Task: Write a well-reasoned and well-supported response to one of our recent course films. Whether you use one of the questions below or come up with your own question, please type the question your paper addresses at the top of your first page, below paper’s heading and just above paper’s engaging and informative title.
Length: 750 words exactly. Not one word less or more. (You know I’m kidding, right? But do stick with 750, plus or minus, as your ball park word count length for this essay.)
Target audience: Your bright fellow students and your average intelligence instructor, who expect nothing but your top drawer writing skills.
Goal: Strut your stuff. Be funny, be serious. Make your case. Put on a demo of your best critical thinking skills. Re-examine your assumptions. Argue your heart out. Defend a claim. And back up every point you make with “for example” evidence from the film itself. If a claim isn’t supported, it won’t fly. Forget “In my humble opinion, I think that…” or “I kind of feel that…” or “I sort of get the impression that…” Say what you want to say, and be confident in your saying. In short, demonstrate what you’ve learned this quarter, from Trimble, Harkness, your peers and yourself. You’ve got 750 words.
• Submit your most advanced draft to a DB peer evaluation forum by 5 p.m., Monday, June 3rd, of Week 10.
• Revise Essay 3 based on peer feedback and resubmit to the Assignments page by 5 p.m., Friday, June 7th.
Here are three specific additional requirements for Essay 3:
1. You must incorporate at least one quotation from an outside source. This quotation must be smoothly integrated into the paper and correctly documented. The source could be a commentary by film critic Roger Ebert or by another reviewer–preferably an established film critic. For an explanation of correct documentation, please click on the Course Docs page and click the folder called Citing Movie Reviews and Film Titles in Your Essay, and the folder called Citing Outside Sources (the second folder repeats much of the info in the first). For locating film reviews/commentaries, go to the Internet Movie Database online at httpss://us.imdb.com/search. After searching for and locating a film title, click on the title to see a cast list, name of director, etc. Then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page for a menu that will include External Reviews. Click it to see a long list of online reviews of that film. Be sure to end paper with a brief Works Cited list that notes the film your paper discusses and the review or article that you quote or paraphrase from in your paper. Another excellent source of film reviews can be found at httpss://www.rottentomatoes.com/ Search for a film title, then navigate your way to the reviews of the film. See especially the section called Top Critics, and then click the blurbs for the film to see the entire review.
2. To demonstrate your ability to create “word glue” connections between sentences and paragraphs, please highlight at least five transition words and phrases in your paper. For a list of the most common transitions, see Trimble p. 41. Example: “In Maria Full of Grace, on the other hand…” And remember the English teacher’s favorite all-time bit of word glue: “for example.”
3. Likewise, paper must include at least one sentence that demonstrates your ability to use parallelism. Either bold it or highlight it in a different color than the transitions.
4. And just as you have with earlier essays, you must submit a second file that includes one earlier and distinctly different draft of your essay, along with some evidence of your idea-generating process, e.g. brainstorm notes, word list, etc. Students who submit the required extra file will earn 5 points.
Here are your choices. The parenthetical terms in red indicate the kind of paper that might emerge from the question. See bottom of this assignment for definitions of some of these terms.
Choice #1: Maria Full of Grace (dir. Joshua Marston, 2004):
1. America is a nation of immigrants, and our Statue of Liberty serves as a beacon for the world that America represents hope, freedom and the possibility of a better life for those who come to its shores. Contrast that glowing image with the reality of the emigrant experience as seen through the eyes of Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno) in the film. Explain why Maria, unlike her friend Blanca (Yenny Paola Vega), decides to stay in the U.S. Is it an easy decision? As an “illegal” who speaks no English, has no particular skills and certainly no money, does she fully understand what she’s in for by choosing to stay? (Analysis of theme; use of examples; comparison/contrast.)
2. Explain the significance of the film’s title, which comes from the well-known Hail Mary prayer of the Catholic Church (“Hail Mary, full of grace…”). What does “grace” mean in the context of the film? Does the title have more than one meaning? It might be worthwhile here to cite 1-2 definitions of the word “grace” as it fits the context of the film and expand on these based on your own understanding of the word (be sure to note the specific dictionaries you quote for your definitions). Does Maria achieve redemption for her “sin” of being a mulas or drug courier? (Analysis of theme; definition.)
