Coming into this class, my experience with film had only consisted of watching movies. I have always enjoyed a good film, but have never thoroughly analyzed or wrote about it, and I had no idea how this class was going to be. My creative nonfiction essay from the beginning of the quarter was about a narrative about a trip to the movie theatre with my family. It explained how going to the movies started out as just something to keep me entertained when I was bored once to how it became a favorite past time. Even today, after we have grown up and moved to different states, a trip to the movies is something that my family and I can still enjoy. I have discussed movies in the past with my family, but it was only about whether or not we liked it, or what parts we liked the best, but I had never critically thought about specific elements or themes. Watching movies had always been something to do when I was bored or wanted a break from school work, and after the first day, I knew that joining the two of these things was going to be a new and possibly challenging task for me.
The writing assignment that I found to be the most interesting was the first creative nonfiction essay that was assigned. I liked having the freedom to write about anything we chose as long as it related to film. I had not written a paper since my last English class two years earlier and it was nice to start again. This first assignment really got me thinking about how film had affected my life. I realized that a common topic of discussion when my family gets together is about new movies that are coming out. Since the topic of film was one that is very common in my life, I found it to be the easiest and most fun off all the essays to write. Once I got started, the words just flowed onto the paper. The movie that interested me the most during this quarter was Black Swan. I had seen previews of this movie for awhile now, but had not had the chance to watch it before this class. I had been in dance for 11 years and had preformed the Swan Lake at my local dance studio. Ballet had been an interest of mine and I really enjoyed watching the dance in the film. I also know the pressures put on dancers to have the perfect body and really liked how this movie portrayed this. I thought it was a good movie to watch, even though at times it was physically difficult to watch because of the body horror.
Analyzing, discussing, and, researching these movies in this class did have a good effect on my opinions of the movies. Discussing the movie in class would give me a chance to ask other people who have watched the movie questions that I had about the plot. This was really helpful with Inception because of the confusion layout with all the different levels of dreams. Analyzing movies helped me gain a greater appreciation for all the work that was put into them. I have always watched movies for pure entertainment and never noticed all the small details placed throughout to help pull larger themes together. One movie that researching helped to change my opinion about was Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. At first, I did not particularly like this movie. After researching this movie, I learned about all the reference that were put into this movie made me have respect for the director for taking time to put all the references in the film. At first I did not like how the movie was filmed with all the words and battle scenes, but after researching and analyzing this movie I realized that he chose to do the film like this to keep the comic book feel that the film was based off of. After analyzing movies, I now appreciate movies for more than just the plot.
This class has helped me to improve my writing technically and being able to analyze movies in a formal essay. I have never been technically sound in writing a thesis, and I feel that after this class I know how to construct a good thesis. I am able to write a thesis that consists of three points that I can then expand on in each of the body paragraphs. This has helped me to organize my papers and have each paragraph flow from one to the next and support the point I am trying to convince the viewer. This class has also greatly affected how I will view movies in the future. I have always watched movies purely for their visual appearances and plot, and have never paid attention to all the small little details that the directors add to enhance the plot. Learning the six different approaches to analyzing a movie has helped me to creating topics for my papers. I can now think of these approaches while initially watching the movie, and have a few ideas about what I would like to write about before I even start. After this class, I feel especially comfortable with the formalist approach. We have discussed in class about things such as lights, sounds, and camera editing, I will now notice these elements when watching other movies and how they affect the overall theme. Before this class, I would not have ever noticed things such as how the music in Inception helped distinguish how much time was passing in each of the levels of dreams.
One thing that I have noticed about my writing from this class is that I tend to make my papers very broad because I think that I would not have enough information to get three pages. I have learned that you can pick one scene and be able to expand about different elements from the one scene. We discussed the scene from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World during the introduction of the movie when Knives and Young Neil are sitting on the couch while the band plays and the screen stretches out. Discussing why they did this really helped me to see that you can go more specific, but still be able to have enough information. Having a smaller scene to discuss helped to create a stronger thesis and get a stronger point across in my paper.