Comparative analysis of three films essay


Take Home Final Paper

 Your final paper will be a 5 – 7 page paper. The basis of this paper will be a comparative analysis of three films.  The majority of this paper should discuss the ways in which the three films that you have chosen will relate to each other (either in similarity or in contrast) and to the major themes of the class. 

How to do the paper:

1)  Choose your movies:  Choose one movie from each of the three main sections of the “Supplemental Film List” that can be found at the end of the syllabus.  Think carefully about your selection so that the movies will have some relationship to each other and thus facilitate some meaningful of comparison. You may choose a movie that you have already wrote about during the semester or one that we have not watched in its entirety during class time.  You may also choose a movie that in not on the “Supplemental Film List,” but it MUST be APPROVED by me in ADVANCE of writing the paper so that I am sure it will fit within the lists’ parameters.

Supplemental Film List

Part I – Popular Culture’s Depiction of Indianness: 

The Paleface (1922)

The Vanishing American (1925)

Northwest Passage (1940)

They Died with their Boots On (1941)

Fort Apache (1948)

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

Apache (1954)

The Indian Fighter (1955)

Run of the Arrow (1957)

Tell them Willie Boy is Here (1969)

The Mission (1986)

Little Big Man (1970)

A Man Called Horse (1970)

Running Brave (1983)

The Last of His Tribe (1992)

Black Robe (1991)

Geronimo: An American Legend (1993/4)

Burry my Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)

Part II – Ethnographic Films: 

You Are on Indian Land (1969)

Geronimo and the Apache Resistance (1989)

Winds of Change: A Matter of Promise (1990)

Chief Wilma P. Mankiller (1992)

Surviving Columbus (1992)

Incident at Oglala (1992)

Paha Sapa: The Struggle For The Black Hills (1993)

Before Columbus: Teaching Indians To Be White (1993)

500 Nations (1995) (choose any volume 1 – 8)

Rocks With Wings (2002)

The Great Indian Wars (2005) (choose any volume 1 – 3)

We Shall Remain (2009)  (choose any episode 1 – 5)

Finding Dawn (2006)

Miss Navajo (2007)

Native Americans: A Tribute (2008)

Highway of Tears (2012)

Rumble (2017)

Part III – Native Perspectives & Filmmakers:  

PBS Hillerman Series: Dark Wind (1993), Skinwalkers (2002), Coyote Waits (2003) (choose one of these 3)

House Made of Dawn (1996)

Smoke Signals (1998)

Naturally Native (1998)

The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat) (2001)

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

Barking Water (2009)

The Lesser Blessed (2012)

Crooked Arrows (2012)

Longmire (2012) (any episode)

Mekko (2015)

Drunktown’s Finest (2013)

Wind River (2017)

The Rider (2018)

Indian Horse (2018)

Sweet Country (2018)

2)  Choose at theme/topic:  Fundamentally this is a compare & contrast paper so you will need to chose a theme or topic to compare and contrast the films. Here is a list of themes/topics to choose from. You may decide to do something other than this list, but this list is a suggestion if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas.

  • Representation of gender roles (masculinity/femininity)
  • Humor/Comedy
  • Portrayals of violence
  • Representation of technology
  • Hero, Heroism
  • Portrayals of love intimacy
  • Portrayals of friendship
  • Interracial relationships
  • Youth, coming of age
  • Portrayals of land/relationship to land/geography

(Note: Because your paper is compare/contrast paper in some cases you will be finding the absences not merely the presence of these topics in some of these films. That is fine, it will be up to you to comment on why you thing these theme aren’t there or what is in their place or what their opposite is.)

3)  Write: Because this is a take-home final you will be graded on both content and form/structure of your essay.  Make sure that your essay is well organized. Make sure that you have a thesis and that your thesis makes an argument.  Make sure to use specific examples and details to back up your argument so that you don’t fall back on unsupported generalizations. Make that you are providing analysis, not just summarizing. In other words you must justify why the examples that you are using support your argument. You can’t just list them as examples and assume that their connection to your thesis is clear.

Make sure that your analysis includes the “non-narrative” elements of filmmaking that we have been talking about all semester such as sound, editing, and shooting techniques. Just like your response papers, much of your analysis should be based on analysis of how certain scenes produce the meaning that you are talking about in your argument. Also make sure you are doing critical analysis.  Don’t just take the film and its plot as face value as an “authentic” representation of Indians.  Pay attention to the intentions of the filmmakers, but also the meanings made by the way the film represents Indians that may not necessarily be the intentions of the filmmakers.  What effect does the representational choices made by the filmmakers have on the meaning of the film?

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