For this assignment, we turn back to the basics of analytical writing, asking ho

For this assignment, we turn back to the basics of analytical writing, asking how one moves from detailed observations, to meaningful interpretations, to plausible conclusions. The following SEQUENCE ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENT serves to develop your skills in both analysis and writing by asking you to develop and write an exploratory essay about any film of your choosing.
To complete the assignment, you will be required to watch the entire film at least twice and one scene from the film several times more. Your film choice should be driven by your final paper topic; all films must be obtained by you, and must come from the attached list of Sequence Analysis Films. In other words, don’t pick a film without making sure that it is available to view, and don’t pick a film not on this list without instructor approval.
The assignment itself consists of several parts. Be sure to read and complete EACH step, clearly identifying it by number in your final document. (NOTE: All material, except the analytical grid and drawing, should be typed and double spaced.)
STEP 1: THE METHOD
After viewing your film in its totality no less than two times, identify at least two main points you can make about its depiction of identity, ideology, philosophy, history, or any other category. Keep a record of the repetitions, strands, binaries, and anomalies you discover. Be sure to rank your data, producing a half-page (or more) paragraph in which you explain your choice of one repetition, one strand, OR one binary that helps you better understand the film.
STEP 2: NOTICE AND FOCUS
Use the repetition, strand, or binary you selected in STEP 1 to help you isolate ONE sequence that you believe best exemplifies that choice*. Then, using that one sequence complete the sequence analysis grid in detail. To do so, you will have to re-watch your sequence several times. Be sure to note the time stamp at which your selection begins.
*20-25 Shots maximum
STEP 4: SCENE-BASED FOCUSED FREEWRITING
Using the observations and emergent interpretations you developed in STEP 2, engage in at least one 15-minute free writing session. Remember, when freewriting, you write without stopping for the predetermined time period. Don’t reread as you go. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Just keep typing. You’ll want to begin by contextualizing your sequence within the larger film, then move on to your observations. As you describe what you see and hear in the scene, you can begin teasing out possible meanings. Be sure you always share the reasoning behind your interpretations, explaining exactly how you arrived at them. Finally, you will want to draw some conclusions by considering how your evidence is representative of the larger scene and / or the film as a whole. Should you become stuck at any point, try any of the following to get you going again: 1) Try asking yourself “So what?” or repeating, “This seems to be about X but could also be about Y.” 2) Select a new interpretive context for your evidence. NOTE: While your freewriting will not be graded, you should include a copy of your results with your assignment.
STEP 5: EXPLORATORY ESSAY
Revise and reorganize the results of your freewriting session to develop a 3- to 4-page exploratory essay. An “exploratory” essay does just what its name suggests; it permits you to explore your observations, interpretations, and conclusions at length. More focused and rigorous than your freewriting session (with NO grammatical or spelling errors), an exploratory essay begins with less certainty than a final, formal paper. To start, you should note the repetition, strand, or binary that motivated your investigation of the scene (or portion of a scene) at hand. Explain what drew you to it and why you find it significant. Then offer a working thesis (a tentative theory) about what this repetition, strand, or binary might reveal. Following this introduction, you should move to the scene (or portion of a scene) that you have selected. Suggest this scene’s representativeness with respect to the larger film. Then write a few paragraphs that not only describe your observations about it, but also test your interpretations of and conclusions about this evidence. Be sure to attend to any anomalies you uncover along the way. In the end, you should be able to offer a refined version of your initial thesis and supply a brief commentary about what you have accomplished.
Tips:
*Avoid plot summary and extended visual description. Aim instead to analyze how specific cinematic techniques function to underscore the film’s themes and ideas. *Organize your essay around key points in your argument, rather than a chronological examination of the sequence.
*Avoid evaluative language. (“The costumes are beautiful.”) Aim instead to analyze the effects of the techniques used. (“Cleo’s three costumes each demonstrate a different facet of her femininity and her relationship to the outside world.”)
*Use precise film terminology when possible, consulting the guides provides.
*Avoid vague language. (“The use of lighting in this scene is very effective” or “Parallel editing helps to create suspense,” etc.) Aim instead to analyze the specific effect of individual techniques. (“Offscreen sounds create a sense of paranoia in the viewer, mirroring the paranoia of the killer in M.”)
*Make a strong argument about the sequence.

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