Using one of the following topics as a guide, write an essay with a clear thesis claim supported by evidence from a military-themed film (or films, depending on selected topic) of your choosing.
Your essay should be 4 – 5 typed, double-spaced pages (not including Works Cited) in MLA format and follow the five paragraph structure (introduction, three supporting body paragraphs, and conclusion).
1. Techniques such as cinematography, editing, sound, and mise en scene are the building blocks of filmmaking. They can be highly expressive in shaping our interpretation of the events and characters presented to us on the screen. For example, if you want to suggest that a certain character is powerful, you may notice that the character is always shot from low angles. On the other hand, a weak character may be shot from high angles, just as a trapped character may be given very little space within the frame. Choose one film and give specific examples of how three different techniques contribute to its overall meaning. What is the director’s message and what technical achievements are used to support it?
2. Ideology is a system of values, beliefs, or ideas shared by some social group and often taken for granted as natural or inherently true. People use ideology to picture the way the world works (or should work) and to understand their place in it. Films and other forms of entertainment media are one important place where people get these pictures. Ideology is especially important for understanding how people interact. Choose an ideological concern we’ve studied (e.g. class, race, gender roles, sexuality, religion, nationalism, etc.) and a film that examines it at a deep level. Consider which values your film may unconsciously promote or, as in the case of social criticism, may consciously deconstruct, dismantle or take apart. It is essential that you go beyond the plot and examine underlying meanings and implications.
3. As a genre, war films tend to appeal more to men than women. In addition, they are usually more popular with older people than younger ones. To reach a greater audience, directors will sometimes take a military conflict as a basis for a story but then change up the setting and genre. Select a movie that takes a certain military conflict and rewrites it as another type of story. Why does the director choose to interpret the event this way? Is it only about money, or does it come down to avoiding censorship? Was the film critically and financially successful? Why or why not?
4. America’s two-party political system is often reflected in war films. Some directors are very conservative and pro-war, while others condemn violence as a means of solving problems. Pick a director who has depicted the military in multiple films and analyze two movies with respect to the director’s political slant. Be sure to use films that are not too similar (for example, if you select Michael Bay do not use more than one of the Transformers movies). Is the director consistent in how the military is represented, or is there a shift from one side of the political spectrum to the other? What biographical factors may have caused the shift if there is one?