Project #9815 - Short Paper – Film Review

Short Paper – Film Review 


This short paper has you writing in the genre of a film review. You will write a review of Alien, directed by Ridley Scott.


A film review (think the recently departed Roger Ebert or the still alive Lisa Schwarzbaum) asks the question “is this film worth seeing?” and attempts to persuade its readers to either see it or skip it. This is the first goal of a good film review. When you persuade, you might discuss a certain actor's performance or the film's cinematography. You might discuss the score (not the soundtrack, that's a different thing) or praise the editing. You might compare this film to another one your audience might know that's related. Strategically, a film review aims to be persuasive while also being comprehensible. A film review never approaches its audience with disdain or indifference; a reviewer should be interested in his or her subject and want to convince the reader. A reviewer should have a command of the film's history and be able to articulate some of these facts in the review whenever necessary (who directed it, who starred in it, who was the editor, when was it released to cinemas and was there another version before it, etc.). A reviewer should also be familiar with how a film works formally and use appropriate terminology to describe scenes (see “Film Terms” handout, attached).


Besides explaining whether the film is worth your reader's money, a film review also asks “what is the literary merit of this film?” – in other words, how does the film compare to related films in its genre? This is the second goal of a good film review. To accomplish this goal, a film review may strive to interpret some of the many thematic, visual and auditory patterns within the text. For your film review, you are required to discuss one of the scenes of the film in relation to its quality (perform a close-reading of that scene). A film review that can both persuade and interpret is the strongest and most convincing kind of film review. 


The task: Write a 2-3 page review of Alien.

Genre: film review

Format: 2-3 pages (2 full pages, max 3). Double spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font). Your name, class number and section, and date should be on the paper along with the instructor's name. and your name at the top left. Page margins should be only 1-inch top, bottom, and sides. There should not be any extra half-spaces between paragraphs.




Film Terms – accompanying Short Paper – Sources Penn State University website and Springhurst ( ) (


Cinematographer (camera man or director of photography) - The person who supervises all aspects of photography from the operation of cameras to lighting. 


Composition - The placement of people or objects within the frame and the arrangements for actual movements within the frame or by the camera. 


Continuity - The narrative growth of a film created through a combination of visuals and sound (resembling the "story" in print literature). 


Cut - An individual strip of film consisting of a single shot; the separation of two pieces of action as a "transition" (used when one says "cut from the shot of the boy to the shot of the girl"); a verb meaning to join shots together in the editing process; or an order to end a take ("cut!"). 


Dutch Angle Shot – A low-angle shot (from below the subject) that is also tilted slightly on its axis.


Extreme long shot - A panoramic view of an exterior location photographed from a considerable distance, often as far as a quarter-mile away. May also serve as the establishing shot.


High-Key - light brilliantly illuminates a set;Low-Key - light provides dim lighting, usually with heavy, dark shadows. 


Intercutting- The alternation between actions taking place at two distinct locations to make one composite scene. For example, cutting between two people involved in the same telephone conversation. The distinction between this and cross cutting is one of compression of time. The intercut can be used to speed up a scene and eliminate large pieces of time that would slow a story down. 


Match Cut - A cut intended to blend two shots together unobtrusively (opposed to a Jump Cut). 


Mise-En-Scene -The term usually used to denote that part of the cinematic process that takes place on the set, as opposed to editing, which takes place afterwards. Literally, the "putting-in-the-scene": the direction of actors, placement of cameras, choice of lenses etc.


Montage - (dynamic editing, expressive montage, conditional montage) A method of putting shots together in such a way that dissimilar materials are juxtaposed to make a statement. A shot of a man followed by a shot of a peacock, for example, declares that the man is pompous. 


Objective Camera - The attempt to suggest that the camera acts only as a passive recorder of what happens in front of it. The use of objective camera relies on de-emphasis of technique, involving minimal camera movement and editing. 


Reverse Angle Shot - A shot of an object or person taken in the direction opposite that of the preceding shot (for example, a shot of the gates of a prison from within followed by a reverse angle shot showing the gates from outside). Rough Cut The initial assembling of the shots of a film, done without added sound. 


Scene – A continuous set of cuts ending with a change of location or time. A scene may be comprised of many shots (a single capture of the camera). A scene may also be comprised of intercut-shots, where two or more locations or time-frames are alternated in order to suggest a parallel action (this is called intercutting).


Shot – Types: extreme close-up (the subject framed by the camera fills the screen), close-up, medium close-up, medium shot (generally framing the shoulders or chest and the head), medium long shot, long shot (some distance from the camera; they are seen in full within their surrounding environment), extreme long shot or distance shot.


Subjective Camera - Shots simulating what a character actually sees; audience, character, and camera all "see" the same thing. Much subjective camera involves distortion, indicating abnormal mental states. Shots suggesting how a viewer should respond are also called "subjective" (for example, a high-angle shot used to make a boy look small and helpless). 

Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 07/28/2013 11:00 pm
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