Career Colleges of Chicago World of Cinema Interpretive Claim Essay

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World of Cinema:


Summer 2019

Short Essay #1: Interpretive Claim (100 pts)

DUE: Monday, June 24th (by midnight)

Late papers will be accepted until Friday 6/28 but will result in a 10pt penalty.

Format: 3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced, MLA format is preferred, but other formats are fine if used correctly (although citations should not be necessary for this one, as you are relying only on your own interpretation of the film, not researching and quoting!)

Submission: Upload the electronic copy of your paper to the appropriate Turnitin submission point under the Assessments/Assignments tab of our course website on Brightspace. Review the originality report and revise/resubmit as you choose, up until the due date.

Watch ONE film from the attached list. They are organized by decade and correspond (loosely) to the different genres we are exploring in this class on American Cinema, filling in gaps and deepening our course material. They are available at most rental places, at the public library, and online (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) Use to find out more about each film and research its availability before your choose! You can work on a film you’ve seen before, but watch it again! Trust me, you will now start to see new things in it…

For your paper, use what you have learned so far about American Cinema to reflect on the film’s overall impact, its expressive power, its messages, its visual style, its relationship to ideology, and especially how/what it says about Hollywood, American-ness, and the genre it embraces.

1. Write an interpretive claim for the film, answering one or more of the following questions: what does the film SAY to you? What messages, themes, symbols comprise the film’s overall impact? What MEANING do you draw from it?

2. Use this interpretive claim as your thesis statement, and support it using at least three specific examples from the film (scenes, symbolism, narrative, visual elements, etc.) Be sure to fully explain your ideas and write as smoothly as you can!

Evaluation will be based on: development of your interpretive claim, thoroughness, engagement with the film and material, analysis of the film’s major elements and characteristics, support of your main ideas, and writing quality.

CHOOSE ONE OF THESE GREAT FILMS OF AMERICAN CINEMA to screen for your interpretive essay! There should be something for everyone here (I think), but you may propose a film that does not appear on the list – via e-mail to Amanda no later than 3/1 with a few sentences about why you would like to work on it (its genre and how it speaks to/for/about Hollywood). If I have not seen the film, I will likely say no, but I will consider your justification otherwise and respond with my decision.

Trigger Warnings: Please keep in mind that many of these films contain graphic, explicit, disturbing and/or emotionally intense topic matter! Research your film ahead of time and made a selection that is healthy for you.

Christopher Strong (Dorothy Arzner, 1933)

Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

Casablanca (Michael Kurtiz, 1942)

Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1967)

Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967)

Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968)

Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)

Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)*

Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)* * Please Note that this should NOT be the same film you choose screen for Week 11!

The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

Brother from Another Planet (John Sales, 1984)

The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)

Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)

Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986)

When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989)

Dead Poets Society (Peter Weir, 1989)

Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990)

Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991)

A League of Their Own (Penny Marshall, 1992)

Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1994)

Clerks (Kevin Smith, 1994)

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995)

The Piano (Jane Campion, 1997)

Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant, 1997)

Smoke Signals (Chris Eyre, 1998)

Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)

Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999)

Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)

Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)

Love and Basketball (Prince-Blythewood, 2000)

Mullholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)

Frida (Julie Taymor/Salma Hayek, 2002)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Joel Zwik, 2002)

Real Women Have Curves (Patricia Cardoso, 2002)

Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)

Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)

Little Miss Sunshine (Dayton/Farris, 2006)

Babel (Iñarritu, 2006)

Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)

La Misma Luna (Patricia Riggen, 2007)

Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007)* – unless this was your selection for Week 5!

Cadillac Records (Darnell Martin, 2008)

Frozen River (Hunt, 2008)

Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010)

The Namesake (Mira Nair, 2006)

Avatar (Cameron, 2009)

Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)

Twelve Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2012)

Selma (Ava DuVernay, 2015)

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)

Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, 2016)

Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)

Other Options:

One of the Bourne movies (your choice)

One of the Lord of the Rings (your choice)

One of the Westerns from our folder of trailers (Week 7)

One of the Musicals listed in our course schedule, that you are NOT watching for your Week 5 assigned film

Any other Coen Brothers film of your choice

A Blaxploitation film of your choice

A Wachowksi sisters film of your choice

An Oscar Micheaux film of your choice (and pending availability)

Another Alfred Hitchock film of your choice

Another Spike Lee film of your choice (not a documentary)

A Darren Aranofsky film of your choosing (brace yourself!)

You may propose your own film that fits our course theme, if you think you have something meaningful to say about it – prior approval is required at least on week in advance! Approval is not guaranteed. Also, just a tip: sometimes it is harder to write about a film you already know and love. Branch out! Expand your repertoire!

Some of these films contain triggering scenes of violence, sex, war, trauma, oppression… Check them out before you watch… and with whom!

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