We accept Apple Pay Google Pay Quick and secure payment options.

How to Write a Film Analysis Essay: Examples, Outline, & Tips

Author Avatar
Written by
Dr. Isabel Larsen
  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 5792 words
  • Icon Clock 26 min read

This guideline is designed to teach people how to write a film analysis essay. Basically, students and anyone interested in writing a good movie analysis essay should read the details and tips that can help them to produce a high-standard piece. The article begins by defining what a film analysis is, listing the possible topics of such an essay, and giving a sample outline and example. The guideline also teaches about the various types of film analysis and the most common concepts that such a paper may address. As a result, the article concludes with tips, including ten things to do and ten not to do when writing a film analysis essay.

General Aspects of How to Write an Outstanding Film Analysis Essay

A college education is dynamic and robust because students undertake various academic activities in and out of the lecture room. Typically, activities within lecture halls are theoretical, and those that happen outside are practical. A critical academic exercise is a film analysis assignment, where professors require students to watch a movie and discuss using particular elements. The elements directors and producers use to bring the action alive include the stage, lighting, sound, and other special effects. As such, analyzing a film is a complex exercise that requires one to perfect the art of writing. In turn, this article is a guideline for how to write a film analysis essay. By reading this text, students can gain insights into the details and elements they must address when writing a movie analysis essay.

How to Write a Film Analysis Essay: Examples, Outline, & Tips

Definition of What Is a Film Analysis and Its Meaning

According to a simple definition, film analysis explores the use of particular elements in a film, including mise-en-scène, cinematography, sound, and editing. Students should talk about actors’ positioning, scenery adaptation, physical setting, stage lighting, and cultural context when writing this kind of essay. Another critical fact to consider is that films come in various genres, including action, documentaries, drama, horror, romance, and science fiction. Each type of movie analysis utilizes the above elements differently. Therefore, film analysis means writing an in-depth examination of how directors and producers approach their productions to make them entertaining and informative. For example, most science fiction films are futuristic, showing how society may change. In this respect, all films have a cultural context students must address in their movie analysis essay.

Unique Features of a Film Analysis

Generally, film analysis essays differ from other types of papers, including an argumentative essay, a cause and effect essay, and a research paper, because they focus on a single production and explore the use of the above elements. Some unique features that differentiate film analysis papers from other types of essays include a short plot summary where writers briefly tell readers what the movie is about, such as exterminating evil. In this type of analysis, writers evaluate the use of the elements above and state whether they make the film great or below expectations. Another feature is a poster showing sceneries to give readers a visual experience of the movie. Such visuals are essential to arouse the reader’s emotions and mental involvement in a movie analysis. Therefore, when writing a film analysis essay, students should focus on telling the story and depicting it.

6 Common Types of a Film Analysis Essay

Students must determine the type of film analysis essay to avoid sounding ignorant and irrelevant when writing about the movie. The most common types are semiotic, narrative, contextual, mise-en-scène, cultural, and historical analyses. Each type requires students to adopt a singular focus, meaning one cannot concentrate effort on elements that do not fall under the study. The reason for these types of analyses is that it is not always possible to understand an entire film in an essay, which is generally a short text of about two to three pages. Nonetheless, it is prudent for students to know how to write each type, meaning understanding the approach and unique features they must discuss and evaluate.

🔸 Semiotic Analysis

A semiotic essay involves discussing, evaluating, and interpreting the use of literary analysis elements, including analogies and metaphors, to inanimate characters and objects. Generally, these elements have different meanings, and students should determine what a particular feature stands for in the film they are analyzing vis-à-vis its broader cultural or historical significance in society. For example, when analyzing the 1958 film Vertigo, one may discuss the symbolism of flowers by stating how some images of them falling apart depict the heroine’s vulnerability. In turn, when conducting a semiotic analysis, one should consider several issues, including the repetition of objects or images throughout the movie, the association of a character with particular objects, and the relation between an object and other objects. Hence, a semiotic analysis essay requires students to examine the use of objects and symbols to communicate a deep meaning.

