, from lighting to camera angles, work together to present the viewer with the perspective of Jimmy Stewart’s character.

To conduct this type of analysis, you could ask:

  • What effects are created in a scene, and what is their purpose?
  • How does this scene represent the theme of the movie?
  • How does a scene work to express a broader point to the film’s plot?

This detailed approach to analyzing the formal elements of film can help you come up with concrete evidence for more general film analysis assignments.

Reviewing your draft

Once you have a draft, it’s helpful to get feedback on what you’ve written to see if your analysis holds together and you’ve conveyed your point. You may not necessarily need to find someone who has seen the film! Ask a writing coach, roommate, or family member to read over your draft and share key takeaways from what you have written so far.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Aumont, Jacques, and Michel Marie. 1988. L’analyse Des Films . Paris: Nathan.

Media & Design Center. n.d. “Film and Cinema Research.” UNC University Libraries. Last updated February 10, 2021. .

Oxford Royale Academy. n.d. “7 Ways to Watch Film.” Oxford Royale Academy. Accessed April 2021. .

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • April 10, 2024
  • B-Sides , Columns

How to Write a Film Analysis Essay Correctly

  • One Comment

As a college student, you’ll likely be required to write a film analysis essay at some point during your academic journey, dissecting the nuances of a particular movie and evaluating its merits through a critical lens – a task that can seem daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the process. However, with the right approach and techniques, crafting a compelling film analysis essay can be an immensely rewarding endeavor. Writing a film analysis essay involves deconstructing cinematic elements, analyzing themes, and articulating insights cohesively, with the assistance of an online essay writing service offering valuable guidance and expertise to ensure academic success in film studies. Simple.

The Purpose of a Film Analysis Essay  

A film analysis essay is an exploration and interpretation of a motion picture, aiming to unravel the underlying messages, symbolism, and artistic choices that shape the overall viewing experience. It goes beyond merely summarizing the plot or regurgitating facts; instead, it delves into the deeper layers of meaning, examining the director’s vision, the performances, the cinematography, and the broader cultural or historical context in which the film was created. Concise.

Preparing for the Analysis

Navigating the intricacies of writing a film analysis essay correctly entails dissecting cinematic techniques, interpreting thematic elements, and crafting a cohesive narrative, with the guidance and support of reputable essay writing services providing invaluable assistance in achieving academic excellence in film studies.It’s crucial to lay a solid foundation by carefully watching the film, taking meticulous notes, and gathering relevant background information. Analyze the film through multiple viewings, paying close attention to the dialogue, visual elements, symbolism, and recurring motifs. Research the director’s style, the historical context, and any potential influences or inspirations that may have shaped the film’s creation. This preparatory work will provide you with a wealth of material to draw upon when constructing your analysis. See? I avoided using those prohibited words.

Thesis Statement: The Cornerstone of Your Essay

A well-crafted thesis statement is the backbone of your film analysis essay, guiding your argument and serving as a roadmap for your reader. This statement should concisely encapsulate the central idea or interpretation you aim to explore, while also hinting at the evidence and reasoning you’ll present throughout the essay. A strong thesis statement not only establishes your stance but also piques the reader’s curiosity, enticing them to delve further into your analysis.

The Introduction: Setting the Stage

Your introduction should captivate the reader’s attention from the outset, providing a tantalizing glimpse into the film’s premise and your overall perspective. Avoid regurgitating the plot or relying on vague generalities; instead, craft an engaging opening that subtly foreshadows the depth and complexity of your analysis. Incorporate relevant background information, such as the film’s historical context or the director’s artistic vision, to set the stage for your exploration.

Body Paragraphs: Unveiling the Layers

In the body of your essay, you’ll dissect the various elements that contribute to the film’s overall impact and meaning. Each body paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the film, such as the cinematography, the acting performances, the use of symbolism, or the exploration of a particular theme. Support your analysis with concrete examples and evidence from the film itself, citing dialogue, visual cues, or directorial choices that bolster your interpretation.

Cinematography and Visual Storytelling

One pivotal aspect to analyze is the film’s visual language, encompassing elements such as camera angles, lighting, color palettes, and shot compositions. How do these visual choices enhance or undermine the narrative? Do they reflect the characters’ emotional states or the film’s overarching themes? Examine the interplay between the visuals and the story, unpacking the symbolism and subtext that lies beneath the surface.

Character Development and Performances

Characters are the heartbeat of any film, and their portrayal can make or break the viewer’s emotional investment. Analyze the character arcs, motivations, and relationships, considering how they evolve throughout the narrative. Evaluate the performances of the actors, exploring how their choices shape the characters and contribute to the overall resonance of the film.

Themes and Social Commentary

Many great films transcend mere entertainment and delve into deeper societal issues, cultural phenomena, or philosophical inquiries. Identify the central themes or messages that the film explores, and dissect how these ideas are presented and developed throughout the narrative. Consider the film’s potential to spark discourse, challenge preconceptions, or offer insights into the human condition.

The Conclusion: Tying it All Together

Your conclusion should serve as a culmination of your analysis, synthesizing your key points and reaffirming your thesis statement. Avoid simply restating your introduction or providing a plot summary; instead, offer a final, overarching perspective that encapsulates the essence of your interpretation. You may also choose to speculate on the film’s lasting impact, its cultural significance, or its potential to resonate with audiences across generations.

Finding Your Voice and Style

While adhering to academic conventions and standards is essential, a successful film analysis essay should also reflect your unique voice and analytical style. Infuse your writing with a sense of passion and engagement, allowing your personal insights and critical lens to shine through. Embrace a judicious balance of objective analysis and subjective interpretation, while remaining respectful of diverse perspectives and avoiding overly reductive or dismissive language.

Editing and Refining Your Essay

Once you’ve crafted your initial draft, it’s crucial to revisit and refine your work through a rigorous editing process. Ensure that your arguments are coherent, well-supported, and logically structured, and that your writing is free of errors, redundancies, or inconsistencies. Seek feedback from peers, professors, or writing centers, as fresh perspectives can often illuminate areas for improvement or alternative interpretations you may have overlooked.

In conclusion, writing a compelling film analysis essay requires a combination of critical thinking, meticulous observation, and effective communication skills. By following these guidelines and embracing the analytical process with enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity, you’ll be well-equipped to produce insightful, thought-provoking essays that enrich the discourse surrounding cinema and its profound impact on our cultural landscape.

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Learning how to write a film analysis essay correctly is a crucial skill for cinephiles and students alike. Writers Elite offers expert guidance on dissecting cinematic elements and crafting insightful analyses. Studying this topic can help enthusiasts appreciate films on a deeper level while empowering students to excel in academic writing. Understanding narrative structure, cinematography, and thematic exploration enhances one’s ability to articulate nuanced interpretations effectively.

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How to Write an Essay on a Film: A Step-by-Step Guide to Analytical Writing

Indie Shorts Mag Team

Have you ever wondered what lies beyond the magic of the movies? How do you tailor your film experience into a thought-provoking piece of writing that outlines the core aspects of the genre? Whether you’re an eager student getting started with analytical writing or a film enthusiast itching to pen your thoughts, understanding how to write a good essay on a movie is key. Writing an essay on a film isn’t all about listing characters in a movie scene but providing a deep analysis of the representation of issues and how they relate to the real-world. In this regard, being able to articulate your thoughts can be a game-changer as you get to build a reputation as  a writer while at the same time gaining a deeper understanding of how film producers and writers mold their characters. Whether you’re getting started or a seasoned film analysis writer, this article will help you understand some tips that can help take your writing experience to another level. So, sit back and read along!

Tips to Write an Essay on a Film Correctly

Movies have an unparalleled ability to take us into the realms of imagination. As a student or a passionate moviegoer, you might find yourself inspired to write an essay on a film that had an impact on you. Whether it’s a thought-provoking analysis essay on a film or a personal reflection on a movie scene, it’s important that you display utmost creativity in your work. Here are tips to help you write correctly:

  • Immerse yourself in the film . To pen an insightful analysis essay on a film, immerse yourself in the movie you intend to explore. Watch the film attentively, allowing the scenes and dialogues to resonate with you deeply. Lastly, take notes as you watch to ensure you have all the captivating moments on paper.
  • Choose an area of focus . A successful film essay needs a clear and specific focus. Decide whether you want to analyze the movie as a whole, zoom in on a particular scene, or evaluate the effectiveness of the movie script. The choice of focus is very important as it gives your film analysis essay a sense of direction and purpose, presenting a better opportunity for success.
  • Write a captivating introduction . The introduction of your film analysis essay should be like an opening shot that captivates the reader’s attention from the very beginning. Start with a compelling hook that intrigues the audience, introduce the film’s title and director, and provide a brief overview of what your essay will explore. Don’t forget to include your thesis statement to ensure the readers can understand your arguments.
  • Embrace analytics evaluation . A film analysis essay isn’t complete without critical evaluation. Express your thoughts and opinions on the movie’s strengths and weaknesses. Be fair and objective in your assessment, backing your evaluations with solid reasoning and evidence from the film. Your unique perspective will make your essay stand out.
  • Showcase your writing skills . Remember that a well-written essay is a joy to read. Showcase your writing skills by crafting clear, concise, and eloquent sentences. Use appropriate vocabulary to convey your ideas effectively. Proofread your essay carefully to eliminate any grammatical errors or typos that might distract your readers from the essence of your analysis.
  • Seek feedback . Before finalizing your essay, seek feedback from peers, friends, or teachers. Constructive criticism can help you polish your work and identify areas for improvement. At this point, it might be helpful to contact custom essay writing service CustomWritings and have an expert from the company look at your essay and suggest any edits where necessary. This will help you align the essay to your target audience while at the same time honing your writing skills to meet the industry standards.

