Before entering this class, I have always considered myself an above average writer. For many of my classes, writing a paper on a weekly basis has been standard and routine. My conceptions and expectations of this course thus were based upon my past successes within writing and English. However, upon entering, I realized that the class consists of much more than having the ability to write and consequently, my inexperience with analyzing film was exposed. Although there were many discouragements throughout the course of the quarter, ultimately, there have been many positives and lessons to take away and put to use as my college career continues.
Before entering this class, my experiences with film and watching movies was very material and lacked depth. Aside from the sheer entertainment I experienced from a film, there was not much more consideration to its quality and makeup. Because many of my friends were interested in the study and analysis of film growing up in my hometown, I was aware that I differed from them in many aspects. I was confused as to why they enjoyed the movies they did and rarely ventured out of my favorite genres. At times I possessed a much too simple minded attitude when judging movies and usually was only focused on plot, dialogue, and my first impression in regard to acting and who was in the movie. Typically, if it wasn’t interesting to me before viewing it, I would rarely watch it and would instead do something else. Additionally, after watching a movie, I would not examine it on a deeper level and would often times pay little thought to my experience unless inquired about it. Consequently, much of my experience with film before entering this class, although in many aspects I could differentiate between respectable and poor movies, was surface based rather than profound.
The assignment that interested me the most was the analysis of ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. Because I enjoyed the movie so much and was so intrigued with the performances of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, the movie was very easy to become immersed in. Additionally, the concept of memory and its connection with relationships in the story were very fascinating to me. It was very easy to relate to as it brought back nostalgic feelings of my own past and made me remember many things I had put out of my mind for a long time. Because this was the first movie we saw in class, I was given the opportunity to analyze its components in terms of ‘the mind’ and its correlation with our thoughts and how they can be manipulated and affected. Because this was our first assignment and first movie we viewed, it gave me a small forecast of what the class was possibly going to entail. Resulting from my personal connection to ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, I was able to effectively analyze its workings and because of its depth and portrayal of the complexity of humans and our relationships. Because of its inclusion of many different genres and elements such as science fiction, romance, comedy, and drama, this was also my favorite movie of the quarter and the most interesting to me.
As we continued to write about, discuss and research film, my opinions and ideas of the study changed greatly. Originally, my ideas were shallow and I lacked the necessary knowledge pertaining to the extent of making a solid movie. Through discussion, research and writing papers, I have begun to realize that there is much more to film than its initial entertainment value. Because of this increase in knowledge, I have gained much more respect for movie directors and the immense amount of work that goes into producing movies. With the use of a Formalist approach for analysis, my mindset in judging movies has definitely broadened and changed. Rather than solely rating movies based on aspects such as the actors’ performances and a believable plot, I am now able to effectively examine a film for its visual quality in regard to camera work and editing, ideology, genre, and also compare it to other movies within a historical approach. Because of this course, my perspective has lengthened and consequently, I am more able to effectively observe films that I would not have been able to before.
After the conclusion of this class, I will take a great deal of knowledge away that will be useful as I move forward with writing and college in general. Not only have I improved my writing style and voice, but I will also be more able to analyze and review films and literature more effectively and with better organization. Furthermore, I will take away the knowledge that I have a lot of improvements still to be made and that although I understand that I can write, I cannot become complacent because within the context of film, there is still a large amount of knowledge that I am lacking and it has shown in a number of my assignments. This class has taught me to venture out of my comfort zone and my familiar writing topics and take risks with what I explore in papers.
My writing style itself has not experienced a great deal of change as a result of the class, however, as a result of researching a completely foreign topic in film and further, ‘the mind’, I have gained a versatility that will assist me as I continue to write about a large realm of topics. I also gained a better idea about how to successfully state my thesis or what I am arguing in my introduction paragraph and allow my paper to follow my thesis points. In many of my early assignments such as my Inception and Amelie analyses, rather than arguing a specific point or facet of the movie, I instead described too many separate pieces and failed to efficiently analyze specifics. Because of this, my papers were much too general and lacked depth. However, after failing in my goals with these assignments, I learned that I need to limit my topics within an article and make it more focused rather than broad and shallow.
Overall, through this class, I have learned a great deal about myself in regard to writing and my knowledge of film. Although I have always had confidence in my writing ability, this class has made me re-examine my writing and has forced me to branch out of my comfort zone. Despite my inexperience in film analysis, I have gained useful knowledge about how to effectively view movies on a deeper level than in the past. I have found a more broad understanding of movies and a greater respect for directors and filmmakers. This class has therefore been successful in making me a better writer and student.