3. In some ways, Maria Full of Grace and Thelma & Louise could not possibly be more different. But a closer look may reveal surprising similarities. In both films, young women commit crimes (justifiable?) and thus become outlaws. Both films have central characters who take a journey that transforms them. What other similarities do these films share? Could it be argued that each of the characters achieves “freedom” in the end? (Comparison/contrast; use of examples; argumentation.)
Choice #2: Brokeback Mountain (dir. Ang Lee, 2005, US):
Note: If you write about Brokeback Mountain, be sure to specify whether your paper refers to the Anne Proulx story or Ang Lee’s film adaption of that story.
1. How does the movie treatment compare with the story “Brokeback Mountain”? (In answering this question, rather than point out minor plot differences or argue that one is superior to the other, speak more to thematic differences and similarities. You can, of course, talk about what one medium—book or film—does that the other does not. Example: the film not only presents the visual images of landscape and character but also adds a musical score to heighten certain effects.)
2. Compare the main characters, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist. They may be lovers, but their differences are significant. What are the differences?
3. Examine the role of the wives, Ennis’ Alma and Jack’s Laureen. Are they too victims of a rigid social order that forces people to hide their true natures and, as a result, their true feelings for others?
4. Both film and story deal with an implicit set of social rules that reinforces intolerance: If you’re gay, you had better hide that fact. What specific scenes underscore Jack’s and Ennis’ understanding of this unwritten law? On the other side of the coin, what scenes suggest tolerance, or even acceptance of the love between Ennis and Jack?
5. You tell a friend that you’ve read Annie Proulx’s story “Brokeback Mountain” and seen the movie. The friend replies, “That’s the gay cowboy story, right?” How would you respond? Write a letter to the friend in which you argue that Brokeback Mountain is more than a “gay cowboy story.” Arrange your arguments with care, saving your clincher for last.
Choice #3: Never Let Me Go (dir. Mark Romanek, 2010, UK):
For , Never Let Me Go, students are free to come up with their own questions or topics. If you choose this film and would like to run an idea by me or share a working thesis, please do so by email.
Choice #4: Student Choice film.
Choice #5: Comparing films:
The possibilities of comparing are many. Even when the similarities might seem to be slight, a comparison might reveal that two very different films have more in common that a first glance would indicate. For instance, how about a paper that compares the characters of Thelma and Louise to Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist?
And of course remember that you might also choose to write about the Student Choice film, our last movie of the term and selected via student nominations and a vote.
Below is an example of a Modern Language Association (MLA) works cited page with entries for a review by a film critic, for the film itself, and for our Trimble book. Use these as models for your own citations at the end of your paper. For more on using and citing quotations or paraphrases in your paper, see Writing With Style and Trimble’s section “References for Quotations,” pp. 157-59 in the chapter 14, “Quoting.”
Brokeback Mountain. Dir. Ang Lee. Focus Features, 2005.
Ebert, Roger. “Brokeback Mountain” movie review. Chicago Sun-Times on
the Web. Accessed 16 Feb 2011. httpss://tinyurl.com/92vsp
Trimble, John. Writing With Style, 3rd ed. Boston: Prentice-Hall, 1975. Print.
Definition of terms used in assignment questions:
Analysis: To analyze is to look at the parts to see how they fit. In analyzing a literary work or film, a writer will generally select one or two elements to focus on. For instance, a writer might choose to analyze a main character, or perhaps examine the film’s setting, its use of music, or some other feature, and explain to the reader how this element works in the film. Another familiar element a writer might choose to analyze is the work’s theme. See below.
Theme: This term refers to the core idea expressed by a novel, poem, play, art work, piece of music or film. It’s not the work’s “moral,” and usually the theme of a work can’t be expressed as a simplistic bromide or pithy cliché, such as, “Crime doesn’t pay,” or “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Rather, the theme of a work is most often a more complex articulation of what the work adds up to, or what it says about life or about human nature.
Argumentation: This refers to the rhetorical mode or pattern whereby a writer lays out a series of points or assertions that are then supported by use of examples and illustrations. One of the formal elements of argumentation is the use reasonableness as a way to make an argument more palatable or persuasive to the reader. One way of being reasonable is to “acknowledge the opposition, that is, to grant that there are other viewpoints and other opinions about a given topic or issue. The author’s job is to acknowledge the most commonly held viewpoint that differs from the author’s own and then refute that viewpoint by presenting counter-arguments. In classical argumentation, arguments are often arrayed in order of effectiveness or potency. In other words, save your “zingers” for last, e.g. “Third and most importantly,…”
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