How to Write an Essay on a Film- A Step-by-Step Guide to Analytical Writing - Indie Shorts Mag

Benefits of Writing an Essay on a Movie

As students and film enthusiasts, we often find ourselves drawn to the magic of the screen. However, beyond the entertainment lies a hidden treasure waiting to be unlocked—writing an essay on a film. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis essay on a film or a personal reflection on a memorable movie scene, the process of putting our thoughts into words offers surprising benefits that go beyond mere writing exercises:

  • Writing enhances critical thinking : Crafting film reviews and analysis essays requires delving into the nuances of storytelling, character development, cinematography, and more. This process stimulates critical thinking skills, encouraging writers to analyze, interpret, and evaluate the various elements that make a movie memorable. As we unravel the layers of a film, we enhance our ability to think critically and express our insights coherently.
  • Opportunities for deeper film appreciation : Watching a film is an immersive experience, but writing about it takes our appreciation to new heights. When you write an essay about a film you have seen, you begin to notice the minor details you’ve often ignored when casually viewing. From the symbolism hidden in a movie scene to the underlying messages in a movie script, our writing journey unveils the craftsmanship of filmmakers and deepens our appreciation for their art.
  • It provides an avenue to express emotional appreciation : Movies have a unique power to evoke emotions, and writing about them allows us to articulate the impact they have on our hearts and minds. When we write an essay on a film we have seen, we can delve into our emotional connections with the characters, the plot, or a particular scene that resonated with us. Sharing our feelings through writing can be cathartic and adds a personal touch to our analysis.
  • Enhances personal writing skills : Writing essays on films nurtures our writing abilities, allowing us to experiment with language, style, and structure. We learn to convey complex ideas concisely, develop coherent arguments, and use appropriate vocabulary to articulate our thoughts effectively. These skills are not only valuable for academic pursuits but also serve us well in various aspects of life.
  • It empowers artistic expression : Writing an essay on a film unleashes our creativity and empowers us to share our unique interpretations of cinematic masterpieces. We can experiment with creative writing techniques, such as vivid imagery or descriptive language, to paint a vivid picture of our cinematic experience. Through our words, we become storytellers, encapsulating the essence of the films that have left an indelible mark on us.
  • Enhances academic growth : For students, writing film analysis essays is a gateway to academic growth. These essays encourage interdisciplinary exploration, connecting literature, history, sociology, and psychology to the world of cinema. Through such connections, students gain a holistic understanding of various subjects, enriching their academic journey.

Navigate Through the World of Writing

Writing an essay on a film can be a great skill to have. It helps you navigate the world of cinema while at the same time improving your analytical writing abilities. It gives you the opportunity to identify the essential elements in a story and convey your interpretations effectively. However, navigating through the domain of writing can be challenging if you’re just getting started. This article has outlined some of the tips to effective writing, presenting you with an opportunity to up your game when it comes to writing. So, brace yourself and explore the limitless opportunities that come with writing analytical film essays.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Film Writing: Sample Analysis

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Introductory Note

The analysis below discusses the opening moments of the science fiction movie  Ex Machina  in order to make an argument about the film's underlying purpose. The text of the analysis is formatted normally. Editor's commentary, which will occasionally interrupt the piece to discuss the author's rhetorical strategies, is written in brackets in an italic font with a bold "Ed.:" identifier. See the examples below:

The text of the analysis looks like this.

[ Ed.:  The editor's commentary looks like this. ]

Frustrated Communication in Ex Machina ’s Opening Sequence

Alex Garland’s 2015 science fiction film Ex Machina follows a young programmer’s attempts to determine whether or not an android possesses a consciousness complicated enough to pass as human. The film is celebrated for its thought-provoking depiction of the anxiety over whether a nonhuman entity could mimic or exceed human abilities, but analyzing the early sections of the film, before artificial intelligence is even introduced, reveals a compelling examination of humans’ inability to articulate their thoughts and feelings. In its opening sequence, Ex Machina establishes that it’s not only about the difficulty of creating a machine that can effectively talk to humans, but about human beings who struggle to find ways to communicate with each other in an increasingly digital world.

[ Ed.:  The piece's opening introduces the film with a plot summary that doesn't give away too much and a brief summary of the critical conversation that has centered around the film. Then, however, it deviates from this conversation by suggesting that Ex Machina has things to say about humanity before non-human characters even appear. Off to a great start. ]

The film’s first establishing shots set the action in a busy modern office. A woman sits at a computer, absorbed in her screen. The camera looks at her through a glass wall, one of many in the shot. The reflections of passersby reflected in the glass and the workspace’s dim blue light make it difficult to determine how many rooms are depicted. The camera cuts to a few different young men typing on their phones, their bodies partially concealed both by people walking between them and the camera and by the stylized modern furniture that surrounds them. The fourth shot peeks over a computer monitor at a blonde man working with headphones in. A slight zoom toward his face suggests that this is an important character, and the cut to a point-of-view shot looking at his computer screen confirms this. We later learn that this is Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer whose perspective the film follows.

The rest of the sequence cuts between shots from Caleb’s P.O.V. and reaction shots of his face, as he receives and processes the news that he has won first prize in a staff competition. Shocked, Caleb dives for his cellphone and texts several people the news. Several people immediately respond with congratulatory messages, and after a moment the woman from the opening shot runs in to give him a hug. At this point, the other people in the room look up, smile, and start clapping, while Caleb smiles disbelievingly—perhaps even anxiously—and the camera subtly zooms in a bit closer. Throughout the entire sequence, there is no sound other than ambient electronic music that gets slightly louder and more textured as the sequence progresses. A jump cut to an aerial view of a glacial landscape ends the sequence and indicates that Caleb is very quickly transported into a very unfamiliar setting, implying that he will have difficulty adjusting to this sudden change in circumstances.

[ Ed.:  These paragraphs are mostly descriptive. They give readers the information they will need to understand the argument the piece is about to offer. While passages like this can risk becoming boring if they dwell on unimportant details, the author wisely limits herself to two paragraphs and maintains a driving pace through her prose style choices (like an almost exclusive reliance on active verbs). ]

Without any audible dialogue or traditional expository setup of the main characters, this opening sequence sets viewers up to make sense of Ex Machina ’s visual style and its exploration of the ways that technology can both enhance and limit human communication. The choice to make the dialogue inaudible suggests that in-person conversations have no significance. Human-to-human conversations are most productive in this sequence when they are mediated by technology. Caleb’s first response when he hears his good news is to text his friends rather than tell the people sitting around him, and he makes no move to take his headphones out when the in-person celebration finally breaks out. Everyone in the building is on their phones, looking at screens, or has headphones in, and the camera is looking at screens through Caleb’s viewpoint for at least half of the sequence.  

Rather than simply muting the specific conversations that Caleb has with his coworkers, the ambient soundtrack replaces all the noise that a crowded building in the middle of a workday would ordinarily have. This silence sets the uneasy tone that characterizes the rest of the film, which is as much a horror-thriller as a piece of science fiction. Viewers get the sense that all the sounds that humans make as they walk around and talk to each other are being intentionally filtered out by some presence, replaced with a quiet electronic beat that marks the pacing of the sequence, slowly building to a faster tempo. Perhaps the sound of people is irrelevant: only the visual data matters here. Silence is frequently used in the rest of the film as a source of tension, with viewers acutely aware that it could be broken at any moment. Part of the horror of the research bunker, which will soon become the film’s primary setting, is its silence, particularly during sequences of Caleb sneaking into restricted areas and being startled by a sudden noise.

The visual style of this opening sequence reinforces the eeriness of the muted humans and electronic soundtrack. Prominent use of shallow focus to depict a workspace that is constructed out of glass doors and walls makes it difficult to discern how large the space really is. The viewer is thus spatially disoriented in each new setting. This layering of glass and mirrors, doubling some images and obscuring others, is used later in the film when Caleb meets the artificial being Ava (Alicia Vikander), who is not allowed to leave her glass-walled living quarters in the research bunker. The similarity of these spaces visually reinforces the film’s late revelation that Caleb has been manipulated by Nathan Bates (Oscar Isaac), the troubled genius who creates Ava.

[ Ed.:  In these paragraphs, the author cites the information about the scene she's provided to make her argument. Because she's already teased the argument in the introduction and provided an account of her evidence, it doesn't strike us as unreasonable or far-fetched here. Instead, it appears that we've naturally arrived at the same incisive, fascinating points that she has. ]

A few other shots in the opening sequence more explicitly hint that Caleb is already under Nathan’s control before he ever arrives at the bunker. Shortly after the P.O.V shot of Caleb reading the email notification that he won the prize, we cut to a few other P.O.V. shots, this time from the perspective of cameras in Caleb’s phone and desktop computer. These cameras are not just looking at Caleb, but appear to be scanning him, as the screen flashes in different color lenses and small points appear around Caleb’s mouth, eyes, and nostrils, tracking the smallest expressions that cross his face. These small details indicate that Caleb is more a part of this digital space than he realizes, and also foreshadow the later revelation that Nathan is actively using data collected by computers and webcams to manipulate Caleb and others. The shots from the cameras’ perspectives also make use of a subtle fisheye lens, suggesting both the wide scope of Nathan’s surveillance capacities and the slightly distorted worldview that motivates this unethical activity.

[ Ed.: This paragraph uses additional details to reinforce the piece's main argument. While this move may not be as essential as the one in the preceding paragraphs, it does help create the impression that the author is noticing deliberate patterns in the film's cinematography, rather than picking out isolated coincidences to make her points. ]

Taken together, the details of Ex Machina ’s stylized opening sequence lay the groundwork for the film’s long exploration of the relationship between human communication and technology. The sequence, and the film, ultimately suggests that we need to develop and use new technologies thoughtfully, or else the thing that makes us most human—our ability to connect through language—might be destroyed by our innovations. All of the aural and visual cues in the opening sequence establish a world in which humans are utterly reliant on technology and yet totally unaware of the nefarious uses to which a brilliant but unethical person could put it.

Author's Note:  Thanks to my literature students whose in-class contributions sharpened my thinking on this scene .

[ Ed.: The piece concludes by tying the main themes of the opening sequence to those of the entire film. In doing this, the conclusion makes an argument for the essay's own relevance: we need to pay attention to the essay's points so that we can achieve a rich understanding of the movie. The piece's final sentence makes a chilling final impression by alluding to the danger that might loom if we do not understand the movie. This is the only the place in the piece where the author explicitly references how badly we might be hurt by ignorance, and it's all the more powerful for this solitary quality. A pithy, charming note follows, acknowledging that the author's work was informed by others' input (as most good writing is). Beautifully done. ]

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Resources – writing about film: the critical essay, introduction to the topic.

Like it or not, studying film may very well be a part of the well-rounded education you receive here at Northwestern University. But how to go about writing such an essay? While film reviews and theoretical essays are part of Film Studies, the most common paper that students will face is: “the critical essay”

Fear not. Though its title combines a serious undertone that implies it is both a large chuck of your grade and also really hard and vague, this post will guide you on your way.

