Returning the Gaze, Reclaiming What is Ours. Arts Essay (Essay Sample)
Please choose ONLY ONE of the following questions and write a 6-8 page essay (approx. 1800-2000 words), using Times or Times-New-Roman 12 point font. Use ONLY FILMS listed at the end of each question.
We are looking for a strong argument that engages with at least 3 readings from Film Analysis, Eisenstein, Espinosa, Astruc, Neroni, Solanas and Getino, Narine, and Baggesgaard (but not including Engaging Cinema). You are not required to use any additional reading. (Please do not cite reviews from the internet or newspaper). This essay is comparative in which you should apply your understanding of film technique and language to larger conceptual questions. Limit your reading of the films to only the information that supports your argument.
All films engage with ideology at some level, some are more explicit than others. While some films criticize dominant ideology in an attempt to offer an alternative one, others support that dominant ideology by reinforcing commonly accepted principles, ideas, and social hierarchies. Choose two of the following films from the course (Battle of Algiers, Babel, Do the Right Thing, Ali Fear Eats The Soul) in which dominant social norms and forms of power come into conflict with the forces they attempt to master and control.
Film establishes a way of looking at bodies. Laura Mulvey argues that the cinematic gaze is imbued with a certain sense of power, one that shapes how we see others. Discuss how the camera or the identification with a certain character’s perspective helps to shape how we understand identity—not only how we see others but also how we see ourselves. How does the film criticize this dynamic? Discuss two of the following films: Citizen Kane, Reassemblage, Ali Fear Eats The Soul, Cléo 5 to 7.
Many of the films you have watched and will watch this quarter exhibit doubling, repetition, super-imposition, repeated rhythms, patterns or types of shots. Identify a few shots or short sequences where you see this doubling taking place. Discuss the relevance of this repetition as you see it occurring in two of the following films: Rear Window, Battleship Potemkin, In the Mood for Love, Meshes in the Afternoon.
Tips for Writing:
An analysis of a film is built out of readings of individual scenes or elements. YOU WILL LIKELY WANT TO FOCUS ON 2-3 SCENES FROM EACH FILM as evidence for your argument.
While our sequence analysis focused on formal techniques and their relation to the larger film, here you will want to expand your formal reading to include the social/political/historical dimensions discussed in the second half of the class. Discuss how formal techniques (sound, cinematography, editing, narrative structure, etc.) are used to address issues around race, gender, nationality, historical context, political environment, etc. As a compare contrast, your argument will derive from finding similarities and differences between the two films.
NOTE: As a resource for general advice on writing papers on films, see Nichols’s Engaging Cinema Chapter 12, especially, in this case, 441-42 on the search for a topic.
When quoting material, in-text referencing is preferred, but endnotes or footnotes are acceptable. When necessary, include a list of works cited. Remember always to provide the appropriate references for the primary or secondary materials used in your work. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism.
1) Opening and Thesis Statement.
Formulate a strong independent thesis — one that interests you. If your thesis is vague, your argument is likely to be vague as well. State your thesis as specifically as possible. You must decide how you will approach the topic: which aspects will you emphasize. In the rest of your paper you will go through the details of your argument, giving evidence (specific examples of images or sequences) to support each statement, and making sure that each statement follows from your thesis.
Avoid repeating the exact words of the paper topic as given. Every topic allows for more than one approach, leaving you some space for interpretation. Think of the opening paragraph as the entrance to your paper. Is it interesting: does it make your reader want to go on reading?
2) Body and analysis
Your paper is expected to be analytical rather than descriptive.
In an analytical mode you:
— avoid the obvious
— go beneath the surface of the “literal” and visual conventions
— attempt to combine diverse elements of films and define their relationship in your own words
— find symbolic meaning, contradictions, political allegories, etc. in the films
— use examples to illustrate your argument
In descriptive mode you (what you do not want to do):
— summarize the plot or visual representation
— give examples from the films without attempting to explain what they mean
— talk about the film as a text at a literal or static level
— restate in a simplistic way the what the readings say (paraphrase)
Do not summarize what you developed in the previous paragraphs, and do not repeat the statements of your introduction. Here you should try to show the implications of what you “discovered” in your analysis.
To write a good paper you should be prepared to go through several stages:
Planning: re-read or look over the readings and your journal, and take notes
Pre-writing/outlining: find some method of organizing your thoughts
Returning the Gaze, Reclaiming What is Ours
Subject and Section
December 3, 2019
Looking at females as objects and as lower beings as compared to men has been ingrained not just in film, not just in art, but in society itself. Living in a patriarchal world has strongly influenced, if not dictated, how we see things in general.
In essence, this is what Laura Mulvey (1975) calls the “male gaze.” This is the view that everyone, including both male and female, gazes at the world based on a heterosexual male’s point of view. Films, as much as everything else, have not escaped this view. Basked in the man-made glory bestowed upon males, the representation of women has been compromised and degraded time and time again, reducing the female body as a mere spectacle. As much as Mulvey argues about the all-encompassing male gaze that leads us to shape or mold an identity, utilizing both the film characters’ and the filmmaker’s point of view can contribute greatly in somehow reflect the view, wherein both the viewers are subjected to the look.
There are different looks that happen in the cinema (de Lauretis 1987, 98). These looks are 1) the camera’s gaze at the actors, and 2) the look of the characters at each other and at the other elements of the story. These two use the male gaze wherein the aesthetic expression puts emphasis on the male character’s power over the sexualized female character. The third gaze is the audience’s gaze on the film. For de Lauretis, as the viewers watch the film from the eyes of a male author, there is an impression that the audience will also manifest a male-centric look. (Ibid.)
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