This article will provide step-by-step guidelines on how to write a fully developed and well-organized film analysis essay.
In several previous articles, I provide step-by-step guidelines to follow when writing college essays. One of those articles deals with writing a literary analysis essay. Another one of those articles deals with writing a poetry analysis essay. This article deals with writing about film. Many undergraduate and upper division literature courses will ask students to write a film analysis essay. Writing about film is honestly no different than writing a literary analysis essay. Both types of essays require that you pick one element and argue about what that element does for the reader/viewer’s understanding of the entire text or film and/or life. Furthermore, both types of essays require that you analyze various scenes and quotes to support your argument. This article will provide step-by-step guidelines on how to write a fully developed and well-organized film analysis essay.
Note: It is important to follow the format and sample essay as you would a cooking recipe. The lower case letters in the format and sample paragraphs are the ingredients. Also, it is important to watch the film that you are writing about several times, so you can have a better grasp of the concept that you want to write about.
I. Recipe/Format for an Introduction:
a). In about three to four sentences, write a brief summary of the entire film.
b). Write about two to three sentences that allow you to discuss the element that you will be writing about.
c). Write a one to two sentence thesis statement that states your argument about the element. Your thesis should tell your reader what that element does for the structure of the film and/or our understanding of life.
(a) The movie, Three Best Friends, starring John, Jack, and James Doe, is about three friends who face the trials of coming of age. The three main characters are friends since childhood and raised like brothers. However, when they grow up, they struggle to maintain each other’s friendship, and they struggle with never losing their true identity. (b) One important element that is prevalent through out the entire film is the element of rain. Everytime rain shows up, the viewer sees pivotal moments regarding the relationship between the three best friends. (c) This paper will analyze how the element of rain stands as a symbol for the constant washing away of the mistakes between these three friends. The viewer will see that every time rain appears in this film, the characters always get a fresh start, which ultimately shows that everyone in life always gets a second chance.
II. Recipe/Format for Body Paragraph 1:
a). In about two to three sentences, summarize an important scene that deals with the element that you are writing about.
b). Pick a relevant quote or aspect from that scene, which will support your argument.
c). Write about two to three sentences that will allow you to analysis the quote or aspect of that scene. Your analysis can either be your interpretation of that quote/aspect or an application to your own life.
d). Seal off your paragraph with one closing sentence.
Sample of the 1st Body Paragraph:
(a) In the beginning of the film, the three friends are playing football outside. One of the friends throws the football at a bird’s nest, and all the baby birds die. All of the friends felt guilty and ashamed of themselves, but soon after, the viewer sees that it begins to rain. (b) When it is raining, one of the friends wipes his own tears away, and says, “everything is going to be okay and mistakes are a part of life.” All three friends give the birds a proper burial, and continue with their own life. (c) Such a scene and quote show the viewer that rain not only serves as a symbol of spiritual cleansing, but it also shows that every human being will make mistakes. However, where there are mistake, there is also room for learning and acknowledgment of those mistakes. (d) The rain in this scene symbolically washes the three boys’ sin away.
III. Recipe/Format for Body Paragraph 2:
a). Using a transitional phrase, pick another relevant scene from the film, and summarize that scene in about two to three sentences.
b). Choose one relevant quote or aspect of that scene.
c). Provide an analysis of that quote or aspect, just as you did in body paragraph one. Your analysis should be about two to three sentences.
d). Write one closing sentence.
Sample of the 2nd Body Paragraph:
(a) In the middle of the film, the boys are teenagers. One of those boys joins a gang. When that gang does a drive by, the friend who joined the gain feels ultimate regret and sorrow. He prays to God for forgiveness, and within a few minutes rain appears, and the teenager smiles. (b) The friend states, please forgive me; I am sorry; I feel so dirty and lost.” (c) After this quote, rain appears. The idea that rain appears after the word, “dirty” shows the viewer how rain serves as a cleansing element in this film. Moreover, when the boy smiles, it shows that God forgives him, and that water no longer makes the boy feel “dirty.” (d) This scene shows how water has the ability to renew everything that goes wrong in life.
IV. Recipe/Format for Body Paragraph 3:
a). Starting with another transitional phrase, summarize another relevant scene that will support your argument.
b). Write another direct quote or write about a certain aspect in that scene, which will prove your argument.
c). Provide another two to three sentence analysis of that quote or aspect.
b). End your paragraph with one closing sentence.
Sample of the 3rd Body Paragraph:
(a) Towards the end of the film, all three friends are grown up, and they meet for the first time in over fifteen years. They all meet at a restaurant, and share how they all married the wrong women. They are all divorced, and they all feel sadness and regret about life. When they leave the restaurant, it begins to rain, and they see three single ladies. (b) When it rains in this scene, there are no words spoken. All three friends look at each other, and they smile. After they look at each other, they look at the single ladies, and all smile at each other. (c) The idea that the three friends and three single ladies all smile at each other in the rain suggests that no matter what has happened in the past, there is hope in the present and future. The three ladies juxtapose the three men in that they probably had bad marriages, as well; however, the rain shows that all parties will be okay. (d) The rain in this final scene re-enforces the notion of cleansing and starting over.
V. Recipe/Format for a Conclusion:
a). In about two sentences re-state your thesis statement. Try to re-phrase your thesis to avoid redundancy.
b). In about three to four sentences, re-mention all of your main points and scenes from body paragraph one, two, and three.
c). Write one to two sentences that leave your reader with some intelligent thoughts about the film and/or element that you wrote about.
Sample of the Conclusion:
(a) Three Best Friends portrays the true coming of age story, and with coming of age, there is always trial and error. Mistakes and regret are prevalent in this film, but so are the ideas of forgiveness and a chance to start over, and the element of rain highlights this notion. (b) when the three friends were kids, one of them knocks over a bird’s nest, but when it rained, they all felt forgiven and cleansed of the sin. After they grow into teenagers, one of the friends joins a gang; however, after being involved in a drive by shooting, the boy prays for forgiveness. After it rains, he feels cleansed. Finally, at the end of the film, it rains and the three friends smile at three ladies, and the ladies return the smile, which shows that life is never over even after many regrets and mistakes. (c) In real life, rain can rejuvenate many elements in nature, but rain in this film also shows that human error and regret can also be rejuvenated.