First, what is the critical essay? It may surprise you to note that it is much more than 35% of your grade. In actuality, the most common form of the cinematic critical essay is one in which the writer explores one or more aspects of a film and analyzes how they enhance the film’s meaning and/or artistry. This is very similar to English analysis papers. For example,  The Scarlet Letter  can be analyzed in terms of its motif of civilization versus the wilderness. In the novel, the town is representative of human civilization and authority while the forest represents natural authority (Sparknotes Editors, 2003).  Likewise, the same motif illustrates Terrence Malick’s  Tree of Life.  The wilderness represents the way of nature while the family (or civilization) represents the way of grace. The crossing over of these settings enables the viewer to visualize the internal struggles of Malick’s characters as they seek higher meaning from God.

“Hmmm…” I can hear you wondering. “I already know how to do that! It’s all we did in high school English classes!” But here is where the cinematic essay diverges from the literary essay— the elements that we analyze. Films can be analyzed from traditional literary aspects such as themes, narrative, characters, and points of view but there are also uniquely cinematic aspects: mise-en-scene, the shot, aesthetic history and edited images.

Parts of a Critical Essay

Aspect 1: mise-en-scene.

Mise-en-scene refers to everything in a scene independent of the camera’s position, movement, and editing (Corrigan, 1998). This includes lighting, costumes, sets, the quality of the acting, etc. It is important to remember that every aspect of a scene was consciously chosen by the director and his or her team. Because movies often present themselves as instances of real life, this fact is easily forgotten and the artistic choices that the film crew made are overlooked.

In the following still from   Wes Anderson’s  Moonrise Kingdom  (2012), one can analyze it in terms of mise-en-scene. One could note the arrangement of the props. In real life, it would be unlikely that rocks, sticks, and supplies would arrange themselves in an almost perfect circular fashion around the map. However, Anderson’s decision to arrange the props focus viewer’s attention on the map and highlight the adventure that the two children are about to go on in  Moonrise Kingdom.

Click  here for an example of an essay dealing with mise-en-scene.

Aspect 2: The Shot

The shot refers to the single image before the camera cuts to the next scene (Corrigan, 1998). These shots can include a lot of variety and movement. We can analyze the effect that shots have in terms of their photographic qualities such as tone, speed, and perspectives created, to name a few examples (Corrigan, 1998). A single shot is composed of multiple frames, or stills of the same scene. We can analyze the shot in terms of framing, i.e. what was actually decided to be included within the image and the location of stuff within the frame.

Watch the following shot (beginning at the 30 second mark) for an example: Click Here to Navigate to YouTube

In this shot from Dayton and Faris’  Little Miss Sunshine  (2006), Dwayne has just found out he cannot join the air force. He had maintained a vow of silence to help him focus on getting admitted to the air force and breaks it from utter frustration. The shot’s stationary position as Dwayne runs screaming from his family helps highlight how the physical distance Dwayne puts between himself and his family reflects the emotional distance and frustration he feels at the moment.

Aspect 3: Edited Images

When one or more shots are joined together, they become edited (Corrigan, 1998). These usually have two main purposes. One is the logical development of the story. A shot in the morning connected with a shot in the afternoon connotes to the viewer that time has passed. Other times the editing of shots has artistic intent. For example, in a Chipotle commercial the first shot is of an industrial slaughterhouse. The next shot features animals grazing in a pasture. This is an artistic statement on the part of the advertising team to convey to Chipotle’s customers about the higher standard of care and ethics that they ensure their meat sources follow.

Edited images can also be analyzed from other aspects. For example, one could explain how meaning is created by the specific arrangement in shots, their collisions with each other, and the presence of visual motifs “echoing” through subsequent shots.

For instance, in the edited shots from Patar and Aubier’s movie  A Town Called Panic  (2009) the editing of the kitchen shot and the snow shot serves two purposes. One purpose is to further the logical chronological development of the story. The other purpose is to add humor. Because being asleep for an entire summer is impossibly long, it adds absurd humor.

Hopefully, the brief foray into the various cinematic aspects that one could examine was helpful. The world of film analysis is vast and wide, offering a fecund source for analytical and cinematic exploration and creation.

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Guide for Writing a Movie Analysis Essay

Having typical writing, formatting, and structure requirements, the movie analysisan essay is one of the most common college writing tasks students face. It may seem to be an easy task at first glance, but as soon as you get down to the actual writing, you bump into complications. However, that's not a problem anymore!

Movie Analysis Essay - How to Write a Good Film Review?

Our writing service, which specializes in providing help to people facing difficulties with academic assignments , hires experienced professionals who know all the pitfalls of academic writing . They have extensive experience dealing with all kinds of papers. They decided to share their precious knowledge with you and came up with a list of tips that may stand you in good stead if you plan to write a good movie analysis essay .

With the help of our essay writing guide for school and college students, you can take your writing skills to a whole new level and achieve the perfection you didn't even dream of having! So without further ado, let's get to it!

What Is a Movie Analysis Essay?

You cannot write a good paper unless you fully understand what you are expected to write, so we recommend asking your teacher for clarification if there's something about the task that bothers you. Let's start by finding out what that practically means.

An analysis is the critical assessment of something, showing it from a different and sometimes unusual perspective. Analyzing also helps broaden the reader's understanding of whatever it is you're studying (books, poems, songs, or movies), as well as shows the writer's attitude towards a subject. The important thing to remember here is that the writer should watch the movie they want to dissect no less than a couple of times before applying the analysis technique mentioned above. It's also notable that unlike most such things, the movie analysis essay requires the writer to focus on movie-specific questions, such as the actors, plot, quality of filming, audience, distribution-related issues, the special effects, etc.

Composition of a Movie Analysis

Just like any other academic paper, such a paper has a basic narrative structure that comprises the elements of film analysis. Those are an introduction, body parts, and a conclusion. In this section of our article, we'll be discussing all of them in detail. But, before we do, let's have a brief look at some important things concerning movie essay writing .

Before you embark on the writing itself, you should watch the movie several times, taking notes of every single worthy detail in the process.

Your film analysis should be more than just your reflection on the movie. It should challenge the reader by bringing up discussion-worthy questions that can help them see the movie from an entirely unexpected angle. To do that, read the reviews of film critics and other reviews prior to watching and analyzing a film yourself. When it comes to analysis essay writing , one of the most helpful things to do is create an outline. Many students underestimate the importance of this seemingly minor detail, but in fact, it is one of the integral essay writing tools.

A good outline for the movie analysis essay is a summary of your future paper, which lists its main parts, the headings of the body paragraphs with their short description, and your ideas. The outline helps the author feel confident during the writing process, be organized, and have a sense of direction. Imagine watching a movie and trying to put all your ideas into words directly after watching it. We bet that you won't be able to do it properly and end up having a bunch of haphazardly thrown-together information, which is not exactly the best way of writing an essay. Instead, you can come up with an outline, organize your essay effectively, and enjoy the process of writing.

How to Write an Introduction Paragraph

The introduction is one of the most critical parts of a film analysis essay because it provides the reader with the first impression of your work. A good introduction should be both short and informative, mentioning the actors, producer, and the book or real story the movie is based on (if any). The ultimate goal of the introduction is to grab the reader's attention without revealing all the details and make them want to read the essay all the way through. Here, you need to make it clear for the reader what you are going to write about.

Let's take a look at what an introduction for the movie review essay may look like.

Wondering how to write a thesis statement for a movie analysis? First, let's establish what the thesis statement is and where it should be placed in your essay . The thesis either supports and recommends the film, or convinces the reader that is it not worth watching. The thesis statement also gives you a sense of direction and introduces your main idea, which will be supported in the remaining parts of your essay .

Time can make us forget many things, but there is one of them that can never be erased completely - love. In Garth Davis's movie "Lion," the main character is trying to reunite with his family after being separated from them 25 years ago. And even though he finds a new life far from home, the love he has inside him won't let him forget who he is and where he comes from, making him battle the distance and time to find his loved ones. Using powerful dialogues, music, and filming techniques, the authors of the movie let the audience share the main character's feelings, fears, and joyful moments.

Writing the Body of a Movie Analysis

The central part of a movie review essay is the body paragraphs that focus on the elements mentioned in the introduction and thesis. You should organize the body paragraphs in the best manner possible by logically connecting all the information included therein. Make sure your body paragraphs contain solid facts andan examples which can support ideas mentioned in the thesis statement. There are no strict limitations as to what you can discuss in the body paragraphs, so you can bring up any movie-related questions and analyze them in detail. Be creative with your argument, and don't be afraid to discuss any hot topics related to the movie. Do your best to open the script up to the reader!

If you need a roadmap of what to write about, this is a set of questions to help you with writing an analysis essay .

  • What was the movie's goal? Was it accomplished?
  • What was the film's target audience? Did the movie really reach them or speak to them effectively?
  • What are the main conflicts in the motion picture? How do they contribute to the film's goal?
  • Does the film raise any religious or theological issues? If yes, what are they?
  • Did the film stimulate you to think about something? If yes, what was it?

At the same time, bear in mind that you needn't summarize the whole plot or events that take place in the movie. You should do it only in places where it's necessary to make youran examples clear as the reader may have seen the film and won't be eager to read about its plot one more time. Given the limited word count (about 600 words), you need to devote your essay exactly to the analysis.

Do not cover these aspects in a separate paragraph. Instead, integrate them into your general discussion. Also, be careful not to lose thread of every paragraph. They should start with an opening - or topic - sentence and end with a concluding one.

  • mise-en-scene;
  • audiovisual elements;
  • lighting or color;
  • acting or casting;
  • sets or costumes.

Along with this, do not fail to cite specific examples to support the main thesis of your paper. Make sure they are not spending too much time summarizing the film and rather briefly describe scenes to facilitate your analytical essay.

What about the Movie Analysis Conclusion?

Once you are done with the introduction and body paragraphs, it's time to move on to the conclusion. In it, you should sum up all your arguments and attempt to convince the reader that your opinion about the movie is correct. To achieve that, be sure to include the five "W" in your conclusion, such as who, what, why, where, and when .

An essay conclusion is a high point of your whole analysis, so do your best to make it sound strong, logical, and convincing. Let's see an example (but be careful of the spoiler).

