First Reflection Paper: Contextualizing Film

I’m working on a Film exercise and need support.

The list of movies you can choose

The Lumiere Brothers: Early Films




In this paper, you will identify and describe how cultural location informs the filmmaker(s) and the

audience. Your paper should develop a sense of how meaning (for the film and the audience) deepens

the more that contextual understanding is added.

You should choose a film that is from one of the cities we are covering in this class and do research to

find out more about how the context of filmmaking, the context of reception, and the context of

translation (if applicable) operate within this film. You will need to do research including articles about

the filmmaker, interviews with the filmmaker, articles about the film industry within the culture of origin,

and articles about this film and other films similar to it. You are required to have at least 3 sources.

Note that a bibliography and in-text citations are an expectation of this assignment.

Drawing on the ideas from the assigned readings, you should develop insights both about the culture of

origin and about yourself while researching, analyzing, and watching the film.

Write a 5 page essay (double-spaced) that contextualizes the meanings of this film in distinct ways

based on cultural location.

(Hint: Reference the ideas of cultural location from the context and culture of

film readings assigned in Module 2.)


For instance, you might argue that Rocky, set in the City of Brotherly Love, conveys a very specific

concept of Philadelphia. This concept of Philadelphia reflects the important socio-political factors of the

1970s and also supports the story of an underdog boxer from Kensington. You might also argue that

the genre contributes significantly to the city’s own perception of itself, therefore making this film almost

synonymous with the city itself.

Questions you might ask: Which visual, stylistic and thematic elements help to convey Rocky’s city?

How is Rocky a reflection of the socio-political context? How does the time and context of production

contribute to the filmmaker’s portrayal of the city? How does the film compare to other films of the

time? How does the film compare to other portrayals of the city?

A paper that articulates carefully a few important ideas and analyzes their significance will fare much

better than a paper that simply presents a laundry list with no analysis or commentary.

Helpful tips:

Concentrate on themes, visual metaphors, stylistic elements, genre, filmic terms, theories (such

as social organization or city organization), character relationships and other elements about the

film in question to make an argument about the film’s city.

Avoid extended plot summaries. Organize your essay around key points in your argument, rather

than a chronological examination of the story.

Avoid evaluative language. (i.e. “The costumes were beautiful”)

Avoid vague language. (“The camera angles were very effective.”)

You may choose one of the films from the class (other than Rocky), or you may choose a film we are not

covering (so long as it is from one of the cities we are investigating). Choosing a film outside of the

course syllabus may be helpful, as it will give you a point of comparison.

Specific Paper Requirements:

Digital file name: RP1YourfirstnameYourlastname

5 pages, double-spaced

Number your pages

Give your paper a name that reflects your argument

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