Purpose of the Assignment
The purpose of this exercise is to further train the critical eye you are developing this semester by asking you to do a close reading of a short sequence. Your shot by shot analysis should consist of a numbered break down of each shot that supplies information regarding shot scale (medium shot, close-up, etc.), camera movement, if any, and angle of framing. This description does not have to be written as a complete sentence. Rather, you can employ a short hand such as that given in the example below. However, your notation for each shot should be very precise and should employ the terminology we have used in class and that is defined in the glossary posted on canvas. You should also note very briefly any significant action in the frame and anything on the soundtrack that strikes you as particularly important. The description of each shot should end with a notation describing how the shot ends (cut, dissolve, fade, etc.) I will be strict in grading your analysis so you should allow yourself plenty of time to review the sequence.
Both sequences will be uploaded to canvas. If you have not seen Psycho then I suggest watching the entire film before writing about the sequence drawn from it. It’s worth it! Both sequences are uploaded to canvas.
Choose one of the following sequences for your analysis.
Citizen Kane: Your analysis should begin with the first shot of Bernstein's flashback. Remember this is not the first flashback in the film. The first shot of this sequence has the camera moving (craning) down in a straight vertical movement showing us the exterior of the Inquirer building. The last shot of this sequence takes place in Kane's office. Kane says, "Thank you Mr. Carter, goodbye" and Mr. Carter replies "Goodbye." Include the shot that contains this dialogue in your analysis and end it there.
Psycho: Your analysis should begin with the first shot after the credits end. Thus, this sequence includes the shots in which text appears on screen identifying the time and place of the story. The last shot of this sequence is the one that ends the first hotel scene, the one in which Marion says "I'm late and you still have to put your shoes on" as she walks out the door.
Shot by Shot Essay Assignment
Now that you have done a shot by shot analysis of a specific sequence your next assignment is to discuss that sequence in the form of a two page, double spaced essay. Specifically, your assignment is to interpret the formal language you identified in your shot by shot. For example, how do mise-en-scene and cinematography contribute to the meaning of your sequence? You can consider any of the following questions:
1.How do the mise-en-scene and cinematography inform us about the characters and their relationships with each other?
2.How do the mise-en-scene and cinematography contribute to the larger themes or ideas in the film?
How does your sequence help define the goals or conflicts confronted by these characters elsewhere in the film?
While these questions ask you to think about how your sequence relates to the film as a whole, keep your essay focused largely on the sequence you analyzed in your shot by shot. Follow these guidelines whenever writing about a film:
1.Events in the film should be referred to in the present tense. For example, “Kane loses the election for Governor,” not “Kane lost the election for Governor.”
2.Refer to the characters by name and not by the names of the actors who portray them.
3.Film titles should be in italics.
4.Keep in mind you are analyzing a sequence. You should not summarize the plot or re-tell the story. Furthermore, you should not offer artistic judgments—it is not necessary to declare these films great or historic.
5.Be sure to proofread your shot by shot and short essay.