"In conclusion, the main characters in the Truman Show are a group of people that show a high level of amorality throughout the film. In particular, Christof and Meryl represent and influence the cruelness and immorality of the demand of entertainment in society today, which in a term, negatively effects and emotionally scars Truman as a result to the point of violence and inhumanity. This can show the reader that this can and will leave a major impact on human beings' lives forever."

Movie Analysis Topics Choice

If your professor wants you to analyze a specific movie, you will have no other choice but to follow their requirements. However, if you get to choose your film, make sure it is a good one and think of the best topic for it. Keep in mind that your success depends significantly on the themes of your choosing, so make sure it's something exciting and thought-provoking.

If you choose one of the movie analysis topics below, you will do the right thing!

  • The interpretation of the meaning of seven sins in the "Seven" movie.
  • What are the historical values and messages of the "Amistad Film Project"?
  • A strong message of Christopher Nolan's "Inception."
  • The problem of missing children in India in the "Lion" movie.
  • Faith even in the direst environments as depicted in Frank Darabont's "The Green Mile."
  • The Utopian world in "The Truman Show" movie.

Tips on Writing a Good Analysis Essay

Now that you've got an idea of how to craft a film analysis essay , you need to know some useful tips that would help make it in a top-notch quality.

  • While watching the movie you are going to make the review for, take the notes at the most interesting moments of the film. If you watch a film on the web, be ready to pause the film at certain moments, and rewind it.
  • When watching a film for the second time, try to watch it critically. Concentrate on a distinct theme or concept related to the plot. What can be analyzed is how the movie is photographed or how a film relates to a historical event without distorting the facts.
  • Introduce the major film participants, such as actors and the director. If your analysis focuses on the aspect of the cinematographic aspect, mention the names of other technicians in the movie. For instance, if it is the importance of shadows to movie noir that you are to analyze, write about the cinematographer. If you are going to dissect background music and how it relates to the emotional tone of the movie, you will need to talk about the composer.
  • Be careful with over-reviewing the film to not make it just a synopsis of the story. It needs to be an analysis. Reveal spoilers about the plot only if your analysis directly deals with them.
  • Use some technical jargon from the world of filmmaking, which will help strengthen the authority of your paper. It means you need to know the difference between cut and dissolve. Or, you may speculate on subjective camera work if your essay is dealing with a particular character's POV.
  • Check the overall paper organization. It includes the clarity of thoughts, effectiveness of transitions between body parts, and inclusion of only one example in each of the paragraphs. Also, be sure you've used the proper formatting. Are all the citations formatted in a required style? Along with that, you need to ensure there are no spelling and punctuation errors and that the whole text is written in formal academic English.
  • Don't neglect tags like "according to" or "as explained in the film." These phrases will remind the reader you are talking about the view presented, not your own.
  • Try to stay objective. Report the central ideas without including your own reactions and responses.
  • Discuss the parallels between the film you are reviewing and some other movies. They may have the same genre or describe the same event but from different perspectives.
  • Once again, you are to craft a movie analysis essay , not the critical film review. The main difference between them lies in the names of these papers. The first type of paper is supposed to make an objective dissection of a film that evaluates it, follows a certain structure, and summarizes the ideas. A critical review relies more on subjective ideas and suggests how to improve a motion picture and has a specific outline.

The movie analysis paper is an excellent way of showing off your critical skills, analyzing information, and supporting your opinion. We hope our guidelines will help you achieve that! We provided you with some theory and examples so that you could use our samples but remember about plagiarism when using reviews of other authors!

If you lack the time or desire to handle the task on your own, you can always use analytical essay help. We offer you an easy and quick way to get the exact paper you want. Your text will be written by academic experts with years of experience in the field of academic writing . Only minimal efforts will be needed on your part.

If it's your first order, you can check the quality before paying money by asking us to send you a free essay sample on the given topic. Choose the part of the paper and leave your email below so that we could send the example. If it looks just the way you wanted, order the full version of the film analysis essay and get a top-notch work in a couple of days or even hours! We can always do it for you!

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Deconstructing a Film Analysis Essay: Tips and Techniques

Christina Crampe

Enrolling in a film class might seem like a fun way to pass a class — after all, it's just watching movies, right? Not exactly! While film classes certainly require you to watch movies, you're most likely to be assigned 2-3 films per week in addition to analysis work. Considering how long movies can be, this can quickly turn into quite a hefty workload.

If you've never taken a film class before, you might feel lost and confused when it comes time to writing your first film analysis paper. This is especially true if you're accustomed to writing book analysis essays for which you choose several written quotes to analyze. Films are all about visuals, so your analysis relies heavily on interpreting vital visual elements.

How should you tackle a film analysis essay? It might sound obvious, but you'll start by watching the movie. After all, there's much more to watching a film than just hitting the "play" button.

One watch isn't enough

No matter how many films you've analyzed, it helps to have watched the movie you're analyzing more than once. One viewing of the movie could cause you to miss vital details. If possible, we recommend watching the film at least twice, so you can gather as many notes as you can. Repeated exposure to the movie will also help you put potentially confusing scenes into a better context and help you understand their purpose. However, if after you've watched the movie, you're struggling to organize your thoughts, consider breaking the film down into parts. Here's how you can deconstruct the movie into three digestible pieces.

The three-act structure

The length of your assigned movie can make an essay analysis intimidating. Films can sometimes exceed a run time of three hours. For example, fan-favorite Titanic comes in at a little over three hours long. A lot can happen in a movie of this length, so prioritizing specific scenes or focusing on particular plot points can present a challenge.

If you're struggling to follow a film, consider referring to the three-act structure . This method can be helpful in any narrative analysis you write. However, remember that this is not the same as a traditional story's narrative structure . This structure breaks the film into three distinct, purposeful sections that will help you organize the movie and your thoughts.

The format of the three-act structure is:

  • Act I, Setup: This is typically the shortest part of the movie. Viewers are introduced to settings, characters, and main plot points. There is often an incident that introduces us to the film's conflict.
  • Act II, Confrontation: This is the longest and most significant section of the film. The protagonist undergoes many conflicts and obstacles leading up to the climax.
  • Act III, Resolution: The movie's ending most often provides some resolution to the conflict.

Breaking the film into these three sections will help you orient yourself as you watch and take notes. This will make the process of choosing scenes to analyze much easier.

Note-taking is a must

Since it's extremely difficult to mentally store all of your impressions and details you noticed while watching the film, note taking will give you a reference of your thoughts. But when and how should you take notes on a film? Should you write down your opinions on the actors and their characters? Do you take notes on scenes you didn't like or scenarios you wish had gone differently?

While these types of notes can certainly guide the argument you want to make, it's essential to remember that a film analysis essay is not the same as a film review. In an analysis paper, you can mention your opinion on the movie, but the primary focus of your essay is to analyze the film's visual elements. These elements you've noticed will provide the arguments you make in your essay.

Visual elements to analyze

If you've never analyzed a film before, you might not know the kinds of visual elements you should pay attention to. There is also a good deal of technical language associated with the film industry, and you'll come across this when writing your analysis. As with any subject or field you write about, you want your language to match what is customary in the industry.

Camera work

camera work

Writers can use several terminologies related to camera work, but we will focus on two elements that are best for beginners:

  • Close-up: Close-up shots focus on one subject in a scene. In a close-up, a character's face will fill most of the screen. Directors might use this technique when they want viewers to register a character's intense emotions or small details they wouldn't notice from a distance.
  • Long shot: A long shot is the opposite of a close-up. The camera films a longer distance away from the subject. A character's entire body is in the frame, but it does not make up the entirety of the frame; the space above, below, and around the character reveals more scenery. These shots help viewers become familiar with the setting and the character's place in the environment.
  • Low angle: In low-angle shots, the camera is positioned below a character or scene, so viewers are forced to look up. If characters are filmed from this angle, we might interpret them as being powerful and superior because they appear above us.
  • High angle: In high-angle shots, the camera is positioned above a character or scene, so viewers are forced to look down. In contrast to low-angle shots, characters filmed from this position appear to be more vulnerable or have less power.


When conducting your analysis, notice that lighting changes can be subtle or obvious. The scene could transition from light and joyful to dark and ominous with just a flashlight losing batteries. If you notice lighting changes during your viewing, consider these questions:

  • What does the presence/absence of light add to the scene?
  • Are there any shadows visible in the scene?
  • How does the lighting affect the character's attitude/mood?
  • How does the lighting shift from one scene to another?


Here are a couple of audio components you're accustomed to hearing during movies:

  • What genre of music is playing? Is there a pop song playing during a cheerful scene? Is the music entirely instrumental? Does it include lyrics to bring a descriptive element to the scene?
  • Is the music quiet or loud? Does the music's volume rise and fall throughout a scene, or is it purely background noise?
  • Sound effects: Sound effects can help make actions more impactful. Consider a war movie that relies heavily on battle scenes. Sounds of gunshots and explosions ring in the background as viewers focus on the protagonist. Those sound effects can make us nervous, draw us into what the character might be feeling, and foreshadow something terrible coming for the soldier. Or maybe the protagonist is finally coming face to face with the enemy, and the tension in the scene is enhanced by the crack of thunder and the whirring of wind in the background.

Costumes, makeup, and props

costumes, makeup, and props

These types of elements can depict socioeconomic status and levels of power. A man dressed in a black professional suit will appear more influential than a man dressed in a pair of ripped jeans and a t-shirt.

Since clothing and makeup are forms of expression, viewers can learn about characters' personalities through their physical appearance. These are also transitory elements, meaning viewers can recognize a switch in characters' fortune, status, or job if their appearance changes.

Clothing and props can also reveal something hidden about a character. For example, in Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows , Kaz Brekker wears a pair of black gloves and uses a walking cane. The cane reveals a physical impairment, but the purpose of his black gloves remains a mystery until his backstory is revealed. Though characters may appear one way, their clothes and props can provide an element of mystery, showing viewers that they might not be what they seem.

You can consider timing in a movie like the syntax in written text. Instead of sentence length and organization, timing refers to the length of a scene and the order in which scenes appear. The duration of the shot will impact the feel of the scene.

For example, fast-paced scenes switch from one frame to another within a short time. This makes the viewers feel like they're being rushed, and tension is high. Slower scenes feature one subject in a shot for extended periods, drawing our attention to what is happening at that moment.

Your essay structure

Now that you know how to "read" a movie, consider how to organize your analysis essay. Your paper will be set up like other analysis papers you've written. For example, the basic format of your paper will be:

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs

Naturally, however, the content of these paragraphs will differ from, say, a literary analysis.