🔸 Narrative Analysis

A narrative analysis essay involves examining the elements that directors or producers use to construct the storyline, including characters, the plot, the setting, and the narrative structure. As such, students should focus on the entire movie and the message it seeks to communicate. Considering the example above of Vertigo, writers may discuss the narrative role of flowers by analyzing how director Alfred Hitchcock introduces them as the film begins and only brings them up again toward the end to complete the heroine’s character arc. Students should also consider several issues when conducting a narrative analysis essay, including the plot and how it unfolds. For example, one may talk about whether events are systematic or out of order and what that signifies. However, students should not focus on summarizing the plot at the expense of making and defending an argument.

🔸 Contextual Analysis

A contextual analysis of a film is a discussion of the placement of the movie within particular contexts, such as slavery, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, or the industrial revolution. In this case, filmmakers produce movies and base their identity on the unfolding circumstances or themes defining a particular time in history.

🔸 Mise-en-Scène Analysis

A mise-en-scène analysis essay involves discussing and evaluating compositional elements, including sets, props, actors, costumes, and lighting, and how they complement or conflict with cinematography, sound, and editing. The most effective approach in conducting this movie analysis is to focus on one or a few scenes rather than the entire film, telling readers how they support or undermine the plot. As such, mise-en-scène is part of the director’s narrative because this element influences how the audience understands the central message in the production. Taking Vertigo as a case study, one may discuss how Hitchcock incorporates lighting and camera angles to characterize Jimmy Stewart (starring as former police detective John “Scottie” Ferguson) as acrophobic. When adopting a mise-en-scène analysis, students should consider how particular scenes create effects and their purpose and how different scenes emphasize a theme central to the plot.

🔸 Cultural Analysis

A cultural analysis essay examines, evaluates, and interprets the broader cultural disposition the director adopts to tell the story. Students must understand that, regardless of a film’s production period, a culture influences its various elements, like characters and their mannerisms. Taking Vertigo as an example, one may interpret the scene where a man observes a woman without her knowing it to mean the sexual policing of women in mid-20th century America. When analyzing the context of a movie, students should consider how the film captures, reinforces, or critiques social norms in a particular culture or era.

🔸 Historical Analysis

A historical analysis essay means writing about a particular film from the perspective of the period underscoring its production. Ideally, filmmakers place their work into a historical context, such as the colonial era or ancient civilizations. Therefore, when writing a film analysis essay, students should focus on the period the director situates its plot.

How to Write a More Technical and Focused Film Analysis Essay

Film analysis helps readers to understand essential details, including the plot and its central themes, characters and their disposition, scenes and significance, and effects and the message they communicate. In this respect, one must be ready to undertake a technical, focused, and vigorous analysis of one or several of these elements. In most instances, instructions dictate the aspects students should write about. However, without such specifications, they should focus on a few elements and examine them vigorously. For example, one may decide to focus on the plot. In this instance, a movie analysis essay must examine the plot from different perspectives, including the characters, central themes, and the message. Such a focused analysis allows readers to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular element of movie reviews instead of an analysis that discusses several elements superficially. Some elements and terms that students can use for writing a film analysis essay include:

  • Flashback and flashforward: Flashbacks are scenes that recount events that have a powerful influence on the current or unfolding event. On the other hand, flashforwards are scenes that reveal events that will occur later in the film, and their purpose is to create anticipation in the audience.
  • Time framework: Film directors structure time linearly to depict an orderly unfolding of events. The most common time framework is omitting events to move the story forward.
  • Setting: The environment within which a director creates a movie, including physical surrounding like a city and period like a year or century.
  • Range of events: The different events in a film sustain the plot. Typically, these events directly or indirectly affect protagonists because they facilitate the storyline.
  • Cast: The people producing a film, including the main actors and the production crew. However, actors take priority when discussing the cast.
  • Plot: The sequence of events that directors create to communicate a central message in a movie analysis. When writing a film analysis essay, students should never ignore this aspect because it underscores the storyline.
  • Shot, scene, and sequence: Features that tell the quality of a film but, most importantly, the interconnectivity of elements in the director’s aim to tell a story.
  • Genre: The classification of movies into various forms, such as action, documentaries, science fiction, horror, or romance. Knowing a film’s genre under analysis is helpful in identifying the significance of cinematography and mise-en-scène elements.
  • Directing: Supervising film production by visualizing the script, controlling and managing the artistic and dramatic aspects, and guiding the actors and technical crew.
  • Scenario: The aspect of a movie analysis that provides the audience insight into the plot or characters. Ideally, scenarios are scenes that convey critical details of the storyline, such as climax.
  • Acting: The role that individuals play to bring a film’s plot alive. As such, it involves all people who assume different characters in a movie, including protagonists, antagonists, heroes, and heroines.
  • Visual effects: The qualities that filmmakers use to bring the action alive, such as images, shots, and scenes. When discussing visual effects in a film analysis essay, students should comment on how they reinforce certain concepts or themes, like mood, fear, and suspense.
  • Music and audio effects: Sound and language that enhance the audience’s understanding of the central message. Most films incorporate background sounds in multiple scenes to arouse reactions in the audience.
  • Camera angle: The positioning of the camera to capture precise shots in films. Filmmakers use camera angles in relation to scenes and characters to affect the audience’s perception.
  • Lighting: A mise-en-scène element that filmmakers use to create different effects in a film. Ideally, movies involve different lighting techniques, such as key light, fill light, and backlight, to guide the audience’s attention, create a visual impact, give the film a texture, or create an atmosphere.
  • References: Features that indicate how a film uses dialogue and images in its storyline to allude to, recall, or refer to another movie. Ideally, filmmakers use this feature to contextualize their productions within a cultural or historical space.
  • Animation: The use of drawings or puppets with mobility like humans. Although it is a movie genre for analysis today, filmmakers use animation to give objects animal or human qualities, such as walking, talking, crying, or fighting. Animations effectively depict society as a complex system comprising different life systems.
  • Protagonist: The character that takes center stage in a film and whom the director uses to construct the plot. While a film’s plot may revolve around several actors, only one is central, and others only assist the main hero in accomplishing agendas. In this respect, when students are writing a film analysis, they should tell the audience the main protagonist(s).
  • Antagonist: Characters that stand opposite of protagonists. Filmmakers use them to depict the main character as assailed by forces aiming to thwart their agenda.
  • Climax: The point in a movie where the plot peaks and where the protagonist puts into motion a series of events that significantly determine their final experience. These events may include betrayal, heroism, or tragedy. Therefore, one can identify a film’s climax by assessing how the plot intensifies and events directly impacting the protagonist unfolds.
  • Hero vs. anti-hero: Heroes stand out as brave because they attempt what others fear. In most movies, protagonists are heroes because they survive what consumes others. On the other hand, an anti-hero is a central character who lacks heroic qualities like bravery but is timid, fearful, frustrating, and irritating. As a result, the audience celebrates heroes under analysis and loath anti-heroes.
  • Atmosphere: The environment in which a movie imbues the audience through the sequence of events revolving around the plot. Generally, action films create an intense atmosphere because of the frequency of fights. On the other hand, romantic movies create an emotional atmosphere characterized by attraction and happiness. On their part, horror films create an uneasy atmosphere because of the constant anticipation of evil.
  • Background: The technique of capturing an image or object from a distance, often giving other images or objects prominence. Filmmakers use this quality to create a sense of authenticity in scenes. For example, a scene capturing a rioting crowd may have in its background an image of anti-riot police forming a barrier using their bodies. Looking at the imagery, one may see rioters more clearly but also understand the situation’s intensity because of the police in the background.
