Assignment: Describe, Interpret and Analyze
Fall Term 2022
Prof. Dan Vena
Task: Students will choose one clip from the options provided and write three paragraphs (200 words each) based on the following instructions. Students are expected to watch the entire film on their own time in order to complete this assignment. Most selections can be found on streaming services or as DVD rentals at Classic Video (downtown Kingston). If students cannot access their selected film due to cost, they are encouraged to email their TA and the course coordinator, Daniel Simpson.
a. Hustlers (2019, dir Lorene Scafaria, USA) A crew of savvy former strip club employees band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Available on Netflix.
Timestamp: 00:10:30 – 00:13:03 [from the shot of Ramona on the roof smoking to the close-up of Destiny as we hear the journalist’s voice beginning to ask about Ramona]
b. The Farewell (2019, dir Lulu Wang, USA) A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies. Available on Netflix.
Timestamp: 00:10:30 – 00:13:03 [from the shot of Dad sitting center frame on the bed to Bili’s quiet sobs just before the music begins]
c. Not Okay (2022, dir Quinn Shepard, USA) An ambitious young woman finds followers and fame when she poses as the survivor of a deadly attack, but she soon learns that online notoriety comes with a terrible price. Available on Disney+.
Timestamp: 1:35:00-1:39:00 [Rowan is midway through performing her slam poetry onstage as Danni watches – watch to ending credits]
d. Blancanieves (2012, dir Pablo Berger, Spain) A black and white silent movie, based on the Snow White fairy tale that is set in 1920s Seville and centred on a female bullfighter. Available on Tubi (free app).
Timestamp: 1:16:06-1:17:49 [Jesusín swaps out the signs for the bulls. Carmen prepares for the bullfight and sees Jesusín smiling.]
Paragraph 1 – Describe: Students will write a 200-word summary of their selected scene, making sure to correctly identify and describe the formal elements and technical properties using language from the lectures and the readings (Week 2-6). This means offering a summary of the action on screen and how it is filmed, rather than focusing exclusively on the narrative or story. For this section, students will also highlight each formal element or key term in bold and provide an accompanying citation/page number from the textbook.* For example, a student may write, “As the characters move from one room to another, the camera pans (140) from the lead actor’s face to the living room television, which reflects her own image back to her.”
*If using a digital copy of the textbook, change the view settings so page numbers appear.
Paragraph 2 – Interpretation: Next, students will write a 200-word interpretation of their selected scene focusing on the internal world of the film. How do the formal elements and technical properties convey information about the characters in the scene and/or the story? How might these elements further our understanding of the film’s central conflict/resolution? For example, a student may write, “The choice to use blue and red coloured lighting to frame the lead character symbolizes her internal struggle between staying home as a dutiful housewife or pursuing her desires with her lower-class lover.”
Paragraph 3 – Analyze: Lastly, students will write a 200-word analysis of their selected scene based on the larger cultural or social meaning the film may be trying to convey. How does the story and the way it is told say something about society or culture at large? How might the scene be trying to say something about class, family, belonging, identity, trauma, race, gender, etc. For example, a student might write, “Throughout the film, the director shows how the lead character is torn between two worlds – reflections in surfaces, differences in lighting all point to how she is trapped within social expectations of womanhood and her own search for pleasure.”
REMEMBER! When making notes on your scene:
- Suspend your judgement. You are not evaluating whether the scene is good or bad, you are investigating what the scene is saying about society and culture.
- Define significant moments or details. What do you notice? Why are these details important?
- Ask ‘so what?’ What is the significance of these details? Within the world of the film? In relation to broader society and culture (ie. how we think about race, gender, colonial or military power, nation, space/place, fear, revenge, repression, oppression, etc.)
- Rewatch the scene and revise your observations/interpretations.
Purpose: This assignment is meant to develop students’ analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as their academic writing.
Formatting:Students will submit their assignments as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file using MLA style.
Evaluation: Students will also be evaluated on the organization of their thoughts, their argumentation, and the effectiveness of their writing. Students must also submit proof of completion for “Academics 101 – Effective Reading and Notetaking.” See Describe, Analyze, Interpret Rubric for more information.
Bonus Mark: Return to the lecture slides. Identify the film Prof. Dan is discussing in his examples.