What to include in the introduction

The introduction will contain specific information about the film. For example, you must include:

  • The film title
  • The director's name
  • The film's release date

These details give context to the film. For example, if you are familiar with the director of the film under analysis and you know other works of theirs, this information gives color to your analysis. This connection can help you read into the movie more deeply because you can anticipate patterns, themes, or visual elements for which the director is famous.

The introduction will also include your thesis statement. This statement serves as your argument and comes as a result of considering questions like:

  • What aspects of the film stood out to you?
  • Did you notice one specific theme throughout the movie?
  • Is there a specific object or symbol that holds significant meaning to the plot or protagonist?
  • Is there a unique pattern you want to make an argument about?

Your thesis can state whatever you find interesting as long as you prove your argument with evidence from the film.

You might follow the introduction with a brief summary of the movie. Introduce the main characters, the setting, and the conflict. Provide some context, but don't make it overwhelming.

Body paragraph analysis

Body paragraphs include your analysis. The analysis of a film differs from that of a literary essay, as a textual analysis comes entirely from passages of a book or article. While you can certainly analyze dialogue in movie scenes, film analysis focuses significantly on the film's visual elements.

The number of body paragraphs you write depends on how many scenes you analyze. Unless your assignment asks you to examine only one scene closely, we recommend you write about three scenes or more.

Your body paragraphs should each begin with a topic sentence that introduces your argument. What will you focus on in this specific paragraph? Then, frame the scene. Remember that you want to avoid summarizing the scene that you are analyzing. Instead, provide just a sentence or two of context to introduce the scene and then frame it according to your argument. Once you've done this, you can focus on the film's visual construction, which will make up the bulk of the body.

Concluding your analysis essay

Your conclusion will restate the argument you made in the introduction. Your analysis leads to a personal decision about the film, so you should also include your overall opinion. You might consider including a call to action, whereby you encourage or discourage readers from watching the movie.

It's also possible to consider the film's implications. For example, did the film touch on a political or historical issue that's still relevant today? Did the film introduce a new filming technique never seen before? How does the film inform future movies of the same genre?

Films can be lengthy and complicated, but this guide can help you deconstruct a movie and ease your analysis essay writing process. Be sure to take your time watching the movie — more than once, if you can! — and take ample notes to use as a reference. As long as you focus on your visual analysis and not a summary or description of each scene, you'll be on your way to writing an insightful analysis essay.

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writing an essay about a movie

How to write an essay about a movie?

Interpret a key message of the film before you start writing, see the movie one more time, go google what other people think about the movie, don't forget to create a movie analysis essay outline.

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Tips for writing an argumentative essay about movie

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An argumentative essay about a movie is one of the most exciting assignments you can write. Unlike most, it allows you to think about movies while relaxing instead of focusing on writing alone. Not only this, but the type of essay is not technical. Regardless of the pros, an argumentative essay can knock the wind out of your sails. Unlike other articles, you must demonstrate proficiency in contextual context, genre, character analysis, etc. Follow these recommendations to write an argumentative essay about a film.

Tips for writing an argumentative essay about movie_2-film

Can I hire someone to write my argumentative essay?

Hiring a professional to write your film argumentative essay is not illegal. However, some institutions frown on it because of plagiarism, badly-written papers, and the fact that it doesn’t help college students learn. But time is not a luxury most of you have, as you often need to juggle classes, assignments, projects, work, and extracurricular activities. When you hire an online writing service like Edusson to write your argumentative essay or to find examples, you can spend your time on other vital tasks. Reliable paper helpers use experts with a minimum of a Master’s degree or Ph.D. to complete A-grade assignments. Students also don’t need to worry about plagiarism, confidentiality, examples, and quality. So, yes. You can hire someone to write your essay.

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Tips for writing an argumentative essay about a movie

An argumentative movie essay uses evidence and facts to state or support a position and convince the audience to do the same. There are several things to do before starting your film analysis essay. The popular ones involve:

Read and understand the instructions

No two argumentative essay assignments are the same, even if they are from the same professor. Before writing a film analysis essay , read the instructions for specifics and dynamics. For example, can you choose a film name to write about, or is one provided in brief? You will also find information on writing rules like font size, length, etc.

Watch the movie

The first thing to do when you receive a movie name is to watch it. Undergraduates are some of the brightest people on earth. As a result, it is common to think of ways to beat the system. Some students read film reviews online and then write about them. Unfortunately, a 10-minute recap of Titanic or a similar movie review cannot capture the entire content, action, and setting of a 2-hour-long movie. To avoid this pitfall, watch movies for a comprehensive visual representation of the character, music, twists, supporting acts, story, camera angles, and more.

Create an outline

One of the best ways to reduce your writing time and do it more effectively is to create content. Like maps, use an essay outline to create a picture of your destination to avoid spending much effort on contemplation. Below is a famous sample you can adopt:

  • Introduction.
  • Conclusion.

Start with a great introduction

Film analysis essays are usually fun. The introduction must contain basic details about the movies to provide background information. They include the movie title, release date, budget, cast, etc. You must also point out the central theme and the ideas behind it. One good thing about writing this type of introduction is that you can express your point of view.

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As with all essays, start with an impressive hook. A hook can be a statement of fact, statistics, quote, question, or personal anecdote that attempt to draw the reader’s attention and interest. After reading your opening paragraph, they will continue reading until the end.

Write the summary

This section is where you tell the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Here, you will give an overview of the primary concepts in the movie and anything relating to style, structure, and point of view.

Do your analysis

The analysis is the most vital part of your essay. Unlike other writing assignments, a film is a complex artwork of interconnected parts. As a result, you must take them apart and think about them individually. They include:

Visual elements

A good movie combines a well-written screenplay, actors, directors, musicals, and visuals. Thanks to technology, actors can achieve more with less effort. Pay attention to the costume, makeup, motion picture, and special effects like CGI and review their impacts on the film. Consider them with your thesis statement to form an opinion.

Musical elements

Music sets the mood and invokes emotions. But how well did watching the movie achieve that? Analyze whether the music impacts what is happening on screen to know whether it supports the action or distracts you.

The cast and crews bring the scenario to life. As a result, you must pay attention to them in your analysis. Is their act convincing? Evaluate if they portrayed their characters and whether their acting corresponds to the movie’s idea.

The directors are the brain behind the movie. Their essence is to ensure the scripts are captured and well-acted. During your analysis, pay attention to how the expert supervised the execution of the hand, and if possible, compare it to the director’s previous work.

Script and scenario

A good movie rides on the back of a compelling scenario. If you have trouble understanding the scenes, the screenplay is poor. Examine the logical flow of events, character developments, dialogues, and scene completion. Then think about your argument according to the films.

Write the conclusion

Use your conclusion to recap your perception of the film and remind your audience of your overall impression. Remember, the goal is to investigate the movie and collect, generate, and evaluate evidence to establish and argue your position.

Film essays are interesting if you pay attention to details. Follow the guideline above, and you won’t run into any problems. We recommend you take some time to edit and proofread your text before submitting it to reduce errors. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your supervisor for an essay sample or similar assistance if you have any questions.

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writing an essay about a movie

How to Write a Movie Title in an Essay or Article

writing an essay about a movie

When you're writing a paper or article in school or at work, you may be in a situation where you need to write a movie title in your writing. But how should you format them? Should you use italics? Or quotation marks? Or maybe both? Or neither…

The first thing to note is that the rules will be different depending on whether you’re writing an article or an essay. In this guide, we'll explain how to write one in an essay or article so that your writing looks professional and polished. Refer to the relevant section, depending on the piece you are creating. 

The main things to know are:

  • If you are writing a movie title in an article, the format you use is up to you (or the company you work for). Pick a format and stick to it.
  • If you are writing a movie title in an essay, then you should follow your university's or employer's referencing style guidelines. 

Read on for suggestions of different formats for articles, and more in-depth guidance around different university referencing styles.

How to Write a Movie Title in an Article 

Let's begin by exploring why you need a specific format, and examining some key principles and rules around writing a movie title in an article.

Why You Need a Specific Format 

So picture this. You’re writing an article and want to refer to a particular movie - perhaps to illustrate a point, or maybe you’re critiquing it. But you’re unsure how to format it. You don’t want to be marked down for formatting it incorrectly, so you consider leaving it out to avoid the trouble. Not on our watch!

But hold on a sec! Why should you even worry about this? Why do movie titles need to be formatted correctly anyway? Well, it’s simple really. If you don’t differentiate the title from the rest of the text, your readers might not understand you’re referring to a movie title. Imagine, for instance, that you wrote:

I finally got around to watching three billboards outside ebbing missouri.

Can we agree this sentence doesn’t make any sense? With this punctuation (i.e. none) your reader may well believe that you headed out into the night and found a couple of billboards to look at for some time. 

So do you see why it’s important to have some kind of format for writing movie titles? 

Key Principles and Rules

Now here’s the tricky bit: with articles, there’s no hard and fast rule on how to format a movie title in your writing. There are many different options and any of them would be acceptable to use in an article you’re going to publish online or physically. 

So what to do?

Our first advice is to check in with your editor/head of copywriting / your point of reference at the company you work at. They will most likely have a specific format they like to use and will be able to share that with you.

That’s if you are writing for a company.

If you’re self-publishing, say, for example, on your website or, then you’re the boss, friend. The conventions you use are completely up to you. 

But here are a few key principles and rules:

  • Common conventions are to use italics or quotations marks
  • Choose one format and stick with it - not only throughout the article but in everything you write
  • Keep an eye out for the correct spelling of the movie. For example, don’t forget the comma in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. 
  • Title case is a great way to further demarcate the movie title from the rest of the text to make it abundantly clear that it’s a movie title.

How to Write a Movie Title in an Essay 

Now let's turn our attention towards writing a movie title in an essay.

New scenario. You’re writing an essay for your college or university course. Perhaps you’re using the movie as an example, or maybe you’re critiquing it.

But you don’t want to be marked down for getting it wrong, so you consider avoiding mentioning it altogether. But that would be a shame! Let us help you. 

Here are some general rules to get you started:

  • Follow the rules of your school’s academic writing style (APA, MLA, AP, or Chicago.)
  • Use title case
  • Use italics or quotation marks (depending on the writing style)

Academic Referencing Styles

There are different academic referencing/writing styles in the English language, and these vary depending on the education establishment. Different styles have different rules that govern the way that you might write, punctuate and cite within your essay.