  • Cameo: The dramatic appearance of a famous actor or personality in a movie for various reasons, including fun, publicity, or to give the film credibility. However, such characters do not become protagonists because they appear briefly and only once. When doing a film analysis, students should indicate such personalities and the role they may have played in the plot.
  • Cinematography: The artistic use of technology and visual effects to dramatize the sequence of events in a film. Ideally, writers should examine the scenes’ general composition, locations’ lighting, camera angles and movements, and special effects, like illusions or camera tricks.
  • Comic relief: A scene that allows the audience to release emotional weight or tension that may have built up due to escalating events with a negative outcome, such as betrayal and a series of murders. Filmmakers interpose comic relief in tragic scenarios to avoid burdening the audience emotionally to the point of refusing to watch the film to its conclusion. The only film genre that rarely uses comic relief is gothic.
  • Film critics: Individuals who have made criticizing films a part- or full-time engagement. Ideally, these people watch movies to identify negative qualities, like a confused plot, poor lighting, and sound effects. While one may consider them an appropriate source of film reviews, they rarely highlight a good analysis of a movie.
  • Director’s cut: An edited film version that represents the director’s original edit before the release of the theatrical edit that reaches the screens. This part of the film is important because it shows scenes that some editors may cut or altered. By examining the director’s cut, the writer of a film analysis essay looks at the complete production and tells how it may enhance the audience’s viewing experience.
  • Foreshadowing: The technique of giving the audience a sneak preview of events yet to unfold to build anticipation and heighten dramatic tension. Filmmakers use this quality early in the film to create excitement in the audience and make them want to view the production to the end. Typically, foreshadowing focuses on events directly affecting the protagonist, such as a tragedy.
  • Editing: Perfecting a film by deleting, arranging, and splicing scenes and synchronizing all elements, including cinematography, mise-en-scène, sound, and special effects. The goal of editing is to make a film perfect for airing on the big screen. In this respect, it aims to remove all features affecting quality.
  • Long shot: A scene in a film that filmmakers shoot from a considerable distance to give images and objects indistinct shapes, almost unrecognizable. An excellent long shot captures people walking New York City streets from the city’s skyline. While one would know the images are people walking, they cannot describe their demographics, such as age, gender, or race.
  • Metaphor: A literary device that allows filmmakers to represent similarities between objects. An example of a metaphor in a movie is a visual metaphor, where filmmakers represent nouns through graphical images to suggest a particular association or resemblance. For example, an advert can represent beauty through the appearance of a flawless face, implying that beauty is equal to a look without flaws. Such an advert increases people’s interest in having a perfect face, leading to purchasing beauty products.
  • Montage: The film editing technique where filmmakers combine a series of short shots into one sequence to condense time, establish continuity, or provide contrast. Montages take different forms, including repetition of camera movements, minimal or no dialogue, quick cuts, music, and voice narration.
  • New wave: A French art film movement that emerged in the late 1950s to pave the way for experimentation and iconoclasm, thus rejecting traditional filmmaking conventions. Filmmakers who subscribed to this wave used film as a medium, like pottery or novels, for telling stories and translating thoughts and ideas by experimenting with form and style.
  • Mockumentary traits: Films that assume a documentary genre, although they do not tell true stories. Instead, filmmakers use parody, satire, and humor to describe contemporary society through events, ideas, and emerging trends. Simply put, a movie is a mockumentary if it is a fictional documentary.
  • Slow motion: A filmmaking effect where time appears to slow down because the film captures footage at a slower speed. This technique is common for rewinding scenarios to reinforce an idea in the audience. For example, most productions of sports tournaments use slow motion to provide viewers with detailed and perfect shots that leave no room for imagination and analysis.
  • Soundtrack: The sound, often music, which filmmakers incorporate in a plot to accompany scenes for heightened effects, such as arousing the audience’s emotions. In most instances, this music plays in the background, often from a low to high intensity and vice versa, depending on the scene.
  • Theme: The concept, idea, or principle that emphasizes a film’s plot and central message, such cas sadness, victory, morality, or community. By identifying the themes that a director uses to construct the plot, authors of a film analysis essay can tell the audience their meaning and significance through the story of the protagonist.
  • Symmetry: The quality of balancing shots between characters or placing shots symmetrically to each other to create a pattern. For example, visual symmetry involves repeating parts of an image along a path, across an axis, or around a center. Filmmakers use symmetrical patterns to convey a sense of unity or uniformity.
  • Symbolism: The literary device of using objects to symbolize ideas. For example, a filmmaker can use a dove to symbolize peace or the color black to symbolize evil. In essence, symbolism allows filmmakers to communicate profound messages to the audience. Therefore, students need to identify symbols representing ideas in film analysis.
Customized Essay Example

