Social Commentary

Looking Closely at Genre Genre cannot be reduced to individual parts or units of meaning. And yet, the way that genre operates in general is tied to the look and feeling of a film’s cinematography, acting style, lines of dialogue, lighting, and sound. So in this exercise the goal is to break a scene down into its most basic elements and then write about how those elements operate in the service of the larger purpose of the social problem film.  Step One:  Select which of the two films you want to work with?The Bigamist or White Dog?. Watch the film and consider a few possible good candidates for analysis. The questions that you are using to associate the film’s components to the genre are generated on Tuesday through the readings. So pay close attention there and try to make those connections happen in the margins of the annotation due on Tuesday. Pick a scene or sequence. A full scene might turn out to be too long and if that’s the case, break off a segment of the scene to focus in on. Step Two: You’ll want to do a basic shot breakdown using notation of your own. Here’s what the format of such notation usually looks like, but you can create your own in your notebook, as a word or sheets document, or whatever works for you to get the pieces laid out. You don’t upload this or show it to us. But you actually may find that pieces of it are helpful as an illustration, too. It’s a choice you’ll make, but know that we won’t ask to see it as evidence of this assignment. This version comes from FILM 20A: Step Three: Now turn to your blank page and begin to write. Begin by stating clearly and in very direct terms what aspects of the scene are most closely connected to the impression of this genre. You will find this easier to do if you reach for something that will be supported by some of the evidence that you are seeing. This piece of writing does not need to be very long. It should be shorter than 500 words and it should not require any plot summary or any description that takes you away from the scene. It needs to address the question: what are the components of this scene that are most closely tied to the film’s adherence to or departure from genre? What do you see or hear that lends connection to the viewer’s understanding of this film’s supposed social commentary or close relationship to a real social issue? What, we want to know, is connecting STYLE to PURPOSE?

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