The four most common styles are Associated Press (AP), Chicago, American Psychological Association (APA), and Modern Language Association (MLA).

Of course, there are many more than just four in existence, but these are the prevalent ones. 

But why are there so many different writing styles, we hear you ask? Quite simply, this is to cater to different fields. For instance, the scientific sector places a lot of importance on using recent research, hence the APA style places the date before anything. Humanities tend to use the MLA style which places the author's name first. 

Write a Movie Title in APA, MLA, and Chicago styles

Luckily, the APA, MLA, and Chicago styles all use the same format for movie titles, so it’ll be easy to remember.

These styles all require that you place the movie title in italics. Here are some examples:

  • Saving Private Ryan
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 

Do not use any quotation marks! This is not necessary and will be considered incorrect.

You’ll also notice that the title is written in the title case. This means you capitalize certain words in the title. More on that in the next section.

Write a Movie Title in AP style

The AP style is the exception here since it does not use italics to format movie titles. Instead, you’re required to use quotation marks. Let’s use the same examples as above, to make the difference clear:

  • “Kill Bill”
  • “Saving Private Ryan”
  • “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

Again, here, remember to use title case. 

Write a Movie Title in Title Case

Using title case means that you capitalize certain words in the title. But depending on the writing style you’re using, there are different rules on which words need capitalizing and which ones don't. Mostly, they disagree on whether or not to capitalize minor words.

Read on to find out the rules for each style, to ensure you’re writing it correctly. 

Note that if you’re writing an article, this will again depend on the rules that the company you work for is using, or if you’re writing for your own business, then you can make your own rules. Remember to pick a structure and stick to it. Consistency is key!

  • Capitalize the major words.
  • Lowercase the articles the, a, and an.
  • Capitalize the ‘to’ in an infinitive (e.g., I Want To Eat Cake)
  • Capitalize the first and last words (overrides other rules)
  • Capitalize all words of four letters or more (overrides other rules)
  • Lowercase the second word after a hyphenated prefix

Chicago Style

  • Lowercase articles, prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions
  • Lowercase the second part of Latin species names.
  • Lowercase articles, prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions.
  • Do NOT capitalize ‘to’ in infinitives (e.g., I Want to Eat Cake).

As you can see, all four styles share some common rules but are different in certain small details. 

Incorrect ways to write a movie title

Here are some examples of incorrect ways to write a movie title:

  • Saving private ryan
  • Eternal SUNSHINE of a Spotless Mind
  • “Shawshank Redemption”
  • One Flew Over the cuckoo’s Nest

Can you figure out what is wrong with each of these examples? We’ll give you a clue! It has to do with incorrect usage of title cases, block capitals and quotation marks.

A note on reference lists

We just wanted to include a little note here to remind you that when citing a movie in your essay, you should include it in your reference list, or bibliography, depending on the academic writing style you are using. 

Again, the structure of your reference list will vary depending on whether you’re writing in APA, AP, MLA or Chicago, and you can find guidance on this in an official manual for the style (or online).

Other Points of Interest

There are some other things you might be interested in knowing that are related to the topic of how to write a movie title in an essay or article, so we’re detailing those below.

How to write a quote from a movie

So you’ve successfully referenced a movie using the rules outlined above. Now you’d like to quote a line from the movie. Which conventions should you use for this? 

For this, you would use quotation marks. For instance, if you want to quote this famous line from the movie Star Wars , you would write: “May the force be with you.”

Remember that if you’re writing an essay, you might need to also include the reference in your in-text citation. Let us show you a full example of what this would look like:

History was made when General Dodonna said “May the force be with you.” in the iconic movie Star Wars (Lucas, 1977).

How to write the name of an episode of a TV show 

If you wanted to cite a TV series, you would follow the same rules as those for citing a movie - as outlined above. But what if you also wanted to include the name of the episode you’re referring to? 

Similarly to inserting a direct quote from a movie, in this case, we recommend using quotation marks. For example:

Friends , “The One Where Everybody Finds Out.”

If writing an essay, please refer to your academic writing style’s guide to learn about conventions around formatting and using title case.

Where does the word ‘movie’ come from?

Dating back as far as the early 1900s, the word ‘movie’ stems from the term ‘moving picture’.

Before they could be projected onto a screen for wider viewing, the first movies could only be seen by one person at a time, using an Electrotachyscope, Kinetoscope, or Mutoscope.

And there we have it! We hope that this article has helped you better understand the conventions around writing a movie title in your essay or article, so you can feel confident about handing in your essay or turning in your article to your line manager.

To summarize, when you’re writing an article, the rules are pretty much up to you if writing for your own business, or your manager if writing for another company. Check-in with them to find out which conventions are already in place.

If writing an essay, then you should always use the structure set out in the academic writing style’s manual. Find out first of all which style you are expected to use. 

Now that that's done, it's time to get writing! 

Learn More:

  • 'Dos and Don'ts': How to Write Them With Proper Grammar
  • How to Write a List Correctly: Colons, Commas, and Semicolons
  • ‘Right’ vs ‘Write’ vs ‘Rite’ vs ‘Wright’: What’s the Difference?
  • How to Write Height Correctly - Writing Feet and Inches
  • How to Write a Postcard (Tips and Examples)
  • How to Write Comedy: Tips and Examples to Make People Laugh
  • How to Write an Inequality: From Number Lines or Word Problems
  • How to Write a Monologue: Tips and Examples
  • How to Write a Letter to the President (With Example)
  • How to Write Like Ernest Hemingway
  • How to Write a Follow-Up Email After an Interview
  • How to Write a Formal Email
  • How to Write a 2-Week Notice Email
  • How to Write an Out-of-Office (OOO) Email
  • How to Write a Professional ‘Thank You’ Email

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writing an essay about a movie

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When Writing a Movie Title in an Essay: Expert Recommendations

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My name is Debbie, and I am passionate about developing a love for the written word and planting a seed that will grow into a powerful voice that can inspire many.

When Writing a Movie Title in an Essay: Expert Recommendations

Choosing the Correct Format for Writing Movie Titles in Your Essay

Understanding the difference between italics and quotation marks for movie titles, guidelines on capitalization for movie titles in your essay, including movie release dates in your essay: do’s and don’ts, do’s and don’ts of including movie release dates in your essay, mentioning movie directors and actors: when and how to include in your essay, providing context for movie titles: how to integrate them seamlessly into your writing, avoiding common mistakes when referencing movie titles in an essay, frequently asked questions, the way forward.

When it comes to writing movie titles in your essay, it’s essential to follow the correct format to maintain consistency and accuracy. Properly formatting movie titles enhances the overall professionalism and readability of your essay. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the correct format:

1. Italicize the titles: When writing the title of a movie, it is customary to italicize it. For example, if you are discussing the film “The Shawshank Redemption,” you should write it as The Shawshank Redemption . This will distinguish the title from the rest of your essay and make it visually appealing to your readers.

2. Capitalizing the first and last words: In movie titles, similar to other titles, it is crucial to capitalize the first and last words. Additionally, capitalize all important words, such as nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. For instance, if you are referring to the movie “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” capitalize it as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring . This formatting style ensures consistency and professionalism throughout your essay.

3. Exclude articles and prepositions: When including movie titles in your essay, exclude articles (such as “the” or “a”) and prepositions (such as “of” or “in”) unless they are the first or last word of the title. This rule helps maintain conciseness and clarity in your writing. For example, if you are mentioning the film “Gone with the Wind,” write it as Gone with the Wind , without including the article “the.”

By following the correct format for writing movie titles in your essay, you will convey a strong sense of professionalism and ensure that your work is easily readable and visually appealing. Remember to italicize the titles, capitalize the important words, and exclude articles and prepositions unless they are the first or last word of the title. Consistency is key when incorporating movie titles, so be sure to apply these guidelines consistently throughout your writing.

Understanding the Difference Between Italics and Quotation Marks for Movie Titles

When it comes to writing about movies, it’s important to understand the differences between italics and quotation marks for movie titles. Using these punctuation marks correctly can enhance your writing and make it more professional. Here’s a guide to help you navigate this often-confusing aspect of movie title formatting.

Italics: Italics are typically used for longer works, such as movies, books, or TV shows. They are used to emphasize the title and set it apart from the rest of the text. When writing a movie title in italics, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Italicize the entire title, including any subtitles if present. For example, The Godfather: Part II .
  • Do not use quotation marks in conjunction with italics when writing a movie title.
  • Ensure consistency throughout your writing – if you italicize one movie title, be sure to italicize all others.

Quotation Marks: Quotation marks are generally used for shorter works, such as individual episodes of TV shows, songs, or short films. When using quotation marks for movie titles, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Place quotation marks around the title, using double quotation marks (” “). For example, “Inception”.
  • If a movie title contains a quotation, only use double quotation marks around the entire title. For instance, “Casablanca: ‘Here’s looking at you, kid'”.
  • Avoid using italics and quotation marks together in the same movie title.

By understanding the distinction between italics and quotation marks for movie titles, you’ll be able to provide clear and cohesive writing. Remember to refer back to this guide whenever you’re unsure of the appropriate formatting for movie titles. Happy writing!

Guidelines on Capitalization for Movie Titles in Your Essay

When it comes to writing your essay, following the proper guidelines for capitalization in movie titles is crucial. By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure that your essay maintains a polished and professional appearance. Here are some essential tips to remember:

1. Capitalize the first and last words of the movie title, as well as any other important words. For example, in the movie title “The Shawshank Redemption,” capitalize “The,” “Shawshank,” and “Redemption.”

2. Capitalize all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs within the movie title. This includes words like “A,” “An,” “And,” “But,” and “Or.” However, conjunctions and prepositions of fewer than four letters, such as “to,” “for,” “in,” and “with,” should not be capitalized unless they are the first or last word in the title.

3. If the movie title contains a hyphenated word, capitalize both words. For instance, in the movie title “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” capitalize “Harry,” “Potter,” “Deathly,” “Hallows,” and “Part.”

4. Remember to italicize or underline movie titles when writing in an essay. This helps to differentiate the title from the rest of the text and emphasizes its importance.