Count on Wr1ter Team to provide you with authentic, well-crafted papers with zero plagiarism.

Topic Examples for Writing a Film Analysis Essay

  • Video Review: Salt (2010)
  • Video Review and Approval of Black Panther (2018)
  • Analysis Essay of Volodymyr Zelensky’s Speech “I Call for You to Do More”
  • Examining Gender Issues Through Symbolism in The Ugly Truth (2009)
  • Discussing the Narrative Structure in The Godfather (1972)
  • Evaluating Christopher Nolan’s Use of Mise-en-Scène Elements in Oppenheimer (2023)
  • What Features Indicate the Context of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (1993)?
  • What Is the Cultural Context of City of God (2002)?
  • How Does History Feature as an Element in the Star Wars Trilogy?
  • How Does Roman Polanski Employ Flashback and Flashforward to Tell the Story of Wladyslaw Szpilman in The Pianist (2002)?
  • Discussing the Conception of Time in The Matrix (1999)
  • How Does the Setting of The Departed (2006) Underscore the Film’s Contemporary Significance?
  • Describing the Chronology of Events in The Bark Night Rises (2012)
  • How Does Casting Affect the Plot in American Beauty (1992)?
  • What Central Themes Describe the Plot in Inglorious Bastards (2009)?
  • Discussing How Scenes in Idiots (2009) Facilitate the Plot
  • Analysis of Gothic Elements in the Horror Genre via the Lens of The Mummy (2017)
  • Evaluating Mel Gibson’s Directing of The Braveheart (1995)
  • Discussing the Scenarios that Construct the Climax in Capernaum (2018)
  • Evaluating Al Pacino’s Acting in Scarface (1983)
  • Analyzing the Significance of Visual Effects in Film From the Perspective of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  • How Does Sound Affect the Audience in Monster House (2006)?
  • Evaluating How Camera Angle Enrich Viewer Experience in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
  • How Does Lighting Fit in the Gothic Film Sleepy Hollow (1999)?
  • How Does Steven Spielberg Employ References in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)?
  • Analysis of Animation in a Film From the Perspective of King Kong (1933)
  • Who Is the Protagonist in The Wolf of Wallstreet (2013) and Why?
  • What Makes Saruman the Antagonist in The Lord of the Rings Series?
  • How Does Climax Underpin the Plot in Casino (1995)?
  • Analyzing the Difference Between Heroes and Anti-Heroes via the Lenses of Black Panther (2018) and Black Adam (2022)
  • How Does Suspense Create an Atmosphere of Anticipation in Black Swan (2010)?
  • Discussing How Background Influences Viewer Experience in No Country for Old Men (2007)
  • Evaluating the Impact of Harrison Ford’s Appearance in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
  • How Does M. Night Shyamalan Employ Cinematography in The Sixth Sense (1999)?
  • Explaining Comic Relief in Film Using Uncut Gems (2019) as a Case Study
  • Criticizing Jurassic Park (1993) from the Perspective of Cinematography
  • How Does Director’s Cut Enrich the Storyline in Blade Runner (1982)?
  • Exploring Foreshadowing in the Film Using 12 Years a Slave (2013)
  • Explaining the Link Between Film Editing and Quality Using Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) as an Example
  • How Do Long Shots Affect Viewers’ Experience in Film?
  • Understanding a Visual Metaphor in Hotel Rwanda (2004)
  • How Does Dialogue Underscore Montage in The Terminator (1984)?
  • Analysis of How the Mid-20th Century New Wave Impacted French Filmmaking
  • How Does Forgotten Silver (1995) Incorporate Mocumentary Traits?
  • What Role Does Slow Motion Play in Films?
  • Analyzing the Importance of Soundtracks From the Perspective of Horror Films
  • How Do Film Directors Use Themes as Conveyors of the Central Message?
  • Discussing How Symmetry Affects the Quality of Films
  • Exploring Symbolism in the Film Using Angels & Demons (2009)

Sample Outline Template for Writing a Film Analysis Essay

I. Essay Introduction

  • Introduce the film’s title, followed by the director’s name and year of production.
  • Give a short description of the film or some context underpinning its release.
  • End this paragraph with a thesis statement about the film.

II. Summary

  • Overview the film by describing its context, setting, plot, and main characters.

III. Analysis

  • Describe several scenes in more detail by focusing on various elements, including cinematography, mise-en-scène, and others that help to evaluate the film.
  • Provide and cite some scenes as details and supporting evidence for analysis.
  • Evaluate and interpret the use of the above elements.

IV. Conclusion

  • Remind the audience about the film’s context and plot.
  • Recapitulate information in the analysis section.
  • Interpret the film’s significance.

Example of a Film Analysis Essay

Topic: What Features Indicate the Context of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (1993)?

I. Example of Writing an Introduction for a Film Analysis Essay

Films play a crucial role in educating people about the context within which movies come into their lives. Ideally, filmmakers implement various societal elements to construct ideas and use cinema as a conveyor belt to pass movies to different populations. Therefore, analyzing the film’s context is critical in understanding the ideas that the director embraced to produce the work. Several features in the 1993 film The Joy Luck Club indicate the film’s context.

II. Example of Writing a Summary Paragraph for a Film Analysis Essay

Directed by Wayne Wang, The Joy Luck Club tells the story of an Asian woman named Jun, born of the late Suyuan, who founded the Joy Luck Club social group. The movie’s plot revolves around the experiences of Asian mothers as immigrants in America from the perspective of their daughters. In this respect, the film takes a narrative approach. The movie’s setting alternates between San Francisco, California, and China, with the scenes in San Francisco representing the present day. Set in the 1980s, the storyline takes the viewer across generations. In this case, the mothers have flashbacks of the 1920s and 1940s.

III. Example of Writing an Analysis Paragraph for a Film Essay

A. Physical Landscape

A key feature that reveals the context of The Joy Luck Club is the physical landscape. The film captures San Francisco as an urban place populated by buildings, busy streets, and a coastline. The movie contrasts this landscape with the mountainous landscape in China, where natural elements exceed physical structures.

B. Cultural Nuances

Another feature that reveals the film’s context is cultural nuances between mothers and their daughters. The viewer learns how mothers went through a world so different from that of their daughters to the extent they loathe some of the behaviors and mannerisms they see in them. However, the viewer can tell that some cultural differences between mothers and daughters may explain why there is confusion between two generations. Born in the conservative Chinese culture, mothers experience a cultural shock once in America, which does not happen for their daughters because they have only experienced the liberal American culture. In this respect, life values and perspectives of mothers and their daughters are constantly in conflict.

C. Conflict Between Generations

Although the scenes in San Francisco and China are essential to the storyline, cultural nuances of mothers and their daughters take center stage in a conflict between generations in the film. While daughters seem relaxed and willing to engage in fantasies, their mothers insist they embrace education as the noblest achievement. As such, two generations are always at loggerheads about leisure time because mothers seek to utilize every minute to work, while daughters want to have fun most of the time. Ironically, mothers see education as the tool to make their daughters truly American because it determines their quality of life.

IV. Example of Writing a Conclusion for a Film Analysis Essay

The Joy Luck Club exposes the experiences of Chinese mothers in America, showing some cultural nuances that influence their relationships with their daughters. The film depicts immigration as crucial to the women’s experiences in the movie because it is the avenue through which mothers arrived in America. In essence, the film depicts mothers as caring despite their unpleasant experiences and their daughters’ ignorance.

4 Easy Steps for Writing a Film Analysis Essay

Writing a good film analysis essay is a technical process that requires students to grasp and demonstrate certain qualities. Ideally, one should know how to produce a high-standard paper, including adequate preparation, stage setup, creating an initial draft, and perfecting a final draft. These details summarize the steps of writing a great film analysis essay.

Step 1: Preparation

Preparation is the first step of writing a film analysis essay and involves several tasks. The first aspect is defining possible essay topics if instructions from tutors do not specify them. In turn, one may select film research paper topics that are easy yet challenging. The second task is to generate ideas that the audience can relate to, such as the cultural or historical issues in the film.

Step 2: Stage Set Up

Setting the stage is the second step of writing a film analysis essay. It involves watching the film to understand its context and plot and using cinematography and other elements. The second task is to research credible sources that help to analyze the movie, such as scholarly reviews and scholarship on film, including gothic movies and the use of literary or rhetorical devices. The next task is to create a clear essay outline according to the sample above.