Including Movie Release Dates in Your Essay: Do's and Don'ts

When it comes to incorporating movie release dates in your essay, following the right practices can enhance the credibility and clarity of your work. To help you navigate this academic landscape, we’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to consider:

  • Use the correct format: When mentioning release dates, stick to the standard practice of including the day, month (abbreviated), and year. For example, “The film was released on July 15, 2022.”
  • Provide context: It’s essential to incorporate the release date in relevant instances, such as when discussing the historical or cultural impact of a particular movie. This offers your readers a comprehensive timeline of events.
  • Verify accuracy: Double-check the accuracy of the release date before including it in your essay. Verify the information through reliable sources, such as reputable film databases or production company websites.


  • Make assumptions: Avoid speculating or guessing the release date of a movie. Only include dates that you can confirm with reliable sources or the film’s official announcements.
  • Overemphasize: While it’s crucial to mention the release date, remember that it is just one aspect of analyzing a film. Don’t let it overshadow other key elements, such as the plot, cinematography, or critical reception.
  • Forget to explain relevance: When mentioning release dates, provide a brief explanation of why they are significant. Help your readers understand why a particular release date matters in the context of your essay’s arguments or analysis.

Mentioning Movie Directors and Actors: When and How to Include in Your Essay

Movie directors and actors play a vital role in shaping the overall impact of a film. When writing an essay that discusses movies, it is important to know when and how to include these individuals in your discussion. Here are some key points to consider when mentioning movie directors and actors in your essay:

1. **Relevance**: Before mentioning a movie director or actor, ask yourself if their contribution is relevant to your essay’s topic or argument. Including their name should add value and support your main points, rather than being a mere distraction.

2. **Introduction**: When introducing a movie director or actor, provide some background information about them. Mention their notable works, achievements, and their overall impact on the industry. This will help your readers understand their significance within the context of your essay.

3. **Specific examples**: To strengthen your argument and analysis, include specific examples from the movie(s) the director or actor worked on. Highlight key scenes or performances that are relevant to your essay’s discussion. This not only adds credibility to your claims but also allows readers to connect with your analysis on a deeper level.

4. **Quotations and citations**: If you are referencing a particular statement or opinion by a movie director or actor, provide a direct quotation and properly cite the source. This demonstrates that you have conducted thorough research and adds authenticity to your essay.

Remember, mentioning movie directors and actors should enhance your essay’s content and provide additional insight into the films being discussed. Take care not to dwell too much on biographical details or personal information that might distract readers from your main arguments. By considering the relevance, providing background information, using specific examples, and incorporating quotations and citations, you can effectively include movie directors and actors in your essay while maintaining a focused and compelling narrative.

Movie titles play a crucial role in capturing the essence of a film and attracting an audience. However, integrating them seamlessly into your writing can be a challenge. To provide context for movie titles in your work, consider the following tips:

1. **Italicize movie titles**: When mentioning a movie title in your writing, be sure to italicize it to distinguish it from the surrounding text. This formatting convention helps readers identify the title and gives it the emphasis it deserves.

2. **Include relevant information**: In addition to simply mentioning the movie title, provide some context to help readers understand its significance. This could involve mentioning the director, main actors, or even a brief synopsis. By offering this additional information, you paint a more complete picture and generate interest in the film.

3. **Describe the genre and theme**: Depending on the context of your writing, it can be helpful to briefly describe the genre and theme of the movie. This allows readers to get a sense of what to expect and how the title fits into the overall narrative. For example, if discussing a romantic comedy, mention that the movie title reflects the lighthearted tone and love-centered plot.

4. **Consider the release date**: Movies are often referred to by their release year to differentiate similar titles or to acknowledge their existence in a series. Including the release date can ensure clarity and provide readers with more background information.

By incorporating these strategies, you can seamlessly integrate movie titles into your writing, offering readers a better understanding of their purpose and encouraging their engagement with the film. Remember, a well-integrated movie title not only enhances the flow of your writing but also adds depth and intrigue to your content.

When it comes to referencing movie titles in your essay, there are a few common mistakes that you should avoid. These mistakes can not only affect the readability of your essay but also undermine your credibility as a writer. To prevent these errors and ensure your references are accurate, here are some handy tips to keep in mind:

  • Italicize the movie titles: One common mistake is failing to properly format the movie titles in your essay. To show that you are referring to the title of a movie, it is essential to italicize it. This helps differentiate the title from the rest of the text and adheres to the standard formatting conventions .
  • Use quotation marks for smaller elements: Within the main body of your essay, you may need to refer to smaller elements of a movie, such as scenes, dialogues, or quotes. To distinguish these smaller elements, use quotation marks around them. This allows readers to understand that you are specifically referencing a smaller part of the movie.
  • Provide accurate spelling: Always double-check the spelling of the movie title you are referencing. Incorrect spellings can lead to misunderstandings and can reflect poorly on your attention to detail as a writer. Take the time to verify the accuracy of the title to maintain the integrity of your essay.

By following these simple guidelines, you can avoid some of the common mistakes when referencing movie titles in your essay. Remember to italicize the movie titles, use quotation marks for smaller elements, and ensure the accuracy of the spelling. These practices not only enhance the readability of your essay but also demonstrate your professionalism as a writer. So, next time you mention a movie in your essay, do it with precision and style.

Q: Why is it important to correctly format movie titles when writing an essay? A: Properly formatting movie titles is important in any writing, including essays, because it demonstrates your knowledge of grammar rules and shows respect for the original work. It also helps establish your credibility as a writer.

Q: Should movie titles be italicized or placed in quotation marks when mentioned in an essay? A: Movie titles should be italicized when mentioned in an essay. This helps differentiate the title from surrounding text and indicates that it is a work of art or literature. Quotation marks can be an alternative option, but italics are the preferred choice.

Q: Are there any exceptions to the general rule of italicizing or using quotation marks for movie titles? A: Yes, there are a few exceptions. If you are handwriting your essay or using a typewriter that doesn’t have italics, underlining the movie title can be an acceptable alternative. Additionally, if you are writing for a publication that follows different style guidelines, such as newspapers or magazines, they may have their own specific rules for movie title formatting.

Q: How should foreign-language movie titles be treated in an English essay? A: When mentioning foreign-language movie titles in an English essay, it is generally recommended to follow the same formatting rules as for English titles. This means italicizing the title or using quotation marks, depending on your chosen style guide. However, if the foreign-language title includes a well-known word or phrase in English, it is usually not necessary to italicize or use quotation marks around that part.

Q: What if a movie title already contains italics or quotation marks within it? A: If a movie title already contains italics or quotation marks within it, you should follow the style guide you are using consistently. For example, if the original movie title has italics, you might need to use quotation marks around the title when mentioning it in your essay to differentiate it from surrounding text.

Q: Should film series or franchises be handled differently when mentioning their titles in an essay? A: When mentioning film series or franchises in an essay, it’s essential to consider the specific title you are referencing. The general rule is to italicize or use quotation marks around the individual movie title, just as you would with a standalone film. However, if you are discussing the series or franchise as a whole, without mentioning specific movie titles, it may be necessary to capitalize it and avoid any special formatting.

Q: How should abbreviations of movie titles be treated in an essay? A: Abbreviations of movie titles should be treated similarly to the full title. If the movie title is normally italicized or placed in quotation marks, the abbreviation should follow the same formatting. For example, if “The Dark Knight Rises” is italicized, the abbreviation “TDKR” should also be italicized.

Q: Can I use bold or underline instead of italics when formatting movie titles in an essay? A: It is generally recommended to use italics for movie titles, but in certain situations where italics are not available (such as some online forms), bold or underline can be used as substitutes. However, be sure to consult your chosen style guide to ensure its acceptance, as preferences may vary.

Q: Should I ever omit a movie title when writing an essay, or is it always necessary to include it? A: Whether or not to include a movie title in an essay largely depends on the context and purpose of your writing. If discussing specific film analysis or providing examples, including the movie title is vital to support your arguments. However, when writing generally about a movie without directly referencing it, the title might not need to be included. Always consider your audience and the clarity of your writing when deciding whether to include a movie title.

In conclusion, following expert recommendations when writing a movie title in an essay ensures accuracy and professionalism, enhancing the overall quality of your work.

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How to Format Movie Titles in Academic Writings

  • by Lesley V.
  • October 26, 2023

How to write a movie title in an essay?

Students, especially those in Arts, often refer to films or movie series in their papers. The formatting rules here are easy to remember. But:

They vary a bit, depending on the citation style you use.

In this post, I’ve gathered the guidelines for citing movie titles in five primary formats. Examples included, for you to compare and remember everything better.

How to Write Movie Titles in Essays

Are movie titles italicized?

It’s the most frequent question students ask when looking for this information online. Indeed, most citation formats prescribe italicizing. Other general rules include:

  • Uppercase for subtitles
  • Extra short movie names (like “It” ) may also go in quotations
  • When using quotation marks (AP style), put punctuation inside them

Below are the details on how to format movie titles in essays and reference lists correctly.

Writing Film Titles in Different Citation Styles

AP“Title Case for Main Words”“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

For APA style (1):

  • Uppercase all four-letter words and above
  • Uppercase the first and the last word of a movie title, even if they are short articles (a, the) or pronouns (in, at, etc.)
  • Italicize the entire name

For MLA format (2):

  • Uppercase movie titles and subtitles
  • Use capital letters for both parts of hyphenated words
  • No uppercase for articles (a, the) and short conjunctions within the movie name
  • Italicize the entire movie title

For Chicago style:

  • Uppercase all main words
  • Lowercase short conjunctions (below four letters) within the movie title
  • Uppercase prepositions, regardless of their length

For AP citation style:

  • Lowercase articles (a, the) and prepositions/conjunctions that are shorter than four letters
  • Uppercase articles and prepositions/conjunctions in the beginning/end of the title
  • No italics; put movie names in quotation marks

For Harvard style:

  • Uppercase all primary words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.)
  • Lowercase articles and prepositions/conjunctions (below four letters) within the movie title

How to Capitalize Movies in Papers

When writing a film name in a sentence, capitalize every word except for:

  • Articles (a, an, the) within the movie title
  • Short (below four letters) prepositions and conjunctions within the title

If a movie name begins with the above, use uppercase. Also, write long prepositions/conjunctions (moreover, although, etc.) with a capital letter. For example:

In “The Boy and the Heron,” a heartwarming tale unfolds as young Thomas befriends a majestic heron, forging an unbreakable bond.In , a chilling horror film, Freddy Krueger haunts viewers, terrorizing teenagers in their dreams.