Step 3: The Writing Process of Starting a First Draft

The third step of writing a film analysis essay is to write a paper focusing on producing an initial draft. The text activity should combine all ideas to create a document with a logical order of ideas and content. Some of the activities in this stage include adding or deleting reliable sources to fit a paper and altering an initial outline to organize ideas. Students should also focus on developing a clear thesis statement when writing the introduction because it summarizes the paper’s aim. Students should adopt evidence-based writing by incorporating evidence and corresponding citations in the body. The last aspect is to restate the thesis and summarize the analysis in the conclusion by mentioning the most critical points.

Step 4: Wrap-Up and Finishing a Final Draft

The final step of writing a film analysis essay is to wrap it up by perfecting a first draft. In this respect, students should focus on revising their first drafts to eliminate flaws like inconsistent ideas. The second task is to edit a film analysis essay by adding to deleting words and sentences to foster a logical flow of thought. Students should also ensure each body paragraph has a topic sentence, evidence, scenes, or details cited from academic sources or films, explanation and analysis sentences, concluding remark, and transition to the next paragraph, not forgetting to check if the paper’s formatting is perfect. Concerning formatting, students should adopt one style in the entire document: APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago/Turabian. Considering The Joy Luck Club, templates and examples of citations should read as follows:

📕 Citing a Film in APA

  • Reference entry: Wang, W. (Director). (1993). The Joy Luck Club [Film]. Walt Disney Studios.
  • In-text citation: (Wang, 1993, 00:46:00-00:50:00)

📕 Citing a Film in MLA

  • Work Cited entry: The Joy Luck Club. Directed by Wayne Wang, performances by Suyuan Woo and Rose Hsu Jordan, Walt Disney Studios, 1993.
  • In-text citation: (The Joy Luck Club 00:46:00-00:50:00)

📕 Citing a Film in Harvard

  • Reference List entry: The Joy Luck Club (1993). Directed by Wayne Wang. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Studios.
  • In-text citation: (The Joy Luck Club 1993, 00:46:00-00:50:00)

📕 Citing a Film in Chicago/Turabian

  • Bibliography entry: Wang, Wayne, director. The Joy Luck Club. Walt Disney Studios, 1993.
  • Footnote: 1. The Joy Luck Club, directed by Wayne Wang (Walt Disney Studios, 1993), 00:46:00-00:50:00.

20 Tips for Writing a Good Film Analysis Essay

Students must learn essential tips for writing a high-standard film analysis essay. These tips include watching a specific film before starting a movie analysis paper; determining the aspects to cover, such as the plot, cinematography, context, or setting; selecting suitable sources to construct ideas and defend arguments; and creating a well-organized outline.

10 things to do when writing a film analysis essay include:

  1. watching the film at least once;
  2. considering the audience;
  3. commenting on the acting;
  4. criticizing the directing by mentioning cinematography, mise-en-scène, or special effects;
  5. supporting the criticism;
  6. talking about the plot;
  7. consulting professional reviewers, like Roger Ebert and Rotten Tomatoes;
  8. reading, rereading, editing, and revising;
  9. cultivating a personal voice to demonstrate knowledge;
  10. proofreading the final text.

10 things not to do include:

  1. retelling the film;
  2. overusing sentences;
  3. generalizing ideas;
  4. continuously comparing the movie with its adaptations, like a book or novel;
  5. ignoring or doing superficial research;
  6. telling irrelevant details;
  7. writing poorly with too many grammar and format errors;
  8. getting too personal;
  9. reviewing another film;
  10. plagiarizing reviews.

Summing Up on How to Write a Perfect Film Analysis Essay

  • Watch a chosen film while notetaking.
  • Read several reviews focusing on the plot, context, setting, characters, scenes, and elements, like cinematography and mise-en-scène.
  • Create a list of ideas.
  • Organize the ideas to fit various aspects of a film indicated above: plot, context, and other elements.
  • Write an appropriate introduction.
  • Summarize the film.
  • Analyze the film by exploring one or several aspects comprehensively.
  • Write a conclusion, which must satisfy the audience.