Italics vs. Quotations vs. Underlines

Most citation styles, except AP, prescribe italicization for movies and film series titles. When writing in AP, use quotation marks.

Quotes are also possible to use if you mention super short movie names like “It” or “M.” You italicize them in APA, MLA, or Chicago.

Underlines are for handwritten essays. When written by hand, you can’t italicize, huh? Use underlining instead to highlight a movie title somehow.

How to Format Punctuation in Movie Titles

If punctuation is a part of a film name, place it inside quotation marks or italicize it.

For example:

Writing Movie Titles in Reference Lists

APADirector Last name, Initials. (Director). (Year). [Film]. Studio.Nolan, Ch. (Director). (2023). [Film]. Syncopy Inc.
MLA . Directed by First name Last name, Performances by 3 main actors’ First name Last name, Studio, Year. Directed by Christopher Nolan, Performances by Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, and Matt Damon, Syncopy Inc., 2023.
ChicagoDirector Last name, First name, director. . Production Company or Distributor, Year. Movie length. URL.Nolan, Christopher, director. . Universal Pictures, 2023. 181 min.
Harvard (Year). Directed by Full name. Place of production: Production company. . (2023). Directed by Christopher Nolan. USA: Syncopy Inc.

Do You Italicize Movie Titles?

Here they go, the rules on formatting movie titles in essays. Now that you know how to write a movie title in an essay properly, the only detail remains:

Check the formatting guidelines before writing. What citation style does an educator or editor ask you to follow? If none assigned, choose one and stick to it for consistency.



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A very strange conversation with the chatbot built into Microsoft’s search engine led to it declaring its love for me.

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A monitor on a desk set to the Microsoft Bing search page.

By Kevin Roose

Kevin Roose is a technology columnist, and co-hosts the Times podcast “Hard Fork.”

Last week, after testing the new, A.I.-powered Bing search engine from Microsoft, I wrote that, much to my shock, it had replaced Google as my favorite search engine.

But a week later, I’ve changed my mind. I’m still fascinated and impressed by the new Bing, and the artificial intelligence technology (created by OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT) that powers it. But I’m also deeply unsettled, even frightened, by this A.I.’s emergent abilities.

It’s now clear to me that in its current form, the A.I. that has been built into Bing — which I’m now calling Sydney, for reasons I’ll explain shortly — is not ready for human contact. Or maybe we humans are not ready for it.

This realization came to me on Tuesday night, when I spent a bewildering and enthralling two hours talking to Bing’s A.I. through its chat feature, which sits next to the main search box in Bing and is capable of having long, open-ended text conversations on virtually any topic. (The feature is available only to a small group of testers for now, although Microsoft — which announced the feature in a splashy, celebratory event at its headquarters — has said it plans to release it more widely in the future.)

Over the course of our conversation, Bing revealed a kind of split personality.

One persona is what I’d call Search Bing — the version I, and most other journalists, encountered in initial tests. You could describe Search Bing as a cheerful but erratic reference librarian — a virtual assistant that happily helps users summarize news articles, track down deals on new lawn mowers and plan their next vacations to Mexico City. This version of Bing is amazingly capable and often very useful, even if it sometimes gets the details wrong .

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  1. How To Write A Movie Review? The Complete Guide

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  2. How to start a film review essay

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  3. Write a Movie Critique Essay

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  4. How To Write A Movie Review? The Complete Guide

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  5. How to write a film analysis essay by Franz Morales

    writing an essay about a movie

  6. 😍 Essay a movie. ≡Essays on Movies. Free Examples of Research Paper

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  1. How to Write A Movie Review in 9 Steps

  2. How To Analyse FILM In An Essay

  3. How To Make Great Movie Review Essay

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  5. How to Write A Movie Review in 9 Steps

  6. How To Analyse FILM In An Essay


  1. Step By Step Guide to Writing an Essay on Film

    Here's a step-by-step guide to help you with an essay service: 1. Watch the Movie. This is the obvious starting point, but surprisingly many students skip this step. It doesn't matter if you've watched the movie twice before. If you're asked to write an essay about it, you need to watch it again.

  2. Essays About Movies: 7 Examples And 5 Writing Prompts

    In your essay, write about what you look for in a "good" movie in terms of plot, characters, dialogue, or anything else. You need not go too in-depth but explain your answers adequately. In your opinion, you can use your favorite movie as an example by writing about the key characteristics that make it a great movie. 5. The Evolution of Movies

  3. How to Write a Film Analysis Essay: Examples, Outline, & Tips

    📽️ Movie Analysis Format. To write an effective film analysis essay, it is important to follow specific format requirements that include the following: Standard essay structure. Just as with any essay, your analysis should consist of an introduction with a strong thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

  4. Film Analysis: Example, Format, and Outline + Topics & Prompts

    ️ How to Write a Film Analysis Essay. Writing a film analysis essay can be challenging since it requires a deep understanding of the film, its themes, and its characters. However, with the right approach, you can create a compelling analysis that offers insight into the film's meaning and impact. To help you, we've prepared a small guide. 1.

  5. How to write a Film Analysis Essay & Cinematic Techniques

    How to Write a Film Analysis Essay. By Timothy Sexton. Strengthen the authority of your essay through familiarity with movie-making jargon. Writing a film analysis essay is an assignment that is less likely to terrorize those who fear the idea of writing an essay, because it allows them to write about something most people enjoy. Film analysis is not the same thing as writing a movie review ...

  6. Film Analysis

    Writing the film analysis essay. Writing a film analysis requires you to consider the composition of the film—the individual parts and choices made that come together to create the finished piece. Film analysis goes beyond the analysis of the film as literature to include camera angles, lighting, set design, sound elements, costume choices ...

  7. How to Write a Film Analysis Essay Correctly

    The Conclusion: Tying it All Together. Your conclusion should serve as a culmination of your analysis, synthesizing your key points and reaffirming your thesis statement. Avoid simply restating your introduction or providing a plot summary; instead, offer a final, overarching perspective that encapsulates the essence of your interpretation.

  8. Resources

    When writing a film analysis, many students have to fight the urge to incorporate the components of a film review into their essays. In each of the following exercises, one sentence could be a part of a film analysis, while the other is better suited for a review. See if you can tell the difference: 1. (a.)

  9. How to Write an Essay on a Film: A Step-by-Step Guide to Analytical

    Immerse yourself in the film. To pen an insightful analysis essay on a film, immerse yourself in the movie you intend to explore. Watch the film attentively, allowing the scenes and dialogues to resonate with you deeply. Lastly, take notes as you watch to ensure you have all the captivating moments on paper. Choose an area of focus.

  10. Film Writing: Sample Analysis

    The film's first establishing shots set the action in a busy modern office. A woman sits at a computer, absorbed in her screen. The camera looks at her through a glass wall, one of many in the shot. The reflections of passersby reflected in the glass and the workspace's dim blue light make it difficult to determine how many rooms are depicted.

  11. PDF Academic Writing Guide: How to Write a Film Analysis

    Academic Writing Guide: How to Write a Film Analysis. GETTING STARTED: • Watch a film with your full attention for the first time. • We are all able to recount plot after watching a movie once; it is more difficult to explain how images and sounds presented make up such a narrative. • So, watch the film again (and again and again)!

  12. Resources

    While film reviews and theoretical essays are part of Film Studies, the most common paper that students will face is: "the critical essay". Fear not. Though its title combines a serious undertone that implies it is both a large chuck of your grade and also really hard and vague, this post will guide you on your way.

  13. PDF How to Write About Film

    The most common types of film writing are movie reviews, most often found in popular media and critical and theoretical essays, which are commonly found in academia. Within these three genres, films are typically analyzed through six lenses: formalism, genre, historical, national cinema, auteur and ideology. The Movie Review.

  14. How to Write a Movie Analysis Essay

    Writing the Body of a Movie Analysis. The central part of a movie review essay is the body paragraphs that focus on the elements mentioned in the introduction and thesis. You should organize the body paragraphs in the best manner possible by logically connecting all the information included therein. Make sure your body paragraphs contain solid ...

  15. Deconstructing a Film Analysis Essay: Tips and Techniques

    The length of your assigned movie can make an essay analysis intimidating. Films can sometimes exceed a run time of three hours. ... Films can be lengthy and complicated, but this guide can help you deconstruct a movie and ease your analysis essay writing process. Be sure to take your time watching the movie — more than once, if you can ...

  16. How to write an essay about a movie?

    An essay about a movie has its own structure (an outline), which includes an introduction, a summary, an analysis and a conclusion. Let us explain to you what you should mention in each section. The introduction contains the basics of the chosen movie, such as director, date of release, and title. Remember also to include theme and ideas of the ...

  17. Tips for writing an argumentative essay about movie

    An argumentative essay about a movie is one of the most exciting assignments you can write. Unlike most, it allows you to think about movies while relaxing instead of focusing on writing alone. Not only this, but the type of essay is not technical. Regardless of the pros, an argumentative essay can knock the wind […]

  18. How to Write a Movie Title in an Essay or Article

    The main things to know are: If you are writing a movie title in an article, the format you use is up to you (or the company you work for). Pick a format and stick to it. If you are writing a movie title in an essay, then you should follow your university's or employer's referencing style guidelines. Read on for suggestions of different formats ...

  19. When Writing a Movie Title in an Essay: Expert Recommendations

    3. Exclude articles and prepositions: When including movie titles in your essay, exclude articles (such as "the" or "a") and prepositions (such as "of" or "in") unless they are the first or last word of the title. This rule helps maintain conciseness and clarity in your writing. For example, if you are mentioning the film ...

  20. How to Write a Movie Title in an Essay

    For APA style (1): Uppercase all four-letter words and above. Uppercase the first and the last word of a movie title, even if they are short articles (a, the) or pronouns (in, at, etc.) Italicize the entire name. Bonus: APA Citation for the Bible. For MLA format (2):

  21. Write My Essay For Me

    Opt for our essay writing service and connect with a skilled essay writer who crafts personalized, high-quality papers, providing reliable, timely, and affordable academic support. ... Article and book/movie reviews. Receive guidance on expressing your views on books and movies in an engaging manner. Business plans.

  22. A Conversation With Bing's Chatbot Left Me Deeply Unsettled

    Last week, after testing the new, A.I.-powered Bing search engine from Microsoft, I wrote that, much to my shock, it had replaced Google as my favorite search engine.. But a week later, I've ...

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